By Robin Ozretich of Corvallis, Oregon. He describes himself as a "twenty-something writer, musician, and expectant father from Corvallis."
I recently had the privilege of participating in the local Democratic Party platform convention in my home county of Benton County, Oregon.
Together, the forty-some attendees drafted a markedly comprehensive platform addressing the most pressing issues of the day, with positions on many less-pressing issues thrown in for good measure. Our finished platform is a laundry-list of progressive positions and initiatives -- some may be ahead of their time (i.e. are politically unrealistic), and others are already accepted as conventional wisdom and have been passed into law. However, I do believe that contained somewhere in our lengthy platform are the big ideas -- the building blocks of a progressive vision for America whose time has come: affordable health care for all, investment in renewable energy, improvements in education quality, fiscal responsibility, and a respect for the right to privacy.
Sometimes I'm afraid that these big ideas get lost in the details and minutiae of the laundry list. The laundry list is great, don't get me wrong.
However, in this time of political change, with new opportunities for Democrats to reclaim the reigns of government after years of Republican miscalculations, failure, and outright corruption, it seems more important than ever for Democrats to present a clear and inspiring message about where they want to lead the country and why. This message should be illustrated by inspiring vision and big ideas -- by real changes Democrats would enact if given the opportunity by the American people.
Democrats need to present a memorable bullet-point agenda -- with no more than five or six items. This agenda will naturally differ from candidate to candidate, state to state, year to year, etc. But any Democrat speaking in public should come prepared with a clear agenda for the country. The case for this agenda should be presented from the heart, and the audience should walk away with an understanding of what Democrats stand for.
There are countless ideas and proposals for Democratic agenda items in circulation -- no Democrat has an excuse to go out in public without a clear message. Let's keep the ideas flowing. A good agenda is fluid over time, and adapts to new circumstances. In this spirit, I'd like to present my five-point agenda for the country:
* Affordable health care for all: Lift the burden of unaffordable health care from American families and businesses.
* Invest in renewable energy: Achieve energy independence and revitalize the American economy through a growing renewable energy technology sector.
* Improve education quality: Prepare every American child for a changing world with a first-class education.
* Fiscal responsibility: Balance the budget by restoring fairness to the tax code, cutting government waste, and ending the war in Iraq.
* Enforce the right to privacy: Reasonably limit government and corporate access to private information and intrusions on personal decision-making.
That's my agenda today, and I think it would be a great agenda for any Democrat to run on this election cycle. What do you think? What is your agenda for Democrats this year?