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Our Platform

 

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Preliminary Platform

Adopted by the 2023 Executive Committee

 

We came together to form the North Carolina Forward Party because the long-standing tradition of good faith governance and decision making has been lost. We find ourselves trapped in a two-party system that is preoccupied with fundraising, promotes extremism, and often leads American politics into gridlock on many of the nation’s most pressing issues.

We are on a quest to restore our democracy and guide our system to one in which representatives debate policy rationally, seek consensus in good faith and can deliver common-sense solutions to the people of North Carolina and indeed the entire country.

 

 

Our platform is a data driven compilation of voter feedback obtained from reputable sources such as the Pew Research Center, Gallup polls, Associated Press (AP) polls, and regular surveys from the membership of North Carolina Forward Party.

It is our mission to actively seek input from our membership and present North Carolina Forward candidates with a range of views palatable to the majority of our voters. When analyzing our data, we found some widely supported solutions were fairly conservative in nature, while others were fairly progressive. North Carolina Forward Party candidates will be using this range-based platform to determine their precise position on each issue within the parameters defined in the platform above.

If we are successful in creating open primaries, voters will have a choice between multiple Forward candidates, each with slightly different platforms based on where each candidate feels the line of compromise should be drawn. Since it is a candidates’ job to represent their constituents, we feel it is critically important to continuously seek voter feedback and carefully incorporate it into our platform. As society evolves, so will we.

The platform below represents the North Carolina Forward Party’s position on important issues facing our great nation today. Rather than having a single prescriptive policy for each issue, the platform represents a range of solutions generally embraced by our party. While diversity among our ranks is prized, we reject extreme positions with little support from our voters.

Our goal is not for every Forwardist to agree with every policy, but for every policy to be supported broadly by the voters of North Carolina. Most importantly, we are proposing structural changes to our electoral system that addresses the root cause of many of our political problems and deficiencies. These changes will enable more voices to be heard, provide more choices in elections, and restore consensus-driven policy as the central pillar of our politics.

Working together, we can embrace common ground, compromise in good faith, and deliver common-sense solutions that drive our priorities - Free People, Thriving Communities, and Vibrant Democracy - forward!

 

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Electoral reforms are our top priority. The reforms proposed are designed to break the stranglehold of extremism on our political discourse. These structural reforms include non-partisan primaries, ranked-choice voting, ending gerrymandering by using non-partisan redistricting commissions, implementing term limits and age limits for elected officials and those holding office, including the Supreme Court. 

Additionally, we advocate for mandated blind trusts for all state and federal level elected offices and a ban on congressional self-directed stock trading that includes immediate family members.

While no healthcare system is perfect, Americans spend far more both publicly and privately on healthcare than any other nation. Rising costs are creating worrisome roadblocks for patients receiving the crucial treatments they require. Our focus will be on finding solutions that include reducing administrative costs, streamlining regulatory requirements, implementing reforms to insurance and health systems to provide more choice, lower premiums, and lower health care costs; offering subsidies to help the most vulnerable Americans get insurance; as well as expand Medicaid and a public option where Americans can choose a Medicare plan with premiums based on their income.

We will also focus on bringing down the cost of pharmaceutical care through patient choice and patent reform that prevents companies producing lifesaving drugs like insulin from making minor formula changes and retiring generic versions from production.  Americans need results on healthcare when even a good job still leaves you one health crisis from bankruptcy.

 

Abortion Access

Abortion continues to be one of America’s greatest wedge issues and for decades, exploited by the two main parties for fundraising. Surprisingly, it is also an issue with wide common ground. Like most Americans, we believe individuals should have reasonable access to early term abortion.  Some of our members will embrace the old Roe standard of 26 while others only support lower limits of 12 weeks or less.  And while we do not advocate for discretionary late-term abortion, we do agree with most Americans on maintaining exceptions for rape, incest, and the health of the mother later in the term.

North Carolina has one of the highest rates of working mothers with young children. Thus, the issue of childcare should be one of the state's top priorities. As the nature of North Carolina’s workforce changes, it becomes paramount that our community develops the necessary infrastructure and social framework to minimize the impact of change to families.

The North Carolina Forward Party will advocate for new government incentive programs in a similar fashion to that of religious-sponsored child care facilities as outlined in NC child care rules and laws; tax credit opportunities, which will minimize the state funded administration cost; and funding to establish new child care facilities.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the first public university in the United States and started the UNC System in 1789. North Carolina has a long history with the advancement of education for all people; and a culture orientated around the pursuit of knowledge. The North Carolina Forward Party will continue to advance that tradition.

