Because Whigs value differences of opinion and independent thought, we do not necessarily take a position on every particular issue that may be fashionable for the moment. Instead, we propose a program of broad reforms that we believe will strengthen our country as it faces the challenges of the 21st century.
Political System Reform: we need to change the method Americans use to elect their leaders, which is outdated and broken. This is the heart of Modern Whig methodology. We believe all citizens have equal rights and duties to participate and be represented in the democratic process and oppose all attempts to limit participation or distort representation. Our political system as it is today contains certain unrepresentative and, frankly undemocratic, features that restrict political competition and undermine citizens’ ability to properly exercise their political rights and duties. These problems include, but are not limited to:
- a plurality-based electoral system where a candidate can win with a minority of the vote, ballots cast for other candidates end up being wasted, and minor party candidates "spoil" the election (see Ralph nader in 2000) ; Whig Solution: use Approval Voting, in which each voter can vote for any number of candidates on the ballot, not just one; this system is simple to use, eliminates the spoiler problem and gives minor party candidates their due;
- the overwhelming influence of money in political campaigns; Whig Solution: campaign finance reform in the direction of public financing, along with free and equal access to the airwaves.
- lobbying, a.k.a. corruption; Whig Solution: no “special access” to government officials for lobbyists, and a ban on politicians working as lobbyists for five years after leaving office.
- the Electoral College, which only serves to thwart the will of the people in presidential elections; Whig Solution: either make the allocation of electors proportional to the popular vote in each state, or abolish it altogether.
- gerrymandering, the cynical practice in which partisan hacks redraw boundaries after every census in order to creates “safe” electoral districts for the benefit of their own party; Whig Solution: place redistricting in the hands of non-partisan citizens committees.
Fiscal Responsibility and Financial Reform: neither government nor corporations or households can be exempt from the basic rules of accounting. Revenues should match or exceed expenditures, excessive debt should be avoided, and some funds should be kept in reserve for future “rainy days”. Deficit spending is acceptable only in times of economic crisis. Practices such as unfunded mandates, pork-barrel spending, or cutting taxes while fighting wars are unacceptable. The recent economic crisis was the result of excessive leverage and risk-taking by gigantic and inter-connected financial institutions for the purpose of engaging in casino-type activities such as unregulated betting on the value of derivatives backed by dubious mortgages. Post-crisis financial reforms must include: limits on leverage, the regulation of derivatives, the re-instatement of the Glass-Steagall Act and most important of all, the break-up of financial institutions that are “too big to fail” (TBTF), so that mistakes made by a handful of entities cannot bring down our entire economy unless bailed out by taxpayer money. We view the recent financial reform legislation as a step in the right direction but ultimately a missed opportunity to address the TBTF issue and avoid future bubbles.
Energy Independence and National Security: why are energy and national security lumped together? Because our nation cannot be secure as long as we cannot meet our energy needs with our own resources. Our country’s addiction to oil is well documented. Our political class has allowed our dependence on Middle Eastern oil to continually increase, thereby showing it learned nothing from the Oil Shocks of the 1970s. Following the 9/11 attacks, it became clear that energy independence is a matter of national security. Regardless of any arguments about global warming or climate change, Whigs believe our country MUST develop alternative sources of energy (wind, solar, nuclear, etc). Otherwise our security will remain hostage to events in the volatile Middle East and we will be forced to continue supporting corrupt and autocratic regimes whose oil we need to power our economy. This situation is utterly unsustainable.
Foreign Policy and Veterans Affairs: as a patriotic party founded by American veterans, Modern Whigs are committed to a strong national defense. America will act to defend its national interests multilaterally whenever possible and unilaterally if necessary. Whigs reject isolationism and favor strong alliances with reliable partners who are willing to share the burden in the fight against common enemies. A vibrant and robust NATO is and will remain the bedrock of America’s security for the foreseeable future. America is currently at war with Al-Qaeda and its allies such as the Taliban, and this war will not end until the enemy is defeated. Whigs believe America must honor its war veterans and should provide them with access to the highest possible quality of care and services through a well-funded Veterans Administration.
