John Kasich was on Meet the Press on August 27 when he said, “The problem with the Democrats––I can’t figure out what they’re for. I mean, they have a golden opportunity, right, to be able to come in and win elections, but they can’t figure out anything other than the fact that they don’t like Donald Trump. I mean, they better figure out what they are. What’s happened to the Democratic party? It’s almost lost its soul and it better get its act together if they want to compete.”
The Democrats have been pretty clear what they stand for for the past 60 years or more. John, the only way you don’t know what they stand for is if you aren’t listening. But if you will listen, I will try to one more time try to make it clear for you. We Democrats may seek to reach these goals via different paths, but we share a final destination. (I will also acknowledge that I am but one Democrat, and others have their own ideas. Please feel free to present your own.)
First and foremost, Democrats believe that all people are created equal. It is surprising that Republicans don’t believe that too, but based on their policies, they don’t. We believe that all men and women are created equal and as such are part of the rich tapestry of this nation. This equality is conferred regardless of gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. This equality is conferred regardless of religion or belief system, whether or not they believe in any God. This equality is conferred regardless of ethnic origin or race. This equality is conferred regardless of economic status. It is these differences that make our country vibrant, and keep us moving forward. As such, all men and women have the right to live their lives free from challenge, obstruction, harassment or attack, whether by federal or local government, law enforcement or regular citizens. We believe that it is the obligation of all persons to do whatever they are able to ensure this equality, to extend respect to all persons and to encourage others to do the same. (On the other hand, we do not believe that corporations are people.)
We believe that every citizen should have the right to easy access to the ballot box. Any laws making this access easier should be enacted, and any laws making this access more difficult should be immediately repealed. We believe there should be an artifact of each ballot that can be audited should there be doubt about the outcome or legitimacy of the final count. We believe that the concept of democracy means of the people, by the people and for the people, and that the people means all the people.
To ensure that every citizen is equally represented by the people they elect, we believe that it should not be possible for large corporations and the wealthy to buy those representatives. To that end, we believe in the need for campaign reform. While PACs serve a valuable purpose in being a clearing house for fundraising and distribution of donations, we believe that the size of individual donations should be limited. Since we don’t accept that corporations are people, we believe that corporations should not be allowed to donate. We believe that dark money should be brought into the light. (Such regulations would also make it more difficult to use PACs for money laundering, which appears to have been happening.) The word “politics” is derived from the Greek “polis,” which means community. It is doing the work of running the community, whether a school district or the nation. It is not doing the work of the highest donors.
We believe that all persons have the right to determine their own destinies. They have the right to control their own bodies. They have the right to make their own reproductive choices. We believe that health care is a right regardless of social status, age or preexisting conditions, and that access to affordable care is an obligation of society to its members. We believe that health conditions should not bankrupt a person or a family, and that no person should be denied a full life due to a condition that can be cured or treated.
We believe that the surest road to a fair and open society is education. Basic education must be provided to all persons free of charge, and advanced education must be accessible and affordable. This education must not be biased toward any class or group of people. It is in the national interest to have a well educated public. Taxpayer funds should not be used for private or religious educational institutions, thereby diluting the educational opportunities for those who neither can afford the private institutions nor belong to the favored religious organizations.
We believe that immigrants make this nation richer and more vibrant. Foreigners on our soil should be treated with dignity and respect. Citizenship for those who wish to participate in our great experiment should be facilitated. Children who have known no other home should be welcome here as full citizens. We do not understand how a child brought to this country by his parents could be accused of committing a crime. Since when is it a crime to go where your parents go? We also support acceptance of refugees as a sign of our moral compass and a benefit to our country.
We believe in our future. To that end, we must be protectors of our environment. We believe that all people have a right to clean water and air. We accept the word of 97% of the world’s scientists that climate change is real, that it is being accelerated due to human behavior, and that we are nearing a time when we can’t avoid the consequences of neglecting our environment. Therefore, we should be moving from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources. As we do so, we need to focus on retraining those who rely on jobs in fossil fuel to enable employment in renewables. There will be plenty of jobs to go around.
We believe that public investments that have or will be made with public funds in infrastructure should not be turned over to private entities for their profit, whether those investments were in schools, utilities or roads. Turning those public investments over to private entities constitutes a taking from the public at large who paid for them in their taxes. Our infrastructure assets are a source of national security. These assets should be kept in public domain, invested in, and maintained. By happy coincidence, because they require workers to be local, jobs resulting from this investment cannot be offshored.
We believe that throughout their careers, workers have paid in to social security and medicare with the promise that that money would be available to them when they could no longer work. These are earned benefits, and are not negotiable. We oppose converting the funds they contributed to a scheme to balance the national budget while giving tax breaks to the wealthiest. We also believe it benefits all of us when we enable those who are disabled to contribute all they can to our society. We believe that it is the obligation of the government to stand up for the rights of the disenfranchised, the less privileged, the elderly and the disabled.
We believe in the right of workers to band together in unions to create an equal playing field with their employers. We recognize the lack of power of a single person when going up against a large corporation, and the only remedy is the power of numbers. We believe that no person who works full time should live in poverty, and that any job worth doing deserves a living wage.
We believe that, while gun ownership is a right, that right does not preclude sensible monitoring. This monitoring can and should include, as with automobiles, registration and the assurance that these firearms are not modified, or are modified in a legal way, and that they are in the proper hands. Gun owners, as with automobiles, should obtain licenses to ensure they are appropriate owners and that they know safe operation and storage procedures. Those owners become responsible for incidents involving their guns, whether accidental or intentional.
We believe that we live in a complicated world and there is always something to be fighting over. However, we believe that diplomacy should be employed as our first choice, and hostilities should be a last resort. We believe our military might should be used as sparingly as possible. When diplomatic options run out and hostility cannot be avoided, we believe we should provide our military with all necessary resources while on the battlefield, and services for those who serve should be freely provided for once they return. The notion of a homeless veteran is an embarrassment. The idea of soldiers coming home broken and their injuries, both physical and mental, being ignored is beyond immoral. Turning such services over to corporations to profit from these injuries is beyond corrupt. Moreover, it is an abomination when our national leaders appear to have a higher regard for our adversaries than our men and women in uniform.
Finally, we believe that the wealthier a person is, the more that person has benefited from the opportunities offered by this great land. We recognize that no person becomes wealthy without the benefits provided by the society at large, whether it be education, the infrastructure that makes enterprise viable, or the police and fire protection that make the enterprise safe, no person can become wealthy without such investments by the society at large. We therefore believe that such persons should happily pay a higher share of income to maintain the viability of those benefits. Thus, we believe in a graduated income tax. From those who have received more, more is expected – it is the license for prosperity.
Governor Kasich, is this a clear statement? In this, do you find a soul? Can’t you see a vision here? Compare this declaration to the behaviors and policies you have seen in your own party. Which more closely resembles your definition of morality?