Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of question-and-answer sessions with candidates for the office of president. Today, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., describes his pro-life platform, and says he looks forward to having Roe vs. Wade overturned.
U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.
WND:Regarding culture and values in America, you’ve been active in addressing violence and obscenity and indecency, especially on television. Tell us your concerns over this, what impact you see it having and what America really needs to do about that.
Brownback: I see it as a coarsening of the overall culture, making the culture more violent, vulgar and perverse. We have literally thousands of studies showing the more violent entertainment you have the more violent children will act. We are seeing the impacts of marketing sex in society, and the language in the country could certainly use some civility. These are, to me, just basic issues, and culture – this is Sen. Moynihan’s statement, culture is more important in many respects than politics in that it’s what you stand for and what you uphold as good and what you say is not – has a huge impact on the entire nation and the society.
The storytellers today are generally the television or the radio and that’s why I go at these issues aggressively. I think they’re important for us as a society and as a culture, and that’s why I focused on them a lot in raising the fines for indecent material on public broadcasting, on chiding media companies for vulgar, violent, sexualized material, and I’ve tried to push this really better, more wholesome society. And just as a dad, the father of five children, my wife and I raising these kids, we’d like to have the culture back us up and support us in an effort to raise good children, not always attacking us and that’s something that I think just from a personal basis many families see as a big problem.
WND: What is your perspective on the impact of a judiciary that steps beyond interpretation?
Brownback: I think the judiciary then becomes an activist and more of a legislator or a superlegislature than a court. We move from being a rule of law nation to being ruled by five people with robes on. That is not what the Founders anticipated or organized. It’s not healthy for society and I don’t think it’s healthy for the judicial system. That’s why I pushed for judges that would be strict constructionists, and would not be legislators on the bench. It’s a key point of frustration to many Americans. Many of these big social movement issues have been won not going through the legislative body but going through the courts like abortion in 1973 in Roe vs. Wade, or even the judicial activism being pushed on the definition of marriage. These are items that I believe activists courts should not be in, and the court would be better off being a court than a superlegislature and it would be more in holding with being a rule of law nation.
WND: You’ve also expressed some concern about the actions and authority of the United Nations and have suggested some changes. Can you give us your perspective on that, and perhaps what you think about the concept of the North American Union and such programs as NAFTA and SPP.
Brownback: I do not support a North American Union. I disagree fundamentally with that and I think the United States should be governing itself and not being governed by multilateral unions, the United Nations. I think the United Nations is a useful format to discuss matters but I think it’s a weak institution in being able to carry out matters and in many respects even it has been harmful on things like human rights. Many times they put in countries on the human rights panel that have huge human rights violations themselves, and I think the United Nations has proved in too many cases to be feckless in its ability to do anything, whether it’s non-action in Rwanda, the genocide that took place there, the difficulties in the Sudan and now we’re in a second genocide in Darfur.
I have had real problems with the U.N. and it’s been a body that recently certainly needs a huge workover on its accounting. It’s had multiple scandals, financial scandals at the U.N. and it needs to have oversight of its own body and others need to have oversight on its financial mismanagement and scandal. I want to make clear, I’m a supporter of trade. I believe in trade and I think we ought to have an open trading system as far as allowing goods and services to move back and forth between nations subject to regulation and inspection, but as low if not zero tariffs as possible. I want to qualify that by saying if people won’t abide by trading rules I think we ought to be able to use tariffs against them. I think in the case of China today that won’t allow its currency to float and doesn’t honor our intellectual property, I think we should be able to take aggressive action against them in the trading system that’ll have an impact on the Chinese companies and the Chinese government that’s violating this.
WND: Americans recently took grass-roots action and apparently influenced the Senate when the vote went against the immigration proposal that was pending. Give us your perspective on the issue of illegal immigration and its impacts. What should the nation do next?
Brownback: The nation should enforce the border and enforce our laws. I think that’s what the country has spoken and said they want to see the borders secured and the laws enforced. I had I don’t know how many people say to me I want to see you actually enforce the laws that you have now, before we do something different. I think that’s clearly what the nation has spoken and said.
WND: Is that something that is possible? Are the numbers of undocumented immigrants simply overwhelming?