Job Creation: prior to the recent crisis our economic growth was based on consumers buying and selling houses and cars using borrowed money. We cannot return to this unsustainable model. Instead, the jobs of tomorrow will be created by: rebuilding our infrastructure (roads, bridges, ports, airports, light rail, etc.); renegotiating “free trade” treaties that only result in the outsourcing of jobs to countries with low labor and environmental standards; offering tax incentives for corporations to keep manufacturing jobs in this country; closing tax loopholes that some corporations use to hide profits abroad; investing in alternative energy sources, the foundation of our next economic boom; and improving our schools, especially the quality of our science programs, so that our young people gain the skills necessary to create, design and build the technologies of the future.
Taxes and Income Inequality: the main reason our current economic recovery is so painfully slow is that our Middle Class is broke – lots of debt, high unemployment, low incomes and depressed home values. Meanwhile, our convoluted tax code has brought us to the point where the top 1% of households control 43% of the country’s financial wealth (meaning total net worth less the value of home equity), and the bottom 80% of households control just 7% of the financial wealth. Another symptom of this problem is Warren Buffet’s famous statement that his effective individual income tax rate is lower than that of his secretary. The tax code needs to be drastically simplified and made more equitable: the vast majority of loopholes, subsidies, exclusions, exemptions and deferrals should be eliminated; capital gains and other forms of passive income should be taxed at the same rate as earned income; and the patchwork of various state and local sales taxes should be abolished and replaced with a national consumption tax whose proceeds are distributed to the states on a per capita basis.
Health Insurance: should be available, portable and affordable for all citizens, with means-tested government subsidies for those who cannot pay in full. De-link health benefits from employment. The practice of saddling employers with costly pension and health insurance benefit obligations is hurting the ability of American companies to compete in the global economy. This is most obvious in the auto industry. While we support the basic goal of expanding coverage to all Americans, we do not believe recent health insurance reform legislation will reduce health care costs. More research and work needs to be done on this subject, and legislative changes will have to be made in order to bring costs under control.
Immigration: the USA is and has always been a country of immigrants. The Modern Whig Party understands the dual responsibility of securing our borders while also dealing realistically with those illegal immigrants already in the country. We propose the following: offer illegal immigrants the opportunity for citizenship if they join the military and serve out their initial contractual term honorably. Illegal immigrants will not be entitled to jobs that require security clearances, but will be eligible for the GI Bill, Tricare and all other benefits afforded to US service members who serve honorably. This program also will include a background check and English-language classes if necessary. In this manner, any illegal immigrant ranging in age from 18 to 42 will receive job skills and educational benefits while they earn their citizenship for themselves and their immediate family members in defense of our country. Going forward, we must also revamp our legal immigration process so as to attract those whose skills, education and entrepreneurial spirit will enable them to become productive contributors to the knowledge-based economy of tomorrow. Foreign-born graduates of US colleges and universities should be offered a path to citizenship. Young people trained and educated in our schools should have the opportunity to contribute to our economy instead of being forced to leave the country and become our competitors.
Social Toleration: in keeping with their meritocratic philosophy, Modern Whigs oppose all forms of favoritism or discrimination based on arbitrary factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, etc. We reject identity politics and race-based affirmative action. Economic assistance programs should be based on income level, not race, ethnicity or gender.
Education and Science: to compete in today’s global economy we must have the best schools and universities in the world. America cannot afford to let other countries take the lead in math, engineering and space exploration while we argue about the merits of teaching creationism in science class. Whigs believe such debates are out of place in the 21stcentury and only distract from the task of fixing our public schools. We favor the ideas of school choice, merit-based pay for teachers and charter schools, as well as a stronger emphasis on science and math in academic curricula. We also favor reforming the onerous practice of funding public schools through property taxes, which effectively condemns the poorest areas to having the worst schools.