Facts from the Front – July 2017

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by Moe White –

Across the country Democratic officials, interest groups, and other self-selected leaders and activists have been arguing about the best way to regroup following their unexpected defeat last November.

The Party was either too centrist, ignoring its liberal heritage, or pulled too far to the left by Bernie Sanders. It didn’t mobilize the base to get out the vote … or it failed to broaden its appeal beyond the base. Democrats “don’t get” the concerns and fears of the working poor and middle class frightened by globalization … or they need to refine their message to reach them. Demographics is destiny, and coalitions of blacks, Hispanics, GLBTQ, labor, and Silicon Valley are the party’s future … or the party needs to reclaim its historic support from the overlooked, rural white working class. Focus on winning the crucial Electoral College … or build a 50-state strategy to elect a “farm team” of governors and state legislators.

In short, it is, a party torn, once again, by competing impulses from its diverse constituencies: too radical (favoring “abortion on demand,” gay marriage, trans rights) and too conservative (all in for NAFTA, TPP, globalization); in bed with labor and Black Lives Matter, but sleeping with Wall Street; even the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) goes way too far and not nearly far enough.

Diversity—dissension—is central to the party’s heritage. But what’s been lost in the nearly four decades since the Reagan ascension is a clear, unwavering statement of what being a Democrat means. Therefore, I’m offering my own definition of Democratic principles: what makes me a patriotic progressive who believes that the conservative-yet-radical U.S. Constitution, which embodies the reasons for our original revolution, must be restored as the foundation of a successful liberal American resurgence toward a prosperous, equitable, just future.

Here, then, is “Moe White’s Progressive Party Platform,” which I hope might be adopted by the Democratic Party … or any other party that wants to “Make America America Again.”

THE ECONOMY

Jobs & Technology

Good jobs at fair wages – Promote and invest in job opportunities (and training) in growing industries such as renewable power, electric vehicles, and high-tech infrastructure (wireless networks, “smart” roads, bridges, water systems, etc.).

Affordable, universal Internet access – The American government invented the Internet; the American people must have an option for a low-cost public ISP with a maximum monthly fee no greater than one hour’s pay at current minimum wage. Net neutrality must be maintained.

Local control to support mom-and-pop business – Cities, counties, towns cannot be prohibited by federal or state governments from offering preferential treatment for locally owned businesses over corporate superstores.

Taxes

Fair progressive taxes – The higher your earnings, the higher your tax rates.

Reward patriotism, not profit-seeking – Revoke tax breaks for corporations moving jobs or hiding profits overseas; allow tax benefits only to those creating and keeping jobs in the United States. U.S.-based multinationals must repatriate overseas profits after five years or face compensatory taxes on U.S. earnings, or lose their U.S. operating charter. Foreign-based multinationals must pay U.S. taxes (local, state, and federal) on U.S. earned income.

Cap corporate tax deductions for executive earnings at $1 million.

Five-year federal tax holiday for new mom-and-pop businesses – All ownership must be held by a single family (including “in-law” businesses) with no outside investors and original capitalization no greater than $100,000.

EDUCATION

Public money for public schools – No tax money can ever go to tax-exempt private or religious schools or to for-profit schools, academies, or colleges.

Same standards for all schools – Charter schools must meet the same standards as public schools and be shut down after seven years if they don’t outperform regular public schools (that’s what a “charter” means).

Affordable higher education for everyone – Make community college free for a 2-year degree or certificate; all college loans should be interest-free through the federal government (no banks or private lenders allowed).

LAW & JUSTICE

Equal treatment

Equal rights for all citizens – All rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and law, and under state constitutions, must be equally enjoyed by, and applied to, all Americans, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual or gender orientation, ability or disability, marital status, or any other factor.

No special deals for billionaires – Prohibit plea agreements that don’t hold corporate executives accountable for their employees’ actions or corporate decisions.

No get-out-of-jail-free card for the rich – Get tough on corporate crime, so that if an individual faces 10 years for robbing a bank, a corporate criminal gets 10 years for defrauding stockholders.