We believe an educated populace is the key to maintaining a healthy civic and voting life. Education at its very core is about workforce development and preparing all students for competency in life skills and self-reliance. Our members will typically support positions like enabling local communities to make the best decisions for the children, providing sufficient resources for K-12 education, working to control costs at the post-secondary level, and providing accessible career entry level positions to get young people started working with minimal debt. 

 

Teacher Support

We value trades and liberal arts alike and believe that teachers should be paid enough so that they need not require second jobs to keep their financial freedoms and that they should not be asked or encouraged to fund classroom expenses from their own pocket.

 

Student Loan Support

The North Carolina Forward Party wants to give Americans in general, but North Carolinians in particular, relief from student debt. We understand student debt is an issue that matters to our young people. Moreover, we understand the cost of tuition has become an extraordinary burden, whereby the cost of education no longer seems to match the benefit.

While we work to understand the mechanics of tuition lending practices, we have student loan support initiatives that we can put in place to help with financial hardships. Our members will embrace a range of positions on the matter from advocating to to zero or near-zero rates on loans to loan forgiveness in specific cases.

For instance, the North Carolina Forward Party will advocate for deferring loan payments for three years after graduation. This initiative will allow individuals to pay down the loan principal, which will lower the interest payments on the loan at the end of deferment and give individuals additional time to grow their disposable income.

We will also work to have this deferral period count towards public service employees’ ten-year forgiveness program so that it will only be seven years of required compliance for which loan payments need to be made–this will include advocacy for reducing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program requirement for on-time student loan payments from 120 to 84. Additionally, we will also advocate for changes to mortgage loan requirements, whereby current student debt no longer factors into your debt-to-income ratio for when you apply for a loan.

Economic policy is complex, and best not reduced to a platform plank. But generally speaking, Forward members embrace free market capitalism, capitalism and equality of access to the exceptional opportunity that America provides. Our members will support a range of policies with a broad goal in mind: Are we creating good American jobs, keeping competitive in the world market, and providing economic benefits to all Americans? As a results-oriented party, we’ll be especially interested in efficient regulatory frameworks, business friendly processes, and aligning costs and incentives.

 

Local Development

Unlike the major parties, the North Carolina Forward Party will not play into rural-urban divisive politics. All our communities are important to ensuring North Carolina as a whole is prosperous. With that being said, we also understand that each community has its own wants and needs. For instance, broadband internet access is of great interest to our rural communities whereas housing supply is of great interest to our urban communities. Accordingly, the North Carolina Forward Party will work for all North Carolinians.

Due to the fact that we are solution oriented, addressing local issues is a top priority. While the two major parties tend to be exclusively interested in abstract cultural issues, the North Carolina Forward Party seeks to examine real issues, which starts at the local level. Broadband access, transportation, roads, restoration, sewage, waste management, utilities, clean air and water, schools, hospitals, grocery and pharmaceutical stores, and other everyday topics that are of critical interest to North Carolinians need to be prioritized above cultural debates.

The North Carolina Forward Party believes secure, accessible, and affordable housing is for all North Carolinians and essential for the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Currently, North Carolina is facing a housing shortage which has led to increasing prices. Economic prosperity in the state has driven much of the increase due to the demand for housing from a growing population. However, our markets have struggled to meet demand due to scarcity in the supply of homes and rental units.

As a consequence, low housing inventory in North Carolina has made it so affordable housing is difficult to obtain. While advocating for an increase in housing is straightforward enough, addressing the factors that lead to unaffordable housing is a multivariate problem. The North Carolina Forward Party has identified several factors driving the lack of affordable housing: zoning laws, building materials, mortgage requirements and inflation impact, and foreign real estate investment.

 

Zoning Laws

The state must reduce the artificial barriers imposed by overregulating the housing market, particularly exclusionary zoning. Restrictive and exclusionary zoning limits the type and number of housings that can be built. These regulations include prohibiting multifamily housing, setting minimum lot sizes, parking requirements, mandating setbacks, and limiting the height of houses. The North Carolina Forward Party will work to reduce unnecessary exclusionary zoning laws.

 

Building Material

Building material costs rose 31.3% from early 2020 to early 2022, which is largely due to supply constraints from economic shutdowns in response to the Covid-19 global pandemic. Moreover, for the 12 months ended in November, the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand for food, energy, and trade services increased 4.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The North Carolina Forward Party wants to work with local suppliers of raw material to ensure they are as efficient as possible to reduce lead time and cost being remitted to consumers.

 

Mortgage Requirements

Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 tightened the grip on the mortgage world, which in turn tightened opportunities for Americans to get a loan to purchase a home. Regulatory guidelines have created a significant bottleneck for everyday hardworking Americans to get a mortgage. Additionally, wage stagnation relative to rising inflation has priced out many potential primary residence homebuyers.

