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Kevin Kelton

My Campaign Platform

by Kevin Kelton

I never plan to run for elective office, as I am better suited to bloviate than to legislate. But if I did run for state or local office, here are some of the issues I would run on. They aren’t the typical issues most politicians talk about, but they are bread and butter “everyday issues” I believe would resonate with a large swath of any local electorate.

PATIENT’S RIGHTS:

An informed patient is an efficient consumer of medical care. I believe every doctor’s office, hospital and healthcare provider should have to post a “menu” of their services and prices for everyone to see before agreeing to an office visit or procedure. We should do away with complicated medical coding systems and other bait-and-switch practices currently employed in the healthcare industry. (Example: patients who go to an in-network hospital or ER and then get blindsided by exorbitant out-of-network charges from the doctors who treated them there.) Let competitive free market forces apply to healthcare and make providers compete in the marketplace based on cost, just like every other product or service. This will go a long way toward bringing the cost of healthcare down nationally and make our health insurance system more efficient and available for everyone.

FORCED BINDING ARBITRATION:

The ability to seek legal redress through a trial by jury is a constitutional right, yet many doctors and other businesses make customers sign away that right through forced arbitration clauses that you must agree to before being seen or served. I don’t think people should be forced to sign away their constitutional right to sue. I would make contractual arbitration clauses fully elective, and no one can be denied service due to opting out of binding arbitration.

CONSUMER RIGHTS:

Restaurants and retail businesses that more than ten employees should make their restrooms open to the general public, not just to paying customers. American cities do not have a public restroom system like European cities do, and everyone knows that experience of a child or yourself having a restroom emergency and not being able to find one. The “ten employees” carve-out is designed to exclude smaller “ma and pa” stores from this provision. If the cost is too much of a burden to a company, they can charge a small fee or install a donation jar to cover the costs of cleaning and supplies.

Ever wonder why the last half-dollar of the gas you pre-paid for comes out of the pump so painfully slow? Years ago it was the last ten cents, but now it can be the last 70 cents or more, often going so annoyingly slow that consumers often choose to leave gas that they’ve paid for in the pump instead of enduring the elongated wait. This is a purposeful trick that unscrupulous gas station owners are playing on unwitting consumers in a rush, as modern gas pumps can be programmed to slow down and stop within a few pennies of the pre-paid price. Gas station owners know that you’re in a rush, and they are banking on you being impatient and leaving some gas behind, which increases their profits and your cost per gallon. To combat this type of psychological price manipulation, stations that set their pumps to slow down more than ten cents early should be fined for that unfair business practice.

COMMUNITY POLICING:

Policing has become a profit center in too many municipalities, with tickets being used to generate city revenues. We need to re-emphasis policing as a public service to combat crime and keep civil order, not to tax drivers with excessive tickets. Toward that end, cities should only be able to use 5% of their police department manpower for parking enforcement. Moreover, patrol cars should only be authorized to stop drivers who are speeding excessively (20% or more over the posted mph limit), run lights or stop signs, or engaging in other high-risk driving maneuvers. Tickets for less dangerous moving offensives (broken tail lights; missing license plates or tags; non-use of seatbelts) should be distributed by taking down the license plate number and mailing the ticket to the vehicle owner, who can then pay the fine or identify who was driving their vehicle at the time so the ticket can be re-assigned to that driver. Fewer traffic stops will also lead to fewer violent clashes and police shootings. Let’s reduce the confrontational aspects of community policing and get back to basics: reducing crime and investigating crimes. That will go a long way toward creating a better relationship between citizens and the civil servants we pay to protect us.

Being a professional police officer is an inherently dangerous occupation, and everyone who signs up for the job knows that. But we have somehow gone so far to reduce the risk of shooting injuries to police officers that we have unduly shifted that risk to innocent citizens. Indeed, officers are even shooting children instead of taking that extra second required to adequately assess the situation, a risk which should be a part of their job. Of course, unfortunate tragic outcomes will still occur, but we need to shift the risk back away from the unarmed citizen who too often finds him or herself starring down the barrel of a gun. Toward that end, we need to reevaluate our rules of police engagement, including when an officer is permitted to draw a weapon and fire. The “reasonable person” standard currently in place is too subjective and lax. Police should be trained not to fire until they see a weapon, not when they simply “believe” there is a weapon present. If an officer shoots a citizen who is then proven to have been unarmed, that officer should be suspended without pay and face discipline, including termination, if the shooting is not proven to be fully justified. Police officers have a right to life, but they don’t have a right to a lifetime job if they are unfit to perform it in the best interest and safety of the citizens they swear to protect and serve. Also, there should be a national databank of officers who have been suspended or disciplined for inappropriate use of force, so that a “bad apple” officer can not job-hop from one police force to another.

