A Platform for 2006: Dream Big, Democrats

  1. Impeach the Secretary of Defense and all other responsible parties for incompetence and criminal negligence in the prosecution of the war in Iraq

  2. A Constitutional Right to Privacy

  3. A Higher Minimum Wage

  4. Universal Health Care

  5. Universal Free University Education

  6. National Mass Transit

  7. Full Corporate Governance Reform to End Corporate Corruption

  8. National Free Internet Access and Copyright Reform

Opposition parties present platforms that show people what they stand for.  This is what we stand for.  We're against torture, we're against criminal activities in government - imeaching Rumsfeld says that.  We're also for working people - a higher minimum wage, universal health care, and universal free education says that as well.  

We're for your right to privacy - an amendment says that.  We believe in an information society - free internet access says that.  And enough pay-to-play corporate corruption.  Let's reform those massive creepy companies once and for all.

You want the union vote - how about a national mass transit system that unions will get to build?  Oh yeah, we'll pay for it by getting rid of the massive transportation pork bill, which everyone knows is a monstrosity.

I'm going to lay out why these are much better than what is being bandied about among DC leaders over the next few weeks, but the most important piece is this.  These proposals represent our dreams of a united America, and they cannot be coopted by Republicans because the Republicans simply do not agree with us on any of them.

UPDATE: I changed number one slightly. Here's the deal with Rumsfeld. John McCain has taken the torture issue away from us with his grandstanding and our fecklessness. The only way to take back being the party of principle is to say that torture has always been illegal, and we will hold ourselves accountable for it. That means impeachment and trial or those who allowed it to happen. Rumsfeld is one of them - we can't promise there are no others, so I added the investigation part. Hint. Hint.

Some people mentioned energy as an explicit issue, and maybe I should have thrown a windfall profit tax in there. But you have to realize, I'm not discussing means, I'm discussing ends, because that's what voters are interested in. They want to hear what your values mean, tangibly. Mass transit is the major real solution, as a genuine mandate to build a new infrastructure means we get to change the way we use energy and not talk about silly frivolous dreams like hydrogen cars. People in suburbs do want mass transit, they just also want the ability to drive a car.

Tags: Ideology (all tags)

Comments

121 Comments

Mass Transit?
I'm all for building more mass transit, and improving the facilities we have, but how is that going to persuade exurbuan voters?  Granted it might not drive them away, and it will attract urban and 'close-in' suburban voters, but is this really a cornerstone agenda item?  (I'm willing to be convinced).

Ditto copyright reform & Internet access.  These are  important, and would peel off some technophile libertarian types, but aren't there other things that rate higher?  I would put real tax reform (or even just enforcement) ahead that, for example.  What about rebuilding public health and scientific research?  (and these are two groups that disproportionately vote Democratic.  Throw us a bone, please).

Sorry, I didn't mean to sound so snarky, but the list seems a little parochial.

by mfeld356 2005-11-18 03:11AM | 0 recs
Grehound cutting cities from their system
Richmond Indiana, the county seat and a city of 40,000, located on Interstate 70, was this year cut as a stop for Greyhound buses. Greyhound, which has gone bankrupt once already, needs to be nationalized and it's routes integrated into Amtrak.
by Jeff Wegerson 2005-11-18 03:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Mass Transit?
Yes.  If we cut demand for gasoline in the cities and suburbs with improved mass transit, the price of gas will be considerably lower in the exurbs and rural areas--at least compared to what it would be if we keep going the way we are.

Related to #8 - an improved internet infrastructure and incentives to get more people telecommunicating would also lead to less fuel consumption and traffic conjestion, and it would allow people in the exurbs better access to high-paying jobs.

Both of these relate to what's missing on the list--a real alternative energy policy.

-Matt Flynn

by Flynnieous 2005-11-18 05:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Mass Transit?
Add to the list "Impeach Donald Rumsfeld."  I mean is this really the number one thing we stand for?  I thought fiscal responsibility would be somewhere in the top 8, but what do I know.  

Although mass transit is important, it's not exactly an issue voters are beating down doors to get behind or saying "mass transit, ofcourse I'll vote for a Democrat now."  

by Eric11 2005-11-18 06:25AM | 0 recs
Turning Waste into Oil
We have the technology to turn anything that contains carbon into oil.  For details visit: http://www.ei2025.org/previous_editorial.asp?e=101

This technology has three major advantages!!!

  1. Make us energy independent.

  2. Reduce the net CO2 we put into the air.

  3. Turns our trash into a Natural Resource.

Now this is something we should support.

Please visit: http://www.ei2025.org/previous_editorial.asp?e=101

by HCLiberal 2005-11-18 06:50AM | 0 recs
#6 National Mass Transit
I love most of the others, but as a person living in the midst of ever-expanding suburban sprawl, this one is my favorite.

Imagine if we had a transit system connecting not just the city with the suburbs, but suburbs with other suburbs, with stops at shopping centers, schools, etc. And what if we had sidewalks to so people could actually walk whereever the transit system did not go?

Of course, the logistics of building something like this may make it impossible, but I think it's something to look into.

I've always thought about how different America would be if the automobile had been invented later, so that small towns had time to grow and expand without being designed around the car.

by LiberalFromPA 2005-11-18 03:17AM | 0 recs
Re: #6 National Mass Transit
Having lived in Boston, I like mass transit.  I found it useful at times, though frequently frustrating.  (I think that the frustrating part had more to do with the underfunding of the T, though.)  Now I live in Edmond, OK, and aside from needing your pity for this fact, I know that mass transit would not work here.  Before mass transit can be acceptable to people, I think it is important to create land-use reform.  Successful mass transit only occurs in places where land is becoming scarce, so there needs to exist a system that makes land seem scarce enough for mass transit to catch on.

I understand the want to further mass transit nationwide, as it is potentially efficient and clean.  However, by pushing it, the Democrats would appear to be the party of big city types, which would alienate rural voters.  I think that it is best used as a local issue.

by nanoboy 2005-11-18 04:40AM | 0 recs
Re: #6 National Mass Transit
Mass Transit = Cheaper Gas.
by Flynnieous 2005-11-18 05:29AM | 0 recs
Re: #6 National Mass Transit
Oh, I agree that it does, but try telling that to the people in this part of the country who practically worship the automobile.  I'm not saying that it is unwise to create mass transit, even if it runs on a deficit.  I'm saying that there has to be a cultural and economic change before people will be willing to switch to it.  I think that population density has everything to do with that.  Here in Oklahoma, if there is growth, it's outward.  It's neighborhoods of houses with big lawns and big driveways.  It's shopping plazas with big parking lots and few sidewalks.  Adding mass transit to it won't do much.  Something else needs to happen first.
by nanoboy 2005-11-18 06:32AM | 0 recs
Re: #6 National Mass Transit
That something else is called $5/gallon.
by Matt Stoller 2005-11-18 06:33AM | 0 recs
Re: #6 National Mass Transit
While I agree that $5/gal gasoline would probably shine new light on mass transit, I do not think that it would be a good thing.  I've seen some folks support increasing gasoline taxes to curb gasoline usage.  My biggest problem with such an approach is that the people hurt most by such a move are the poor.  Face it: gasoline taxes are simply targetted sales taxes that are put onto the product before sale instead of after sale.  They're inherently regressive.  The rural poor need their cars to get to work, and it is not simple for them to just buy a new energy efficient car.

If we face $5/gal gas prices because of the market or whatnot, we're in deep, deep shit-- all of us.  Once we're at that point, then it would make great sense for Democrats to have a national mass transit system on their platform.  For the time being, though, it will have no traction in the rural and newer urban areas of the US.

by nanoboy 2005-11-18 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: #6 National Mass Transit
If we face $5/gal gas prices because of the market or whatnot, we're in deep, deep shit-- all of us.

We're going to get there pretty soon.

by Matt Stoller 2005-11-18 07:55AM | 0 recs
Re: #6 National Mass Transit
One way to talk about $5/gal is the question of who gets that next $2.  It IS going to happen.  So does it go to oil company CEOs and the Middle East, or do we get it to use to build alternatives, provide health insurance,build schools and pay teachers, build infrastructure, etc?

If we had done something about this twenty years ago, and added a 50 cent tax, ALL of the above-listed programs would be significantly well along now...  Where are we going to be 20 years from now?

by davej 2005-11-18 08:07AM | 0 recs
Gas taxes are a sure loser
"While I agree that $5/gal gasoline would probably shine new light on mass transit, I do not think that it would be a good thing.  

Raising gas taxes to $5/gal is the quickest way to ensure that Dems never get close to winning ever again. Working class people would see this as (rightfully so) as a huge hit on their living standards and they already feel embattled enough. Guaranteeing right wing control of government for the foreseeable future is no way to promote the environment. Gas taxes and car taxes--Dems should repudiate those with the fervor of an Old Temament prophet.

Keith

by keith johnson 2005-11-18 10:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Gas taxes are a sure loser
I totally agree - it woudl be a fairly regressive tax - meaningless to those with much, and hitting those with little VERY hard, since they would have to give up cars to get to and from work/grocery store/school....