According to a 2022 Redfin report, a homebuyer must earn $107,281 to afford the $2,682 monthly mortgage payment on the typical U.S. home. This has been the result of rising interest rates to cool inflation. The North Carolina Forward Party wants to work with local banks to establish inflation impact prevention measures to allow for potential homebuyers to have more favorable debt-to-income benchmarks when attempting to get a mortgage.

 

Foreign Investment

The North Carolina Forward Party certainly welcomes foreign investors participating in our economy and contributing to the prosperity of North Carolina. However, we must ensure that a balance is maintained. In 2021, foreign buyers spent $59 billion to purchase 98,600 existing homes in the U.S. of which 4% was in North Carolina. This can certainly impact our initiative to make housing accessible and affordable. The North Carolina Forward Party intends to monitor foreign real estate investments to ensure investment activity does not produce a net loss for North Carolinians.

The North Carolina Forward Party is committed to the continuous advancement and betterment of our military personnel, veterans, and their families and the proud heritage they represent. Many of our members are veterans, active-duty military, or grew up as a military brat. This is because North Carolina has a vibrant military culture. Fort Bragg is one of the largest military bases in the United States. It is home to over 75,000 active-duty personnel and the Airborne and Special Operation Force.

While Fort Bragg is one of our largest military installations, North Carolina represents all types of military personnel from Army Reserves to the Air Force. In addition, North Carolina is home to about 700 thousand veterans. As a result, North Carolina offers many special benefits to our service members, veterans, and their families including but not limited to property tax exemptions, veteran assistance, preference in hiring for government jobs and contracts, and tuition assistance.

 

TRICARE

One way we can show our support is to advocate for additional TRICARE funding for active duty members and veterans. TRICARE combines the health care resources of the Military Health System with the civilian healthcare network to cultivate and sustain the healthcare needs of our military personnel, veterans, and their families.

 

Supporting Active-Duty Family Members

The North Carolina Forward Party is committed to the well-being of active-duty family members (ADFMs). We seek to partner with organizations like Military OneSource to ensure ADFMs are getting the resources they need and are entitled to. We will continue to advance the ongoing efforts to ensure ADFMs of deployed military personnel receive the support they need to manage the difficulties associated with long and frequent deployments.

 

Veterans Treatment Court

Veterans treatment court helps veterans involved in the justice system due to mental health disorders, trauma, and substance use. The North Carolina Forward Party would like to see the expansion of veteran treatment courts in all jurisdictions of North Carolina.

There are no words that can correspond to our Armed Forces and their families’ stoic contribution to our country. They have taken up arms against a sea of troubles with bravery and stoicism, and by opposing them Old Glory remains waving each day secure and free. We humbly offer in lieu of conveying the right words that it is because of their sacrifice and commitment the rest of us have the privilege to call America the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The Democrat and Republican back and forth about crime is unproductive.  It’s not an issue of being hard or soft on crime. We want to be smart on crime. Our members believe that reform and keeping streets safe must go hand in hand. To that end, our members will support policies keeping violent offenders in prison, including bail policies consistent with the ability of local law enforcement to keep streets safe. But they will also support policies that invest more in courts, law enforcement, and reentry so that we can reduce prison populations, end police brutality, reunite families, and still keep our communities safe. And, when sentencing debt to society is achieved rights to vote are restored without exception.

 

Law Enforcement Recruiting & Retention

Securing our communities is a necessary condition before any meaningful legislation can take root. Currently, North Carolina is experiencing a police shortage. In 2021, 758 students passed the state’s BLET exam and became eligible for law enforcement certification. That’s down from 990 students who passed the exam in the first half of 2020. Accordingly, the North Carolina Forward Party seeks to enhance the experience of law enforcement to attract and retain police officers. The North Carolina Forward Party will advocate for policy to increase law enforcement wages, add sabbatical benefits, and work to reduce “resetting” an officer if they move laterally to a new department.

 

Gun Violence

We recognize and respect that the 2nd Amendment protects the right of law-abiding citizens to own a weapon. But we understand that gun violence and public safety is a key worry. Our members will embrace a range of policies that reflect their region and culture.  Some may be more comfortable with liberal gun laws resting only upon standardized background checks, while others may be in favor of more stringent controls like licensure or enhanced background checks for handguns and semi-automatic weapons and outright bans of automatic weapons. We believe most, but not all, gun policy should be negotiated at a state level, and that all policy needs to be consistent with Supreme Court rulings.

The North Carolina Forward Party believes the rigorous study of issues relating to the causes and consequences of crime, victimization, the operation of the criminal justice system, policing, courts, and correction is essential for understanding the root cause of criminal motivation and behavior in our state. This entails understanding the consequences of advocating for legislation to enact, amend, or repeal criminalizing, decriminalizing, or legalizing certain substances and behaviors.

