Justice Democrats

Justice+Democrats

Luke Dalessandro, Politics Editor

Cenk Uygar, host and founder of The Young Turks, a liberal radio show that has become increasingly popular since it’s founding, as well as Kyle Kulinski, founder of Secular Talk, a radio show that is also part of The Young Turks Network, have launched a project called Justice Democrats which aims to provide the infrastructure and platform for progressives and liberals alike to run against Democrats backed by special interest funding.

Upon launch Uygar laid out the goal for the project, saying “The aim in 2018 is to put a significant number of Justice Democrats in the Congress. The aim for 2020 is to more significantly take over the Democratic Party.” The project also counts Saikit Chakrabarti and Zach Exley among its team of four founders, both of whom are tech veterans who worked with Sen. Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

The platform is consistent with much of the same positions Sanders ran on during his campaign, mainly calling for extensive campaign finance reform, regulating Wall Street speculation, and instituting an act to separate commercial and investment banking. The Justice Democrats platform enumerates, “Super PACs should be banned, private donations to politicians and campaigns should be banned, and a clean public financing system should be implemented to end the takeover of our government by corporations and billionaires.”

Mandating clean elections and banning private donations would require both extensive action in Congress and the Supreme Court. The First National Bank Of Boston v.  Belotti and Buckley v. Valeo were two Supreme Court rulings which allowed private donations to campaigns and politicians, while Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission lifted many of the caps on donations, allowing potentially unlimited donations to politicians and campaign. Getting the Supreme Court to revisit these rulings would be a required step in mandating clean elections by law.

However the Justice Democrats platform  also includes a provision asserting support of freedom of speech and expression, with the platform stating ‘We support the right to express unpopular opinions without fear of censorship. We support free speech on college campuses. The marketplace of ideas should be embraced. A vibrant debate is healthy for democracy, and we should cherish our first amendment. We also support net neutrality for a free and open internet.”

At the same time the platform includes multiple positions endorsing civil liberties and reducing Constitutional overreaches, advocating for the banning of the NSA from bulk data collection without warrants, pardoning whistle blowers such as Edward Snowden, and prosecuting torturers and violators of international laws and treaties. The bulk data collection by the NSA has been a large constitutional issue in the U.S for multiple years, with many concluding and criticizing the program as unconstitutional, due to it’s violation of the ‘protection of unreasonable search and seizure’ provided in the fourth amendment of the U.S constitution.

The program began in secret under the authority of former president George W. Bush, with the approval and guidance of the ‘Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.’ Commonly known under the acronym USA PATRIOT, or Patriot Act, the act which was approved by Congress in response to the attacks on 9/11/2001, (although the act was written before) ultimately permitted the bulk data collection of U.S residents, a program which operated secretly until 2013. However, the program was forced to be publicly acknowledged during the summer of 2013, after then NSA worker Edward Snowden leaked, among other internal documents, a court order showing the agency was gathering all call detail records from a Verizon phone company on a daily basis. While the program still continues, and Snowden is currently exiled and taking asylum in Russia, Snowden has stated he would be willing to return to the United States with a guarantee of a fair trial. However rather than providing this, the Justice Democrats platform voices support for fully pardoning Edward Snowden, an act which former president Obama consistently refused, as well as ending the program of mass surveillance.

The platform also expresses support for non interventionist foreign policy, acknowledging the actions of the U.S currently bombing seven countries. The platform also advocates for cutting ‘military waste’ referring to extensive spending on U.S overseas military bases and interventions, with the platform stating, “We spend more on our military than the next eight countries combined.

Despite countless lives lost and destroyed, terrorism has only gotten worse. It’s time to end the wars and the perverse monetary incentive structure that makes politicians flippant about sending young men and women to die. Unilateral U.S military force should only be used as a last resort to defend the nation. The current budget could be drastically cut if we used our department of defense for what it was intended, defending us, instead of waging interventionist wars.” Based on the U.S discretionary budget for 2015, The U.S spent over $598 billion on military during that year, which not only accounts for a budget nearly as high as the next 14 countries combined, but 54% of the total U.S discretionary budget.

 

 

Data recorded by the International Institute for Strategic Studies reveals that not only that the U.S alone accounts for more than one third of global military spending, but nearly as much as the next 14 countries combined, many of which such as South Korea, Israel, and the U.K are considered top U.S allies.

 

 

 

Image result for u.s discretionary budget 2015
The discretionary budget for the U.S, which accounted for 29.34% of U.S spending in 2015, which amounts to 1.11 trillion dollars, reveals that over 54% of the budget was spend solely on military. Accounting to $598.5 billion dollars, the next highest priority was governmental spending which only accounting for 6%, or $72.9 billion dollars.

Within the first 48 hours since the official launch of their website, the Justice Democrats support has shown significant future prospects. In this time, over 50 thousand people signed up to the website, with nearly 200 thousand dollars in donations as well as 950 candidates nominating themselves or others to run for office, utilizing the infrastructure and resources that the Justice Democrats founders aim to provide.