As an owner of a luxury SUV (who feels really guilty about NOT buying a hybrid), I'd rather see people like me slammed with a hefty luxury vehicle/gas guzzler/pollution tax. (In Va we get to pay that nasty car tax anyway....). Serisouly, this hits those with means, who feel the need to buy un-economical, un-eco-friendly vehicles. I should be putting some extra tax back into the system to cover energy research and development and mass transit funding.

God, I feel really guilty now!

by daninvirginia 2005-11-18 12:29PM | 0 recs
Re: #6 National Mass Transit
And what I'm saying is that if all those city folks are using mass transit, they aren't using gas.  That means the gas the city folks aren't using will be cheaper and available FOR the country folk.

Rural types don't need to give up their vehicles--they need to help the city types give up theirs.  Otherwise, everyone is screwed.

Again,
Mass Transit = Cheep Gas.

by Flynnieous 2005-11-18 06:49AM | 0 recs
Re: #6 National Mass Transit
That's Mass Transit = CheAp Gas
by Flynnieous 2005-11-18 06:50AM | 0 recs
Re: #6 National Mass Transit
I agree with this statement, but I still don't think that it will have traction with rural voters.  They're thinking that you're taking their tax money and putting it into the cities, and they won't like that.  I know that in general, the opposite happens, but they don't know that, and telling them that will only make them madder.  (Think of the American colonies paying extra taxes to pay for the French American War.  They got peeved, even though England was kind of right when they said that the colonies weren't paying their fair share.)
by nanoboy 2005-11-18 07:47AM | 0 recs
Re: #6 National Mass Transit
I get that, but that's why we just have to keep reminding them that...

Mass Transit = Cheap Gas

It's like suggesting that Iraq had WMDs over and over again--only this time it's true.  Get the rural folks wondering why the city folks don't ride the T/Metro/Subway/El more instead of pushing up gas prices.

Mass Transit = Cheap Gas
Mass Transit = Cheap Gas
Mass Transit = Cheap Gas

Om...
Om...

@  @
 <
__/

by Flynnieous 2005-11-18 11:38AM | 0 recs
Rural Americans
Yeah, I can see your point about how making this a national issue could turn off rural voters, since it does so little for them.

At the least, I think Democrats need to make this a priority at the local and state levels.

I say state because without adequate funding from the state, mass transit systems often cannot meet their fiscal needs (witness SEPTA here in PA).

But in any case, there should at least be a concerted behind the scenes effort by progressives to expand our transit systems. I think these things can only be beneficial to us when all is said and done.

by LiberalFromPA 2005-11-19 03:39AM | 0 recs
Impeachment
Is it possible to impeach a secretary of defense?  It doesn't make our case look very strong when the first item on our agenda is legally confused.
by gsteff 2005-11-18 03:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Impeachment
I agree. All the other suggestions are clear and well thought out, but why would "impeaching" Rumsfeld even be on the list? Rummy may have made some serious mistakes, but he serves at the whim of the President. And the media love him, so it'd be a tough battle to face.

Not to mention the most important point: why?

Throw out #1 and you got yourself a stand-up list.

by rwiedower 2005-11-18 05:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Impeachment - I like it
Who's going to come to his defense?

It has the ability to get him out, plus scrutinize the rest of the policies/personnel.

by zappatero 2005-11-18 06:12AM | 0 recs
Move 3 and 4 to #1 and 2
An impeachment fight isn't a bright idea.  Not to mention it makes us look as petty as them.

Also, why give in to impeaching Rummy, when he is not the Boss?

I like the privacy amendment, and it has long been overdue.

The others are either a little wishie-washie, or just not worth doing.

7 I'm actually overtly opposed to.  The corporate governance thing has long been an overstated "necessity".  Why?

Bad companies go under.  And if you're dumb enough to invest in them, you deserve to lose your money.

The sooner Americans stop wasting money on the stock market -- a proven non-winner -- the better.

Hold corporations to the law: minimum wage, labor standards, non-invasiveness.

Fine.

Don't waste your time making them be better companies.

The market will bury them.

by jcjcjc 2005-11-18 03:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Move 3 and 4 to #1 and 2
"An impeachment fight isn't a bright idea.  Not to mention it makes us look as petty as them."

Prosecuting them for launching aggressive war is not petty.  Impeachment for a blow job was petty.  This isn't about political posture, it's about right and wrong and restoring democracy.  Without impeachment for what they have done we as a country are making the statement that we consider a blow job more serious than making war.

by davej 2005-11-18 07:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Move 3 and 4 to #1 and 2
" we as a country are making the statement that we consider a blow job more serious than making war"

Geez.  Right there is pretty much what is and will continue to be wrong with America.

Look.  I'd love to fight the impeachment fight if it were worth doing.

But, it is going to require GOP votes to be doable, even in 2007.

With the GOP reeling from the midterm, they're just not going to bite.

We end up failing and looking petty (and petty is the polite term, because we're talking about impeaching a president for something half our reps and senators voted for).

Yeah.  It sucks.  I agree.

And we'd be in a hundred times better position if our guys in Congress hadn't rolled over in 2002 and let Bush tickle their bellies.

But, maybe the lesson should be given up to history: don't be John Kerry.  Whatever you do, don't be like him!

Our legitimacy is on the line.  No one is legitimate for blaming someone else for a war we all knew was a fraud.

Bush didn't lie anymore than all those fuckwad Democrats who voted for the war lied when they said Saddam was a huge threat.

If we impeach Bush, it's only fair that we impeach the politico retard bridgade (Kerry, et al) for their part in it too.

by jcjcjc 2005-11-19 08:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Move 3 and 4 to #1 and 2
"Also, why give in to impeaching Rummy, when he is not the Boss?"

That's right. If we need to go after anyone it's the guy in charge, namely Cheney.

Keith

by keith johnson 2005-11-18 10:21AM | 0 recs
I'd spring for that
And you'd get a few GOP votes to boot.  Between the GOPers who want the arm twisting to end and the ones who would likely do it just because they hate him, Cheney might just be doable.
by jcjcjc 2005-11-19 08:19AM | 0 recs
What we're for...
Stoller, while I could quibble about almost any of these specific platform pieces, what I think is important here is that you have defined concrete actions that we will do if we are elected to a majority in either the House or the Senate. These actions as you suggest demonstrate or represent what it is that we stand for. For a long time I felt, as I think many others did and still do, that we needed to first do a better job describing what we stand for and then concretizing that into actions. Reading your list I have begun to change my opinion on this and think that your pathway is a better one. The language of belief has become to fraught with BS platitudes and repeated rehashing of tired old rhetoric which once had meaning.

By replacing phrases of belief with words defining actions we can hopefully reposition ourselves as a party of doers rather than a party of talkers. The one thing that I think is implicit in your statements that you don't discuss is the fundamental divide that I see between the modern Republican party and what I believe to be a defining feature of Democrats. We believe that a well run government can make everyone better off... On a final note, while I love your list I can't help but try and reduce it even further and get to an even simpler version, so here goes:

  •  National Free Internet Access
  •  Full Corporate Governance Reform to End Corporate Corruption
  •  Raise Minimum Wage
  •  Universal Health Care
  •  Impeach Donald Rumsfeld

I'll follow-up later on why I cut 3.5 of your positions, but trust me, it isn't because I disagree with the policy implications.
by Marc Laitin 2005-11-18 03:41AM | 0 recs
Re: What we're for...
Marc,

I'd be curious to hear why you cut the others at some point.  I'm trying to get the Republicans to gag on our platform instead of coopting them.  I have as my goal here to kill the reform Republican movement.

by Matt Stoller 2005-11-18 06:41AM | 0 recs
Re: What we're for...
ok... sorry for the delayed response. Couple of groundrules.

  1. it's gotta be simple... (and short)

  2. Each platform position needs to appeal either a) directly to a large mass of people, or b) be seen as the 'right' thing to do to a large mass of people, even if it doesn't directly affect them.

So, with these ground rules (which we can debate in a separate thread) i felt i had to cut some of your proposed positions.

  1. i cut the mass transit one because i think this is a regionally complex issue (so it's not as simple) and because i think significant numbers of people really love their damn cars and don't want to have to take public transportation themselves. so while it appeals viscerally to an important segment of the population and i think it is in many cases the right thing to do, i don't think that people for whom it doesn't directly affect would care so much about it.

  2. I cut copyright reform because once again i think it is a complicated issue and i don't think it appeals to a broad base of not directly interested parties. i could be wrong on this one (i mean, i could be wrong on all of these, but i think it is most likely that i am wrong on this one), but my sense is that there is a deep and passionate desire for copyright reform among a vocal minority of people, but that for those not in that minority it just isn't that big a deal.

  3. I cut free college because i believe this would be seen as catering to a small elite. Only about 50% of 18 year olds enter any kind of education program beyond high school, and for the majority of those it is community or state college. The primary cost of attending those schools is not the tuition, but the opportunity cost of forgone wages. I don't mean to diminish the enormous direct costs borne by many many 18-24 year old kids in this country, but simply to suggest that this is not likely to be an issue that resonates as a top tier position.  

