My Very Own Democratic Platform

A tongue-in-check attempt to list every position for the Democratic National Committee's upcoming convention

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The Time Warner Cable Arena, site of the upcoming 2012 Democratic National Convention, in Charlotte, N.C.

In my column this week, after deciding to write a platform for the Democrats for their convention, I enlisted the help of Elaine Kamarck, a public policy lecturer at Harvard and former platform author. As I learned, the platform is supposed to be boring. It’s one of the few documents that people write hoping no one reads them. When I sent my seven-page draft to Kamarck, she replied in an e-mail, “Mostly you have the tone right. The actual document will probably be a bit drier.” Here it is in its entirety. After not reading it, write the DNC and demand that they adopt it.


There comes a time when a truly great nation must choose to either continue to lead through new progress or to wither in the bright, warm sun of its own success. This is where America now stands, having shown the world democracy, having saved it from fascism and communism, having created a wealth no other people before us could have contemplated. And now we have a choice: To keep fighting for all Americans to have the chance at that success, or to succumb to a decadence and imbalance of wealth that have been the mark of every fallen empire in history.

The Democratic Party has always stood on the side of hard work and fairness, the side that has allowed us to grow into the greatest nation the world has ever known. And now is the time when we will fight for those principles harder than we ever have. Because now is the time when a great nation stops having the luxury to ignore its role as a leader not just through strength, but also through fairness. Because without fairness, we will no longer be strong.

Four years ago, America was at risk of losing our leadership. We were losing our international coalition in Iraq, a war the previous administration started on specious grounds. The dollar was starting to be replaced by the Euro in some parts of the global economy. Our banks were about to collapse, sending us into a second Great Depression. GM and Chrysler, the engines of not just Detroit but our entire country, were about to declare bankruptcy. Americans were getting their homes foreclosed on unjustly. Sick Americans were unable to get health care. America was still dependent on other countries for most of its energy. Al-Qaeda was still well funded by Osama Bin Laden.

In the last four years, we have killed Osama Bin Laden and decimated Al-Qaeda. We have become more energy independent than at any time in the last four decades. Someone, and we’re not saying who, sent a virus to the Iranian nuclear plant that caused their centrifuges to spin really fast and break everything. We have finally left Iraq and are exiting an Afghanistan able to patrol itself. We are far more secure than we have been at any point since the Cold War.

While there is much work to be done to improve our economy, we have avoided disaster. Just as our party saved our country from the Great Depression that a Republican White House caused, our party saved our banks and our automotive industry from a Republican-caused economic disaster. The Democrats alone gave the economy a stimulus that has slowly led us out of recession and toward prosperity, while Europe, which chose austerity instead of stimulus — just as the Republicans in Congress still argue for, despite the evidence proving them wrong — is in the midst of a horrific economic collapse.

Even as Democrats worked to solve those problems, Republicans sought to make them worse. The extreme Tea-Party-controlled Congress held our economy hostage last year. They were willing to jettison the very principles their own conservative hero, Alexander Hamilton, founded our nation’s economy on, by defaulting on our international debt by not raising the debt ceiling, something done with bipartisan agreement every year without incident until then — to get their budget through. A budget that would have given tax breaks to millionaires and cut services to those in need. For that, they were willing to destroy the American economy.

There comes a time to choose between optimism and fear, between hope and panic, between opportunity and selfishness, between progress and retreat, and we choose — as our party always has, from civil rights to social security to gay rights — progress.

Keeping America Working

Through the stimulus, restoring our banks and loaning to our car companies, we kept America from entering another Great Depression. But we now have to steer America back toward the dynamic growth we last enjoyed during the Clinton presidency.

To that end, we will invest more in our infrastructure, including roads and bridges, but also education, broadband connections to all communities and the green, clean energy that is our future.

It’s important that all Americans not only find employment, but jobs that will support a family. That’s why we will raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour and index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit so that hard-working Americans can raise their families.

The Family and Medical Leave Act needs to reach millions more workers as does the childcare tax credit. We will provide every child with a preschool education to close the gap between the needy and the rich that is starting to threaten this county in a way, that if you’ve seen the new Batman, is pretty scary. We will also increase funding for after-school programs, only some of which are midnight basketball.

