I had every intention of ending the issue analysis series I had been running due to the exit of Mike Ciresi. However, inspired by a post from Cucking Stool, it is time once again to look at the Senate race here in Minnesota between Al Franken and Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer.

Today we examine these two candidates on various social issues of concern. While I would argue that these issues should not be the center point of a campaign or of a decision of support, they are still prominent in the progressive canon.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer on Social Issues:
While most candidates lump social issues into one issue category on their campaign pages, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer devotes one link to the issues of the GLBT community and another to issues of choice.

On the GLBT community:

I advocate repeal of sodomy laws and I support efforts to pass federal, state and local legislation to prevent hate crimes and employment discrimination. I will work tirelessly so that GLBT people are not denied custodial, adoptive or foster parenting options, workplace or housing opportunities, domestic partner benefits and equal marriage rights due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

I oppose any efforts to use legal or constitutional means to discriminate against GLBT persons.

As a religious person, I am deeply troubled by the use of religion to justify discrimination, hatred or exclusion of GLBT people, including denial of dignity and civil rights. I have marched proudly with PFLAG families and will use my personal and public voice to encourage a culture of respect and a politics of equality and fairness.

On Choice:

First, when my wife Sara and I lived in Nicaragua for two years in the 1980s, we learned that many Nicaraguan women died as a result of illegal abortions. Criminalizing abortion doesn’t result in fewer abortions but it often results in needless trauma and death.

Second, I believe the number of abortions will drop as we empower and educate women, provide safe and affordable family planning options, reduce the costs of adoption and achieve greater justice in our economy.

Third, I believe the decision of whether or not to have an abortion lies with the mother and not with the state.

Fourth, I believe it is possible for groups who hold different views to find common ground on some aspects of this issue by focusing on policies that would result in fewer abortions. Examples include:

  • The Bush administration’s refusal to fund United Nations’ family planning programs has resulted in millions of additional abortions worldwide. We need to restore those funds.

  • The Republican Party’s “abstinence only” approach to sex education has resulted in many unwanted pregnancies and increased abortions. We need to fully fund broader sex education efforts.

  • Economic insecurity is a significant factor for many women as they make reproductive choices. Achieving greater economic justice and providing quality health give families a realistic chance to adequately care for a child that may result from an unexpected pregnancy.
Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer does not shy away from these often times hot button issues. He tackles them as they should be tackled, with the evidence at hand. The GLBT community deserves to be treated equally and issues of choice, while uncomfortable, are far more sensibly addressed by keeping abortion safe and legal but also by trying to solve the underlying factors that cause women to make this choice. Once those issues are addressed, we can begin to reduce the number of abortions in this country thus making the issue moot.

Al Franken on Social Issues:
Unfortunately, I could find no evidence of Al Franken taking a stance on either the GLBT community or the issues of choice. While I have no problem supporting a 'Pro-Life' candidate, it seems somewhat disingenuous to try to hide ones beliefs on these issues. Perhaps someone out there has some evidence of Franken taking a stand on these issues and can provide that stance in the comments section. However, the purpose of these posts has been to examine the candidates from the information found on their campaign sites and Franken has chosen not to display such information on that site.

The win clearly goes to Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer for his straightforward stance on these issues. We have folks in the party who are 'Pro-Life' (from Larry Hosch on the state level to Jim Oberstar in Congress) but what makes them all the same is that they are brave enough to come out and proclaim themselves as such. This gives yet another impression of Franken as a man trying to be everything to everyone.

I have long been an advocate of the brand of 'Pro-Choice' Mr. Nelson-Pallmeyer advocates. We must continue to keep abortion safe and legal while at the same time finding ways (both economic and educational) to reduce the number of abortions performed in this country and even around the world. One of the easiest ways to go about this is to abandon the failed 'abstinence only' failures across the country and begin teaching true sex education.

What do you think?

I encourage anyone who supports one of these three candidates to comment about the positive aspects of their candidates social issue positions. Perhaps I missed some policy statements or other evidence highlighting what your candidate will do in terms of social issues. Also, if you are so inclined, I would be interested in hearing about other issues we can examine.


3 responses to "Al & Jack: An Issue Analysis (Social Issues)"

  1. Mr_Grant On March 27, 2008 at 3:18 PM

    Franken's Stonewall DFL questionnaire answers here.

    Has done NARAL and Planned Parenthood events.

  2. Charley Underwood On March 28, 2008 at 9:16 PM

    Jack impresses me, not only by giving the correct answers to all these questions and by not being afraid to answer the hard questions. But he also sees the big picture.

    These "social issues" are smokescreens that the neocons use to distract us while they rob us blind. Think about it. What possible danger could a gay marriage pose to a hetero? What is the real danger of a young woman deciding to have an abortion to someone who doesn't want one? What is the actual danger posed by immigrants (as if we here in Minnesota were all full-blood Ojibwe or Dakota)? The answer: none.

    These are all issues used to focus attention on false sources of fear while the neocons loot our country, destroy our middle class, take away our common good and destroy our future for the sake of their own personal profit.

    I used to think that this whole neocon hate thing was just a kind of meanness. At lower levels, I suppose sometimes it is. But at a higher, more manipulative level, it is a very clever way of picking our pockets while deceived people ending up hating entire the wrong people.

  3. Spot On March 30, 2008 at 5:12 PM

    Spot has posted a higher quality version of Al,Debate Jack! It is available at the same link to the Cucking Stool provided in the link, but the embedded version of the video on the post may be taken down shortly.