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July 26, 2016
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We The People
by Karen Eckstein-Sarkissian

Philadelphia
Photography by Google Images

The July 1, 2016 Draft “Democratic Party Platform” focused on thirteen specific issues, each with its own subheadings. It's a lot to process yet it is vitally important, especially in this election. We are up against an opponent that opposes almost everything the Democrats support and he is getting his backers to clap loudly and agree with him. Here are the thirteen issues:

1. Raise Incomes and Restore Economic Security for the Middle Class
2. Create Good-Paying Jobs
3. Fight for Economic Fairness and Against Inequality
4. Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Create Ladders of Opportunity
5. Protect Voting Rights, Fix Our Campaign Finance System, and Restore Our Democracy
6. Combat Climate Change, Build a Clean Energy Economy, and Secure Environmental Justice
7. Provide Quality and Affordable Education
8. Ensure the Health and Safety of All Americans
9. Principled Leadership
10. Support Our Troops and Keep Faith with Our Veterans
11. Confront Global Threats
12. Protect Our Value
13. A Leader in the World

The Preamble provides most of the necessary information. It begins by noting that while President Barrack Obama achieved great success in job growth, healthcare reform, auto industry progress, use of more alternative energies, and less dependence on foreign oil, many Americans were ignored and continue to struggle. Most people work harder and longer without security and with no increase in wages, yet the cost for everything, from childcare to college rose steeply and the racial gap widened. All the while, Republicans fought and blocked any and all programs and policies proposed by President Obama and Democratic Legislature. Allowing the top one percent to accumulate even more wealth and power.

PhiladelphiaDemocrats believe in an economy that works for everyone, creates good-paying jobs, and puts a middle-class life within reach for more Americans. Most of the wealth goes to the top one percent and the richest 20 people in our country own more wealth than the bottom 150 million. They declare that race also plays a significant role in determining who is overlooked and that the school-to-prison pipeline must be replaced with a cradle-to-college pipeline.

They also propose helping Americans balance work and family without fear of punishment or penalty and by guaranteeing equal pay for women and safeguard Social Security in order to protect every American’s right to retire with dignity. Lastly, they agree that Wall Street’s selfishness and unlawful behavior must cease and that it must never be permitted to ever again menace families and businesses.

Democrats find that they are more powerful when citizens’ right to vote, rather than corporations’ and billionaire’ ability to buy elections, are preserved and, therefore, want to overturn the Citizens United and restore the Voting Rights Act. They also considered climate change a serious threat to the economy, national security, and to our children’s health and futures and that Americans deserve the careers and ability to become the clean energy giants of the future.

Most importantly, Democrats are the party of inclusion. Diversity is their promise. Today’s immigrants are tomorrow’s teachers and soldiers, entrepreneurs and activists. They believe in protecting civil liberties and guaranteeing civil, voting, women’s, workers’ rights, LGBT rights and rights for people with disabilities. They believe, as Robert Kennedy said, “a great country, an unselfish country, and a compassionate country.”

The thirteen issues went on to contain various subheadings. Some of the more noteworthy topics included raising the current federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, which Democrats consider a starvation wage, to $15.00 an hour. They also want to cease the sub-minimum wage of $2.13 for tipped workers (e.g. servers) and people with disabilities, which is based upon a calculation determined by the Federal Code of Regulations. Democrats also want to ensure that all Americans have the ability to organize and join a union, noting that Donald Trump has utilized union-busting firms to thwart workers’ rights.

PhiladelphiaDemocrats also seek to pass a family and medical leave act that would provide at least 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child, handle a personal or family member’s serious health issue, and allow workers to accrue at least seven days of paid sick leave and vacation time. They want to make sure Social Security benefits are guaranteed and make sure those at the top paid more. Their plans are dissimilar with Donald Trump’s, who has called Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” and has called for privatizing it and increasing the retirement age.

They support a “Make it in America” philosophy and hope to rescind tax breaks for businesses that ship jobs overseas, pointing out that Donald Trump has consistently outsourced his own products.

The party hoped to encourage the next generation of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs, specifically women and people of color and to also improve prospects for people with disabilities. It also wanted to make it easier to establish and grow a small business, especially for women, people of color, tribes, and rural America. Additionally, the party wants to focus on programs that offer jobs for youth, as about one in ten youths between the ages of 16 and 24 are unemployed, which is more than twice the national average.

Democrats also hope to make sure that no bank can ever be too big to fail again and that no executive is too powerful to jail. They feel that banks should not be able to wager with taxpayers’ monies.

They support legal and reasonable immigration for people seeking safety, freedom, and security and will continue to strive for comprehensive immigration reform and protect and implement President Obama’s DREAMers Act. Immigration enforcement must be humane and they oppose religious tests that intend to bar immigrants.

PhiladelphiaThey aim to end discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. While freedom of expression is a constitutional right, everyone must condemn Donald Trump’s demonization of prisoners of war, women, Muslims, Mexicans, and people with disabilities. Everyone must also condemn the recent uprise in hate speech.

Democrats stressed that black lives mattered and that racism held no place in this country. It was unacceptable that the median wealth for white Americans is roughly ten times that of African-Americans and Latino-Americans. They aim to end racial profiling, and prosecute police-involved shootings. They will also highlight treatment over incarceration with regard to addiction and mental health issues and fight to end systemic racism.

Believing healthcare is a right, not a privilege, Democrats will always strive to guarantee health coverage to Americans through Medicare or as a public option. Donald Trump, by contrast, hopes to appeal the Affordable Care Act and leave tens of millions of Americans without coverage.

With regard to higher education, Democrats believed that cost should not be a barrier. They want to make community college free and college affordable for all. They want to allow those with current debt to refinance their loans at the lowest rate, cut interest rates for future undergraduates, and restore prior bankruptcy laws to allow borrowers with student loans discharge their debts as a measure of last resort.

Other important topics included investing in infrastructure, overturning Citizens United, providing more affordable housing, ending chronic homelessness, and forbidding predatory lending. They want the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share of taxes and end the outsourcing of American jobs. They also approved of decriminalizing marijuana and hoped to abolish the death penalty, as it is a cruel and unusual form of punishment. They also want to invest in early childhood programs and provide access to high-quality childcare and pre-K programs. And, the Democrats will always protect a woman’s right to chose.

Photography by Darryl Cobb Jr.