  4. i cut the right to privacy constitutional amendment for some legal reasons and for simplicity sake. When Dan Savage pushed this idea a few weeks ago i got really excited and then i talked to a few lawyers and Kevin Drum did a nice post on all the constitutional amendments that are proposed in congress every year and i came down from my excitement. Of all my cuts this was the hardest one to make...
by Marc Laitin 2005-11-20 06:01AM | 0 recs
Energy/Environment
This is a huge issue. Cleaning the air and water (there is a poverty/public health/environmental justice component) and renewable energy (national security component) that need to be a part of a Dem. plan.
by pbhayani 2005-11-18 03:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Energy/Environment
Absolutely!

Our greatest economic issue for the foreseeable future is going to be energy--all else will follow. We need to push for the Apollo Alliance's plan.

by RevDeb 2005-11-18 04:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Energy/Environment
Everyone concerned about energy policy - and jobs and unions and environment - should go read about AND JOIN the Apollo Alliance.
"...a moonshot for energy independence and good jobs.  A crash program for sustainable energy independence would create three million good jobs, free the nation from imported oil, and promote a healthier environment.
by davej 2005-11-18 07:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Energy/Environment
I want an energy policy that declares that dependence on imported petroleum is contrary to national security, that will stimulate research, development, and deployment of alternatives. This is the Apollo Project for the 21st century.

I live in Florida, and I want solar INSTEAD OF the coal-fired power plants that are on the drawing board. New homes should be fitted with solar roof tiles and existing homes retrofitted; the state should be legislating incentives NOW.

Jimmy Carter declared it the moral equivalent of war, and it's about time we honored his foresight by nailing this plank onto the platform.

by Jeany 2005-11-18 08:05PM | 0 recs
The Freedom From Oil Act!
What I would like to see added to the agenda is something like this:

"In order to ensure a secure and self-sufficient future for America, we will lay out a timeline under which the USA will become the first oil-free nation on earth, relying solely on renewable energy sources."

Even if the timeline takes 100 years, it will well be worth it--especially when we hit the date by which all cars are required to be gas-free.

This is something all Americans would agree with, and the Republican party could never support.

by fruddle 2005-11-18 08:33AM | 0 recs
Goals vs Implementation
I've written on the topic of goals elsewhere, but the important thing that needs to be discussed is how the goals get realized.

The first topic that needs to be addressed is how to overcome the objections to change. This consists of two parts, first the general problems with changing the status quo that always occur and then the specific objections that may happen on a per project basis.
For example, wind power is a widely promoted goal, but when it comes time to build windmills at a certain locale the NIMBY issues defeat it.

The second topic is how to handle the transition. For example people have suggested eliminating SUV's. Now suppose we set this as a goal and propose to scrap all the existing ones. We don't have the capacity to build new automobiles at a rate that would allow replacement in under a decade or so. In addition we don't have designs which are efficient enough to make the change over pay for itself yet. So a transition plan needs to be formulated.

You can read my three part essay (goals, objections and implementation) on my web site, if you wish. Just follow the link in my signature.

Lots of organizations put out lofty goals (the UN for example), but fall short on the rest of the process.

by rdf 2005-11-18 04:07AM | 0 recs
My thoughts
  • A Real Investigation Into the Iraqi War Intelligence.

  • A Constitutional Right to Privacy

  • A Living Wage for Real Workers

  • Healthcare For All As a Consitutional Right

  • Access to Higher Education or Job Training for All Americans

  • National Mass Transit

  • 50% Energy Independence in 5 years
by Robert P 2005-11-18 04:24AM | 0 recs
Re: My thoughts
If you were to move mass transit to a subhead under energy independence and add a biodiesel program for rural areas I would say you have the perfect agenda, at least to start.
by Demo Dan in Dayton 2005-11-18 08:04AM | 0 recs
Re: My thoughts
That is a good point because it brings up the "Initiative" idea.

*Child Survival Initiative
Medicaid for all children
Medicaid for all pregnant women
Housing for homeless children

*Energy Independence Initiative
Insert Apollo Here

*Safe America Initiative
Redeployment of troops to America
Hearings on Iraq Intelligence

Just a couple thoughts...

by Robert P 2005-11-18 08:45AM | 0 recs
And the real majority should step forward and take
back the House and the Senate, and be the representative govenrment we pay them to be.
by truemajority 2005-11-18 04:37AM | 0 recs
Is it even possible
to impeach a cabinet member? I'm sorry but that's just confusing. Sounds like something a kid who's never had a civics lesson would come up with.
by zt155 2005-11-18 04:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Is it even possible
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

In 1876, Secretary of War William Worth Belknap was impeached for bribery, and subsequently resigned, before his trial for removal was taken up by the Senate.

by benmasel 2005-11-18 07:00AM | 0 recs
Voting reform
If we don't change the voting system in this country, none of the rest has any meaning.

Here are my top 4:

  • End the war

  • Repeal the tax breaks on the wealthy

(These 2 must be done IMMEDIATELY to stop the bleeding--financial and military.)

  • Create a tough national voting system--with teeth

  • Create a universal health care system

Then it's on to the environment and other stuff.
by Thresholder 2005-11-18 04:53AM | 0 recs
Constitutional Amendments
Why not propose a Constitutional Amendment that guarantees the right to privacy and make this whole Roe/Griswold situation moot?
by nathan 2005-11-18 05:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
Because that will never pass...think ERA!!

Stop worrying so much about these privacy issues. Nothing as specific or broad as a guarantee on privacy will ever become a Constitutional amendment.

Just like a gay marriage ban will never be written into the constitution.

If Roe gets overturned, it will be terrible for women, but at least we will have the state legalization of abortion is some of the more liberal sectors of America.

by FreeSpoke 2005-11-18 05:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
I disagree.  If a constitutional prohibition against alcohol can make it in, don't feel too sure amendments against gay marriage or for privacy couldn't make it in.  

I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of relying on "states rights" to protect choice in liberal america.  The federal government currently ignores drug legalization and medicinal use laws in Oregon (and other places?), they would just enact a federal law criminalizing abortion if Roe v Wade were overturned.

Last I think the idea of an amendment guarnanteeing privacy would be a great idea, and it sells itself.  At the worst, if it failed, we could use it against anyone (ie Republicans and DINOs) who voted against it - try selling a vote against privacy to the electorate.  Imagine the attack ads that would engenger.

The amendment would have to be very carefully written to not be used to justify a lot of bad things.  A sweeping unalienable right to privacy from government intrusion would justify all manner of craziness, but a carefully worded protection of one's person from government regulation would work.

I think it should start with state constitution amendments to iron out the kinks in smaller venues.  Thin end of the wedge and all that.

by scientician 2005-11-18 05:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
Name one constitutional amendment dealing with civil liberties that is so ironed out that it can be interpreted in one specific way!

Any way, the Constitution already guarantees a right to privacy so an amendment would be superflous. And what can we possible say if Republicans oppose the amendment that most of America doesnt know or already agree with. You guys live in a fantasy world  that the average Joe is just as liberal as you.

by FreeSpoke 2005-11-18 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
Well, actually that WOULD be the whole point behind an amendment.  That is essentially the crux of the R v W.  Most people feel the consitution has an implicit right to privacy.  But the Theocons like Scalia and Thomas claim there is NO right to privacy... they want to ignore the intentions of the founding father and MUCH LIKE THEY INTERPRET THE BIBLE, they want to view the constitution way to literally.  If it is view literally, there is no room for elasticity... and if viewed literally, there is no right to privacy, because it isn't stated specifically.  With our SCOTUS being filled by men with this view, an amendment would make the implicit right of privacy and explicit right and the theocons can't do a thing about it.  
by yitbos96bb 2005-11-18 06:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
Yea and the point of the McCain Feingold reform was to actual do something about out of hand campaign donations...but hey in your world everything is black and white...
by FreeSpoke 2005-11-18 06:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
Ok, now you come off like a child.  If you want to have a good hearted conversation, then don't make comments like the above.  

Comparing a piece of legislation to a constitutional amendment and drawing the conclusion above means you need to go back to your constitutional law class and study harder or retake it.  

There is NO explicit right to privacy.  The argument of R v W is that there is an IMPLICIT right to privacy.  Constitutional literalists like Thomas say that there is no right to privacy in the constitution.  

By making an amendment, you make that right to privacy explicit and beyond the ability of the conservative judicial activists to mess with said right.

by yitbos96bb 2005-11-19 11:44PM | 0 recs
And Maybe After That, We Could Have Another Civil
War!

Why not?  The last one turned out so well, didn't it?

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-11-18 06:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
The ERA is an interesting point of a failed amendment, but frankly I think the ERA came out at the  wrong time.  Proposed today, it would pass no problem, IMHO.  A privacy amendment will appeal to liberals and libertarians and even some traditional conservatives who think the Patriot Act goes WAY too far.  I think it has a shot at passing (of course I wouldn't consider it a slam dunk either)
by yitbos96bb 2005-11-18 06:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
Do you know why the ERA ultimately failed?

