Sunday, November 12, 2006

What the Democrats Must Do For America

After the historic Democratic blowout last week, it might be easy to sit back and enjoy the intra-party fighting that will inevitably occur on the Republican side, as well as the knowledge that this one election may begin to turn around the decline of the Democratic party that dates back to Vietnam. This would be a mistake. We won't get back our lost ground and bring independents and disaffected Republicans into our party unless we prove to the American people that we are serious and capable of getting things done in a reasonable, non-extremist fashion. The Democratic Party should commit itself to the following goals:

1. An Exit Strategy from Iraq.
President Bush is still Commander-in-Chief, but Congress can certainly pressure him to adopt new goals on a faster timetable. There is obviously no consensus among either party about how to get out of Iraq and without sending the country into anarchy, but new tactics, both military and political, must be considered. Whether it be a partition of the county into three separate states (one Sunni, one Shia, another Kurd), simply setting a (non-public) date and gradually withdrawing, or even temporarily increasing troop strength in an out-and-out effort to secure Bahgdad, new policies must be taken. To paraphrase what FDR said, if the current policies are not working, it is logical and indeed necessary to try something.

2. Affordable Healthcare for all Americans.
It is absolutely obscene that in the richest and most powerful nation in the world some people must choose between food and medical treatment. Many my age (20-somethings) will not get health insurance for sometime unless they are very lucky and get an excellent job right out of college. Parents with sick children often cannot afford the medical care that they need, and our senior citizens must take bus rides into Canada in order to get prescription drugs they can afford. Yes, it will probably require an increase in taxes (or at least a rolling back the Bush tax cut), but given the choice between less taxes or better health, I'll take my health, and I have a feeling most Americans would too.

3. Encourage Corporate Responsibility.
The current Republican administration sees itself as free-market capitalists, but in reality, a corporate welfare state has emerged. The government now actively pursues policies in favor of big companies and conglomerates, bailing them out (with our tax dollars) even when they are doing poorly because people will not buy their products or services. We also need to encourage locally owned small business from disappearing.

4. Election Reform
As the last two Presidential elections have shown, there are major, major problems with the U.S. electoral system. Some would require a Constitutional amendment, others would not. It's high time that Congress acted to ensure the voting rights of all Americans.

5. Appeal to the Country's Highest Hopes, Not its Deepest Fears
For six years, the President and his pals have used fear to scare America into voting for them. Our greatest leaders have always shown Americans a healthy optinism. If Democrats can show a positive and realistic alternative to Republicans, we will not only get our programs through, but will give the country what it may need most -- hope and a sense of direction.


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