 

Expungement

We advocate that North Carolina’s expungement laws should be extended or clarified to make it permissible for a person who has successfully been granted an expunction of a criminal record to affirm, i.e., “check the box”, during an employment application that they do not have a criminal record. This will allow the candidate to have favorable opportunities when seeking employment as well as eliminate any legal question associated with misrepresenting criminal history.

 

Cannabis

Many of our members believe that liberalization of cannabis laws is overdue. America has a template for doing this based on our experience with Prohibition that allows states to tightly regulate the sale, and counties to even prohibit the sale entirely within their borders, with possession remaining legal. Cannabis legalization and regulation is broadly popular in America, however and we should embrace that consensus. Not all of our members will support legalization, but many will support decriminalization, medical use, and/or allowing states to make their own choice. 

The North Carolina Forward Party embraces and welcomes new Americans while still valuing border security. As a results-oriented party, our members will embrace a variety of policies including but not limited to: increased funding for border security; easier merit based immigration processes; increased personnel to review refugee and asylum cases so that vulnerable people can move from government support to productive earning; more efficient immigration processing and case handling; market based immigration limits; foreign policy to address the root cause of mass migration and allow our neighbors to lead safe and productive lives in their home countries.

We understand the limited role that states play on immigration policy, and therefore embrace cooperation with federal agencies on the matter. The North Carolina Forward Party will be cooperative with DHS and other immigration agencies. We will empower local law enforcement agencies to make immigration enforcement decisions that best align with the interest of their communities insofar as those decisions are consistent with the INA and advance the bona fide interest of their communities both in matters concerning legality and social well-being.

Nature is abundant and absolute in the Old North State. From the Great Smoky Mountains in the west to the Outer Banks in the east, and the rolling hills of the Piedmont in between, North Carolina is filled with natural scenery and breathtaking beauty. Pines, oaks, and maple trees carry the scent of nature across the state and our rivers flow gently throughout the land.

North Carolina has four national forests for camping, hiking, biking, or simply to get away and take it all in. The state’s mountain region contains remarkable summits placed in the Appalachian subranges. The state’s coastal line is off the Atlantic Ocean, which has multiple stunning beach sites to visit during the hot summer days.

We are a state that strives to cultivate a vibrant and healthy green, clear, and clean environment. Every North Carolinian believes we ought to be stewards over the environment, and the North Carolina Forward Party is committed to that belief.

 

Climate Change

Our party understands and accepts climate change as a serious challenge.  But we also understand there are serious economic costs involved that need to be carefully considered. We believe common ground is the best place to start. Starting with evidence based and cost/benefit analysis which effectively balances carbon solutions and green solutions and results in energy independence.

Our members will support policies that may include: creating a national high voltage electrical infrastructure that allows existing energy production to move to the grids that need it most; breaking the gridlock on nuclear energy and investing in Gen III and IV nuclear reactors and waste policies so that nuclear can be a safe; low carbon baseload option; investing in community resiliency to storms and climate change, especially in coastal areas; and partnering with farmers and rural communities on carbon capture.

There are pockets of divisions in America around race, religion, and sexuality in this country.  While the existing parties offer a binary choice, Forward sees the world differently.  We recognize historical policies have led to inequality in this country. We can balance legal protections and a public square commitment to tolerance without a wholesale redefinition of our culture.

The North Carolina Forward Party believes in creating American unity by a commitment to tolerance and pluralism. Accordingly, the North Carolina Forward Party believes wholeheartedly in the idea of out of many, one (e pluribus unum).

The North Carolina Forward Party welcomes ideas that emerge from cultural communities such as those ideas that originate from Latin America cultures, Europe, Africa, and Middle East cultures, Asia and the Pacific Lands cultures, religious and spiritual communities, and BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. However, ideas need to be advanced with viewpoint diversity, inclusion, and tolerance in mind.

Because the North Carolina Forward Party advocates for knowledge, reason, and the pursuit of truth in our political discourse to support common-sense solutions, we believe everyone should have an opportunity to have a voice in the debate and bring their perspective to the marketplace of ideas. No one has a monopoly on knowledge, reason, truth, and good ideas, and therefore members of the North Carolina Forward Party are expected to approach differences of opinion with an open-mind, good faith, and with respect.

 Iraqi philosopher and Muslim theologian al-Kindi tells us, “no one is demeaned by the truth, rather all are ennobled by it.” And for everyone to be ennobled by truth, individuals must first be allowed to pursue and speak it, even at the risk of being mistaken.