Because people had a hard time admitting that men and women were completely equal. That would mean unisex bathrooms, allow men to take paternity leave, etc.

by FreeSpoke 2005-11-18 07:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
It failed because the right out-organized us in Florida in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  It wasn't some grand ideological failing.  Most people think that the ERA is actually part of the constitution.
by Matt Stoller 2005-11-18 07:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
oo ok i didnt know you were smarter than my Civil Rights Law Professor
by FreeSpoke 2005-11-18 07:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
Furthermore, by asking for a constitutional right to privacy, you are playing into the conservatives game by implicitly admitting such a right is not in the original constitution. Once again liberals fail the framing game!
by FreeSpoke 2005-11-18 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
Wrong.  The conservatives are the ones who are framed badly here.  They have to pretend like they believe in privacy when they actually don't.  By making it a voting issue, we can pin them down.

At the same time, there's no reason we have to concede anything on whether there's a right to privacy.  We're just updating the Constitution to include technological developments and formalizing something the founders didn't think to.

by Matt Stoller 2005-11-18 08:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
Tell me where I am wrong, because apparently you just admitted the same thing I did.
by FreeSpoke 2005-11-18 08:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
I'm not sure why you're taking the tone you are.

You haven't answered the points on:

  1. The "right" to privacy right now is contingent on Roe V. Wade, which has been in jeapordy pretty much since the gavel crashed down to make it law originally.   An implicit right is fine, but once you get 5 "strict constuctionist" justices, goodbye all implicit rights.

  2. States will be unable to defend abortion, birth control and other rights we currently enjoy due to the implicit right of privacy.  Overturn Roe V. Wade, and you'll see the federal govt stomp on the states, as they are doing over drug legalization.

I agree conservatives could frame the amendment the way you describe above, but again, if they are saying "well you agree there isn't a right to privacy in the constitution after all" our answer is simple:  "Do you not think there should be?

We so often get into these interpretive fights with conservatives over the meaning of this clause or that clause in the constitution, why fight about the meaning when we can fight about the intent?  Forget what it actually says, and ask America, what do you want your constitution to say?  Only 9 people voted on Roe V. Wade, we could argue we're giving the rest of America the chance to also.  

 Force them to declare they don't believe in a right to privacy.  See how that fares them at the ballot box, when conservatives have written in the sky "we believe the government should be interfering in your private lives"

by scientician 2005-11-18 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
Ooh lets do that.  We will have a majority in the everywhere but the south for the next 10 years.
by yitbos96bb 2005-11-19 11:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
Well, since your Professor can't possibly read the minds of EVERY voter during that time period, he couldn't know why it failed totally.  However, his theory makes sense as does Matt's.  But never assume a PH'd is always a 100% correct.  I had a fun time proving one of my Poli Sci professors (Ph'd, published etc) wrong  from time to time... although sometimes doing the research took a long ass time.

The ERA came very close... it was ratified in 35 states, and achieved the required vote for part of the legislature in 8 of the 15 remaining states.   Florida was one of those states that should have ratified, so what Matt says is true as well.

The ERA would be great to see today... however, it shouldn't JUST deal with sex... to me the biggest flaw of the amendment.  It should include race, sex, sexual orientation etc.  Age is tricky because if it is written wrong, you could make it so that a 5 year old could drink, smoke and drive... obviously not in the best interests... but hopefully commonsense would prevail.

by yitbos96bb 2005-11-19 11:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
35 of 50 states ratified the ERA.  Only three more were needed to pass it.

And what the hell do unisex bathrooms have to do with this?

   SECTION 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

SEC. 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

SEC. 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

by nathan 2005-12-04 07:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Constitutional Amendments
Well personally, I think the right to privacy is a secondary support for liberal abortion policies. The right of every human to self determine the particulars of their own lives, and specifically, to define and control their own body, to define for themselves what comprises bodily integrity, seems to me a more compelling and overarching right. I have always said that the pro-access (aka pro-choice) position is THE true pro-life position. It is a literal fact that no woman can be forced to carry a pregnancy to term if she doesn't want to. If she's sufficiently determined, she will find the means to kill the fetus, even if it means killing herself. Those old enough to have lived though the bad old days know this.

Aborting a pregnancy, post Roe, has been made to be completely about ownership of a woman's womb, both her husband's/boyfriend's/father's ownership and society's ownership. This attitude is unsupportable where civil and human rights are valued, and I swear to God I don't know why we even engage in this damn 'nibbling at the edge' argument. The ownership camp hates privacy because it excites their anxiety about what's going on in there, in that deep, dark womb, and if there IS something going on, WHO put it there. WOOOO! Punish the slut, make her have that kid. I believe it would drive some of the ownership-minded plumb crazy to think that their woman could abort his 'product' without him knowing that he'd made something happen in that deep, dark place he can't see into. I think this primitive anxiety is precisely what animates many of those who oppose a woman's right to self-determination. Those of us in the integrity camp have got to realize the limitations of the privacy argument.

by Jeany 2005-11-18 10:14PM | 0 recs
I Like Your Ideas
While I could quibble with some of the specifics, I like your ideas better then the current "platfirm" bandied about by the DCCC.  The important point here is that our issues have to matter to people at a "gut" level; something strong enough to really change their world for the better.  Your list does that.
by Andy Katz 2005-11-18 05:27AM | 0 recs
Re: I Like Your Ideas
But thats because most of you are way to liberal to win a real race.
by FreeSpoke 2005-11-18 05:50AM | 0 recs
Two non-starters
Two non-starters on  there-

I agree with them, but you'll never get the Dems in Congress to agree to 'em:

National Mass  Transit--

Just not a priority electorally- since Dems don't need more votes in cities- we need votes in rural America.

Copyright-

This is one area both parties are horrible on.  Unfortunately, the entertainment industry lobby won't let the Dems go the right way on this one.

by jgkojak 2005-11-18 05:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Two non-starters
Agreed... the RIAA and the MPAA are getting away with murder and the Dems are just as responsible as the GOP on it.  The ONLY way copyright reform is going to happen is by grassroots protesting and organization.  If a grassroots movement can get enough people involved to boycott movies and cds (fat chance I know) and pressure congress then it might be a possibility.  

Entertainment Companies have never gotten the potential of technology.  Even now, they fail to recognize the potentials.  The other networks make exclusive VOD deals SO there is no WAY to VOD an old show UNLESS you have that system.  ABC kind of got it with their Apple deal, but if you don't have an IPOD it makes it a lot harder to view these digital files.  

Ultimately, they are very reactionary.  They fought video... failing to realize just how much money could be made in it.  I hae to say it, but the ones who have always been on the forefront of distribution technology is the porn industry.  They early adopted video, LD, DVD and now they are coming out with content for IPODs and other PMPs.  The entertainment industry needs to take a leaf out of the porn industry book, stop using their BS numbers on how much illegal downloads cost them (it defies logic to assume that if one watches a download, they would have watched the movie... it is a BS number), and see that adopting the new technology allows one to make a lot of money... as that industy does yearly.

by yitbos96bb 2005-11-18 06:49AM | 0 recs
Just as responsible?
The Dems are more resonsible than the GOP for the ongoing copyright disaster. I just think we should be clear on this. We are the party of Fritz Hollings, after all.
by rusty 2005-11-18 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Two non-starters
Even without the political calculation, the mass transit thing leaves me a little cold, because it's so urban and caters to the corridors where population is most dense. I'd like to see Amtrak brought out of purgatory, though.

 I'd like to see something that grows good jobs out in the hinterlands, something that clearly commits to fostering sustainability of the rural and small town life. This is 'big head' stuff, but it seems to me that championing of localization needs to be in the picture somewhere, if for no other reason than globalization is a huge energy hog. It makes sense for the manufacture of consumer goods, but I'm not so sure the same is true of agriculture.

by Jeany 2005-11-18 08:32PM | 0 recs
Consumer-friendly Energy Policy
I didn't read all the comments closely, but one thing I think missing from the original list is a comprehensive energy policy that benefits consumers and the environment rather than the big energy companies.

The public is crying out for this and it's the right thing to do.

It's also an opportunity to show yet another bright line of difference between us and them.

by cschuldt 2005-11-18 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Consumer-friendly Energy Policy

Agreed!  But I don't support a windfall profits tax (as Matt mentioned) bc, in the end, it's just a subsidy for foreign, government-owned companies. We should be reducing our dependence on foreign oil, not the opposite.

by oldhats 2006-03-30 10:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Consumer-friendly Energy Policy

Yes, the answer doesn't lie in further taxation.  Instead, the answer lies in developing alternative energy sources.  Our country has the skills to do this and by doing so, we would be doing ourselves and our future generations a necessary favor.  

by Joel 2006-03-30 04:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Consumer-friendly Energy Policy

I shudder to even bring this up, and I am by no means a huge fan of big oil, but is there a way to work WITH the American oil companies who already have ginormous R&D efforts in place for things like lowering emissions, building cleaner and more efficient engines and fuels and for developing new production capabilities, and who employ hundreds of thousands of the "regular joes" who we are trying to reach?

by oldhats 2006-03-31 02:50AM | 0 recs
A Nice List, But...
We need to be thinking about realignment, and realignment comes from offering people a reasonable hope of fundamental change.  For it to be sustained, and actually result in effective governance, it has to have both a compelling vision to it, and a self-reinforcing logic.  I would argue that we need to frame what we're about in terms of several broad themes, and place the ideas you'd listed within that frame, some as major goals, others as starting points for agendas that will obviously need to evolve over time.

