The Democratic Party Platform, was approved July, 2016. This is Part 4a of my page-by-page commentary, attempting to clarify the things with which I agree and the things with which I disagree. (Read Part 3 here.) Each part covers one of the thirteen major sections of the DNC’s statement. However, after writing for several pages, I discovered that this section is especially long. So I have split this up into parts 4a and 4b.
If you’ve read my previous commentaries, you know that I am no expert in…well, pretty much anything. There are policies with which I am unfamiliar. There are nuances and specifics that go beyond what I know. There are many counter-arguments that possibly exist to every opinion I post.
That’s okay. I offer these commentaries as my simple opinion, designed to expose my thinking on these topics. Hopefully, they help you, the reader, to clarify what you think about these topics as well. That’s part of what good conversation does. It helps both parties clarify their thinking, even when they don’t agree.
On to Part 4a. It begins on page 13.
BRING AMERICANS TOGETHER AND REMOVE BARRIERS TO OPPORTUNITIES
This section title brings us back to the platform’s theme, as stated in the Preamble.
Ending Systemic Racism
“Democrats will fight to end institutional and systemic racism in our society.”
Good. Though the Democrats were the leaders of racism in the 1950’s and ’60’s, they have turned it around since then. Racism is stupid.
Closing the Racial Wealth Gap
“The racial wealth and income gaps are the result of policies that discriminate against people of color and constrain their ability to earn income and build assets to the same extent as other Americans.”
This is probably partially true. To the extent that it is true, the policies should be changed. There should be no constraint on anyone based on their ethnicity.
Reforming our Criminal Justice System
“Something is profoundly wrong when almost a quarter of the world’s prison population is in the United States, even though our country has less than five percent of the world’s population.”
IF “something is profoundly wrong”, then WHERE is it profoundly wrong? It might be wrong in the U.S., or it might be wrong in the rest of the world. Do we have more criminals or more law and order? Or both? Does the rest of the world care so little about crime, or not have the necessary law enforcement? This is more fun with numbers without actual numbers. It also skips over the first question: is inequity inherently unfair and wrong? Just because the United States has more people incarcerated, is that wrong? Just because the United States has a larger percentage of the world’s wealth, is that wrong? I don’t have those answers.
“We will reform mandatory minimum sentences and close private prisons and detention centers.”
Why? What’s the goal? If the goal is to reduce the number of people incarcerated, then this will be effective in the short-term. If the real goal is to deter and punish those committing criminal acts, this won’t do it.
“We will rebuild the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”
Yes. I also agree with the next few sentences on better police training, body cameras, and weapons limitations.
“We will end racial profiling that targets individuals solely on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin…”
I agree with the strict wording here, as long as everyone understands that race, religion, ethnicity, and national origin must be part of the overall profiling. To exclude these factors is foolish and dangerous.
I also agree with the rest of the paragraph.
“Instead of investing in more jails and incarceration, we need to invest more in jobs and education…”
That would be nice. Unfortunately, there are too many people who don’t want to play by the rules, and unless the rules are enforced, jobs and education and the ability to invest in them aren’t available to people who do follow the rules. Jails are full of people who had opportunities for jobs and education and chose to break the law instead.
“We will remove barriers to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society by “banning the box,’…”
A spectacularly bad idea. As an employer, I want to know if a potential employee is a convicted felon. It’s something we can discuss. What I would like to see is this: if an employer knowingly hires a convicted felon, and that employee than commits a crime resulting in harm to life or property, then the employer should be protected from litigation, unless the employee was acting on behalf of the employer. (That protection might already exist. I haven’t researched this enough to know.) The employer should still have the right to know who they are hiring, and be able to refuse employment to anyone who represents potential harm to their business.
“The “war on drugs’ has led to the imprisonment of millions of Americans, disproportionately people of color, without reducing drug use.”
More fun with numbers without numbers. I don’t have the data here, so I won’t comment one way or the other.
“Because of conflicting federal and state laws concerning marijuana, we encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from the list of “Schedule 1′ federal controlled substances and to appropriately regulate it, providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization.”
Interesting how in this one area, Democrats want federal law to yield to the wishes of state laws.
I am against the legalization of marijuana.
“We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana…”
Keep this in mind on other social issues. Remarkably inconsistent, yet consistently wrong. It’s like they can’t think of a good reason to make marijuana legal, so they throw out the word “democracy” and that’s supposed to make it all-American. Baseball, apple pie, and and a bong. Dumb.
“We will abolish the death penalty, which has proven to be a cruel and unusual form of punishment.”
