The Democratic Platform (Draft) - A Selective Commentary
This is my selective review of the draft of the Democratic platform (changes might still be made). I'll just highlight the stuff I really like or dislike. You can go read the whole thing itself, just follow the link. Here we go
"A great nation now demands that its leaders abandon the politics of partisan division and find creative solutions to promote the common good. A people that prizes candor, accountability and fairness insists that a government for the people must level with them and champion the interests of all American families. A land of historic resourcefulness has lost its patience with elected officials who have failed to lead."
Uh oh, this does not start well. Partisan division is NOT the problem. Republican governance is. Creative solutions are good, but they include first sending the Republican leadership back to the hole they crawled out of.
"And so, Democrats –through the most open platform process in history –are reaching out today to Republicans and Independents who hunger for a new direction and a reason to hope."
I think I'm going to need a puke bucket AND a large supply of barf bags to make it through this.
"The Republican leadership said they would keep us safe, but they overextended our military and failed to respond to new challenges. They said they would be compassionate conservatives, but they failed to rescue our citizens from the roof-tops of New Orleans, neglected our veterans, and denied health insurance to children. They promised fiscal responsibility but instead gave tax cuts to the wealthy few and squandered almost a trillion dollars in Iraq. They promised reform but allowed the oil companies to write our energy agenda and the credit card companies to write the bankruptcy rules."
Of course, nothing concerning the central fact that in most of these cases, the Democratic leadership rolled over and played dead.
"Leadership on these issues has been sorely lacking these past eight years. In the 1990s, under Bill Clinton’s leadership, employment and incomes grew and we built up a budget surplus."
Well, isn't it nice to finally recognize that for all his shortcomings and disappointments, Bill Clinton turned out to be a rather decent president, especially considering the insane Republican Congress he had to deal with from 1994 on.
"From the mother working two jobs to pay the bills and the couple struggling to care for young children and aging parents, to the tens of millions of Americans without health insurance and the workers who have seen their jobs shipped overseas, too many Americans have been invisible to our current President and his party for too long. The people who do the work in America have never been invisible to the Democratic Party."
And they're easy to post too! They're all under the bus along with us, Hillary supporters.
On health care
"Health care should be a shared responsibility between employers, workers, insurers, providers and government. All Americans should have coverage they can afford; employers should have incentives to provide coverage to their workers; insurers and providers should ensure high quality affordable care; and the government should ensure that health insurance is affordable and provides meaningful coverage. As affordable coverage is made available, individuals should purchase health insurance and take steps to lead healthy lives."
No mandates. Individuals should purchase health insurance... doesn't sound good (better than what we have now but that's not the point). Real health care reform is meaningless without mandates and single payer systems. And I didn't read anything in terms of incrementalism, so, it does not look to me like this is just a first step.
"Health care reform must also ensure adequate incentives for innovation to ensure that Americans have access to evidence-based and cost-effective health care. Research should be based on science, not ideology. We need to invest in biomedical research and stem cell research , so that we are at the leading edge of prevention and treatment."
My emphasis... excellent, no more stalling by religious nuts against certain medications then! Good. And good on being clear on stem cell research.
On reproductive health care
"We oppose the current Administration’s consistent attempts to undermine a woman’s ability to make her own life choices and obtain reproductive health care, including birth control. We will end health insurance discrimination against contraception and provide compassionate care to rape victims. We will never put ideology above women’s health."
Personally, I'd like stronger language on this. The problem is not just this administration but also the variety of ultra-conservatives at the state and local levels who can really make a mess of things for women. Even when this administration is gone, the enemies of sex and women will still be active and a real threat.
On Social Security
"We reject the notion of the presumptive Republican nominee that Social Security is a disgrace; we believe that it is indispensable. We will fulfill our obligation to strengthen Social Security and to make sure that it provides guaranteed benefits Americans can count on, now and in future generations. We will not privatize it ."
"We will strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions and fight to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. We will restore pro-worker voices to the National Labor Relations Board and the National Mediation Board and we support overturning the NLRB’s and NMB’s many harmful decisions that undermine the collective bargaining rights of millions of workers."
Yay for unions... but but but... OMG, this is going to send all our jobs to India and China!!!
On working families
"We will expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to reach millions more workers than are currently covered, and will enable workers to take leave to care for an elderly parent, address domestic violence and sexual assault, or attend a parent-teacher conference. Today 78 percent of the workers who are eligible for leave cannot take it because it’s unpaid, so we will work with states and make leave paid ."