I'm thinking something like this:

Advance Individual Rights

 * A Constitutional Right to Privacy
 * A Constitutional Right to Vote

Build Prosperity For A New Century

 * A Higher Minimum Wage--Indexed to Inflation
 * Universal Health Care
 * Universal Preschool
 * Free University Education
 * National Free Internet Access and Copyright Reform
 * National Mass Transit
 * A Marhsall Plan for Clean, Renewable Energy

Rebuild Mutilateral Cooperation

 * Sign On To Kyoto Protocol & Press For New Round
 * Sign On To International Criminal Court
 * Transfer 1% Of Military Budget Into International Humanitarian Account To Underwrite Civilian Overseas Assistance

End Cronyism, Corruption, Incompetance & Dishonor

 * Impeach Donald Rumsfeld for Abu Ghraib & other Iraq War Atrocities
 * Fully Investigate How We Went To War In Iraq--With Possible Prosecutions And Impeachments As A Result
 * Comprehensive Review of Bush Administration Appointments for Cronyism, Corruption, Incompetance and Ideological Attacks Against Sound Science and Professionalism
 * Full Corporate Governance Reform to End Corporate Corruption

Enhance Democracy

 * Get Private Corporations And Elected Officials Out Of Handling Our Elections
 * Place Election Administration In Hands of Non-Partisan Commissions In All 50 States and DC
 * Pass National Clean Election Law
 * Reinstate Fairness Doctrine

This is just riffing off the top of my head, but you get the idea.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-11-18 06:12AM | 0 recs
Re: A Nice List, But...
I like this list - I might add redistricting to it.
by Matt Stoller 2005-11-18 06:17AM | 0 recs
Tinker Away!
There's probably a lot that could be added or taken out, so long as the basic form I'm suggesting is preserved.  I left some ideas out because I thought they'd be too tricky to try to explain, and could probably wait an election cycle or two--which is why it's good to have broad categories to which new items can be added over time.

Redistricting is a tricky one for me, since I think that the entire subject of representational reform needs a complete overhaul, up to and including proportional representation and instant runoff voting.  If you try for a too-clean, clear and quick redistricting reform, you may actually short-circuit the sort of more fundamental reconceptualization that I think we really need.  

We could get a replay of the progressive's role in sidelining socialists, and significantly reducing the working class vote--both in the North and the South--while promoting a depoliticized vision of "good government" that delivered some very real improvements, but at considerable cost to the interests of the less powerful.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-11-18 06:28AM | 0 recs
Re: A Nice List, But...
You need to be more specific with the Constitutional Right to vote... because frankly that exists already for those over 18.  

Now do you mean that the way voting is handling should be federalized?  What additionally would you include that isn't already in the constitution.

by yitbos96bb 2005-11-18 06:51AM | 0 recs
Re: A Nice List, But...
There is no constitutional right to vote.  Surprising, yes, but it's true.
by Matt Stoller 2005-11-18 06:58AM | 0 recs
No, There Is No Constitutional Right To Vote
There is a constitutional right not to be discriminated against on the basis of race or gender.  But there is no underlying right to vote in the Constitution.  

This is a big hole right in the center of our democracy, and it's one that ought to be very straightforward to fix.  Most people either think it's a no-brainer, or else--like you--they mistakenly believe we already have it.  But we don't.

As to its significance, Alexander Keysar, author of The Right To Vote told me he thought it would have made it much harder for the Felonious Five to steal the 2000 election. But that's the sort of juicy stuff that awaits discussion once we get the ball rolling.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-11-18 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: No, There Is No Constitutional Right To Vote
I guess we will have to disagree on that as a matter of interpretation.  Frankly, I wouldn't oppose anything strengthening the voting rights, but and amendments 15, 19, 24, and 26 would seem to indicate that there is a right to vote and that it cannot be discriminated against.  Afterall, logically one can not protect a right if it doesn't exist.  So yes, it is not explicitly written, but rather deferred to the states... but given the amendments, the right to vote implicitly exists.  If we make the argument that the 5th amendment proves an implicit right to privacy, we can argue the same point point with voting.  

I assume though, you want it to explicitly say a right to vote so jack asses like Scalia and Thomas don't monkey around with it.  Like I said, I would support it... I just feel the implicit right is there.  Again, it is a matter of interpretation... but fair point... why let someone interpret it the other way.

by yitbos96bb 2005-11-19 11:34PM | 0 recs
Re: A Nice List, But...
Love the Amendment to add a right to vote.

I've always thought the ability to remove the vote from convicts or the unregistered were the primary ways to open the door to disenfranchisement.

Especially states who don't even allow ex-cons to vote.  

I'd rather murderers got to vote, than innocent people, who happened to be mysteriously on a list of murderers, didn't get to vote.

by scientician 2005-11-18 10:38AM | 0 recs
Interesting
Good ideas, but #1 is going to come off as very unprofessional to most people.  It is a great unofficial goal, but it sounds like children trying to kick girls out of the clubhouse.  Impeach Rumsfeld can't be on a national platform... why not just throw W's name on there too?  The Impeach Rummy plank should be changed to something about eliminating torture or reform prisioner laws... something to that effect.

The rest are very good ideas, but very expensive.  How do we pay for them?  Raising taxes heavily (to Pre-1980 levels) is political suicide, and while I am all for cutting pork will Senators and Congressmen of either party be willing to cut the money that brings jobs and amenities to their districts and gets them re-elected.  The Senators and Congressmen do display partisan ship, but it doesn't seem to extend beyond bringing jobs and money to their state.  So how do we get around it and pay for things?

by yitbos96bb 2005-11-18 06:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting
Right.  How does it look now?
by Matt Stoller 2005-11-18 06:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting
The word IMPEACH should not be a part of our platform.  Even when they had Nixon by the balls Impeaching him wasn't part of the platform.  

How about Appoint an independent council and Fully investigate the Iraq war and failures to care for the prisoners held from said war.  

Word it better obviously, but Investigating the war then allows us to punish those how we see fit, without coming out and childishly saying it in our platform.  That would be a huge mistake.

by yitbos96bb 2005-11-18 06:55AM | 0 recs
Medicare for All
The universal healthcare initative should be Medicare for all Americans, and it should be presented clearly that way. Anything else is a recipe for failure as opponents will raise the spectre of the unknown to shoot it down. But Medicare has a terrific level of support across the country and will be easy for the electorate to grasp.

Polls in 2003 showed only 40% support for a single payer system but more than 60% support for Medicare for All. Even though the two are pretty-much the same thing. It all comes down to how you present it.

by mso 2005-11-18 06:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Medicare for All
Matt, while I have a problem w/ a few points, overall not bad.

The problem is how in the hell do Dems pay for this? Thanks to the biggest big government conservative president of all time, we have a massive deficit. Even removing all troops fr/ Iraq and repealing all the Bush tax cuts wouldn't even put the budget in the black.

All this new spending will force massive tax hikes, which is flat out a great way to blow this unique opportunity in 2006. While it is good to be bold, we have to understand how the GOP will attack us for any platform we extol.

by AndrewYoT 2005-11-18 09:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Medicare for All
"The problem is how in the hell do Dems pay for this? Thanks to the biggest big government conservative president of all time, we have a massive deficit. Even removing all troops fr/ Iraq and repealing all the Bush tax cuts wouldn't even put the budget in the black"

We already pay for the health care "system" we have now since it is the most inefficient system in the world. Medicare for all would reduce administrative costs drastically while providing us with better health care service at a lower cost because medicare  coul dhave bargaining clout. That's the reason a signle payer system is better that what we have now. Calling the single payer Medicare might make it harder for the right wing to demonize it.

Keith

by keith johnson 2005-11-18 10:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Medicare for All
I think this is the number one priority, and the simplicity of putting it just that way is deeply attractive. Paul Krugman's Nov. 11 column contained the key, I believe. He said, "politicians who don't believe in a positive role for government shouldn't be allowed to design new government programs."

The Prescription Drug Program is a nightmare, and over the next six months, as those who're elegible for the program try to sort out their options and find the plan that best fits their needs, the pain and stupidity of the PDP will stand in stark contrast to the blissfully simple Medicare program itself. Older seniors have two generations of voters learning from their experience, making the coming year a peak Teachable Moment<sup>TM</sup>.

by Jeany 2005-11-18 08:52PM | 0 recs
Not a serious platform
Stoller, while I appreciate your zeal, your platform has a number of problems.