This is a very difficult issue, possibly the most difficult. Is it cruel? Are there acts for which a person forfeits their right to life? Perhaps. I come down right in the middle on this one. Abolish it? Possibly. Keep it? Maybe. Forced to choose, I would probably do away with it, but I would do so only with great caution and empathy for the victims of those who otherwise receive it.
Fixing our Broken Immigration System
“The Democratic Party supports legal immigration, within reasonable limits…”
I do. Do you really, Democratic Party? Let’s see…
“More than 11 million people are living in the shadows, without proper documentation.”
“Without proper documentation.” They’re legally in the country, but don’t have the papers to prove it, or they’re illegally in the country?
I come to your house. I knock on your door. You answer, and I ask to come in. You say, sure, but there are some conditions. First, you place a time limit on how long I can stay. You tell me I must be a productive member of the household and I am assigned some chores. There are certain places I am not allowed to go in the house, and there are certain privileges I am not granted. Otherwise, I have access for a limited time.
This country is our house. Those from other countries are our guests. We should treat them kindly and be generous. If they want to become members of the family, there is a path to do so. However, there are restrictions and limits, and when those restrictions are ignored and the limits violated, the consequences are known. They are not pleasant for either side, but they are part of the bargain entered when the guests were first welcomed.
If the State is failing in their agreement and blocking the legal path for guests to remain, then they need to get their act together and not punish the innocent.
If the guests are attempting to get around the agreement by hiding in a closet or claiming that it would be unfair and too hard to remove all their things and family they have brought into the house, then they need to be removed.
That’s not my opinion, that is the law as it now stands. That is what it means to say legal immigration and illegal immigration.
“Democrats believe we need to urgently fix our broken immigration system—which tears families apart and keeps workers in the shadows—and create a path to citizenship for law-abiding families who are here, making a better life for their families and contributing to their communities and our country.”
Democrats want to change what it means to be legal or illegal. Meanwhile, they paint anyone who disagrees with them as un-American and against liberty and immigration as a whole.
I don’t know where I stand on this. I’m open to changing the current laws and making immigration more open. However, I resent the implication that upholding what was previously agreed to, and what is now the definition of “legal” is racist or cruel. The continued push to redefine the word “legal” so that anything we can get away with is “legal” is dangerous. Redefining words in order to make them mean what you want them to mean is the way of tyrants and evil people and liars, all the way back to Satan in the Garden of Eden.
Guaranteeing Civil Rights
“Democrats will always fight to end discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.”
Discrimination is “the unjust treatment of someone”. Obviously, unjust treatment of anyone is wrong. It’s pretty much the definition of wrong. Justice equals what is right. Injustice equals what is wrong. But so far, in saying this, you haven’t really said anything. It’s like saying water is wet. Sure it is…what’s your point?
The difficulty is in the definition of “unjust”. Are limits unjust? Are restrictions unjust?
Let’s take an extreme example of what is unjust. Taking someone’s life. Killing someone because…well, just because…that would be unjust. It would not be right. It would be wrong.
Killing someone just because they are European. Killing someone just because they are blond. Killing someone just because they are Mormon. Killing someone just because they are heterosexual. Killing someone just because they think they’re a tree.
In that extreme example, it is easy to see that killing someone “just because” is unjust.
But there are plenty of other “just becauses” that aren’t as easy to call unjust. One that has been a hot-button issue for awhile is marriage. We’ll talk about that one soon.
For now, I’ll just say that I agree with some of this statement on discrimination, but not nearly all of it. Keep reading to find out why.
“We need to promote civility and speak out against bigotry and other forms of intolerance that have entered our political discourse.”
Yes. Civility begins when you recognize that a difference of opinion is not bigotry, that thinking differently is not intolerance, that disagreement is not to be feared or demonized.
“It is unacceptable to target, defame, or exclude anyone because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.”
This sentence is much too broad to be defensible. Unacceptable to target? There should be programs to help those with disabilities. Those programs must be targeted towards them. There should be programs for children. Those programs must be targeted towards them. It is desirable to target, depending on what you’re targeting.
Unacceptable to defame? Yeah. It’s illegal, so it should also be unacceptable.
Unacceptable to exclude? Much like targeting, exclusion is desirable in some instances. Now that I am older, I would like to be excluded from military service. Children should be excluded from marriage.
“While freedom of expression is a fundamental constitutional principle, we must condemn hate speech that creates a fertile climate for violence.”
Unfortunately, there is no freedom of expression that can exclude “hate speech”.
“We condemn Donald Trump’s…”
They could have stopped right there. We get it.
Guaranteeing Women’s Rights
“We are committed to ensuring full equality for women.”
I agree with this sentence and the two which follow.
