Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Real Contract

Robert Steinback in the Miami Herald:

As a frequent critic of the Bush administration, I am often accused of shilling for the Democratic Party. What scurrilous defamation!

The fact is — and I went back and checked to be sure — I haven’t said a kind word about the Donkey Party since Dubya took office. Most often, I’ve criticized the Dems for failing to stand as a true opposition party. In April 2002, for example, I called it a ”gutless party” — six months before members proved it by saluting Bush’s mad rush toward a di sastrous involvement in Iraq.

But the occasion of this, my last column as a staff columnist for The Miami Herald before heading off on sabbatical, seemed appropriate to express a forlorn but stubborn hope the Democratic Party might yet reconnect with pragmatic and sensible Americans and reverse the deplorable neo-con-led erosion of the values America once so proudly represented to an awed world.

With a nod to Newt Gingrich’s 1994 Contract with America, I’m offering to all 2006 Democratic congressional candidates a Pledge of Principles to promise to fight for and to implement if the party returns to power. Given the GOP’s abject failure on nearly every point, it might give the party something to rally around as this most critical election nears.

“If elected, we will:

1. Speak frankly, honestly and forthrightly about the public’s business. If we fall short, we will quickly correct the record. We will fully investigate alleged violations of the public trust, with subpoena power if necessary.

2. Defend Social Security as America’s traditional safety net and work for its perpetual solvency. We will not allow its privatization.

3. Revitalize America’s public schools and endeavor to maximize the potential of every student regardless of economic condition. We will not allow the diversion of public funds to private schools.

4. Restore fairness to America’s tax structure with a progressive design that spreads the burden across all sectors of the economy and that rewards thrift, savings, business investment and domestic job creation.

5. Balance the federal budget as quickly as possible, through wise spending and fair taxation. We will not leave to our descendants the responsibility of paying for our generation’s irresponsible budget practices.

6. Engage business, labor and the public to work together to reestablish American jobs on American soil, to resist outsourcing and reinvigorate domestic industries.

7. Commit ourselves to making affordable, quality healthcare available to all Americans and providing basic health-insurance coverage for all that will not depend on where, or whether, an individual is employed.

8. Develop a fair immigration policy giving energetic and talented foreigners a reasonable and legal path to residency and citizenship and providing a fair opportunity for currently illegal residents to achieve legal status.

9. Promote a comprehensive plan to sharply reduce our nation’s reliance on oil and encourage the development of alternative, sustainable and environmentally responsible domestic fuel sources.

10. Deploy U.S. military might only where necessary to neutralize immediate and legitimate threats to America or a trusted ally or to defuse an imminent and extraordinary threat to human life and dignity. Where our current commitments are inconsistent with this principle, we will remove our troops as quickly and efficiently as possible while endeavoring to leave stability in our wake.

11. Pledge the United States to be a cooperative and effective leader and partner with allied nations in the fight against terrorism and the pursuit of global accords on human rights, economic justice, ecological protection and alleviation of disease.

12. Promote science, and base governmental policy decisions on sound and verifiable scientific research. We will seek sensible responses to issues of global warming, environmental degradation and sustainable energy.

13. Keep the affairs of church and state separate, while defending the freedom of religious practice outside government.

14. Recognize and preserve the reproductive rights of women, while also striving to minimize undesired pregnancy and making abortion safe, legal and rare.”

Sounds good to me. Why don’t we send a copy of this to every candidate and party leader and see if we can’t get them off their kiesters?