building the platform

There’s a great Daily Kos post about the core values of the Democratic party and how to best present them… One of the best suggestions – do a better job of presenting abortion as a sub-issue beneath the major policy plank of “Privacy”… Here’s the main breakdown. I haven’t spent much time thinking about it yet, but I already have one change to suggest – the addition of “international women’s rights” under the “Leadership” plank of the platform.

Smart Government: Anti-corruption, Responsive govt, Fiscal responsibility

Privacy: Choice, Regulation of morality, Opposition to Patriot Act, Right to die, Medical marijuana, Consumer privacy, Freedom of/from religion, Access to contraceptives

Conservation: Protecting our environment, Protecting our cultural heritage

Opportunity: Education (pre-K, primary, secondary, college), Worker rights, Social Security, Gender equality (same pay for same work, etc), Affirmative action, Tort laws to protect the little guys from Big Corp, Non-regressive tax laws, Gay marriage, Fair trade laws, Small business support

US Leadership: Strong (not hollow) military, Leadership on global issues (e.g. terrorism, landmines, global warming, etc.), Champion of human rights, at home and abroad, Leadership in science and technology (e.g. stem cells), Strong United Nations/Internationalism

And, now that I’ve had another minute to look it over, I’d add “alternative energy leadership” under the “Leadership” plank, and “election reform” under “Smart Government.” What am I missing?

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  1. Jim
    Posted June 13, 2005 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I think that “privacy” is not a good choice as a basic value, because it has negative connotations, and because it is too limited in scope. “Personal liberty” is better. However, neither “privacy” nor “personal liberty” will do the work of justifying the Democratic position on reproductive rights. When our opponents claim that abortion is taking a human life, it is not a sufficient response to invoke a right to privacy or liberty or choice. Everyone agrees that the government should intervene when the life and well-being of a child is in danger; the child’s right to health and security trumps any parental right to privacy. The value we should invoke in this debate is personal responsibility. The effective response to the anti-choice argument is to acknowledge that there is no consensus in our society about exactly when a fetus becomes a human person entitled to legal protections, and that, given this lack of consensus, decisions about the course of a pregnancy prior to the point of viability should be made not by the government, but by the woman. Reproductive decisions are not only a woman’s choice, but a woman’s responsibility.

    Personal responsibility is a better frame than privacy for the marriage issue as well. Most Americans are happy to let gays do what they want in the privacy of their own homes–that’s not the issue. Americans’ hesitation is about public, governmental recognition of same-sex relationships as marriages. Again, we should ask, “Who should decide who you can marry–you or the government?” It’s a matter of personal liberty, not just privacy. But we can further ask, “Shouldn’t everyone have the right to make a legally binding commitment to be faithful to their partner and to care for their partner?” Many people object to “gay marriage” because they think of gay relationships as hedonistic self-indulgence. By talking about personal responsibility, we emphasize that we believe that all couples should have the right to enter into committed relationships in which they are responsible for the well-being of their partner.

    Conservatives have often criticized Democrats for being weak on issues of personal responsibility: we supposedly coddle criminals, drug addicts, and welfare recipients. By identifying personal responsibility as a basic Democratic value, we refute this slur. An emphasis on personal responsibility also connects with our emphasis on governmental responsibility (in matters of budget, defense, social programs, etc.), a value which the Bush Republicans have abandoned in their self-indulgent pursuit of wealth and power.

    SO–my big five might be:
    Effective Government
    (Personal and Governmental) Responsibility (or Mutual Responsibility)
    US Leadership (or A Stronger America)
    Justice and Opportunity

    Conservation fits under Responsibility; election reform under both Effective Government and Justice.

    Credit to Kos and Lakoff.

  2. Teddy Glass
    Posted June 13, 2005 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to have the full-on abortion fight. We won once, and I think that we could win again. The same goes for evolution. (I’d propose adding a pro-science stance, but I suppose that’s taken for granted.) Gay marriage, however, isn’t a fight that I want to have right now. I don’t think it’s in the short-term best interests of the party, or of gay Americans. I’d rather dial down the rhetoric a bit and fight for civil unions and equality under the law. In exchange for similar rights and benefits for gay couples, I could happily, at least for the time being, leave the term “marriage” off the table. Maybe that’s a cop out. Clearly gay couples should be allowed to marry. But, I’d be happy with a winning Democratic platform and incrimental improvements. My fear is that if we push the word “marriage” too hard the backlash could see us losing ground that was very hard to win in the first place, I don’t want that.

  3. [steph]
    Posted June 13, 2005 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    You’ve said it very well, Jim. I think putting gay marriage under the Liberty/Resposibility header works the best. It seems a better fit than “opportunity” given that marriage is more a right than an opportunity and the homophobic view that gays are asking for “special priviledges” (which seems too close to “special opportunities.”) We should try to make it clear that they are only asking for the same rights, liberty, etc as the rest of the citizens in this country have: the chance to take personal responsibility for themselves, their partners, and their families. Strong familes make a strong country and all that.

    I think Social Security could fit in this category as well. It could go along with government responsibility for obvious reasons, but it also fits in the sense that workers of today need to take responsibility to help ensure that the senior citizens who, as workers, helped build up this country, aren’t left without any means of support as they become older. I think the idea that we need to support the elderly in this country because they played a part in making it the wealthiest country in the world, and because it is the right thing to do is something that could appeal to people. It seems like most Americans, generally speaking, are in favor of doing the right thing.

  4. Andrew
    Posted June 13, 2005 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Under the “Conservation” heading, how’s about we add a “Responsible Transportation Policy,” too. One that promotes reliable public transportation on both the local and national level, as well as encouraging increased research and advancement in alternative fuels, fuel cell vehicles, hybrid engines, etc…

  5. mark
    Posted June 13, 2005 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Great thoughts… The only other thing I have to offer at this point is the inclusion of “leadership against war profiteering.” I think that would be a great way to introduce the subject of corporate responsibility and accountability in general.

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