Never again can we allow Wall Street to risk our money irresponsibly. We must, and we will, restore the Glass-Steagall Act so banks can no longer play fast and loose with investors’ money. Banks must act like banks. Let Wall Street take risks with their own money.

Keeping America Safe

Remember how for more than a decade we lived in fear of Osama Bin Laden? And then President Obama had a bunch of Navy SEALS kill him? I’m sure President Bush would have done the same thing. But he didn’t. President Obama did. Just saying.

Tragedies such as the mass murders of crazed gunmen in Aurora, Colo., and in Tucson, Ariz., stress the need for tighter gun-control laws. While the second amendment clearly allows Americans to own guns, that right — like all our rights — cannot continue to remain unregulated. We will close the gun show loophole, improve our background check system, and reinstate the assault weapons ban, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals.

Keeping America Solvent

For too long the Republicans, by cutting taxes and increasing spending, have transferred their debt to our children. No more. We are committed to lowering America’s debt by 20% in the next 10 years.

We will do that by asking those who can afford to pay to do so. We will instate Warren Buffet’s proposed tax on those making a million dollars a year. And for those making more than $250,000, we’ll end the Bush tax cuts that sent us into this recession.

We will end the mortgage tax credit, which helps the 1% and hurts the rest of America. Big houses get bigger tax breaks, driving up prices for everyone. We cannot afford to distort the housing market and subsidize people buying expensive houses.

Farm subsidies help the few, giant corporate farms and hurt small farmers. We will end all farm subsidies.

The capital gains tax allows people like Mitt Romney and Warren Buffet to pay nearly no income tax. All income — whether received in a paycheck or through investments — will be taxed as income. Because that’s what it is.

We will peg all raises in social security and Medicare payments not to some fictional cost of living, but to inflation.

We will continue to be vigilant in defense of America. We will strengthen our investment in homeland security and in intelligence. But we will not continue to waste America’s resources by spending on a military designed to fight a Cold War that we won in the 1990s. President Obama didn’t need a giant military to hunt and kill Osama Bin Laden in that daring raid on his compound — just bravery, leadership and decisiveness. By closing overseas bases, ending the two costly overseas wars and reducing production of large military equipment, we will cut military spending by 30%.

Keeping America Fair

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans can no longer be denied their civil rights. Now that this administration has given them the right to serve openly in our military, we are going to do the right thing and make sure they have the right to marry in every state and territory in the United States of America. They will now be full participants in the American fabric, everywhere and under the protection of our laws.

We will pass the DREAM Act, restoring the American promise to those patriotic young people who grew up here and are as American as anyone born here. And we will create a speedy system for the millions of immigrants who have become part of our communities and paid decades worth of social security taxes to come out from the shadows and become legal citizens.

Our Constitution is the greatest political document the world has ever created, though this one compares rather favorably. To honor the Constitution and to continue to serve as a paragon of justice to the world and our own citizens, we will bring all the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to trial in our American criminal courts, the most fair justice system in the world. And we will finally join the rest of the democratic world in getting rid of the death penalty, which costs too much per prisoner both in money and morality.

Voting rights are fundamental rights because they are protective of all other rights. We will work to fully protect and enforce the fundamental Constitutional right of every American vote.

For too long Mexican truckers have flouted international rules to gain unfair advantage over American truckers. We shall empower American truckers to fairly compete. We are not sure what exactly this entails, but American truckers know what we’re talking about. It probably has to do with CB talk having to be in English.

In Wisconsin and other states, promises made to our unions have been ignored — in order to give tax breaks to the 1%. We cannot and will not let that happen. We will strengthen our unions to restore the middle class. We will continue to vigorously oppose “Right-to-Work” Laws and “paycheck protection” efforts whenever they are proposed.

Finally, we will end the long injustice that is the Taft Hartley Act by repealing it and restoring our labor union’s rights under our constitution. Taft Hartley will go down in the same way that Osama Bin Laden did when President Obama ordered him killed.

Keeping America Proud

That feeling of pride America felt when President Obama ordered those brave Navy SEALS to kill Osama Bin Laden is something we should be feeling all the time. And we can.

