"the best ideas are common property"
Seneca 5 BC - 65 AD
President Bush and the Republicans seem to have lost their way these days. The President and Congressional approval ratings are apparently close to hitting bottom. This development is delighting Democrats when viewed through the periscope of what it may mean in 2006. Democrats may have a historic opportunity to take control of one or both houses of the US Congress in 2006 if the Republicans continue to display cronyism, incompetence and bungling that seems to be daily event these days.
In the 1994 elections for congress the Republicans swept the Democratic Party aside. For the first time in 40 years Republicans gain control of the US House of Representatives and US Senate. Since that time the Democrats have been the minority party, except for a brief period when they barely had control of the Senate, only to lose control again in a subsequent election.
The 1994 victory for the Republicans was due in part to that party’s “Contact With America” theme campaign. Newt Gingrich, the Republican minority leader at that time, promoted the contract’s set of proposals as a list of changes he and his fellow republicans intended to bring about if they were given control of the congress. It played a major part in getting Republicans elected. Even long time Democrat Tom Foley (WA), the House Majority leader, was defeated. It was a dark time for Democrats. who seemed blindsided by the overwhelming success of the Republicans and their use of the contract with America to win seats.
The Republican contract was a loosely worded document and consisted of two major parts. It represented a conservative wish list of items including, ironically in the context of today’s record deficits run up under Republican control, such things as a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget along with such items as taking back our streets, personal responsibility act and American dream restoration act. Democrats founds some of these proposals laughable. But it appears they did touched a cord with the voters when the votes were finally cast.
Many of the items outlined in the contract never did become law even after the Republicans became the majority party. But it certainly achieved it principle objective in that it clearly framed the Republican candidates position on the important issues of the day, and drew clear distinctions about what the Repubican party supposedly stood for against the Democrats who took the Republican tactic pretty much for granted. As a public relations election tool it was a total success. It got Republicans elected in overwhelming numbers that November.
The Democratic Party has an excellent opportunity to turn the tables on the GOP in 2006. But it still will not be easy. Democrats must also be prepared to offer Americans clear alternatives and choices. It may not be enough to just run on Republican failures and mistakes if the Democrats expect to win back the congress.
I think it is time the Democrats also propose a contract with America outlining the specific changes they will attempt to bring about if the voters once again give them control of the US congress.
To help jump-start this process I propose the following “ The 2006 Democratic Party Proposal of Priorities for America”, not necessarily listed in order of importance.
- Capture Osama Bin Laden
- Strengthen and protect America against terrorists
- Set time table for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq
- Universal healthcare for all Americans
- Fix Social Security and Medicare
- Balance the federal budget
- Tax reform Aimed at helping working families
- Strengthen laws that protect civil liberties and privacy
- Make America energy independent within 20 years
- Tougher vehicle gas mileage standards within 5 years
- Strengthen environmental protections
- Cut government red tape and waste
- Call for an international summit on proplems in the Middle East
- Better Prepare Federal Government to handle natural and other Catastrophes
- Strengthen rules and enforce penalties for Congressional ethics violations including expulsion and demand integrity in government
- Standardize voting procedures in Federal elections
- Rebuild America’s infrastructure
- Increase federal grants for college education
- Develope programs to strenghten and encourage math, science and technical education
- Fully fund “No Child Left Behind”
- Prepare America for potential pandemic illnesses
- Fund substance abuse programs
- Funding for more first responders and police including equipment and facilities
- Require corporate ethics and transparence
- Campaign spending reform including eliminating 527 organizations
- Control nuclear proliferation
- Strengthen the United Nations
- Rebuild and respect foreign alliances
- Keep commitments to our military veterans
- Make access and use of mass media free and accessible to all
- Reconsider “war on drugs” (rethink decriminalization, control over and taxation of marijuana and other drugs)
- Sign Kyoto Treaty (Develop Federal policy on Global Warming)
- Rebuild the Gulf Coast infrastructure including state of the art New Orleans levies
- Assist the victims of hurricane Katrina
- Stop illegal immigration and strengthen our borders
- Safeguard Air and Clean Water
- Support Music and Art Education
- Create Business Enterprise Zones
- Fight Aids
- Stop human trafficking
- Stop all abuse of military combatant prisoners
- Fund Job Corp and Youth Programs
- Strengthen Labor Laws
- Strengthen worker safety laws
- Strengthen laws against discrimination on basic of race, sex, age or sexual orientation
- Protect and imporve internet security and freedoms
- Make America the leader in science and technology
- Stengthen laws on identity theft
- Crackdown on Meth labs
- Repeal the death penalty
- Keep abortion safe and legal
- Encourage Sexual Education
- Forgive 3rd world debts