No Good Answer

Howard Dean on Meet The Press, when asked by Tim Russert why the Democrats have no coherent plan, no solid alternative to the Republican agenda, essentially said that since the Democrats have not been in power, there hasn’t been the ability to draft any solid plan — that they haven’t had to do this because they couldn’t control anything.

That’s just not good enough. At the very least, the Democrats need to come up with several counterpoints to the Republican agenda — several big ideas that Democrats believe in and will work toward achieving if they are placed in power. It isn’t enough for them to ask us to elect them so that once they’re in power they can figure out what it is they need to do to turn this country around.

We need — at the very least — a few compelling reasons, some stark differentiation between them and the Republican Party, to rally the troops and get them excited about electing Democrats. There is a need to be bold with these ideas, to be optimistic. There is also a need to be honest and to not appear to be poll-driven.

A majority of Americans are still pro-choice. As Democrats, we should be proud to stand up and claim that the government has no right to intrude into people’s private lives, but that it is our obligation to make sure that abortion remains RARE, SAFE and LEGAL. That is a perfectly acceptable position for Democrats to take. In addition, the Democratic Party was once a party against Capital Punishment. In the South, a Democratic candidate won on a platform of opposition to the death penalty because he stated quite clearly that it was against his religious beliefs to execute ANYONE — that all life is sacred. Can we, as Democrats, not say the same? Is that really not showing the utmost respect for life?

There are certain party principles that need to be restated. Many Republicans are pro-choice, yet the party platform does not keep those people from voting Republican. Many Republicans are against the death penalty, yet that does not stop them from voting Republican. Why do we think that people will abandon the party as a whole if we strongly say, “we believe in a woman’s right to choose, but that abortion should be rare, safe, and legal… we believe that we should join the other civilized countries around the globe that respect life enough to end the execution of their own citizens, for any reason.”

But it’s not just the party platform that needs to be reinstated. The Democrats need some big ideas. I have a couple of my own.

1) By the year 2025, we will completely eliminate our dependence on foreign oil. This will not only be ecologically beneficial, but also will be extremely valuable from a national security standpoint. We will no longer be able to be held over a barrel, so to speak, over the price of oil, or the whims of dictators in the Middle East. Check out and you will see that renewable fuels made from corn are not only available in many locations across the United States, but that they reduce carbon emissions, provide employment for US farmers, and that there are already many automobiles that are ready RIGHT NOW to use “flexible fuels” in any combination of gasoline and ethanol. If you’re not near an ethanol station, you can use gasoline. You can mix the two. In addition, bio-diesel is becoming a real alternative. Made from soybeans, bio-diesel is another renewable fuel that can be used for heating in oil burners. In fact, Long Island has mandated that a certain amount of bio-diesel be used for a recurring dredging project out east that is slated to be performed every 3-5 years.

Could this happen by 2025? I don’t know. But if you don’t set the goal, you won’t even get close. Ethanol is already available across the US. Cars and trucks are already available with Flexible-Fuel engines. Bio-diesel is available. Isn’t 20 years enough lead time for domestic automobile manufacturers? And certainly, foreign automobile manufacturers will not be able to ignore a US market eager for such vehicles as well.

Kennedy set a timetable of less than ten years to reach the moon. Was that less difficult than eliminating our need for foreign oil in twenty years?

2) Government-sponsored health care insurance for anyone under 18. There is NO REASON that this supposedly civilized country should be allowing ANY children to live without health care. This is a moral value. If we can find $500 billion for an elective war in Iraq, we can find the money for this. Some things you just cannot negotiate. You just say, “we need to do this, we will find the money.” No child should ever be refused medical care because of a lack of money. It just shouldn’t happen. Ever.

3) Reform the election system. I, and many of my peers, have been completely disillusioned with the state of the national election system, and the recent criminal redistricting at the local level have led to the ability of one party to stay in power. A TRULY bi-partisan panel needs to sit down and devise a new, fair, playing field. Votes should never be able to be tampered with or interpreted differently. People need to win or lose on their personal integrity, agenda, and campaigns. No more dirty tricks. While I’m not naive enough to believe that we can eliminate all corruption from the voting system, we need to be able to assure ALL citizens of the transparency of the process. If this means a national election system, or federal rules on election methods, we need to do this. It’s important that we know that our leaders were duly elected. There needs to be no room for interpretation. No mixed rules. No more Supreme Court intervention in the election process.

So there are three starters for you, Dr. Dean. Please get back to me and let me know when we can get to work on passing these out to the candidates.

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