#1 - The Constitution allows for the impeachment of cabinet officials, but going after Rumsfeld would be very difficult.  First, the Democrats would have to present evidence that he committed a crime that rises to the level of an indictable offense.  Slapping a vague notion such as "mislead the country" or "conspiracy to torture" would set a terrible precedent for future impeachments if it were actually to go through.

#2 - In what terms do you define privacy?  Does it just apply to personal issues, such as abortion or lifestyle choice, or does it have a tangible scope, such as the boundary of "in one's home"?  Once again, it wouldn't be wise for Democrats to charge into an issue and advocate such a drastic solution.  It would just fuel the conservative fires behind bans on gay marriage, flag burning or English as the national language.

#3 - While libertarianins such as myself don't endorse this plank, it is fairly consistent with the Democratic platform and its a big deal.

#4 - Once again, the devil is in the details.  Will this entail a universal expansion of Medicare and Medicaid or will it involve a semi-nationalization of medicine (British and Scandinavian model)?  A model that has been toyed around with involves the creation of a two-tiered system of private medical practice and publically-funded hospitals.  The public hospitals would be run similar to the USPS and would be financed by the federal government based on the annual number of treatments each makes (as opposed to assigning an arbitrary block of money to each hospital).  This system would provided basic care to everyone, but also allow individuals to purchase private care and encourage public sector competition.

#5 - Considering that the United States higher education system is the most expansive in the world, universal free education would be impossible to finance.  Moreover, would this involve a nationalization of the higher education system or just government subsidization of universities?  If the latter, who would be responsible for paying the subsidies, states, the federal government of both?  A better alternative would be to set aside more money for programs like "Teach for America" that offer to repay student loans in exchange for teaching service in disadvantaged school districts.  Since the US has such uncontestable lead in higher education, I would be wary of attempts to fix a system that isn't broken.

#6 - I don't even know where to begin with this because it just doesn't make sense.  Worst of all, advocating that unions be put in charge of implementation is wrong - shouldn't the customers have a say in their service as well?

#7 - No problems here.

#8 - I would hold off on free Internet access until a feasible WiMax scheme can be implemented - also, nothing is ever free and at least a minimal tax would need to be levied for it.  It is a good idea to keep this as a national issue plank, but I would emphasize that localities take the initiative on this one.  As for copyright reform, you need to clarify your position.  Are you advocating the reform of how patents are issued or the rights they bestow?  I think the Democratic Party should pledge to return patent duration to 10-15 years (down from 27 years).

by Robot Economist 2005-11-18 06:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Not a serious platform
You're missing the entire point of the exercise.  But thanks for appreciating my zeal.
by Matt Stoller 2005-11-18 07:03AM | 0 recs
Patents != copyright
Patents and copyright, while they can be lumped together somewhat under the general heading of "intellectual property issues" are not the same thing, and they need different kinds of reform.

The duration of copyrights need to be rolled back to pre-Mickey Mouse Protection Act of 1998 lengths, and Larry Lessig has proposed a very good means of ensuring that actively managed and profitable works may be protected beyond that with a simple copyright renewal option. This would allow abandoned works to lapse into the public domain where they can be preserved and built upon for the future.

Patents are suffering partly from an overextension of what is patentable (such as software patents, which are a blight that will, given enough time, kill the technology industry in the US and ship it off to so-called pirate nations like China which retain the freedom to build on past work, or the truly odious genetic patents -- did you know many parts of your genome are patented by some company?), and also from what appears to be a policy of defaulting to aproval for patents that the examiners don't understand. Basically, too much stuff is being patented too easily and rather than encouraging invention by protecting legitimate discoveries, it is stifling invention by preemptively locking up discoveries that the inventor has no plans to do anything with. Patents are more often used as a legal cudgel now than a foundation for a business.

So for both issues, the point is to address the fact that intellectual "property" is being treated too much like physical property, and having the opposite of its intended effect on our economy. IP policy must have as its explicit goal the encouragement of creation and innovation, not the protection of existing businesses or the extension of their monopolies.

by rusty 2005-11-18 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Patents != copyright
Rusty,

Can you do a little blogging on this?  You know this stuff cold.

by Matt Stoller 2005-11-18 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Patents != copyright
You are right on the nose rusty, I should have added more depth to my response, but it was already long enough.
by Robot Economist 2005-11-18 08:11AM | 0 recs
Democratic Platform in 2006
Domestic Policy
A)Economic Issues
  1)Budget/Taxes- Democratic Party's policy should be the Congress and the Whitehouse must adopt a Pay-Go rule. Government Spending should not exceed its revenue except during time of crisis(war,terrorist attacks or natural disasters). If Government wants to create a new entitlement program- Tax Cuts must be repealed. If Government wants to give tax Cuts- Spending Cuts must occured. except in programs such as education,health care,and homeland security and national defense.
  2)Campaign Finance Reform- Democratic Party's policy on Campaign Finance Reform is abolish- McCain-Feingold- it is cause of the Swift-Boat Ads. Support Full Disclosure.
  3)Labor Unions-Jobs-Business- Democratic Party's on Labor Unions- is Labor's should have the right to organize- Participate in the polical process. Increase the national minimum wage to 10.00 per hour. Give incentives to businesses that are willing to keep jobs in the United States and provide benifits to their workers.
  4)Trade- Support a Free but Fair Trade Policy- when supports workers rights and has high labor and enviromental standards.  
  5)Social Security/Seniors- Democratic Policy on Social Security and Medicare- is Protect and Strengthen  Social Security and Medicare at any cost- Adopt the plan that was recommended by the Moynihan-Kerrey commission. Raising the Retirement Age to 70. Increase the Payroll Tax to People who make over $100,000. Reduce Benifits to People who make over $150,000 dollars.

B)Social Issues
  1)Abortion- Democratic Party Platform on Abortion should be Abortion should be legal-safe and rare. A woman's right to choose should occur during the first 2 trimesters- but before she chooses to have an abortion- we should require a 5 day waiting period in which she is required to seek advise and counseling. Late-terms Abortions should be banned except during a case of rape,incest,or when a life or health of the women is at stake.
  2)Affirmative Actions- Democratic Party Platform on Affirmative Action is mend but not end Affirmative Actions- Abolish quotas.
  3)Crime and Drugs- Democratic Party Platform on Crime and Drugs is on Drug Policy- Legalize Marijuana. Abolish a mandatory-minimum on Drug Convictions. Remand them into drug-treatment programs instead of incarcerating them in prison. Support a life prison sentence to violent criminals- Abolish the DeathPenalty except for childkillers,drugdealers,copkillers,killing of a governmet agents,and terrorist. Support mandatory DNA Testing in Death Penalty Cases.
  4)Education- Democratic Party Platform on Education is to Fully Fund the  No Child Left Behind. We should give college graduates incentives to go into teaching- We need to hire more teachers, Build more classrooms- as an attempt to reduce class size. We should allow students to have access to the computers- whether it is at the library or in a classroom. Make sure students use new and updated textbooks. Increase Head-start funding. Provide Free College Loans and Scholarships to students who want want to attend college for a associates or bachelor's degree if they have a B- average- They must maintain a B- average while they are attending college.
   5)Enviroment- Enforce Clean Air and Clean Water Act. Protect ANWR, Forests, and Beaches.
   6) Euthanasia- Democratic Party platform on Euthensia is we should have a constitutional amendent allowing Euthenasia- An individual has a right to decide whether or not his or her life should be ended without Government interference.
   7)Gay Rights- Democratic Party Platform on Gay rights is we should have a federal constitutional amendent legalizing Civil Unions and Domestic Partnership Benifits. But leave the Gay Marraige issue up to the states. Government should not regulate actitivies between two consenting adults- whether two guys,two girls,are Santorumizing each other, themselfs or a dog.
  8)Guns- Democratic Party Platform is we should support a Five Day Waiting Period for Gun Buyers. Gun Dealers should conduct and instant background checks on gun buyers- to see if they have any arrests,conviction, they are in the country illegally.
  9)Health Care- Democratic Party platform on Health Care should be we should support a single payer- Universal Heath Care Program.
Foriegn Policy/National Security Issues
  1)Foriegn Relations- US Should support Democratic Countries around the world that provide health care and education benifits to their consituents and believe in  strong labor and environmental standards and basic human rights. Support a multilateral policy.
   2)Military,War,Veterans- We should support a strong military,homeland security and national defense. We should never go to war based on outdated intelligence. War should only occur as an act of self defense- excluding pre-emptive strikes. War should occur with the support and backing of the international community. We should make sure Veterans recieve housing and health care assistance.
   3)Immigration- Democratic Party Platform on Immigration is we should send border patrols and national gaurds from preventing people from crossing the Mexican and Canadian Border illegally. Allow existing Illegal Immigrants who have no criminal records and have employment and family in the United States to apply for citizenship.