“After 240 years, we will finally enshrine the rights of women in the Constitution by passing the Equal Rights Amendment.”
This is a misleading non-sequitur. In case, like me, you’ve never actually read the proposed amendment, here is the full text…
“Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.”
Supposedly, this will “enshrine the rights of women.” The problem is that it doesn’t mention women. It only mentions sex. Back in 1923, when the amendment was first proposed, sex only meant men and women.
Unfortunately, the LGBT agenda has messed this up, and now this amendment would provide for privileges to those that have chosen to forfeit them.
In addition, there are questions of alimony, child support, women in combat, and other issues where the ability to protect women simply because they are women could possibly be taken away.
I support rights for women. I’m just not sure this amendment will do what the supporters promise, and I am afraid it might allow for things that would actually subjugate and harm women.
The bottom line for me on this: My daughters deserve every advantage their brother receives. They should not be paid less than male counterparts.
Guaranteeing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights
Every human being should be treated with dignity. Every human being is a creation of God, made in His image, for His purposes, with an eternal destiny. The right to be treated humanely belongs to everyone.
However, those who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender have chosen to throw away rights and privileges they would otherwise enjoy. One of these privileges is marriage. Marriage does not belong solely to the State, therefore it cannot be given away by the State.
Gender is not determined by preference or “self-identification”. Neither is the ability to produce sperm or ovulate. It is amazing that so many people who profess to live scientifically ignore the most basic scientific fact.
I continue to pray for friends who have been misled and confused by a culture that promotes what is abhorrent to God. In so doing, they refuse the opportunity to realize the greatest satisfaction and fulfillment a human being can know. Only in right relationship with our Creator, who created us in His image, male and female, can we come to full realization of our true value.
Guaranteeing Rights for People with Disabilities
“No one should face discrimination based on disability status.”
True. In what has become a painful pattern, those without true disabilities have claimed these rights as their own, because of dishonesty and other bad motives. Nevertheless, the truly disabled should be helped.
Respecting Faith and Service
“Democrats know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith in many forms and the countless acts of justice, mercy, and tolerance it inspires. We believe in lifting up and valuing the good work of people of faith and religious organizations and finding ways to support that work where possible.”
That is all they have to say about faith and religion. I believe this shows the importance they place on faith and religion in daily life, that is, virtually none at all.
This section continues, and I will continue my commentary on it in the next post.
We interrupt your irregularly scheduled commentary for this explanatory interlude.
It’s not only because I want to explain. It’s also because this next part is taking longer than I anticipated. (The next part concerns the central theme of the DNC platform.)
The reason it is taking longer to comment on the next section is also one of the reasons I’m writing this commentary in the first place. This commentary isn’t so much about what the Democratic position is, but what my position is. My prejudice going into this project was that my position and the Democratic position were not the same. However, my prejudice was also that my position and the Republican/Trump position were not the same.
So far, that is true.
But, as in most relationships, even the most disagreeable ones, there are elements of agreement. Too many people base their agreement/disagreement on a label, whether that label is Republican, Democrat, Progressive, Tea Party, etc.
I am not willing to do that. If you are reading my commentary, please remember that disagreeing with Democratic statements doesn’t make me a Republican. Agreeing with Democratic statements doesn’t make me a Democrat.
Will I eventually review the Republican platform in the same way? I doubt it, for a couple of reasons. First, I think my statements on the DNC platform will give you enough of an idea of what I really believe. More importantly, the Republican platform seems to be a moot point. President Trump seems to have his own agenda, and I’m not even sure if he knows what it is. He was the Republican nominee, and many Republicans claim him, but he’s not following the Republican platform as much as he is creating it.
The Democratic Party Platform, was approved July, 2016. This is Part 3 of my page-by-page commentary, attempting to clarify the things with which I agree and the things with which I disagree. (Read Part 2 here.) Each part covers one of the thirteen major sections of the DNC’s statement. Part 3 begins near the bottom of page 9 of the document and is titled…
FIGHT FOR ECONOMIC FAIRNESS AND AGAINST INEQUALITY
“Democrats believe that today’s extreme levels of income and wealth inequality are bad for our people, bad for our businesses, and bad for our economy.”
I would agree that being extremely poor is a bad thing. The central disagreement is, “How did they get there and why do they remain there?” The Democrats would have you believe that the Top One Percent put them there and are keeping them there.
In asking, “How did they get there?”, I am not saying that if they got there of their own volition then they should stay there. This is not about assigning blame. It’s about fixing the problem and keeping others from going there as well.
I agree that for many in the lowest levels of poverty, they are there because they were born into it, and they now find it difficult to get out.
That’s where the second part of the question comes in — why do they remain? Is it because the deck is stacked against them and the Top One Percent hold all the cards?
