09/14/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Reflecting on the Platform Draft - Santa Cruz, California

The New Hope: It's a Start

The theme of the get together in Santa Cruz, California, to make suggestions for the democratic platform was The New Hope: It's a Start.

About fourteen attendees attempted to dream out loud about a better America within familiar or conventional choices. They saw problems in all the branches of government and wanted the democratic platform to show responsibility in not only repairing the extensive damage or decay of our country but also in ending the practice of politicians of re-inventing America to accommodate the wealthy few. They saw the gathering of people in small groups around the country an excellent start in self-governance.

After eight years of the Bush administration treating the Constitution as if it's a vehicle of terrorism, it's ground breaking that the democratic platform was even written. The democratic platform promises to set in motion a slowing down of a country gone astray, damaged by an overload of self-interest, neglect, and poor decision-making.

The platform includes many more issues than discussed in Santa Cruz, but certainly many of the platform's positions would be supported as igniters toward cleaning up the damage. Attendees sent off suggestions on issues to clean up and protect the environment, end the war and clean up its accompanying damage, clean up a corrupt or ill-conceived health care system, and clean up the muddied American Constitution. Members wanted a better system of regulations and of checks and balances to protect the rights of "we the people."

The democratic platform is not without its weaknesses in reflecting the will of the people. Its theme of renewing America's promise is one of those tricky themes. While the words renewal and promises are positive words in themselves, stated as they are should cause concern. I think many persons who attended platform meetings might give some thought to the implications of the theme, as it seems to split America the country from America the people. A more appropriate theme to start the clean up might state that the Democratic Party will immediately follow through on its platform promises to America.

While the democratic platform promises to end partisan division, the attendees at our platform meeting would probably disagree to compromising on issues that reflect unethical self-interest. For example, these attendees did not see the benefit of compromising when it comes to environmental protections, ending the Iraq war, reversing the decrease in civil liberties and implementing a national health care plan. My guess is that they would also caution the democrats against compromising on issues that jeopardize an increase in the power or position of women, minorities or workers. Making compromises is not always the best solution. Voters should not be asked to agree on making compromises to accommodate persons who hold unethical political designs that benefit the wealthy. Such compromising results in the same old politics as usual in Washington.

The strongest fuel of change is suggested but not openly stated in the democratic platform, that of revisiting, reshuffling, and re-establishing America's economic and social priorities and hierarchies. First and foremost, we as a nation have to immediately rebalance our economic structure, so the right people or entities are being sufficiently taxed for the privilege to operate in this country, and we need to ensure our taxes are getting spent on improving the lifestyles of all lower to middle-class Americans. It's time for the wealthy to roll up their sleeves and help lift up the standards of this country, so everyone has a decent lifestyle with dignity. We also have to work toward creating an environment in which we need the least amount of policing and surveillance of ourselves. We have to re-examine what areas of production or markets must be regulated, to prevent damage to consumers and the environment as well as prevent monopolies from holding goods hostage by inflating prices.

Overall, the notion of it's a start makes sense if and only if voters plan to continue their involvement and participation in the political process that affects their political futures. Without involvement, citizens cannot determine the maximum freedom or support the representatives should decide on for our everyday lives. Involvement can range from talking to neighbors and family members to letter writing to running for office.