How? And as a European, I know this is all supposed to be a BIG improvement (later, there is something to the effect of 7 sick days for all), but frankly, this all sucks.
One lousy paragraph relating to EITC and indexing the minimum wage to inflation (which is a joke).
Are you freakin' kidding me? ONE lousy paragraph! (On page 14)
Check out this little gem:
"We, the Democratic Party, are the party that has produced more women Governors, Senators, and Members of Congress than any other. We have produced first woman Secretary of State, the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives, and, in 2008, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first woman in American history to win presidential primaries in our nation. We believe that our daughters should have the same opportunities as our sons; our party is proud that we have put 18 million cracks in the highest glass ceiling."
Oh yeah, the first woman to win primaries... and the one the Democratic leadership allowed to be smeared and insulted by a rabid mob of misogynists personality cultists, along with the media. How dare they claim credit for this now? And "we have put 18 million cracks? For !@#$'s sake. Yeah, this leadership made sure they remained cracks and that the damn ceiling is still well in place for years to come.
"We believe that standing up for our country means standing up against sexism and all intolerance. Demeaning portrayals of women cheapen our debates, dampen the dreams of our daughters, and deny us the contributions of too many. Responsibility lies with us all."
Irony officially died.
"We must ensure that every student has a high-quality teacher and an effective principal. That starts with recruiting a new generation of teachers and principals by making this pledge–if you commit your life to teaching, America will commit to paying for your college education. We'll provide better preparation, mentoring and career ladders. Where there are teachers who are still struggling and underperforming we should provide them with individual help and support. And if they're still underperforming after that, we should find a quick and fair way—consistent with due process—to put another teacher in that classroom."
I like this. This makes sense to me but as usual, this ignores the fact that a lot of "education" issues are issues of poverty, communities, crime, etc. Unless these underlying conditions are addressed, some schools will continue to underperform. But it's a start, as is actually stated later.
It's not a bad section but it is very vague. I would have liked some clear statements of opposition to vouchers, for instance.
Om community colleges
Hey, I work at one, so, this one is important to me, and let me state this: it sucks!
"At community colleges and training programs across the country, we will invest in short term accelerated training and technical certifications for the unemployed and under employed to speed their transition into careers in high-demand occupations and emerging industries. We will reward successful community colleges with grants so they can continue their good work. We support education delivery that makes it possible for nontraditional students to receive support and encouragement to obtain a college education, including Internet, distance education, and night and weekend programs. We need to fully fund joint labor-management apprenticeship programs and reinvigorate our industrial crafts programs to train the next generation of skilled American craft workers."
This really sucks and does not correspond to our exact reality. More than half of all American students start their higher education at CCs not for job training but to save money before transferring someplace else. How about addressing THEIR needs? More and more, CCs are transfer institutions as well as vocational / occupation institutions. (See my post from yesterday)
Oh, and one of our main problems is the fact that states have been progressively disengaging from funding CCs and there is nothing in there to change that.
And on higher ed in general:
"Our institutions of higher education are also the economic engines of today and tomorrow. We will partner with them to translate new ideas into innovative products, processes and services."
Who needs a liberal education that teaches critical thinking, dealing with globalization, etc.? Sigh.
On the economy
Boring boring boring... nothing earth-shattering: fiscal responsibility, transparency and fairness... blah blah blah.
On foreign policy
"Today, we are again called to provide visionary leadership. This century's threats are at least as dangerous as, and in some ways more complex than, those we have confronted in the past. They come from weapons that can kill on a mass scale and from violent extremists who respond to alienation or perceived injustice with terror. They come from rogue states allied to terrorists and from rising powers that could challenge both America and the international foundation of liberal democracy. They come from weak states that cannot control their territory or provide for their people. They come from an addiction to oil that helps fund the extremism we must fight and empowers repressive regimes. And they come from a warming planet that will spur new diseases, spawn more devastating natural disasters, and catalyze deadly conflicts."
Ok, I could quibble but it's not bad. It covers all the bases.
1. Ending the war in Iraq (complete redeployment within 16 months with residual force, no permanent bases)
2. Defeating al Qaeda:
"The central front in the war on terror is not Iraq, and it never was. We will defeat Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where those who actually attacked us on 9-11 reside and are resurgent."
This is a joke right? That's it? Has anyone actually read anything on Al Qeada?
