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10 Core Democratic Values that Separate Us from Republicans [View All]

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-20-05 04:48 PM
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10 Core Democratic Values that Separate Us from Republicans
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Im posting this on this forum because this is a political in addition to a general issue. Because Republicans are more cunning than us they are currently seen by many or most Americans as the party of moral values. I believe that this is a gross misconception and that if we can learn to frame the issues better and more accurately we can successfully combat this lie. I hope this doesnt sound arrogant, but I believe that our moral values are superior those of our political opposition.

Our primary core value, on which all the others are based, was stated eloquently almost a quarter of a millennium ago by Thomas Jefferson. To paraphrase him, he noted in our Declaration of Independence that all people are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (although I would rather not emphasize liberty because Republicans currently put too much emphasis on liberty for the few at the expense of the many).

We hold this value because we care about other people and we believe that life is much more meaningful when our actions express this concern. This means all people, not just our fellow Americans.

Beyond that, here are 9 other Democratic core values. We may and do differ on many of the details, but I believe that we agree on most of the following:


# 2. Environmental protection
We recognize that the Earths natural resources are finite, that many of them are non-renewable, that the well being of the worlds population depends on them, and that if care is not taken to preserve them the consequences will be catastrophic for future generations. Therefore, we recognize that it is our responsibility to ensure that these resources are preserved for future generations, even if that means making certain sacrifices.


# 3. Economic justice
We dont accept the frequently heard Republican argument that the poor deserve their fate because they are lazy, unproductive, or whatever (although that may apply in certain individual instances). Income disparity in the United States today is obscene, exceeds that of almost all other industrialized nations and is now at its highest level since the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.

The reasons for this are complex and multifaceted, but today in this country they certainly have a lot to do with government policy and less (I believe) to do with individual merit. At the very least, children should not have to suffer because of the financial status of their parents. This is why we believe in such things as a livable minimum wage, social safety nets for the poor, and accessible education and health care for all people.

That is not to say that we dont recognize that some amount of income disparity based on merit and productivity is desirable. Rewards for those who make meaningful contributions to society are warranted, and also are desirable because they provide incentives which tend to improve everyones life. But these disparities should be reasonably based on merit and productivity NOT on government policy designed simply to make the rich wealthier at the expense of everyone else.


# 4. Military intervention
We tend to be more likely to voice objections to military interventions by our country than do Republicans. That often hurts our electoral prospects, because our political opposition makes us out to be weak on defense.

Why do we tend more than Republicans to be against war? We recognize the catastrophic impact that many of our wars have had and continue to have. We recognize and are greatly concerned about the potential for our military interventions to cause massive death, otherwise destroy the lives of other peoples, and cause our own financial ruin as well.

That is not to say that we dont recognize the need for military intervention when morally indicated. We must protect ourselves against attack by others, and sometimes it is necessary to intervene in the affairs of other countries in order to prevent catastrophes. For example, I personally believe that we should have intervened in Rwanda in 1994, because we could have prevented the deaths of close to a million people, with little cost to ourselves if we had done so (Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright have admitted as much in retrospect).

But decisions to use military force against other countries must be based on due moral consideration of the need for doing so, while balancing this need against the destruction of peoples lives and livelihood. These decisions should NEVER be based on the desire to enrich the lives of our political elite, and they should NEVER be rationalized to the American people with phony excuses.


# 5. Government regulation of industry and business
Todays Republican leaders are quite fond of implying that the slightest government regulation of our industry and business elites represents a terrible infringement on their liberty and risks plunging our country down the slippery slope to Communism.

We believe that appropriate regulation of corporations is necessary and should be a prime responsibility of government. Without such regulation we run the risk of having the environment destroyed, our fortunes lost, and our health seriously impaired.

Corporations are much more powerful than the vast majority of individuals. We need protection against their excesses. Instead, what we have today, with our country controlled by Republicans, is protection of corporations from us, so that their high officials can become wealthier at our expense. That is the purpose of tort reform, which limits the liability of corporations for destroying peoples lives. And that is the purpose of the relaxing of environmental and safety standards for corporations that we have seen in recent years. And that is why CEOs such as Ken Lay can get away with stealing peoples fortunes and not have to pay a price for it.

Meaningful campaign finance reform also falls into this category. Republicans claim that this is a great infringement on the liberty of various (wealthy) individuals. We recognize that the failure of meaningful campaign finance reform is a great threat to our democracy, and that it needs to be dealt with accordingly.


# 6. Access to information
We believe that in order for our democracy to survive the public must have good access to information that impacts its welfare. The alternative is to accept that what our leaders do in our name is right and moral. That cannot be taken as a given, and that is precisely why our Founding Fathers tried to build into our Constitution safeguards (such as the First Amendment) to protect us against government secrecy.

