The single value of central importance to the Democrats is ECONOMIC FAIRNESS. We are the Party that believes the working people of America, as well as the poor, the retired, the middle class in general, are not getting a FAIR DEAL from the economic system that has been in place for the last 30 years. The wealth of the rich has grown by astronomical proportions while wages have stagnated and the middle class is shrinking. This is not “class warfare,” or “redistribution,” or “socialism.” It is simple economic fairness. We have been victims of a system devised by an economic elite in favor of the already rich. Democracy cannot survive in a system where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Many people have become so desperate that they don’t even vote, and even after people DO vote for a particular candidate, he/she often becomes just another pawn of the rich and powerful.
True personal freedom is a complex concept. As Democrats we honestly believe in real personal freedom, and have always been the ones to protect it. At the same time we recognize the complexity of our economic and social systems and believe that maximum personal freedom can only be achieved within a framework of shared values, laws, and resources. We do not believe in the freedom to starve, get sick, and die alone in the cold. We are deeply concerned about the infringement on personal freedom by the corporate world, the invasion of privacy and the ability to purchase “Freedom of Speech.” Freedom of speech has always been at the forefront of protecting the right to openly discuss without fear of criminal or civil retribution, the affairs of government. World History shows that without his basic protection abusive government control, action, and enforcement result, crushing the right to redress government faults. Personal freedom includes privacy, protections guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, travel, and association. It cannot be exercised without some personal restraint and responsibility, education, and at least minimal living standards. Government regulations with the purpose of protecting workers, consumers, the weak, minorities, the poor, and create fairness are not restrictions on personal freedom.
Democrats believe that all citizens have a responsibility to obey the laws, get an education, cooperate within the community, care for themselves, their children and families, find productive work at fair wages, save for the future, practice tolerance of the beliefs and harmless practices of others, and understand how Democracy works. We have the responsibility to support our government and leaders when they are right and take non-violent action to correct them when they are wrong. Government officials have the responsibility of passing laws and making decisions based on reasonable and scientific ways to reach a desired societal goal, even if it may be unpopular at the time. Elected and appointed officials have a responsibility to LEAD, not just to study opinion polls, or to follow the money that they need for re-election. Corporations have a responsibility to produce necessary products and insure the safety of the workers, consumers, and environment. We all have a responsibility to willingly support our government through fair taxation.
Democrats understand that the well-being of the individual can never be completely separated from the well-being of the community in which we live. While this may be a “socialistic” concept to some, it is felt on a daily basis by everyone who interacts with friends, business associates, public officials, or even those who we may not know. Democrats constantly strive to improve this community, which includes the national community of peaceful, law-abiding citizens everywhere, rich and poor, in their “pursuit of happiness.”
Democrats do not consider the word “Government” to be bad. It is necessary and has been one of the driving forces in the amazing success of the United States to this point. As the nation grows in size, wealth, and complexity, Government will also grow. Arbitrary cuts in “Big Government” will not solve problems. Government protects its citizens from enemies abroad, criminals at home, and corporate excess, and provides thousands of services to citizens more efficiently than they could provide these services for themselves. Obvious examples are schools, police and fire protection, highways, airports, libraries, parks, and hopefully soon real health care. The rich and powerful generally oppose government, because they don’t need as many of these services, except security for their person and property, of course, which the government provides for all, and they resent paying taxes to support it. The purpose of government is not to provide jobs or profitable contracts to those who have supported the party in power. Government must be truly OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, and FOR THE PEOPLE, and to accomplish this we must make sure that the best people can be fairly elected to public office, and that they have incentive to serve.
As we use more of our Earth’s dwindling natural resources, we must plan for a future that will be very different from our past. This is not a political choice, it is a fact of life. We cannot “vote” for more resources, or “vote” CO2 out of our atmosphere. We must take concrete action to accomplish these things over a very long period. Fossil fuels will not be as available and cheap for much longer, and they are even at this point contributing to climate change at an unprecedented rate. At the same time that the population of the world is increasing at the fastest rate in history, the planet is running out of good land, fresh water, and many other essential resources that simply cannot be recreated. Conservation is the key word, and this implies adaptability and sacrifice. It cannot be ignored. New technology will help, but will not completely solve these problems. We believe in economic growth, but the unsustainable growth of the past and present will not carry us into the future. Financial sustainability is also essential, and that cannot be built upon ever-increasing deficits and junk-consumerism.
We must be certain that all citizens receive fair treatment within our legal system. Too many times the rich and powerful are able to afford better attorneys, and can delay justice for decades, or in some cases influence the judges themselves. “Justice delayed is justice denied”….Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham jail, 1963. As citizens we have the right to fair and decent treatment throughout the legal process. The ability of the common citizen to sue the rich and powerful (and get a fair trial) is essential to the preservation of democracy. So-called “tort reform” must never be construed as a way for the rich and powerful to escape responsibility for their actions that have harmed others. To Democrats it means equal access to a speedy and fair trial for all litigants. We must adhere to the Geneva Conventions and international law, along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is a vital part of equal justice.
CARING FOR THE UNFORTUNATE AMONG US
Democrats do not ignore the fact that millions of Americans suffer every day from disease, handicap, lack of education, poverty, aging, and discrimination. We believe it the responsibility of the healthy and successful to do whatever we can to make the lives of these less fortunate more bearable. Personal assistance and private charities are essential in this effort, but only government can secure the resources necessary for this task of addressing the root causes of poverty, and provide effective health care for the sick and aging.
Most Americans today do not understand sacrifice very well. Those who have lost a loved one at war understand. So do those who have lost a job through no fault of their own, or millions of Americans who have worked for years to start a small business or make payments for thirty years to own a home and get a foothold in the middle class. Difficult times are ahead as we face a transformation of our economy, dwindling resources, political division, deficits and debt out of control, and falling status worldwide. We call on ALL Americans, especially those who have prospered so much in the last decades, to understand the necessity of this sacrifice and do their part. Right now that means higher taxes and increasing conservation. The future will demand even more. It will not be enough just to “go shopping” as the president told us after the Crisis of 9/11.
RELIGION, SCIENCE AND REASON
The history of the Democratic Party shows that we have always made room for the personal religious beliefs of all, while at the same time maintaining strict separation of Church and State. Many of our Founding Fathers had personal experience with religious persecution and were convinced that no government should ever establish any church. At the same time some of the greatest positive movements for human improvement in American history had roots in the churches. Ending slavery, helping the poor, building community, Civil Rights, are just a few examples. Democrats also realize that much of the progress of America has been brought about by science. Men and women great and small have made countless scientific discoveries and developed new processes and methods impacting every part of our daily lives. At the same time, the power of the human mind to reason has brought us better government and a generally successful economy. When reason has gone off track we have had wars, depressions, and civil strife.