Achieving economic success isn’t easy. It never has been. It never will be. Get-rich-quick schemes are the surest way to get-poor-quick.
I field requests for benevolence assistance on a regular basis. In my experience, “poor” isn’t what it used to be.
“..the top one-tenth of one percent of Americans now own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent combined…”
This is called “fun with numbers”. What does it mean? It means the top one-tenth of one percent of Americans are doing well. It means the bottom 90 percent of Americans don’t have as much as those in the top ten percent. That is ALL it means. There is a top and there is a bottom. Any other meaning you try to attach to those words is questionable, at best.
Reining in Wall Street and Fixing our Financial System
“To restore economic fairness, Democrats will fight against the greed and recklessness of Wall Street.”
Uh huh. Then what? Perhaps a fight against the pride of Hollywood?
The premise of Wall Street is greed. The only way to keep investors from making bad, risky, and reckless investments is to stop investment altogether.
Remember, this all flows from thinking that there is economic unfairness at present. There is economic difference. There is economic disparity. There is economic variation. There is a gap between the rich and the poor. Is that really unfair? Is it unfair if one person makes the right decisions, provides goods and services that are requested, then reaps the economic benefits, while another person make bad decisions, fails on their promises, and reaps the economic losses associated with their actions? Is that really unfair?
But, yes, when laws are broken or laws are created that favor the rich over the poor, that is unfair. Those issues are the ones to tackle. Lest you think I am completely for the bad actors on Wall Street, read on…
“Wall Street cannot be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial instruments and making huge profits, all the while thinking that taxpayers will be there to bail them out again.”
This paragraph is worded to drive emotion, not logic, so let’s take this bit by bit. There are four things the writers say that Wall Street cannot do. Wall Street cannot…
>> “Be an island unto itself.” No kidding. Nor does it want to be. It’s impossible to interact with the world if you’re off by yourself.
>> “Gamble trillions in risky financial instruments.” It can. It does.
>> “Make huge profits.” It can. It does. But only by gambling trillions in risky financial instruments. More risk means more potential profit.
>> “[It can’t do those other things] while thinking that taxpayers will be there to bail them out again.” It can. That’s the problem the Democrats are addressing. Wall Street was bailed out before. Actually, specific investment firms were bailed out. This wasn’t “Wall Street” and every investor doing business in one of the stock exchanges or mutual funds or one of the many other investment avenues available who were poorly performing. It was a few bad actors. They were bailed out. They should not have been bailed out.
“We must make Wall Street work for the job-creating, productive economy—including by making loans more affordable for small- and medium-sized businesses.”
No. I’m not for usury. I’m not for high rates of interest. I’m for reasonable rates. Loaning money is a risk, and the rate of loans must be commensurate with the risk. We should not make it that much easier for small- and medium-sized businesses to go deeper into debt. We should not make it that much easier to borrow money that they will not be able to repay. However, if the higher rates of interest are simply because of government regulations without any relationship to the real risk of the loan, then I am very much in favor of removing the State restrictions and allowing businesses to move according to the free market.
“We must hold both individuals and corporations accountable when they break the law. Democrats believe that no bank can be too big to fail and no executive too powerful to jail.”
Yes. The rest of this paragraph gets a big thumbs-up. It doesn’t take creating a thousand new laws and regulations for businesses to wade through. (Please, no.) We must simply enforce the laws that make sense and allow failure and success to happen.
“We will also vigorously implement, enforce, and build on President Obama’s landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law…”
I don’t know what the Dodd-Frank law says. If, like me, you don’t know what it says either, shut up. Don’t be one of those idiots that opposes it simply because President Obama was for it, or that supports it for the same reason.
“We will also continue to protect consumers and defend the CFPB from Republican attacks.”
Likewise, I know little of the CFPB. I had to search to figure out that the acronym stands for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency founded under 6 years ago that already has amassed over 1600 employees running under a $605.9 million budget!
Wow. That should be some pretty good protection.
“Democrats condemn predatory payday lending, and will protect consumers by defending the CFPB and implementing strong new regulations.”
Does predatory payday lending happen to the tune of $605.9 million annually? Are Democrats interested more in protecting consumers or defending their $605.9 million agency? And why must Democrats insist on new regulations? How cost-effective are more regulations actually going to be?
“We support a financial transactions tax on Wall Street…”
Nope. This is proposed as a way to slow down trading. It would be successful. The problem is not high-frequency trading, the problem is unsuccessful high-frequency trading that is then supported through government bailouts. Though that is strongly stated, there might be other ramifications of high-frequency trading of which I’m not aware. I still am against taxing in general, though I understand that this is like a sin-tax for investment bankers.
