You’ve been hit by a tsunami of political ads, speeches, jokes, and serious conversations all swirling around one topic: the 2012 Presidential Candidacy. If you’re like many people, you’re probably getting sick of it, but the good news is that in less than a week, we will know whom our President for the next four years will be. If you haven’t already mailed in your ballot, then you still face the decision of picking a candidate from the dozens listed on the ballot.
As someone who is concerned with human rights, I’m a bit surprised topics such as global poverty, human trafficking and slavery, or humanitarian relief efforts haven’t been more in the spotlight, especially during the third Presidential debate on foreign policy. I wanted to learn more about the two primary party candidates’ positions on topics of human rights, so I did a bit of research, and here is what I have discovered.
President Obama declared January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, followed by February first proclaimed National Freedom Day (1).
The Obama administration has made several initiatives to combat slavery and trafficking, including enacting an executive order that strengthens protections (zero-tolerance policy) in federal contracts, providing tools and training to identify and assist trafficking victims, increasing resources for victims of trafficking, and has developed a comprehensive plan for future action (2, 3).
In terms of assisting in the development of other countries, the Obama administration created a pillar of foreign policy dedicated strictly to development. One of the key focuses of this pillar is agricultural development and tackling maternal and child malnutrition (4).
The Obama administration also created a plan, working with organizations like ONE, that is on track to provide AIDS/HIV treatment to 6 million previously-unreached people by the end of 2013 (4).
A Romney administration would change the overall current system of aid, transitioning much of it to private enterprise and invest in building institutions of liberty in other nations (4).
Romney would institute a new Prosperity Pact program, essentially linking money used to assist other nations in development as well as relief programs to rules of trade and economic policies that would open those markets in target nations to the U.S. (5).
In exchange for removing those barriers and opening their markets to U.S. investment and trade, developing nations would receive U.S. assistance packages focused on developing the institutions of liberty, the rule of law and property rights (6).
The Romney Administration has not released much information regarding specific topics, like trafficking or AIDS/HIV, but focused more on changing the current method of aid to an economic/trade based program.
While this blog only looks at the two primary parties candidates, there are several other third party presidential nominees on the ballot this year. I’d strongly encourage you to do a bit of your own research to find out which candidate most closely resembles what you hope to see in your President.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, remember that even if your candidate doesn’t win this November 6th, YOU have the power to influence our future president’s agenda. Use it. Write letters and emails, call in, stop by, make a petition… whatever it takes to make your voice known, because you have the power to make your priorities theirs. Always remember: this is a republic for the people, by the people. So go out there, vote your convictions and be the people who have a hand in how this government runs.