Today there are two great barriers to our access to the information that we need. One is that we now have perhaps the most secretive Executive Branch that this country has ever known. Why has Dick Cheney blatantly disregarded all legal demands to him to hand over information on his Energy Task Force? Why did we have to be lied to in order for our Administration to gain the necessary political support to go to war in Iraq? We recognize that there is occasionally a national security reason for our leaders to withhold important information from us. But such withholding of information should be based on legitimate national security reasons and not on the desire of our leaders to avoid embarrassment or to stay in power.

The other great barrier to our access to information today is the near monopoly of our main stream news media. A major purpose of a free and independent press, as envisioned in our constitution, is to provide a safeguard against government excesses. But todays major news media is in bed with and/or intimidated by our government. And the result is to severely limit the publics access to crucial information that it needs in order to preserve our democracy.


# 7. Willingness to believe bad things in general and about our government
One of the greatest needs of children is to not believe bad things about their parents. This is referred to by psychologists as denial. Most adults never entirely grow out of this need, so that when they grow up they transfer their belief in their parents to their country or their government. This helps to prevent people from feeling bad or getting depressed, and if not taken to excess it might not be harmful.

But we Democrats believe that when taken to excess this is a harmful trait. Failure to see things the way they are because it is painful to do so can provide temporary relief. But it also leads to a disconnection with reality and thereby impairs our ability to work towards improving things. In fact, this phenomenon is precisely what led to the rise of Hitler in the early 1930s. Because of a failure of the German people (many of them) to believe how bad their government was, and their consequent decision to passively accept what their government was doing in their name, the most tragic catastrophe of modern times was perpetrated. We Americans are not immune to what happened in Germany in the 1930s. And if we fail to learn lesson provided by those events, the same thing could happen to us.


# 8. The need to protest and what is patriotism
Republicans are especially prone to refusing to say (or believe) bad things about their country (if under Republican leadership), regardless of the evidence. They call that patriotism, and when we fail to voice similar sentiments they use that fact to their political advantage. A good current example is Bernie Goldbergs new book about 100 people who are screwing up America. The book is full of examples of people who are screwing our country simply by criticizing the decisions of our leaders (I didnt and wouldnt buy the piece of trash, I just leafed through it). Michael Moore is # 1 in this book, for obvious reasons. Other culprits include Ted Kennedy, John Edwards, and Jimmy Carter (unfortunately, Paul Wellstone escaped the honor of appearing in this book).

We believe that this is not at all what patriotism is about. On the contrary, as William Pitt says in his book, The worst treason is silence, when confronted with a government that is doing immoral things in our name. Failing to protest against a government that is doing immoral things is NOT patriotism. Waving the flag is not patriotism. Patriotism IS making an effort to ascertain what our government is doing in our name, and when it acts contrary to our moral values, working to change it.


# 9. Abortion rights
This is the one issue for which it is difficult for me to argue that our moral values are superior to those of our political opposition but I am including it in this list because it is such a controversial and widely discussed topic, and because it has large implications for electoral success. The issue here involves balancing the rights of a pregnant woman against the rights of her fetus. Most Democrats (myself included) feel that the rights of the pregnant woman are more important, and most Republicans feel more strongly about the rights of the fetus (relative to the rights of the woman, compared with Democrats). Why is that? My personal answer is that I have a hard identifying as much with a living being who has no conscious thoughts (IMO) as I do with a woman. But I dont wish to criticize people who feel otherwise about this.

We Democrats are concerned about the catastrophic effects of making abortion illegal, not the least of which are the horrors resulting from illegal abortion which is bound to increase in frequency as legal abortion becomes inaccessible to women. Most Republicans feel that that is not an adequate moral excuse for the destruction of the fetus. Why Democrats and Republicans feel so differently about this is a question I cannot answer.


# 10. Election reform
I saved this one for last because I believe that, other than our most basic core moral value, this is the most important. I believe that because I believe that our current election system is seriously broken and that unless it is fixed we will never again have a Democratic President or Congress or Judiciary (not before WW III anyhow), and if I am right about that then we can pretty much kiss most of our other moral values good bye.

There is a wide difference of opinion among Democrats as to whether or not election fraud in the 2004 Presidential election was so great that it changed the results of the election (I believe that there is a great amount of evidence to suggest that it did). But regardless of where we come down on that issue, I think that we all agree that our votes should not be counted with secret (i.e., proprietary) computer software.

On the other hand, it is quite obvious that virtually all of our Republican representatives in Congress DO believe that our votes should be counted with secret software. What moral value would lead them to that belief is beyond my comprehension. But I think that that says it all about the kinds of moral values that they have.

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