“Democrats will not hesitate to…downsize or break apart financial institutions when necessary…”
Does that include the Federal Reserve?
I have some reservations about this.
“Banks should not be able to gamble with taxpayers’ deposits…”
Gamble. Invest. Tomāto. Tomäto.
“Democrats support a variety of ways to stop this from happening, including an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall as well as breaking up too-big-to-fail financial institutions”
“Where’d we put our Glass-Steagall? Anybody seen it? Dust that thing off and set it here. Yeah, that looks good.”
Killing something so it doesn’t fail seems odd. That’s what “breaking up too-big-to-fail financial institutions really means, right?
“We believe that personnel is policy.”
That’s a nice phrase. I hope to remember use that in a non-political way.
“We will crack down on the revolving door between the private sector— particularly Wall Street—and the federal government.”
Again, I dislike the demonizing of “Wall Street”, but I think the general caution towards limiting conflicts-of-interest is a good one. Having people in a position to make policy that promotes their own self-interests over the interest of the citizenry is not good, whether it’s a President or any other State employee.
“We will protect and defend the Federal Reserve’s independence to carry out the dual mandate assigned to it by Congress—for both full employment and low inflation—against threats from new legislation.”
Mmm. The Federal Reserve is not independent, nor will it ever be.
“At a time when many of the largest banks have shunned communities across America…”
I did not know this. Is it true? Of course, if they get too big and access too many communities, won’t Democrats be tempted to break them up?
“Democrats believe that we need to give Americans affordable banking options, including by empowering the United States Postal Service to facilitate the delivery of basic banking services.”
Let me see if I’ve got this straight…you want the USPS, an institution that is losing money and delivering my mail to my neighbor on a regular basis, to be in charge of my banking? Um…no, thanks.
Promoting Competition by Stopping Corporate Concentration
“Democrats will take steps to stop corporate concentration in any industry where it is unfairly limiting competition.”
Corporate concentration is a new way to say “monopoly” or a different way to say “synergy”. All in all, I’m in favor of what the Democrats are saying here. Let’s start with the cable/internet companies…can we have some competition there, please?
Making the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes
“We believe the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations must pay their fair share of taxes.”
I agree that everyone must share in supporting our country. The cost of infrastructure, the common defense, and other items which benefit wealthy Americans and large corporations must be shared by those same people and companies.
However, investment and job creation usually come from the excess income that people and corporations have, not their base. If the excess is taken away from them through taxes, in order to pay for State programs, then those same wealthy Americans and large corporations will not be investing and creating. In the end, we all suffer because of it.
“Democrats will claw back tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, eliminate tax breaks for big oil and gas companies, and crack down on inversions and other methods companies use to dodge their tax responsibilities.”
There’s that phrase again — “claw back tax breaks”. It’s interesting how much they seem to like that phrase. I do not.
If the tax breaks and inversions and “other methods” favor particular companies or the oil and gas companies as a whole over other industries, then they need to be changed.
“We will make sure that our tax code rewards businesses that make investments and provide good-paying jobs here in the United States, not businesses that walk out on America.”
If this means adding taxes to businesses that trade and manufacture globally, then I do not agree.
“We will end deferrals so that American corporations pay United States taxes immediately on foreign profits and can no longer escape paying their fair share of U.S. taxes by stashing profits abroad.”
Here’s what would happen: businesses would have to weigh the cost of being taxed both here and in foreign countries where they do business, or they would have to cease doing business globally, forgoing the profits realized from that business, or they would cease doing business in America and instead do business in the other 95% of the world.
Corporations wouldn’t be able to escape paying “their fair share”…but they could escape altogether.
This is bad policy.
“We will ensure those at the top contribute to our country’s future by establishing a multimillionaire surtax to ensure millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share.”
People react to this like we’re talking about Prince John and Robin Hood. Democrats insist that rich people are crooks and build their wealth by treating poor people badly; therefore, it’s okay if we treat rich people badly. Neither is okay. It’s not okay to slap rich people around simply because they have been successful.
“Democrats believe that no one should be able avoid paying their fair share by hiding money abroad…”
I agree with this entire paragraph and the one that follows (except for the assertions made about President Trump and Republicans…I don’t know if those assertions are true or not.)
Promoting Trade That is Fair and Benefits American Workers
“We need to end the race to the bottom and develop trade policies that support jobs in America.”
An obvious truth. What is much less obvious is the path to better trade policies. I’m pretty sure that I agree with the rest of the statements regarding trade on this page.
The first three major sections of the DNC platform have drawn more criticism than praise from me.
Next: Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Opportunities