Obama lays out liberal vision for America; Now for the follow-up

Second inaugural addresses like second honeymoons typically lack the pizazz of the first go-round. There hasn’t been a memorable second address since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s second inauguration in 1937. Even the great communicator Ronald Reagan delivered a pedestrian second inaugural address.
Expectations for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration were not as sky-high as they were four years ago. This time, however, President Obama far exceeded expectations. He may not have delivered a speech for the ages. But he gave a powerful address that laid a foundation for his second term in office.


The case for independence - from two-party system

This fall I ran for the U.S. Senate in Maryland as an Independent, and spent about $7 million of my own assets to challenge a man considered one of the safest incumbents in America. Through an abbreviated campaign launched just after Labor Day, I encountered most of the obstacles for those seeking major elective office in our country and when the votes were counted had won about 17 percent with the remainder going to the incumbent, who was handily re-elected, and the Republican nominee. What I learned is to win as an Independent in America, one needs either a household name, a machinery that can prevail over both major parties, or just the tremendous luck of both parties disgracing themselves to such an extent that voters are willing to take a chance on something totally different.


Don't let foreign aid fall off the fiscal cliff

With the presidential election behind us, attention has turned to the impending “fiscal cliff”. By New Year’s Day, the Obama Administration and Congress must identify $1.2 trillion in savings between spending cuts, revenue increases and entitlement reform. Otherwise, most federal programs will be cut by a staggering 8.2 percent.


DREAM Act, not the ACHIEVE Act , is the right solution for undocumented youth

Republicans, fresh from their electoral defeat, are considering their own legislation to compete with the DREAM Act. Sen. Kay Hutchinson (R-Texas) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) have put forward the ACHIEVE Act, similar to the alternative that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) worked on last summer and which would offer a untenable type of legal status for undocumented youth. However, a significant difference between this bill and the original DREAM Act is that the ACHIEVE Act does not even guarantee a path to citizenship.

The DREAM Act is already conservative in nature and has even gathered support in the past from prominent conservative leaders, including Senator Hutchison herself, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).


One constant in a time of great uncertainty

At a time when our country faces great uncertainty, one thing has remained constant – the men and women who stand on the frontline to defend the freedoms and values upon which this great country was built.

The service of our nation’s veterans spans every day of every year of every decade of our country’s existence. Over the past two centuries, our world has changed and the duties of the Armed Forces have changed with it. However, the bravery, dignity and honor of our men and women in uniform remain firm.


LGBT Americans are part of country's social fabric

This year, election night brought results that would have been unthinkable four years ago: stunning wins for proponents of marriage equality for gay couples across the nation. This historic moment indicates how far the LGBT movement and the country have come in the past four years on marriage equality and other lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues.
Four years ago, President Obama’s win was tempered by the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which undid the state Supreme Court’s ruling that allowed same-sex couples to marry. And given that Obama at that time did not support marriage equality, his victory left many LGBT Americans wondering when a sitting United States president would finally support this right.


Fiscal responsibility, not sequestration, is the goal

Sequestration was never intended to be good fiscal policy. It was never intended to be policy, period. When Congress passed the Budget Control Act in 2011, they formed the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, more commonly known as the Super Committee, to cut nearly a trillion dollars from the federal budget. Sequestration – a fancy word for painful cuts to every area of the 2013 budget – was a failsafe in case Super Committee negotiations broke down.

The plan was simple: By passing sequestration into law, Congress was creating a deterrent against its own gridlock. The law was so unpalatable to both sides – Democrats wanting to avoid cuts to social programs, and Republicans wanting to safeguard defense spending – that theoretically, everyone would negotiate in good faith to avoid it. 


113th Congress will be more diverse

Today, we break all the records. Today, we have the first Asian American and Pacific Islander majority district in the continental United States, which I’ve been elected to serve in Congress as the representative of California’s 17th District. As of voting day, my campaign utilized over 20 languages* to get out the vote -- an inspiring reflection of America’s growing diversity and a testament to how other campaigns in the future will communicate.


Multi-lingual outreach key to getting out the vote

This election, more than ever before, is comprised of many voices: Many communities, many ethnicities, and many languages, all coming together to form a more-perfect union. As a democracy, America’s electoral system depends on myriad voices being heard; it must be a priority to connect with those different voices in as many ways as possible.

In the 113th Congress, California’s newly-redistricted 17th Congressional District will be the first majority-minority district in the continental United States, with 51.55 percent of the total population made up of Asian-Americans, Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, and  17.46 percent made up of Latinos.


Sierra Club's toxic campaign

This election season, the Sierra Club has rolled out a campaign called “Toxic Money, Toxic Votes” that identifies six Republicans it claims are “toxic candidates” who allow oil and coal money to influence their votes.

Despite the proverbial chicken and egg problem in trying to prove cause and effect with political donations, this campaign might not be so bad if the Sierra Club had actually targeted candidates who are well known to be close allies of oil and coal. It didn’t. The organization had entirely different criteria. All six of the Republicans it targets are battling in tight campaigns listed in the Cook Political Report as “toss-up” races against Democrats.