3. Win in Afghanistan (more brigades, more NATO, more political and development aid)
4. New partnership with Pakistan (for both 4 and 5... lots of high tech surveillance gizmos!)
5. Combat terrorism by supporting moderate Muslims
Nothing on FISA... I guess that's a done deal.
On the military
"We support the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and the implementation of policies to allow qualified men and women to serve openly regardless of sexual orientation."
It's about damn time.
On Private Military Contractors
"We believe taxpayer dollars should be spent to invest in our fighting men and women, not to fatten the pockets of private companies. We will instruct the Defense and State Departments to develop a strategy for determining when contracting makes sense, and when certain functions are “inherently governmental” and should not be contracted out. We will establish the legal status of contractor personnel, making possible prosecution of any abuses committed by private military contractors, and create a system of improved oversight and management, so that government can restore honesty, openness andefficiency to the contracting and procurement."
In other words, they're here to stay.
On foreign policy
Lots of well-meaning pro-growth, pro-trade stuff.
"We believe that in the 21st century, the U.S. must treat Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean as full partners, just as our neighbors to the south should reject the bombast of authoritarian bullies."
HA! Take that Hugo Chavez! They totally dissed him!
"And we must build ties to the people of Cuba and help advance their liberty by allowing unlimited family visits and remittances to the island, while presenting the Cuban regime with a clear choice: if it takes significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the unconditional release of all political prisoners, we will be prepared to take steps to begin normalizing relations."
In the meantime, still in the doghouse. Way to court Miami's votes!
"We will encourage China to play a responsible role as a growing power–to help lead in addressing the common problems of the twenty-first century."
Oh yeah, because China is definitely waiting for our encouragements to be a big player in the world. Geez.
On the Middle East
"Our starting point must always be our special relationship with Israel, grounded in shared interests and shared values, and a clear, strong, fundamental commitment to the security of Israel, our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy. That commitment, which requires us to ensure that Israel retains a qualitative edge for its national security and its right to self-defense, is all the more important as we contend with growing threats in the region–a strengthened Iran, a chaotic Iraq, the resurgence of al Qaeda, the reinvigoration of Hamas and Hezbollah. We support the implementation of the memorandum of understanding that pledges $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade to enhance and ensure its security."
So, that's for Israel. What's in store for the Palestinians, that is, beyond the two-state solution?
"The creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations, together with an international compensation mechanism, should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel. All understand that it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949. Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths."
So, basically, they get diddly squat. That seems a balanced policy to me *snark*
On global leadership
Money for AIDS, malaria, the MDGs... all good. AND... the thing I was looking for
"We also support the adoption of humanitarian licensing policies that ensure medications developed with the U.S. taxpayer dollars are available off patent in developing countries. We will repeal the global gag rule and reinstate funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). We will expand access to health care and nutrition for women and reduce the burden of maternal mortality."
On global humanitarian standards
"American leadership on human rights is essential to making the world safer, more just and more humane. Such leadership must begin with steps to undo the damage of the Bush years. But we also must go much further. We should work with others to shape human rights institutions and instruments tailored to the twenty-first century. We must make the United Nations' human rights organs more objective, energetic and effective. The U.S. must lead global efforts to promote international humanitarian standards and to protect civilians from indiscriminate violence during warfare. We will champion accountability for genocide and war crimes, ending the scourge of impunity for massive human rights abuses."
And yet, no clear denunciation of torture and nothing on the International Criminal Court. It might seem to be implied but I would have loved these things to be explicitly mentioned.
That section is surprisingly short beyond "dependency on oil sucks" and there really isn't much there.
Then comes the final section of the platform
"For the millions living here illegally but otherwise playing by the rules, we must require them to come out of the shadows and get right with the law. We support a system that requires undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, pay taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens. They are our neighbors, and we can help them become full tax paying, law-abiding, productive members of society."
What's an "undocumented immigrant in good standing"? How long will the "back of the line" be?"
"And we need to crack down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants, especially those who pay their workers less than the minimum wage. It's a problem when we only enforce our laws against the immigrants themselves, with raids that are ineffective, tear apart families and leave people detained without adequate access to counsel."
Good for that.
But this is all way too nice... what will Lou Dobbs say???
The Dems have long ago given up on gun control, so, there's only one useless paragraph on that. I'll skip.