Our young people long to give back to our country but are not given enough opportunities to do so. By instituting a Service Czar in the cabinet, we will work toward a version of a service draft 18-year-olds will be required to spend a summer serving this country. We will expand AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps, integrate service into high schools, and create new opportunities for the retired to serve.

We will work to ensure that veterans get their benefits. We will combat homelessness, unemployment and underemployment among veterans.

Keeping America Healthy

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act vastly improved health care in our country for all Americans. But it is just a first step.

We must end the tax deduction companies get for providing health-care to employees. Neither employees nor employers pay taxes on workplace health insurance benefits, which encourage Cadillac coverage for some Americans, driving up usage and, therefore, health costs overall.

More than 70% of all antibiotics are used on healthy livestock. This has caused the creation of dangerous superbugs, such as MIRSA. We will outlaw such uses of antibiotics, which endanger all of us. We will work to end factory farming, which is not only morally corrupt but toxic to our health and our environment.

We will finally tackle the scourge of homelessness by funding innovative programs to help those with psychological problems transition off the streets of our cities.

Keeping America Clean

Despite Al Gore’s important work, we failed to lead the globe in preventing global warming and cleaning our air. We will gather the leaders of the biggest carbon emitting nations and ask them to sign a new Kyoto protocol.

Here in America, we will follow California’s lead and continue to dramatically increase the fuel efficiency of automobiles and encourage electric vehicles. We will continue to work toward getting at least 25% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

We will raise taxes on gasoline by 25%. We will instate tax carbon emissions, being sensitive to lower-income Americans in the way that tax is structured. Giving people a free ride on destroying our economy has to stop now. Only by taxing people for the pollution and climate change they are causing can we effectively limit the damage we’re doing.

Keeping America Happy

We will legalize marijuana, freeing law enforcement to pursue dangerous criminals and freeing much needed jail space for those criminals.

Keeping America Smart

We support art in schools and increased public funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. If you’ve ever seen a small child trying to play a trumpet for the first time, which is both adorable and hilarious, you will know why this is worth our money.

Keeping America Secure

By security, we’re not talking about the kind of security President Obama provided when he ordered those brave Navy SEALS to kill Osama Bin Laden. We’re talking about a more mundane but nearly as important kind of security.

We are the party that not only created Social Security, but has defended it. And we will continue to do so, against all those who try to privatize it and subject it to the dangerous vicissitudes of the marketplace — a marketplace that would not have served today’s retirees well over the last ten years. Those who look to dismantle America’s greatest domestic policy achievement have short memories and forget how much harder it once was for our seniors. We don’t need to get into the details, but let’s just say that cat food sales are way, way down.

With so many promises to workers broken by corporate America, we will protect pensions by automatically enrolling every worker in a workplace pension plan that can be carried from job to job and match savings for working families who need the help. We will also eliminate all federal income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000 per year.

Keeping America Free

Yes, part of keeping America free means keeping us safe, like when President Obama ordered those brave Navy SEALS to kill Osama Bin Laden. But it also means making sure each of our rights remains untrampled.

The Republican’s War on Women is a war on all Americans. Women are our mothers, our daughters and the people who we hooked up with in college one night and feel bad about not calling again but we weren’t sure what to say. Point is: We should be nice to women.

So we want women to be free. Free to choose to work, to stay home and to get as many abortions as they want. Aborting unwanted children, economists have proven, is also the greatest crime prevention tool we have. You want to keep crime down, keep Roe v. Wade intact. Let us be clear: Abortions are awesome.

Keeping Osama bin Laden Dead

It is, of course, completely impossible for Osama bin Laden to come back from the dead. But if he somehow did, which is impossible, President Obama would not fail to have him killed again.


We do not offer a shrinking, retreating version of the American dream, like the Tea Party. We do not believe America is a nation of individuals who suffer or succeed alone. For our party, strength comes when all of us come together, as we did to beat the Nazis and the Depression. It is impossible to be patriotic alone.

The other party believes there are two Americas, and that each of us must struggle alone to swim from the 99% to the 1% or sink trying. We reject that vision. Not only because it is unjust, but also because that way lies the fall of every great civilization. It is too late and too important to compromise. It is time, we now know, to fight.