 

by CMBurns 2005-11-18 07:32AM | 0 recs
Energy Policy
Energy Policy- Reduce Dependence on Oil. Give incentives to consumers to purchase hybrid fueled vehichles- Give automanufactures in Detroit to design SUV's that run on hybrid fuel.
Stoves and Heaters,and Air Conditioning should run on electricity and Propanes.
by CMBurns 2005-11-18 07:38AM | 0 recs
I'd vote
for those Democrats!
by peacemonger 2005-11-18 07:49AM | 0 recs
not just minimum, livable
We need to change the meaning of "minimum wage" to "livable wage" and that would be great.  A higher federal minimum doesn't mean much by itself.
by Albert 2005-11-18 07:50AM | 0 recs
This is the sure way to lose!
Free Free Free Free.....are you nuts?  The american people are not into this sort of stuff.....they want things to be REASONABLY PRICED and they want to have control over CHOICES but they understand that nothing is free.....someone has to pay for all this stuff.

As for impeachment.....have you ever seen the Godfather?  You don't go around telling everybody that this is what you're gonna do!  Besides, I imagine that most people don't want impeachment to happen and remember, impeachment DOES NOT MEAN REMOVAL FROM OFFICE!  This is one of those things that you start talking about after you get elected.

by TheRover 2005-11-18 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: This is the sure way to lose!
The platform mentioned 'free' twice, so calm down.  Internet access is quite doable if you get the damn telcos out of the way.  Education is tougher - perhaps 'higher education' would be better than university education.
by Matt Stoller 2005-11-18 08:10AM | 0 recs
The Damned Telcos....
Aye!  It's called free enterprise....and like it or not, that's just the way things are done in this country.  You're not gonna get them out of the way....not in our lifetimes at least....now maybe when we get to the point of being able to travel at lightspeed......but that's another day.

I think my main problem with this whole thing is that it just smacks of socialism....and that's the last thing that we democrats need to be beat up with right now.  All this stuff costs money.....and you know what republicans are gonna say...so I won't say it.  I believe I've heard Chris Matthews say on several occasions that this is the main reason that people have been electing republicans to congress.....NOBODY WANTS THEIR TAXES RAISED  ..and for some reason, that seems to be the first damned thing that democrats always want to do.

by TheRover 2005-11-18 08:27AM | 0 recs
Re: The Damned Telcos....
Yeah, free enterprise, the market, yada yada.  Which is why cable companies have a government sanctioned monopoly, because the market is free.

Go peddle your freeper nonsense elsewhere.

by Matt Stoller 2005-11-18 08:31AM | 0 recs
Freepers Creepers!
I'll put my liberal cred up against ANYBODY, including the folks who run this blog.  If the best you can do is accuse someone of being a republican then you've admitted your error.  If you can't see what they would do to a democrat who ran with this platform (all of it......parts of it are ok I guess) then you really are blind.  Our Big Ideas need to be carefully crafted so as to not put us 6 feet under.
by TheRover 2005-11-19 03:37PM | 0 recs
A little disturbed
That there is nothing explicitly about National Security on there.

1 Is more about conduct of domestic leaders than foreign policy and the same with 2 which has larger implications for domestic plans.

I also understand how things like education and transit would stregnthen national defense, but I think some sort of statement about foreign interventions and international organizations or relations should be put up on there.

I'd like to point out also, something that Yglesias said that I found pretty interesting on universal university education. That if the bar is raised to that, the rich will just find some way of raising it again so they are "better" than the rest of us.

Also, something else. I honestly believe that a  part of the population doesn't need to go to a university but would be better served by vocational schooling. Now I have no idea how you would go about determining that (and asking the people themselves is problematic, how many people really know themselves at 18?) but I figured it had to be said.

by MNPundit 2005-11-18 08:19AM | 0 recs
Re: A little disturbed
MNPundit,

National Security starts by getting rid of people who fuck up our national security apparatus.

I don't get that point about the rich.  By that logic the rich will just find a way around everything so we might as well try nothing.

by Matt Stoller 2005-11-18 08:29AM | 0 recs
About that last part....that had to be said....
You are right on the money......and you're right that nobody seems to want to talk about that fact.  It's as though everybody should go to college whether they want to or not.  Looks like that's a place for technical education or whatever it's called.....the only problem is.....ALL OUR DAMN MANUFACTURIING JOBS ARE GONE!  THERE'S NO NEED FOR PEOPLE WITH THIS TYPE OF EDUCATION.  Ugh!
by TheRover 2005-11-18 08:31AM | 0 recs
universal post-high school
ok so? What are we to do? Send those people out of the US? Those people need to and want to be productive members of society.

I vote a BIG YES on universal college/techincal/trade school. As an educator, I think it is critical to instill in young minds the fact that they WILL be going to college so that they have directions. The teens with whom I work NEED to know that their course selections matter, they need to have some direction in their selection toward what they will study later on, so that they can have access to the advanced courses that take them there.

If we want to remain a competitive economy, we need to empower our young people with employable skills.

by daninvirginia 2005-11-18 12:41PM | 0 recs
Re: universal post-high school
You can call it post-secondary education, or (as they do in Ireland) third level education, and pretty much cover the terrain from trade apprenticeships to technical schools to university. I'm not sure that making it free would make it good, but the Republic of Ireland did just that a number of years ago, and their reward was the Celtic Tiger economy.

We do need to do something pretty dramatic w/r/t education, something that would move it back into the top tier of national priorities. The Tax Haters have done a lot of damage, not only to our schools, but to our feelings about education, our amour propre for the whole notion of bettering ourselves, and the world in the process.

If you think, as I do, that innovation and creativity has been the engine of our economy, and that a healthy economy must be the basis of our national security, you can't be comfortable with the destruction of public education. NCLB set the stage for our schools to be labelled junk.

by Jeany 2005-11-18 10:51PM | 0 recs
How about making High School mean something?
I think one of the biggest problems is that we are relying on universities to do what high schools are not doing........Now at LSU (where I've spent my life!) they have eliminated the remedial courses......which is a good start.  It's just that high schools are not teaching anything worth while to kids.  Perhaps we could combine the votech/technical stuff with the high school program some way......I believe this may be what the previous commenters were talking about.
by TheRover 2005-11-19 03:41PM | 0 recs
Add one more thing, Paul
* Get Private Corporations And Elected Officials Out Of Handling Our Elections
 * Place Election Administration In Hands of Non-Partisan Commissions In All 50 States and DC
 * Pass National Clean Election Law
 * Reinstate Fairness Doctrine

Right here, I would add:

* Repeal 1996 Deregulation Act

The Plame scandal proves that Clinton's signing of this act was a mistake. The NYTimes, The WaPo, and NBC is guilty as all hell for aiding and abetting the involvement of their own high-profile salaried journalists without ever kowtowing to "public interest" (e.g. the public's right to know) via full disclosure. In his capacity of Executive Editor of the NYTimes, Bill Keller should've FIRED Judy Miller for insubordinately going back to covering Iraq instead of accepting and publishing her articles after they warned her.

Likewise, NBC should fire or suspend both Chris "Tweety" Matthews and Tim Russert for "pretending" to be objective in their news coverage of Plame when they themselves were deeply involved in the matter, appeared before Fitzgerald, and not once stated so on their programs. The WaPo should do the same with Bob Woodward.

The fact that they didn't is proof positive that, IMO, the moment the upper brass at all three of these media insitutions decided to protect their own journalists and bury their own involvement instead of informing the people, they ceased being a free press protected under the Constitution and all sheild laws and became state propaganda organs. Each of them need to be stiffly fined, rebuked, or even dismantled -- they were all willing accessories to the Bush Administration's lies as well as the cover-up.

Clinton's Deregulation act made all of this possible for we know live in an America where all of our news and information (and thus how we perceive not only our own nation but the world around us) is dictated and "filtered" by a handfull of corporate-minded, profit-driven, tax-break loving, all-ready-too-rich idealogues and their shareholders ... and I wouldn't trust these sonsabitches to sit the right way on a toilet seat let alone deliver the truth to the people. Judging by the growing success of blogs, I doubt I'm alone in that sentiment.

by Sizemore 2005-11-18 09:28AM | 0 recs
All You Had To Do Was Ask!
I didn't need to be sold on it!
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-11-18 05:34PM | 0 recs
relying on a feeling of entitlement
No offense Matt, but one of the reasons this country's gotten so polarized is the extremist views that each party has resorted to in order to rally thier bases.  The Republicans seem to be wisening up a little after seeing what a horrendous mess the extreme right has made of things.  The Democrats need to also. Promises of universal health care, free internet, free higher education, government sponsored national mass transit on top of being unrealistic, sound too much like socialism to me.  When did this feeling of entitlement attach itself to the Democratic party.  Why not rally the base by strenthening the party at it's core:

  1.  The environment: put an end to the raping that the Chimp Administration has done on the environment.

  2.  Personal freedom:  Give back the personal freedom that Chimp's stollen.  Make America safe without Gestapo techniques.

  3.  Separation of Church and State:  Why can't the extremem right see the similiarities between themselves and the Taliban?

