It turns out I'm an extremist.
Far be it for me to argue with the new, Republican "mainstream," but everything the new president suggests makes me want move to another country. Or become a political activist.
For years, I've held both liberal and conservative views. I was the epitome of a moderate, a loyal centrist with ties linking to other independent thinkers.
However, I always thought I'd become more conservative as I grew older -- most of my parents' generation certainly did as they left the individualistic values of the 1960s and became adults. But as I near the cliff's edge known as 30, I become less apathetic and more interested in changing the world.
Perhaps it's because my biological clock has started ticking. Bearing children is not currently penciled into my calendar, yet I know the changes I'd like to see could take years to implement.
Because of the extreme nature of my views, I know I could never really be president. Not only would the majority hate me, but some radical would surely take me out the minute I stepped foot on the campaign trail. Still, I see a future very different from the one bearing down on us.
And if I were in charge, I'd make the following changes:
* Convicted criminals, particularly rapists and murderers, should be required to give a sample of DNA. This would aid in their trials (for those who are truly innocent), and speed along the death penalty process (for those who are not).
* The penalties for drunk driving, child abuse and domestic violence should be more severe. A slap on the wrist is no longer acceptable. No one should be allowed 10 chances to kill someone with their car, or to harm innocent loved ones.
* Guns should be banned. The average American citizen has no reason to own a gun, and in fact will do more harm by owning one. Train the police and the military in their usage and melt down the public's weaponry to make shelters for the homeless and battered, playgrounds for youths and jails for criminals.
* Seat belt usage should be mandatory and strictly enforced for anyone driving or riding in a car. Those who choose to drive without a seat belt will see their auto insurance doubled, and feel the slap of criminal litigation in the case of accidental injury.
* The wage system for people working in occupations integral to maintaining order, saving lives and building future generations (teachers, police officers, fire fighters) should be altered to allow for higher salaries. Those who entertain us with their talents should also be compensated, but in a more reasonable manner.
* Education should be a major priority. However, I believe that disabling the public education system with vouchers is not the way to do it. Instead, try to lower class sizes. Encourage parents to be more involved in the education process. Utilize the Internet and other technology in classrooms. Teach the fundamentals of reading, math, history, science and the arts. Test both students and teachers to determine where funding is most needed. Encourage extracurricular activities, volunteer efforts and community involvement. Then, as students reach high school, give them "job opportunity" tests to help accurately describe their next course of study and set up internship programs to teach such skills in a hands-on fashion.
* Anyone who becomes pregnant or who wants to get married should be required to take a class in that topic. We need to learn how to drive, how to use a computer and how to swim. Why not teach people how to parent and keep marriages together? Such classes should not be based in religion.
* Recycling should become mandatory in all communities, and the money saved from reusing plastics and metal should be used to shelter the homeless. Those people who choose to carpool or use public transportation will receive tax cuts for doing a service to the community.
* Alternative means of obtaining fuel and electricity (including solar, wind and other clean methods) should be explored and offered to the public at a reasonable and equitable cost.
* Support the military in both word and deed. Pinpoint the areas where military might is necessary, and use the rest of our armed forces to build American communities.
* Fund the space program. We can't be so narrow-minded as to think we are the center of the universe. The more we know about what's in space, the more we can improve conditions on this planet. Ethical exploration must continue, and plans should be erected on the off-chance we actually do encounter something (or someone) out there.
* Health care should be made accessible to all Americans, regardless of how poor they are. No one should have to suffer simply because they don't make enough money to pay for health insurance on top of rent, utilities, food, clothes and transportation costs.
* Abortions should be legal and safe for any woman who wants one. No woman should have to ask permission, fear for her life or make anything but an informed decision about her own body.
* Research should continue in all areas of health care, including genetic testing and manipulation, to help give future generations a chance to live longer and with less disease.
* The media should undergo continuous training and ethics classes to remind reporters and editors to focus on the issues at hand (and the ramifications thereof), rather than who is having sex in the Oval Office or creating children out of wedlock.
* Completely remove the rating system and warning labels on music, movies and books. Parents are responsible for the rearing of their children, and do not need the government telling them what their offspring should view or hear.
* Eighteen should be considered the legal age for adulthood. Those who successfully reach this age should be allowed to drink, smoke, play the lottery, rent a car, go to war, vote, get married and commit suicide.
* Marriage should be a legally recognized institution for any two adults, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.
* Religion and governmental institutions should permanently part ways. Let's rewrite the Pledge, remove "in God we trust" from coinage and keep sponsored prayer out of schools. Note: Any student wishing to beg a higher power for guidance may do so silently and on their own. This would also mean that churches no longer receive tax cuts or public funding. Each faith has its own followers and thus a ready group of people willing to pay for their buildings and religious activities.
Well, that's my platform. I know what you're thinking. A few of you are cheering...and looking for a ballot to write in my name. The rest of you (hello everyone!) are thinking up some really ugly names for my character (pinko, hippie child-killer are probably at the top of the list).
The fact is...we're in trouble folks. The future isn't looking bright, and perhaps extreme measures are exactly what we need to build an America worthy of handing off to the next generation.