Thursday, June 9, 2016

My submission to the Democratic Party platform

The Democratic Party has requested that Democratic Party members submit testimony for the Democratic Party platform. Members can submit it in writing or in a video. 

I went with text. 

Here's what I submitted:

I want the Democratic Party to commit to:

— creating legislation that completely, utterly undoes the Supreme Court ruling Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and prevents unregulated super PACS from ever happening again. Citizens should always know who is funding any advertising

— creating legislation that requires more transparent reporting for ALL campaign contributions, including to all 501 c 4 entities

— supporting EVERY provision of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and NOT repeal any of it

— asking all Presidential candidates to release the text of ALL speeches they have ever been paid to do, particularly in the last 10 years

— never voting for legislation that favors lending agencies over the rights and needs of consumers

— working to increase taxes on those in the top 1% income bracket, restoring the tax rates for that group that existed under Ronald Reagan

— working on legislation to apply the same payroll tax already paid by more than 9 out of 10 Americans to those with incomes over $250,000 a year, thereby making social security sustainable

— closing the loophole in President Obama’s ban on lobbyists that is still allowing people to leave the government and immediately become high-paid lobbyists, and allows former industry lobbyists to write legislation meant to regulate their industries

— continuously educating local Democratic Party offices on how to better welcome and involve people under 50, low-income people, and people who are not of mostly European ancestry, and asking these local party offices to regularly collect and report demographic information of their meeting attendees

— continuously educating Democratic Party members on the local level on how to run for local offices

— dumping Super Delegates, as it could be used for the Party to defy the will of Party members

— get rid of caucuses and replacing them with voting. Caucuses are poisonous for participation, rewarding people with lots of time on their hands and rewarding intensity, and excluding people without such

— get rid of the Electoral College and making the election of the President direct democracy

— actively supporting automatic voter registration for everyone starting at age 18.

— making election day a federal holiday OR require early voting on weekends in all states

— outlawing gerrymandering

— restore the voting rights act and take aggressive action against laws meant to prevent citizens from voting

— pushing hard on the state level for a far shorter primary, one that starts later in an election year (April would be good)

— creating and regularly updating a 50-state strategy for the Party. As Bernie Sanders said, “We need to plant the flag of progressive politics in every state of this country.”

— reforming or getting rid of the law that requires the Postal Service to pre-fund its benefit obligations, as this is bankrupting the Post Office and forcing them into financial obligations that no corporation is required to do

— supporting the US Postal Service and not supporting privatization of the US Postal Service

— recognizing that volunteer engagement by government programs, nonprofits, schools and others is a way to demonstrate community support and transparency in work, that volunteers, while unpaid, are not free, per the resources needed to support volunteers during their service, that the value of volunteers is best expressed in terms of their impact, not in terms of a dollar value for their hours of service, and that volunteer engagement should never be used primarily, chiefly, to replace paid workers

— making an ambitious plan to take care of the crumbling infrastructure of the USA. Be as ambitious as FDR was regarding the work of the CCC, and Eisenhower was regarding the interstate roadways.

— supporting two years of fully-government-funded public university or public community college for every graduating high school senior

— supporting job training for people that have had careers in what are now dying industries: coal mining, coal processing, car manufacturing, etc., and supporting economic development in areas affected by this

— eschewing any welfare legislation that prevents parents from choosing to be full time, stay-at-home parents with children under 18, and that does not provide quality, affordable child care to any parents with children under 18

— helping Detroit and Flint Michigan, specifically, regarding their water, government corruption, their ongoing economic crisis, etc., and using your success there as a model for helping other severely-economically-depressed and marginalized communities throughout the USA

— beginning an aggressive program to give all American Indians the rights to water on their own lands

— beginning an aggressive program for job training, university education and other economic activities for American Indians, particularly those that spend at least 30% of their childhood on reservation lands

— fully funding and staff the IRS to do its work

— fully funding and staff ATF to do its work

— fully funding national parks, national forests, and facilities and programs in all national public lands, and eschew any corporate sponsorship/funding programs that take away ownership from people, that take away long-used names of such, etc.

— fully funding the National Endowment for the Arts

— addressing climate change from a scientific perspective

— supporting scientific research and education about science

— eliminating subsidies for fossil fuels, nuclear power, and biofuels

— building an efficient, comprehensive public transportation system for the top 100 metropolitan areas of the USA

— supporting public schools and eschewing any public funding for private schools

— supporting public school teachers and involving them in all conversations about education policies

— never, ever compromising whatsoever on the issue of a woman’s right to abortion services, and access to those services, here or abroad

— creating a strategy to expand health care insurance and health care services so that every citizen of the USA anywhere has affordable healthcare coverage and access to quality health care services, and create legislation so that only doctors make medical decisions for patients (not accountants and other non-medical staff) and legislation so that NO person will go bankrupt because of medical bills

— increasing funding for mental health services and affordable housing back up to the percentages of the Reagan administration

— fully funding the CDC to study, and talk about, injuries and deaths associated with guns

— using language that includes people who are NOT a part of any religion, who do NOT identify as “people of faith”

— creating strong regulation of guns, with licensing laws for guns and gun owners at least as strict as licensing laws for cars and car drivers, and with limits on how many guns can be in one household

— working to abolish the death penalty, because we cannot guarantee that innocent people have not died as a result of this

— mandating that all federal properties that were built or maintained by enslaved people, that housed enslaved people, must note such on prominent information boards and in all presentations about the history of such properties

— reforming the federal student loan program. It would be best to get rid of it entirely and work to create a way with nonprofit credit unions for people wanting loans to go to university to be able to receive such, with greatly-reduced interest rates. It would also be best to put a cap on how much money above the amount of a student loan that any institution could charge.

— support public colleges and public universities, but absolutely prevent government funding for for-profit colleges and universities

— create much more strict regulations on for-profit pay-day loan companies, rent-to-own companies, and big banks that engage in predatory lending

— committing to working with elected representatives of all political parties in local, state and national governing bodies, to seek areas of common ground and always pursuing what is best for the people of the USA

— listening to military leaders regarding the closure of military bases and weapons and training needed, rather than military contractors and lobbyists

— reducing the vast amount of financial waste in military spending

— increasing funding for mental health services for military members and their families, including after military service, and never in association with the type of discharge a military member has experienced (in other words, do not prevent someone who is dishonorably discharged from receiving government-funded mental health services)

— offering a list of reforms and timelines for the Veteran’s Administration’s health care services, and offering updates every six months on progress towards those improvements

— supporting family leave laws in line with those of other developed countries

— banning prisons run by private companies, thereby removing any financial incentive to keep people incarcerated

— banning governments from relying on fines as a primary way to fund local government services (as happened in Ferguson)

— supporting the Dream Act

— supporting a path to legal residency for people in the USA that are in the USA illegally but could meet several strict guidelines (regarding academics, police records, etc.) as well as creating a way for people outside the USA to apply for temporary work visas in the USA for work such as agricultural produce harvests and construction

— creating an aggressive plan to create affordable housing and reduce the number of homeless people in the USA, and through policy and action, recognizing there are multiple, related and individualized causes of homelessness

That’s a start… and in addition to the many other activities done on behalf of the party for women specifically, for various minority communities specifically, for the environment, for children, for immigrants, for people with disabilities, and more.

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