Making a list, checking it twice

Check out this article by Rick Perlstein in the Village Voice. I think his perspective is so refreshing, especially when contrasted against the mealy-mouthed doublespeak that will no doubt come oozing out of the “centrist” (a.k.a. conservative) Democratic Leadership Council’s meeting this week.

Perlstein is right about the advantage Republicans accrue simply by being consistent. GOP politicians are a known factor. You know they’ll be batshit crazy, but at least you know. Democrats, on the other hand, are all over the map, and too often come off sounding like we support most of what the GOP is pushing, but with a little more of this, a little less of that, etc. This has always been an unattractive bill of fare, and someone needs to send a memo to the DLC to the effect that it always will be. We are also extremely ill-served by the clutch of right-of-center conservative Democrats in Congress who are constantly stabbing their party in the back, breaking unity and allowing the media and the Republicans to portray the Democratic mainstream as a bunch of shrill hippies. This is bullshit, and it must end. We should all beg the constituents of people like Joe Lieberman not to re-elect them. Let them go push their wares in the marketplace of ideas most appropriate for them: the Republican Party.

I love his suggestion that every single Democratic politician, from school board candidates to senators, promising to work for guaranteed healthcare for all Americans. Period. And that got me thinking – what else might we promise America?

There’s a lot that needs doing, but there’s also a lot that needs to be undone. George Bush has done a lot of damage to this country. If we’re honest, we’ll admit that the ur-DLC Democrat Bill Clinton did his share of damage, too. My vote for him in 1992 was the first vote I ever cast, and I’ll never forget how brokenhearted I felt when he signed the senseless and hurtful Defense of Marriage Act.

But laws are human things, made by people and therefore amenable to being unmade by people. We shouldn’t let the legacy of Bush, the GOP, and the DLC permanently circumscribe our freedom or our prosperity, and we shouldn’t let the people just forget what the Republicans have done. We should promise to undo the damage, to right the wrongs.

Here’s my start on the list of things that need doing and undoing:

  1. Repeal CAFTA
  2. Repeal the Patriot Act
  3. Repeal NAFTA
  4. Repeal the bankruptcy bill
  5. Repeal the Bush tax cuts
  6. Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act
  7. Re-negotiate the GATT with stronger labor standards, or withdraw
  8. Federalize federal elections and require paper ballots
  9. Raise the minimum wage to a living wage, and tie it to inflation
  10. Ensure health care for everyone who needs it
  11. Restore a reasonable regulatory regime for enforcing the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act
  12. Remove the subsidies and tax breaks for established energy industries from the Energy Bill passed yesterday
  13. Amend the Constitution to include an explicit right to privacy in the Bill of Right
  14. Join the Kyoto Protocol
  15. Comply with, and urge global compliance with, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
  16. Bring our armed forces home from Iraq

That’s my list, in no particular order of priority. What would you add? What would you take away? I’d like to see Democrats come up with a list of promises we’re willing to make to America, so that every Democratic politician can say to her or his generation, “Vote with us long enough, and we will do these things for you and for your children.”


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