Friday, April 07, 2006

A radical vision for the Democratic Party. And it ain't Hillary or John Kerry.

I'm so sick of the Democratic Party these days. You've got John Kerry trying to come off as Bush-lite on one end of the spectrum and on the left you've got Cynthia McKinney re-running 1960's. Isn't there anyone out there like a John McCain ---but without the religious baggage --- who has the ability to calmly articulate a political platform that corresponds to the real concerns of a majority of Americans? The powers-that-be in both parties are so out of touch with what most people go through in the real world that they're just incapable of appealing to the voters on the issues that really matter to them. All we get is demagoguery and nonsense. No wonder no one votes!

Here's my vision of a platform that would be a winner for the Democrats. First and foremost is a focus on the pocket book:

As FDR said, "Liberty requires opportunity to make a living --- a decent living according to the standard of the time, a living which gives a man not only enough to live by, but something to live for."

In accordance with this I would increase the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. This is the amount a study found a person who pays rent, in all but four counties in the U.S., would have to make in order to afford anything other than just the rent.

Big business would naturally reject this outright, but to balance this supposed untenable cost of doing business, I would then propose creating a universal health care system that would lift that crushing burden on business of providing this one their own. This would immediately solve some of the problems GM is having, for instance, and would also make American manufacturing more competitive. The majority of countries that we compete with have a massive advantage over our manufacturers because they don't have this huge added cost. Paying for universal health care could easily and cheaply be accomplished by cutting out the middlemen --- the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Also, with the organized power of the government and its purchasing power, the cost of drugs would plummet.

Such a leveling of the playing field would lessen the pressure for manufacturers to move their jobs overseas. People making more money and being healthier would raise profits and create more jobs. Sky high CEO pay packets don't trickle down and they don't lift all boats, despite John Snow's protestations to the contrary. Real money in real people's hands is the only thing that will ultimately benefit big business and average Americans in the end.

Higher wages and free health care won't solve all the problems this country has, of course. For the 37,000 million Americans in real poverty, 13% of the population, who are totally out of the job market, I would call for a massive public works program to rehabilitate our crumbling infrastructure. Put all of America to work! It is estimated that it could cost 100 trillion dollars to bring our roads, highways, bridges and public buildings up to snuff. In order to pay for this, in part, I would raise taxes on the rich, who are quickly becoming a permanent aristocracy under this administration, and I would impose a wind fall tax on the oil industry.

Political liberty and economic liberty go hand in hand. As FDR pointed out, "The royalists of the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody's business. They granted that the government could protect citizens in his right to vote, but they denied that the government could do anything to protect the citizen in his right to work and his right to live. Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is no half-and-half affair."

Nowadays, we can't even depend on our right to vote, so I would call for the end of the "Help America Vote Act” and would give the power of running elections back to the states and various localities. Federal funding would be provided for which ever system the states chose, but there would be no mandate to follow Federal guidelines. No matter what voting machine a state chose to use, there would be a verifiable paper record of the votes.

And to really make sure the people's voices made a difference in elections, I would scrap the current bi-cameral set-up and create a quasi-parliamentary system. I'm not sure exactly what kind of set up would work just yet, but the having the number of representatives set at 435 ad infinitum is getting more and more anti-democratic ever year. Right now, I think every representative represents 100,000 people and as the population grows that number grows too. There is no way for the people's House to effectively do the bidding of the people with that kind of lopsided arrangement.

I would increase the tenure of representatives to perhaps three years, so they don't have to start trolling for money as soon as they take their seat, and I would limit the president's term to six years. And as an added check on the executive, I would pass an amendment to the constitution that allows for a recall of the president in cases of egregious mismanagement as we have today. If the president is an actual danger to the government and the constitution we shouldn't have to just wait him out and cross our fingers that he doesn't leave a wake of destruction behind him. We've seen the pitfalls of one party controlling all branches of government and if Congress is incapable of checking a rogue executive, the people must have that option.

These are just a few basic ideas I have that would make our country more democratic and economically healthy. If a candidate came up with this sort of new thinking, I would certainly go right out and vote for him or her. Anything is better than what we've got to look forward to now.


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