Brownback: I think it’s enforceable, particularly I’ve supported and voted for building the fence and funding the fence. I think that will be helpful in securing the southern border. I think we can enforce at the workplace a much better enforcement system. And we need to make it simple for the employer, so that they can contact Social Security or some other entity, particularly Social Security though over the Internet and find out if a number from somebody that’s applying for work with them is a good number or a bad number. If it’s a bad number that they not hire them or if they do they’re going to pay a significant penalty. I think we have to make that employer verification system much easier to access, simpler and higher quality than what it currently it. I think those will really help in the enforcement area. It’ll have impact over time. I think that over time we do need to look at a guest worker program, but at this point in time, I think the country has spoken clearly, and they want us to enforce the law.
WND: Would you support an amendment to the Constitution limiting marriage to one man and one woman?
Brownback: Yes. I carried this amendment in the Senate the last two times we voted it. I brought it through my subcommittee on the Constitution and the judiciary. I think this is a central cultural institution. It is the way societies have organized their families for millennia. To move away from it is a huge, huge social experiment, and other countries that have done it, the early results are very bad. You’ve seen the number of people getting married falling off precipitously. We don’t need fewer marriages in America, we more and stronger marriages. We need children raised in a situation, the optimum situation. We need more children raised in the optimum situation, which is between a mom and a dad bonded together for life. You can raise good children in other settings but we do know that’s the optimal setting from all of the social data. That’s why I strongly support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
WND: Please share with us your perspective on abortion, Roe vs. Wade and when the Constitution’s protections for life should apply.
Brownback: I think I want to be the president that appoints the justice that’s the needed vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade. I do not at all believe that the fundamental right to an abortion is in the Constitution as it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court. It is not there, and I think this has been a huge travesty in which we’ve had millions of abortions in the United States. And every abortion is a tragedy with at least two victims, one’s dead and one’s wounded. I think this is something we just really have to deal with. It is, I think, the most significant social issue of our time, and it is a key part of my campaign. It’s something I believe strongly we need to change, and the country is with us now. The majority of people in America are pro-life. I really want to see us move on through this and overturn Roe vs. Wade and have the issue returned to the states. My opinion is the constitutional right to life begins at the beginning. It becomes when you become a separate genetic entity, and that begins at the moment of fertilization. I believe we should have the right to life attached at the beginning and follow through all the way to the natural end.
WND: What is your perspective about the terrorism threats that U.S. citizens are facing within our own borders?
Brownback: They are significant, and something we have to fight aggressively against. We’re going to be in the war with the Islamists for a generation. We had been in it for 10 years prior to 9-11 before we experienced the Pearl Harbor of this war and that’s what 9-11 was. This is a fight with radical militant Islam. It is not everybody that’s a Muslim, but it is a dedicated group. We have a number of allies who are with us, who are Muslim. But I think we have to recognize what this fight is, and we’re going to be in it a long time. Here on own home soil, I think we have to be very aggressive on our intelligence. That matters to keep people safe. I think we have to secure our borders, and make sure that people coming in are coming here not to do us harm.
I just think we have to recognize the type of fight we’re in and it’s going to be a long-term fight. I also think we’ve got to start coming together as a country, Republicans and Democrats and independents and everybody else, recognizing this is a fight we’re in and we’re going to be in it for a generation and coming around to a common agreement to engage in this fight like we did with the long-term fight against communism in the Cold War, where we had a strategic agreement across the nation that we’re confronting communism or we’re going to. Now there was a disagreement on tactics but there was a common agreement on the strategy, we’re going to confront this and we’re going to do everything we can to contain it. We need to develop a similar strategy regarding with the war with fascist Islam.
WND: How would you like to be able to direct the national discussion during the campaign?
Brownback: I’d like to be able to direct it on the need to rebuild the family and renew the culture. Those are the central institutions that really need help and they are the ones we have to build up to sustain the will to fight in this long-term fight against militant Islam. The people would say, well, you ought to talk about Iraq or this or the economy. If we will rebuild that family structure and renew the culture you will build your basis for a growing economy and your strength to face off against radical militant Islam over the generation. But you’ve got to get your basics right, and that’s where I think we’ve got the most difficulty, in our basics.