Corporate accountability – If a corporation (not just individual officers and/or directors) is convicted of major felonies, it must be dissolved and all its assets seized for the United States Treasury. Just like a human felon, a corporation must be subject to the death penalty: being put out of business for good. (Shareholders will not get compensation for lost value; their fiduciary responsibility is to hold management to high standards; if they refuse, they lose—that’s part of the joy, and risk, of capitalism.)

Judiciary

No lifetime judicial appointments* – Time-limit judicial terms, with appointments staggered to keep any administration from packing courts with partisans—perhaps 11 years for District Court judges, 14 for Courts of Appeals, and 21 for the Supreme Court. (In 1800 life expectancy for a 40-year-old man was approximately 65, so a 40-year-old served, on average, 10 to 15 years, or 25 at most; today a 40-year-old Supreme Court appointee might serve for half a century—two full generations!)

*Would require a constitutional amendment.

ELECTIONS

Voting rights

Every citizen can vote – Require photo ID to register; provide every citizen with a federal photo ID at no cost. No special IDs can be specified or eliminated (e.g., “yes” to NRA members, “no” to college students). Once registered, you needn’t show ID to vote, but simply sign (as now, under penalty of law) that you are who you say you are.

Citizenship test requirement – To register, you must pass the same test given to immigrants who are granted U.S. citizenship. (The Founders asserted that an enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Jefferson, especially, wrote on this subject on many occasions, that “wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government.” The uninformed—what Donald Trump called “the poorly educated”—make poor choices, and it is the responsibility of government to ensure that those who vote know how the government that they’re voting for functions.)

Campaign Finance

Corporations out of electionsNo money shall be allowed into campaigns, political parties, or local, state, or national campaign committees (RNCC, DNCC, etc.) from businesses, corporations (including unions), LLCs, nonprofit or religious organizations, etc. Only human beings may finance election campaigns.

Personal contribution limits – Contributions from individuals shall be limited to $5,000 per candidate, $10,000 to a national or state party (not each), and $25,000 in TOTAL contributions to all candidates, parties, and campaigns, over each two-year election cycle. No “pass-through” contributions may be made in the name of other family members or children. (That is, no person, no matter how rich, can spend more than $25,000 for political campaigns every two years. Period.)

Voting Districts

Redistricting by nonpartisan commissions – Each state shall establish a nonpartisan commission to draw district lines based solely on total residents as enumerated by the decennial census. Residents’ race may be taken into account under the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (as amended); no other factor, including party registration, age, or other demographics, may be considered.

Equitable representation – No member of the House shall represent fewer than 600,000 or more than 1,000,000 residents. The size of the Congress shall be adjusted accordingly.

HEALTHCARE

Medicare Part E (Medicare for Everyone) – Every American is fully covered for all needed medical, mental health, and dental procedures, check-ups, health maintenance, etc., with no deductions or copayments; elective procedures (face lifts, tummy tucks, etc.) would not be covered unless medically necessary. Government shall negotiate and set prices for all procedures, drugs, and treatments.

Annual premium cost based on income – Premiums will be paid through tax withholding (like Social Security and Medicare) or by individual payment. (One approximation of rates could be by income group quintiles: the 20% with the lowest income pays 2% of Adjusted Gross Income; next quintile 4%; middle quintile 6%; next quintile 8%; top quintile 10%.)

That’s my platform. I would hope any progressive, Democrat or otherwise, would be proud to run on it. And proclaim it from the rooftops. And win the support of every voter who hears it.

 

 


Facts From The Front is a monthly column by copy editor Moe White in which America’s Constitutional democracy is defended against ongoing assaults by those who prefer less palatable alternatives: oligarchy, autocracy, theocracy, feudalism, fascism, and other nondemocratic methods of government. Among the qualifications for White’s commentary and ridicule are hypocrisy, dishonesty, corruption, unbridled greed, flat-out lies, and sheer idiocy on the part of public figures.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in “Facts from the Front” are those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of The Urban News.

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