A People's Democratic Platform

The Nation, August 2, 2004 | Go to article overview

A People's Democratic Platform


Howard Dean

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

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

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.

Ellen Chesler

Ellen Chesler, a senior fellow at the Open Society Institute, has an essay on women's rights in What We Stand For: A Program for Progressive Patriotism, edited by Mark Green.

The platform should call for immediate US ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the UN's visionary global treaty for advancing women's rights and opportunities in all aspects of life. One hundred seventy-seven countries around the world have ratified CEDAW, leaving the United States among a handful of "rogue" states, including Sudan, Somalia and Iran, in failing to do so, because intransigent conservatives, opposing both international obligations and women's rights, have exercised a veto.

Adopted in 1979, CEDAW acknowledges the importance of women's traditional obligations as mothers responsible for the raising of children and the preservation of families, but it also establishes new norms. It catalogues a broad range of rights for women in marriage, including property, inheritance and access to healthcare, with an explicit mention of family planning, though not of abortion. …

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