HIDDEN FEES:

More and more industries are finding duplicitous ways to cut their advertised prices while piling on hidden charges in the form of “service fees,” “resort fees,” “wifi fees,” “cleaning fees,” “return fees,” and other extraneous charges that used to be born by the business. If you sell a movie ticket online, it shouldn’t cost any more than having a salaried employee sell it to you at the box office. And a so-called “resort” hotel should not charge an additional “resort fee,” which is tantamount to an airline charging you a fee to get airborne. Advertise the true price of your product or service and stop gouging the public with last-minute fees that we can’t comparison shop against.

TIPPING:

The practice of tipping in restaurants was designed to reward good service, not to supplement the salary of underpaid kitchen staff and hostesses. Restaurants should not be allowed to collect and redistribute tips, which is a private transaction between the customer and the server. Added-on fees for employee healthcare or other costs associated with running the business should be an optional line item on the bill, like a tip, and not automatically added to the price of the meal. If the owner has the option of paying for their healthcare or not, so should the customer.

Granted, these are mostly consumer-centric populist stances that may seem trivial to some people. But I bet that a solid majority of voters would find them appealing, and I’d be willing to run on these issues that address the real, everyday concerns of voters that never get spoken about by mainstream politicians.

 

 

Reproductive Justice (Ep. 206)

 

On this MPU episode, Kevin, DJ, Greg, and Rebekah discuss the latest assault on Roe v. Wade, the Trump v. China trade war, and the primary campaign prospects of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

A Mother’s Day Brother’s Day (Ep. 205)

This special Mother’s Day episode features each host talking about their Mother’s Day plans, their families, and a political issue that’s been on each of their minds this week.

Barr Room Brawl (Ep. 204)

On this week’s podcast, Greg, DJ and Rebekah chat with comedian John Wing about the Barr hearings and the rest of the week in politics.

The Acrimony Primary (Ep. 203)

 

This week’s podcast features comedian and Portland radio personality Carl Wolfson as the gang discusses Joe Biden entering the Democratic primary race and what that portends for the 2020 election.

Joe and the Giant Impeachment Question

by Kevin Kelton

Among the first questions former Vice President Joe Biden will face on the campaign trail is whether he thinks congress should begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. Several candidates have already weighed in with qualified (and in the case of Elizabeth Warren, unqualified) answers of “yes.”

But Joe Biden is a different type of presidential candidate, whose candidacy should be based on character, decency and raising the standards of decorum back to where they once stood. So here’s the answer I hope Biden gives to the impeachment question:

I’m not going to answer that directly because I think it’s unseemly for a candidate to call for the removal of his or her political opponent, just as I thought it was unseemly when candidate Donald Trump was going around the country saying that his opponent should be ‘locked up.’ 

But I will say this: the House of Representatives and the Senate both have an important responsibility for oversight and to hold the executive branch accountable. Because no one, not even a president of the United States, is above the law.

And if you ask me if I think the president committed obstruction of justice? The answer is an unqualified, ‘yes.’

If Biden can nail the right answers on his first few campaign questions – such as Medicare expansion versus single payer Medicare For All, the Green New Deal, and issues of income inequality – he will go a long way toward assuring the 2020 electorate that he’s in step with today’s Democratic base and is not a throwback to the 1990s.

Joe Biden is a great American and great public servant who could make a great Commander in Chief. All he has to do is prove he can be a great candidate.

Kevin Kelton is the co-host of The More Perfect Union podcast and a founder of Open Fire Politics.

Does Not Exonerate (Ep. 202)

This MPU episode looks at the redacted Mueller Report and how Democrats should respond to it in congress and on the 2020 campaign trail.

‘Sanctuary Cities’ PM Fun

As we often mention on the podcast, the MPU co-hosts share a Facebook Messenger PM thread where we chat with each other every day, sometimes debating, sometimes commiserating, sometimes joking. This is one amusing exchange* we had last week….

 

*EDITED.

I Spy With My Little FBI (Ep. 201)

This episode covers Attorney General William Barr’s testimony about the FBI spying on the Trump campaign, Pete Buttigieg’s official entry into the 2020 primary race, what it means to be a “millionaire” running for president, and alleged billionaire Donald Trump’s latest assault on asylum seekers and sanctuary cities.

Our 200th Show! (Ep. 200)

 

This week, the MPU hosts celebrate their 200th broadcast by reflecting on the week in politics. They also talk about the history of the podcast, let us meet their families, and share some fun surprises along the way.

