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What Do Democrats Stand For?

by RALPH NADER

With the Bush regime reeling from its own derelictions and falling in the national polls, the question most frequently put to the leading Democrats is, “What do the Democrats stand for?”

This is the question that Tim Russert asked Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, on Meet the Press recently. Mr. Dean responded that the Democrats do not control the House, the Senate or the White House and that, “right now it’s not our job to give out specifics.it’s our job to stop thiscorrupt and incompetent administration from doing more damage to America.” He added that the Democrats had “plenty of time to show Americans what our agenda is and we will long before the ’06 elections”.

This is Mr. Dean strapped to the mast by his superiors in the Congress, where fear of the Republicans supercedes the Democrats’ loathing of them. When their most senior member on the House military appropriations committee, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), a double-decorated Vietnam veteran and their most untouchable member by the Republican smear machine, came out last week for “immediate withdrawal” (meaning over six months) of U.S. soldiers from Iraq, the Democratic Party caucus did not come out in support of his position. This is the case even though most Democrats privately agree with Rep. Murtha, as does a growing majority of the American people.

The Republicans continue to taunt the cowardly Democrats by making them vote on a resolution for immediate termination without explaining what it means. The Democrats watch the Republican implode, but by not advancing their own agenda for America they find themselves also low in the polls.

Last month, the Democratic Party and its political consultants came up with their proposed new slogan: “Together, America Can Do Better.” That’s reassuring, given the Republican mess of huge deficits, rising job exports, runaway corporate militarism, pounding the poor and re-enriching the rich and generally leaving Americans defenseless against concentrated greed and power.

Why not cast aside this slogan and replace it with a program that signifies that the Democrats “Stand With The People”? Stand with them for full Medicare for all. Stand with them for quality public services from schools to public transit to environmental protection to libraries.

Stand with them for an end to diverting their taxes into huge programs that subsidize, bailout and give away peoples’ assets to large corporations.

Stand with them for consumer protection from rip-offs, from shredding traditional consumer rights to take companies who cheat or hurt them to courts, from taking the government cops off the corporate crime, fraud and abuse beats.

Stand with them and their rights vis-à-vis large corporations like Wal-Mart that exploit them and block their right to organize and fight back.

Stand with them in their desire to nurture their children’s childhoods in decent, affordable housing, safe neighborhoods and good schools and clinics.

Stand with them with a people’s budget directed to necessities of the American people receiving the benefits of tax dollars under a fair system of taxation.

I can hear some Democrats now saying, “I have said this,” or, “the Party passed a resolution on that.” That doesn’t pass muster. Has the Democratic Party as a force in politics launched a serious drive against commercial crimes focused on minorities in the urban ghettos? These are the daily commercial crimes against tenants, consumers and patients.

Has the Democratic Party aggressively challenged as a party the notorious Patriot Act and its further abuse by the Bush regime? To the contrary, the Bush people in Congress are making most of the worst provisions permanent and adding a few more erosions of liberty.

Lastly, the Democratic Party is clueless when it comes to a Party’s responsibility to continually strengthen the power of the people to direct and hold their government accountable through clean elections and facilities that enhance banding together as workers, consumers and taxpayers.

Come on, Democratic Party, “Stand With The People.” Corporatist Democrats cannot defeat corporatist Republicans.

 

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

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CounterPunch Magazine

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