A People's Platform for the Democratic Party: Our Readers Respond
Animated by the belief that the Democratic Party must define itself in a more boldly progressive direction, The Nation has proposed six planks to be added to the party platform, from a Robin Hood tax, to Medicare for all, to a national industrial policy. But we wanted to know what our readers would add. We got dozens of responses from across the country, covering environmental issues and alternative energy, responsible capitalism, the right to vote, education, immigration, gun control and more. We chose the best reader replies for publication here.
Financial Reform and Responsible Capitalism
Institute a new approach to business support at taxpayer expense. Corporate or business subsidies should be required to prove public benefit according to specific standards and criteria; be of short duration; and made non-renewable when the company is established to the extent it can make its own profit. Corporate charters should not result in any immunity from liability and damages for which the company is responsible.
If Democrats have any hope of winning the House and Senate, then Marcy Kaptur’s bill must be part of the party platform. All attempts to amend Dodd-Frank to specify a return to Glass-Steagall standards were squashed. Wall Street didn’t like Glass-Steagall when FDR imposed it, and they don’t like it today, but the simple fact is that it worked for sixty years. Its repeal set off a speculative orgy that Dodd-Frank does nothing to curb.
Debra Freeman, Catonsville
Instead of the corporate model we have now, a owner/worker model would be more organic, responsive, and responsible. Some corporations would be these smaller, local businesses that would provide services and products and more secure jobs. They would be owned and operated by the workers who would strive for long-term profitability instead of short-term profit-taking.
Neomia Lowe, Los Angeles
Environment and Energy
Sustained and sustainable environmental stewardship: the phasing out of environmentally destructive energy sources such as coal and natural gas, and the fast-tracking of funding for renewables such as wind and solar. The United States will sign international accords pledging to significantly reduce carbon emissions. The United States will help create an international sustainability group of the world’s scientists and ecologists, to support international efforts to slow, if not stop and reverse, global warming.
Tanya Stewart, Berea, KY
Alternative energy. This would create new jobs, stop spending on hostile countries, and be good for the environment. Last night I was talking with my brother (Tea Partier) about the economy and how the drought is affecting growth because of higher corn prices. And his retort was part of the problem is corn subsidies for ethanol are a drain on our government. Of course he’s completely for subsidizing big oil. Reminding voters that we already subsidize energy is a good argument for the anti-government bunch.
Kamala Weinstein, Inyokern, CA
Given our growing population, worsening traffic congestion, the ills of unchecked urban sprawl, the scourge of air pollution and the reality of climate change, American prosperity cannot be sustained on a transportation system where flying and driving are the only options for most of the country. The Democratic Party must lead the charge for a truly balanced transportation and infrastructure investment program for the twenty-first century that includes a robust, national network of passenger trains. This includes high-speed trains in high-population corridors, well-capitalized regional and urban rail transit systems, and an expanded network of medium- and long-distance trains connecting small towns and rural areas with few other travel choices to the rest of the nation.
Investing in our rail network, and the walkable communities that it fosters, will create and sustain good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced, promote economic development in a sustainable manner, and give every American a safe, convenient, reliable travel choice that helps reduce pollution and carbon emissions and renew our communities.
Malcolm Kenton, Washington, DC
Voting rights for all. Voting should not be restricted based on felony records, race, age, party affiliation and economic status. Every citizen has the inalienable right to vote, and that right must be upheld.
John Hughes, Ashburn, VA
Increased spending on public education with poor districts receiving the needed help so that all students have an equal opportunity to progress. Also, college and university education should be priced in such a way that graduates are not burdened with debt after graduating. Individuals educated in a great variety of subjects are needed for a society to advance.
Jeanne Nolasco, Freehold, NJ
A comprehensive immigration policy which builds upon the important “New Deportation Prevention Program,” which helps young people file the proper papers to apply by submitting the proper governmental forms and personal documents. This is a first step, but the entire process for persons to legally enter our country is so convoluted that people are discouraged when attempting to comply with the necessary procedures. Fees payable are practically impossible for some to acquire. The entire process is under the jurisdiction of Homeland Security, which tends to view applicants as trespassers, because of the orientation of the department of US Citizenship and Immigration Services. There should be a separate department to process peoples wishing to obtain naturalization and have no serious obstacles for doing so.
Sister Annette M. Singara, Adrian, MI
Gun control! Ban automatic and semi-automatic weapons. Have a thirty-day waiting period for background check.
Sherryll Mleynek, Portland, OR
Public Works and Infrastructure
A Public Works Initiative to begin the desperately needed effort to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, employing abandoned workers of every skill and ability. Highways, waterways, railways are in a state that renders the United States a backward country in terms of quality of infrastructure. Part of this initiative should include the demolition of public housing that is outworn, obsolete, and abandoned.
Adjunct to this: a revival of the Civilian Conservation Corps, to re-cultivate the stretches of America’s land that remains bare, thousands of acres of farmland long mined-out and eroding. This would be another source of employment for castaway workers.
Jonathan Rose, Bellerose, NY
A national year of service, for everyone graduating high school and college. A year or two of giving back—whether it be civilian public service or military service.
Jordan Blevins, Lexington, KY
Eliminate preferential tax treatment for religious organizations, their management and staff. Real estate property tax exemptions, “parsonage” tax exemption, etc., show a preference to religious over non-religious non-profits that flies in the face of state-church separation.
John Sivak, Sacramento, CA
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