We Need to STOP Talking About Joe Biden

by Kevin Kelton

We rarely do this, but I am going to respectfully rebut the opinion article of my fellow More Perfect Union host, Rebekah Kuschmider, on the subject of Joe Biden. Yes, this is a debate, and no, there is no hate. Just a lot of disappointment.

You see, I agree with Rebekah that we need to have a serious dialogue in this country about women’s rights and male behaviors. Men have gotten way too free with our hands and our attitudes over the last several decades, and there is no excuse for it. We have badly abused our role and our rights in how we relate to women in the workplace, the dating world, and even on the campaign trail. It’s a long-overdue conversation, and we men need to do a hefty dose of active listening.

But the current kerfuffle over Joe Biden isn’t about the #MeToo movement or women’s personal body space. Let’s get honest here. If women wanted to have a serious conversation about Biden’s behavior, it could have happened during his many years in public life prior to the eve of his entree into the 2019 primary race. It could have happened when he ran for president in 1988, or again in 2008, or during his eight years as vice president, or during the two years since. It could have been a sincere discussion about how millions of men his age, not just Joe Biden, have to re-learn what’s socially acceptable behaviors and come to a higher understanding of what’s appropriate forms of affection and what’s not.

Joe Biden has to learn it. Al Franken has to learn it. Garrison Keillor has to learn it. Donald Trump has to learn it. And millions of non-famous men like me have to learn it, too. It could have been a positive social discussion of gender and age and societal rules and changing social norms.

But it hasn’t been. Instead, it’s been a personal hit job on one very public man, just days before he enters the race for president.

So please don’t try to kid me that this is some high-minded social revolution that’s going on here. It is not. It is a very purposeful, very cruel attempt to destroy a single man’s reputation for petty partisan gain.

The people lining up to go public with their personal grievances with Joe Biden aren’t dispassionate non-partisans. They are self-admitted Sanders supporters, women who want to see a female at the top of the ticket, angry far-left liberals trying to stave off another moderate Democratic nominee, and of course Trump sycophants who’d love nothing more than to see the the campaign of the one Democrat they fear the most aborted before his primary run even begins.

As for the handful of women and men who may sincerely be outraged by “Uncle Joe’s” chauvinistic old-school manners, they are blinded by their own self-righteous indignation. The #MeToo movement should be used to advance relations between the sexes, not turn it into a take-no-prisoners blood match to the death.

Any honest study of Joe Biden would show that he acts that way with women and men, girls and boys. A simple Google image search turns up dozens of photos of Joe getting intimate and handsy with other men, with his sons, with his political opponents, even with his old boss, Barack Obama. It’s not that Joe is a creepy perv. It’s that he’s too publicly affectionate, period.

But that is not a crime worthy of public scorn and humiliation. Nor is it a reason to stop a good and highly qualified man from seeking the presidency.

As for Biden’s so-called accusers, let’s take a gander at their motives for a moment. It was telling that one of the women who suddenly came forward last week is an ardent pro-Bernie supporter, and the other used her five minutes of fame to advocate for a female nominee. They both smack of bitter political agendas, and their nasty attempt to turn Biden’s ham-fisted shows of public affection into some kind of creepy sexual predator persona is abominable.

The truth is, Joe Biden is an American hero. A deeply religious man who is clearly devoted to his family, he served his party and his country admirably for almost five decades, including being a great two-term vice president. He was one of the first high public figures to speak out in favor of same-sex marriage, forcing others to follow his lead, and he has been a true champion of women’s rights and gender rights. He’s made mistakes in the past, as pretty much every male of his generation has. (Including this writer.) But to publicly tar and feather him for minor transgressions of contemporary social mores is a sin of all four orders.

If Joe Biden is not the person to lead Democrats into the next election, let the voters decide at the polls. There are plenty of good reasons to support Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Roarke, Pete Buttigieg, or one of the many highly qualified women and people of color in the race. Let them make their cases and let Joe make his.

Yes, Rebekah, you’re 100% right – it’s high time we learn to treat women as equals with full control over their own bodies and their own autonomy. That conversation is ongoing and should continue. But doing it by hoisting a good man on a burning cross doesn’t make it holy. It makes it hollow.

So, with all due respect, I think it’s time we stop talking about Joe Biden. Biden isn’t what’s wrong with America or American politics. The “creepy Uncle Joe” caricature is.

Special Olympics & Special Sandwiches (Ep. 199_b)

This short podcast serves as a prequel for the upcoming 200th More Perfect Union episode, covering Betsy DeVos and her attack on the Special Olympics.