I dedicate the next section to Vast Left... read it while I go throw up:
"We honor the central place of faith in our lives. Like our Founders, we believe that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it inspires. We believe that change comes not from the top-down, but from the bottom-up, and that few are closer to the people than our churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques. To face today’s challenges–from saving our planet to ending poverty—we need all hands on deck. Faith-based groups are not a replacement for government or secular non-profit programs, rather, they are yet another sector working to meet challenges of the 21st century. We will empower grassroots faith based and community groups to help meet challenges like poverty, ex-offender reentry, and illiteracy. At the same time, we can ensure that these partnerships do not endanger First Amendment protections and that public funds are not used to proselytize or discriminate. We will also ensure that taxpayer dollars are only used on programs that actually work."
It's not as bad as Obama's faith-based orgs at the heart of the national agenda but there is a little bit missing here... can you spot it? Yup, faith-free Americans. We, God-free folks do not make lives stronger and richer, nor do we engage in countless acts of justice and... that is just so annoying.
On families... or the obligatory scolding of the absentee father
Ok, one section on how kids are great, then the following section on fathers:
"Too many fathers are missing–missing from too many lives and too many homes. Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and are more likely to commit crime, drop out of school, abuse drugs and end up in prison. We need more fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to understand that what makes a man is not the ability to have a child–it's the courage to raise one. We will support fathers by providing transitional training to get jobs, removing tax penalties on married families, and expanding maternity and paternity leave. We will reward those who are responsibly supporting their children by giving them a tax credit, crack down on men who avoid child support payments, and we will ensure that payments go directly to families instead of bureaucracies."
Then a section on seniors... is there something missing? Anyone?? Yup, nothing on mothers. Sorry, MOM!
In Obama's Democratic party, fathers suck and mothers are invisible, but the kids are all right! (Does this lame Who reference reveal my age and therefore uncoolness?)
On choice... right at the end.
"The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.
The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empowers people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.
The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs."
So, "safe, legal and rate" is gone but that's no issue for me. I'm always ambivalent regarding the "age-appropriate" thing because that can be twisted. Otherwise, I'm fine with it.
On criminal justice
I'll go with Jeralyn, she's the expert:
"On criminal justice, it's a bit disappointing. While it stresses prevention and drug treatment, including more drug courts, there's a lot of emphasis on more cops and nothing criticizing mandatory minimum sentences."
Open government!!! FOIA for all!! Documents online. Online video archives.
"As we combat terrorism, we must not sacrifice the American values we are fighting to protect. In recent years, we've seen an Administration put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. The Democratic Party rejects this dichotomy. We will restore our constitutional traditions, and recover our nation’s founding commitment to liberty under law."
So, Habeas Corpus is back in, right?
"We support constitutional protections and judicial oversight on any surveillance program involving Americans. We will review the current Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. We reject illegal wire-tapping of American citizens.,/span>
We reject the use of national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. We reject the tracking of citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. We reject torture. We reject sweeping claims of “inherent” presidential power. We will revisit the Patriot Act and overturn unconstitutional executive decisions issued during the past eight years. We will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine duly enacted law. And we will ensure that law-abiding Americans of any origin, including Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans, do not become the scapegoats of national security fears."
Ok, there's my clear rejection of torture. Good. I don't like "revisit" because it does not necessarily imply change or repeal. I would have like more specifics on what will be overturned (because they must already know that).
"To build a freer and safer world, we will lead in ways that reflect the decency and aspirations of the American people. We will not ship away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, or detain without trial or charge prisoners who can and should be brought to justice for their crimes, or maintain a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of the law. We will respect the time-honored principle of habeas corpus, the seven century-old right of individuals to challenge the terms of their own detention that was recently reaffirmed by our Supreme Court. We will close the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, the location of so many of the worst constitutional abuses in recent years. With these necessary changes, the attention of the world will be directed where it belongs: on what terrorists have done to us, not on how we treat suspects."
Good. Excellent. This needed to be clearly stated.
On voting rights
"We will vigorously enforce our voting rights laws instead of making them tools of partisan political agendas; we oppose laws that require identification in order to vote or register to vote, which create discriminatory barriers to the right to vote and disenfranchise many eligible voters; we oppose tactics which purge eligible voters from voter rolls."
I'm good with that as well.
That's it for my highlights. Overall, there's a bit too much hopey-changey rhetoric, but that was to be expected. It's not as progressive as I would have wished (but then, I always vote socialist in France).
Needless to say, for the sake of my mental health, I will not review the Republican platform. But I can make the confident prediction that it will suck big time.