Mr. Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, recently sent me a letter. While it was not addressed to me, it was for people like me who follow and have generally supported Democrats. In Mr. Dean’s letter, he explains that he would like me and other Americans to support Democratic organizers who are participating in a 50-State Strategy where organizers spend “grueling campaign hours -- often in places that haven't seen a real Democratic organizing effort in years.” For the presidential election they are traveling “to every corner of every state, making sure that the Democrats don't give up on a single precinct in the fight for the White House in 2008.” In order to do this, of course, Americans must help fund their strategy.
Mr. Dean refers to the pitiful moment all liberals, progressives, and any other American who wasn’t in support of George W. Bush felt when Kerry failed to “win” the election. Unable to pull off a “victory”, Americans were faced with the cold, hard truth that the Democrats’ had run a rotten campaign or else, they would have blown George W. Bush out of the water. In referring to the message, Mr. Dean is unmistakably hoping we Americans remember that moment and think that our campaigning must get organized now so that Democrats can win this election instead of the Republicans.
There is one slight problem with funding these organizers though. It’s not that I don’t think they have a thought-out strategy for getting elected. It’s that I don’t know what I am going to be funding. What agenda, Mr. Dean, will these Democrats being organized for pursue? What issues will be legislated upon? And most importantly, are Democrats going to have real debates in Congress where they stand up for the American people and do not postpone discussion on matters that need to be focused upon?
I did some research on the DNC website and found out that the “plan” or agenda being pursued is as follows:
1. Honest Government: The goal will be to “restore accountability, honesty and openness at all levels of government.” And Democrats will “create and enforce rules that demand the highest ethics from every public servant, sever unethical ties between lawmakers and lobbyists, and establish clear standards that prevent the trading of official business for gifts.”
Can the American people depend upon the Party to do that? The International Herald Tribune reported on January 1st of this year that Democratic proposals for ethics reform were “not as comprehensive or far-reaching as changes already adopted by many states.” The article went on to detail how it failed to truly reform ethics:
Democrats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate are proposing new restrictions on gifts, meals or trips paid for by lobbyists. They say they plan for the first time to require lawmakers to disclose their sponsorship of the pet items known as earmarks that they insert into major spending bills.
Meanwhile, several states, responding to the national scandals as well as their own imbroglios, have already adopted more sweeping gift and travel bans, broader measures to end the central role of lobbyists or government contractors in financing campaigns, and new forms of public campaign financing aimed at reducing lawmakers' dependence on big donors.
To enforce their rules, more than half of the states have also created independent ethics watchdogs, outside the control of the lawmakers they police — something members of Congress have so far resisted.
While states are making much needed changes, on the national level, Mr. Dean, Democrats did not truly follow the Democratic agenda. Instead, the party hid behind the argument that “their proposals [were] significant, especially compared with what Republicans managed to pass when they controlled Congress.” Of course, Mr. Dean. Republicans are a party based on beliefs, not policy. Anything your party does, Mr. Dean, will look better.
2. Real Security: The Democratic agenda here says that the Democrats are committed to ”repairing our military, to winning the war on terror, to protecting our homeland security, to ensuring success in Iraq and freeing America of its dependence on foreign oil--and it will finally prepare America for the security needs of the 21st Century.” All of that sounds a bit Republican to me. In fact, I think Mitt Romney is running on that as a basis for his foreign policy. In any case, there seems to be no policy behind that as there is no explanation in this part of the agenda on how this “real security” will be achieved. And I also like how you, Mr. Dean, add the part that says Democrats “honor the sacrifices our troops, their families and veterans by making sure we take care of them when they come home.” It’s reassuring when considering the fact that Democrats really don’t care about them while they aren’t at home. If the party did, they would not be postponing debate on what to do next with the war.
3. Energy Independence: Here I see signs of a Democratic Party that cares about the American people. The plan for achieving energy independence involves creating “a cleaner and stronger America that reduces our dependence on foreign oil and also creates new jobs for American workers.” It goes on to say that by “clearing the pathways to innovation, investing in our workers and infrastructure, and providing American consumers with broader, more responsible choices.” While a little thin on policy and very heavy on rhetoric, it sounds very good commercially. The party could put this in a commercial and sell it to the American people. And of course, I cannot forget that the party has also thought about letting corporations that fund the party have access to contracts so that they can reap the benefits from the first innovations made in the realm of energy independence. Should I expect some corporation like Halliburton?
Mr. Dean, my prime concern is that the American worker is not going to be involved in this process enough and the CEO is going to be involved in this too much. The science involved is going to take a backseat to profits. And all the while, global climate change will continue to damage our planet’s future.
So, how do I know that you will approach the issue of energy independence sincerely? The Republicans are already ready to take on energy independence. This party is not doing anything revolutionary with their plan. The issue, therefore, is how it will be done. And how do I know that the “how” will be about much more than profits and future campaign funds?
4. Economic Prosperity and Educational Excellence: The party would like to tackle this area of American life by increasing “the opportunity for our families is a high quality, good paying job.” Elaborating on that, the party believes in “fair trade agreements that raise standards for all workers here and abroad, while making American businesses more competitive.” The part on fair trade agreements would be all well and good except for the Democratic Party’s record, Mr. Dean.
I hope I am not informing you for the first time, Mr. Dean, that NAFTA is a free trade agreement, not a fair trade agreeement. And all other subsequent agreements passed which have been supported by the Democratic Party were free not fair also. In fact, currently, Democrats are expected to approve of a Peru Free Trade Agreement and following that a Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Mr. Dean, there is no fair trade agenda here. You are using the wrong word and misleading Americans who support fair trade.