A People's Democratic Platform
The Democratic Party platform to be presented at the upcoming convention has been tailored to suit the positions of the presidential nominee and to raise as few contentious issues as possible. That may be good strategy as defined by political pollsters and strategists, but to our mind it represents a missed opportunity to put forward and debate some fresh, possibly unconventional ideas. So we've asked a disparate group of people--ranging from retired newsman Walter Cronkite to hip-hop activist Bakari Kitwana--what plank each of them would like to propose. Their answers were by turns provocative, quirky and unexpected. We offer them in the hope that voters will be stirred to come up with their own "planks" and then try to turn them into reality. --The Editors
Howard Dean, a former governor of Vermont, is the founder and honorary chair of Democracy for America.
The Democrats need to stand up for universal healthcare and get it passed. We are the last industrialized country in the world that doesn't have it. It's inexcusable. It will make a big difference not just for people who are struggling but also for the business community. The difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is the argument about how much collective responsibility we have for each other. The Republicans essentially don't believe we have any, and I think we do. Universal healthcare could be paid for by getting rid of the President's tax cuts, which have simply been a huge wealth transfer from poor and modest-income people to big corporations and the top 1 percent. Those tax cuts have done nothing but harm America by creating an enormous deficit. By eliminating them we can pay for health insurance for every American--that's how expensive they are.
George McGovern, a former US senator from South Dakota, was the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee.
Since we were promised a peace dividend once the cold war ended, since no country is now threatening us and since the terrorist threat is not a military one, the present $400 billion military budget should be cut in half, to be achieved with 5 percent annual reductions over the next ten years.
Walter Cronkite is a former CBS news anchor.
The Democrats should pledge to restore the environment to the status of a major concern, putting a new Department of the Environment on a par with State and Defense. At its heart will be a blue-ribbon panel of distinguished scientists who will identify the most pressing environmental problems and prioritize the department's attacks upon them.
The Secretary of the Environment will be an individual with a national reputation as one long dedicated to the cause, fearless in condemning the special interests and their political lackeys. (The platform could promise that Ralph Nader would be offered the post, which would serve to deflate Nader's third-party campaign.)
The Department of the Environment will, during inaugural week, begin the complete reversal of most, if not all, of the outgoing Republican Administration's actions involving the environment, putting into effect stringent air and water regulations and eliminating favored treatment for polluters who are regarded as special interests. The Administration will recognize the Kyoto Protocol and become a leader in reversing global warming, including working to end the world's dependence on fossil fuels.
In addition, the Administration will protect our forests, marshes, lakes, rivers, coasts and wildlife from industrial and commercial development and oil exploration, while recognizing the value of every living thing placed in our care.