Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Aside from the glaring hole in the so-called Democratic "agenda" that Chris Bowers pointed out-namely, Iraq-the agenda strikes me as the most milquetoast, uncourageous thing imaginable.

One, we make college education as universal for the 21st century that a high school education was in the 20th.

Second, we get a summit on the budget to deal with the $3 trillion of debt that's been added up in five years and structural deficits of $400 billion a year.

Third, an energy policy that says in 10 years, we cut our dependence on foreign oil in half and make this a hybrid economy.

Four, we create an institute on science and technology that builds for America like, the National Institutes has done for health care, we maintain our edge.

Five, we have a universal health-care system over the next 10 years where if you work, you have health care. That says fiscal discipline and investing in the American people by reputting people first. The policies that the Republicans have offered have gotten us in the ditch we have today.
One of the MyDD posters, Andy Katz, called this "so 'DLC', so 'Clintonian', so super focus grouped to make sure we don't piss any voters off that the only thing it makes clear is that we are still a party that doesn't stand for anything". I'm inclined to agree. "An institute of science and technology"? That's not a platform, that's filler. Not that it isn't important, but it's not going to carry a single vote and would consist of a negligible part of the U.S. government's time and budget. The "summit" on debt and the "hybrid-based economy" are such obviously non-partisan and inoffensive, gutless gimmes that they're barely worth attention.

The only two parts of this so-called "platform" that make sense are the health and education bits, and even there they're meaningless.

The college bit makes no sense many people have neither the time nor inclination to go to college, and others don't want the value of their degree devalued. Access should be universal, in that no kid should ever be in the situation where he wants to go to school and can't, but that's an entirely different thing. The problem in the United States is not its colleges, but its elementary and high schools, and fixing that is going to require real solutions and, yes, real cash. What it's also going to require is a complete repudiation of the concept of privatization and of the desirability of a class divide enshrined in the public/private school division in the first place. The Democrats need to say, once and for all, that they are not going to accept education by the lowest bidder and having those who can hiding their children away from "the wrong people".

Yes, that will piss people off. You cannot attract support without pissing someone off. That's just the way it works.

The health bit also makes no sense. If they're going to grab attention and make a difference, they're going to need to use the phrase that freaks out private insurers so much: single payer health insurance.The only way they're going to be able to cover everybody and keep the costs down is monopsony, period. That they aren't willing to say this suggests that this is a chimera; the army of lobbyists they'd be pissing off by even breathing that phrase suggests that they aren't going to do anything that might be actually effective.

(Once again, the Dems seem to think that if they propose something less scary-sounding they won't get crucified by the Republicans, despite the Republicans being experts at ensuring that it will be as scary as advertised.)

This isn't an agenda. This is barely a platform. This is the kind of thing that people come up with when they're desperate to be approved but don't know how. It was clearly conceived as a set of utterly safe and pragmatic "issues" antithetical to the Republicans' ideology.

Fine, so the Republicans professed ideology makes them inflexible.

At least they bloody well HAVE ONE.

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