Let's stop trying to buy votes with socialistic promises and bring this country back to the ideals that made it great.  
by Slapmaxwell 2005-11-18 09:31AM | 0 recs
Re: relying on a feeling of entitlement
If you don't want to offend me then don't call me an extremist.  The ideas put forth there are not extreme, they exist in one form or another in communities all over the country.
by Matt Stoller 2005-11-18 10:16AM | 0 recs
Re: relying on a feeling of entitlement
My intention wasn't to insult you.  I just get bothered with this feeling of entitlement that the Democratic party tends to feed on at times.  I'm not suggesting that we cut back any of our social programs, but there seems to be something inherently wrong with using them like a carrot on a stick, which the Democratic party here in Chicago for one, has become very adept at.
by Slapmaxwell 2005-11-19 01:43PM | 0 recs
Re: relying on a feeling of entitlement
The big idea that made this country great was genuine economic opportunity for those who applied themselves. Universal access to high quality public education was a prime contributor to that opportunity, especially once mental labor replaced physical labor. You can't have public education without taxes.

Now I understand that you don't want to spook the horses, but I don't think we can make the TaxCutters happy and have decent schools. We have to push back against the notion that the government should have no role to play in education, and health care, Ronald Reagan was so cute with his crack, that it was chilling to hear "we're from the government and we're here to help you." Twenty-five years later, big chunks of the government have deteriorated to the level of his expections. I don't know how we push back agains tthe people who proclaim that All Taxes are Theft, but we've got some pretty spectacular examples of things our government does well, or has done in the past.

by Jeany 2005-11-19 08:58PM | 0 recs
Re: relying on a feeling of entitlement
I thought it was the ideals of the New Deal and the Great Society (very socialist at their base) that made our country great?
by daninvirginia 2005-11-18 12:43PM | 0 recs
Three Points...
Matt,

I love this list, which is the first time I've seen in a codified fashion a Dem alternative to the Contract On America.

I have, of course, some modifications.

Number 1 - I see what you're doing by concentrating on ends here, but I think maybe as a means of galvanizing people around the torture issue and making it clear what Dem values are, it's not so very sexy. I think all I'm suggesting is rebranding as "ending torture" with possible impeachment as one of many tactics.

Mass Transit - Many of the comments here keep talking about how nice it would be to get around the suburbs as well as major urban centers. They also talk about gas prices and other things. I think we're dancing around the issue here. That issue is how we as a society want to deal with our population growth.

I think we should explicitly call this point "Smart Growth and Mass Transit", becasue the main reason our mass transit sucks so much is that we've built all these low-density suburbs with no sidewalks and no means of getting around except cars. We totally need to rethink how we plan our own futures. And this has to be a citizen-driven process, not a developer-driven one, otherwise we'll get crap.

This also plays into a point that is missing, which is a National Energy Strategy based on lowering our dependence on oil, and increasing our use of renewables and green building techniques. Someone mentioned the Apollo Project, which is a good place to start.

Finally, though many would consider me the archest of arch-socialists, I don't like free anything no matter how vital it is. The people who participate in the program feel more ownership and more connection with it if they have to pay for it. They are also more likely to defend it against political attacks and demand accountability. I think a graduated scale based on income/wealth as a kind of "co-pay" on the part of the student is a better way to structure it. I'm all for heavy subsidies from the govt, but I think "free" is less than optimal.

Thanks for this.

by nathanhj 2005-11-18 10:50AM | 0 recs
Universal University Education
Great exercise overall.

Free Univ Education is a terrible idea.  Universities are not for everyone.  Some people do not have the discipline nor the ability to gain a college education.  Period.  We should not subsidize these people.  In fact, in my opinion, we should be expelling more college students that are not performing up to standards (like a C average, minimum).  Generally you get what you pay for, and if you pay nothing for school, you get nothing from it.  A bunch of college kids in school on the public tab will not help our ability to compete in the marketplace, etc.

Increasing scholarships for economically challenged students is fine, and overdue.

If we strengthened education at the High School level and before, and improved technical/vocational education (how reliable/competent is your plumber/handyman/electrician/roofer?) then we could put a lot more people into the workforce earning a good middle class living in skilled trades and services.  You do not need to go to college for this.

by The lurking ecologist 2005-11-18 11:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Universal University Education
"Free Univ Education is a terrible idea.  Universities are not for everyone.  Some people do not have the discipline nor the ability to gain a college education.  Period.  We should not subsidize these people.  In fact, in my opinion, we should be expelling more college students that are not performing up to standards (like a C average, minimum).  Generally you get what you pay for, and if you pay nothing for school, you get nothing from it.  A bunch of college kids in school on the public tab will not help our ability to compete in the marketplace, etc."

College isn't for everyone, that might be true. But having a college degree makes you much more likely to have a higher paying job that you actually enjoy doing. What free university education does is lessen the degree that your life chances will be determined by your parents economic status. If we don't provide equal access to higher education, the inequality that comes with our free enterprise system has no moral justification. Unless we radically restructure our system so that working at places like McDonalds or Walmart pays enough to bring you into the middle class, we have a moral obligation to give every person an equal shot at escaping that fate.

keith

by keith johnson 2005-11-18 06:01PM | 0 recs
better target
A better target politically speaking,
because it is a "family value" and
would appeal to "soccer moms"
among others, as well as being
a better way to make effective
social change, is universal PRESCHOOL
education. School should start at
age 4 or maybe age 3.

Schools should open at 8 a.m. and
stay open until 6 p.m., to allow them
to double as childcare for working
parents. The longer day would allow
reinstatement of physical education
and recess, which have almost
vanished from the schedules of
our obese kids. Yes, I know,
teachers working hours. We'd
need more teaching assistants
to help cover the longer hours, and
specialized teachers, too, for music
and art and second language
classes. The longer day would
also allow for more study time.
( Forget homework, that interferes
with watching TV. )

And class sizes should be limited
to fewer than 20 until the kids are in
junior high.

All American kids -- and almost all
parents -- would benefit from this kind
of broad educational reform.

But free university education, not so.

In Brazil all students are guaranteed
free university education -- IF they
finish high school. Ha ha ha ha ha.
Last time I looked, the rich sent
their kids to private schools until
they reached university age.
Almost all poor kids dropped out
or were forced out many years before
finishing their studies, after growing
bored and frustrated in public schools
where class sizes were 40 or 50 or
more, and teachers were untrained
and very poorly paid.

Oh, do I think such a thing could
happen here? Isn't it happening
here already? Isn't America becoming
like a Third World Country with
an absurdly rich elite gaming the system ?

More broadly, the proposed list is
sadly lacking on proposals dealing
with issues of race and poverty.
Like the Republicans, Democrats
don't give a shit any more. And children.
Well,  the blogosphere average age
must be about, oh, I reckon the typical
blogger and reader is a recent graduate,
not yet with kids in school, and so
I guess with my Great Society concerns
I'm showing my curmudgeonly age.

But this list making is a worthwhile start,
helping us get off the defensive -- from
trying to protect the New Deal and the
Fair Deal and the Great Society -- and
helping us look ahead with new programs
for a better America.

Keep up the good work.

by Woody 2005-11-18 01:20PM | 0 recs
My first MyDD post, I picked a good one.
Impeach the Secretary of Defense and all other responsible parties for incompetence and criminal negligence in the prosecution of the war in Iraq

Maybe a good idea.  

A Constitutional Right to Privacy

Cant define privacy.  Soverignity Amendment ?    

A Higher Minimum Wage

Of course.  However, why just here ?  Global minimum is a great idea.  Thru WTO and tax laws

Universal Health Care

Of Course

Universal Free University Education

Stupid.  Make high schools far better with those funds.  University for mind expansion only should not be a sole public good or even mostly a public good.      

National Mass Transit

Dumb Dumb Dumb.  Our transit system is the envy of the world, we need more and better roads and to be of of gas engines unless highly taxed buyers want them for performance reasons.  Mass transit cant adapt fast enough for growth patterns.  self driven or remote driven trucks and cars that burn less fuel will be the future.   MORE ROADS NOW, FEWER TRAFFIC LIGHTS. DRIVER'S RIGHTS  

Full Corporate Governance Reform to End Corporate Corruption

This shows the lack of seriousness to this list; end corporate corruption?  When the sun swallows the earth maybe....    

National Free Internet Access and Copyright Reform

Why not free computers and electricity for too ? those.  Why not pair the trivial with the profound ?  The only major Intellectual Property reform we need NOW is patent review stuff and killing off 'business process' patents and other novel ways of jacking people around.  Free movies and music ?  No darn way.

This platform would suck.

How about a real 4th amemedment on the roads ?

Getting a handle on local governments is a key issue- they are running wild messing up development patterns, over taxing, and empire building in general.  How about forcing more regional cooperation in the various MSA's around the nation ?

How about mandatory military pre-training for one year of high school ?  

How about massive building and housing rehab around the country ?

How about real UN reform ?

How about a new wind / safe nuke (Yes there is clearly such a thing with graphite ball reactors) electric energy/transportation cycle ?

How about some moral leadership on the "art" that this country is consuming ?  Law and Order SVU is simply snuff porn and nothing else.   This is the one thing that reaches deep into red GOP land- concern about and some modest social control of that stuff is a winner.  Censorship is one thing, a society having some decent taste is another.  

See the differences ?  

by bluelaser2 2005-11-20 05:44PM | 0 recs

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