Americans of every political stripe are hungry for
kind of government. We want a government that favors common sense over
ideology, honesty over spin, that worries less about losing the next
and more about winning the battles we owe to the next
The over 30,000 Americans who attended 1645 local platform hearings demonstrated their commitment to reasserting government of, by, and for the people. So too did the millions of Americans who turned out in primaries and caucuses, and the record-breaking number of Americans abroad who participated – including men and the women who serve in our military. Democrats want to continue the momentum of the election. Only by doing so can we bring the change necessary to restore the promise of America.
The government we create will open up democracy to the people and protect our civil liberties. We’ll invite the service and participation of American citizens, and use the tools of government and technology to lead us into a new era of connectedness, teamwork, and progress. A Barack Obama Administration will make it clear to the special interests that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over, because the American people are not the problem in the 21st century—they are the solution. We’ll make every vote count, because in America, everyone’s voice matters in the political process.
Open, Accountable, and Ethical Government
In Barack Obama’s
Administration, we will open up the doors of democracy. We will use
to make government more transparent, accountable, and inclusive. Rather
obstruct people’s use of the Freedom of Information Act, we will
agencies conduct significant business in public and release all
information unless an agency reasonably foresees harm to a protected
We will lift the veil of secret deals in Washington by publishing searchable, online information about federal grants, contracts, earmarks, loans, and lobbyist contacts with government officials. We will make government data available online and will have an online video archive of significant agency meetings. We will put all non-emergency bills that Congress has passed online for five days, to allow the American public to review and comment on them before they are signed into law. We will require Cabinet officials to have periodic national online town hall meetings to discuss issues before their agencies.
Implementing our Party’s agenda will require running competent, innovative, and efficient public agencies at all levels of government with the resources necessary to get results. We will develop a comprehensive management agenda to prevent operational breakdowns in government and ensure that government provides the level of service that the American people deserve. Because we understand that good government depends on good people, we will work to rebuild and reengage our federal workforce and encourage state and local governments to do the same. We will make government a more attractive place to work. Our hiring will be based only on qualification and experience, and not on ideology or party affiliation. We will pay for our new spending, eliminate waste in government programs, demand, and measure results, and stop funding programs that don’t work. We will not privatize public services for the sake of privatizing. We will use carefully crafted guidelines when determining whether to contract out any government service and whether a function is “inherently governmental.” We will provide improved accountability, oversight, and management in the contracting process to protect the public.
We are committed to a participatory government. We will use the most current technology available to improve the quality of government decision-making and make government less beholden to special interest groups and lobbyists. We will enhance the flow of information between citizens and government—in both directions—by involving the public in the work of government agencies. We will not simply solicit opinions, but will also use new technology to tap into the vast expertise of the American citizenry, for the benefit of government and our democracy.
Americans want real reform that will help them pay their medical bills and put the country on the path to energy independence. They are tired of lobbyists standing in their way. So we’ll end the abuse of no-bid contracts by requiring nearly all contract orders over $25,000 to be competitively awarded and tell the drug companies and the oil companies and the insurance industry that, while they may get a seat at the table in Washington, they don’t get to buy every chair. We will institute a gift ban so that no lobbyist can curry favor with the Administration. We will close the revolving door that has allowed people to use their position in the Administration as a stepping-stone to further their lobbying careers. We support campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests, including public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time. We will have the wisdom to put the public interest above special interests. As a national party, we will not take any contributions from Political Action Committees during this election.
Reclaiming Our Constitution and Our Liberties
As we combat terrorism, we must not sacrifice the
values we are fighting to protect. In
recent years, we’ve seen an Administration put forward a false choice
the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. The
Democratic Party rejects this
dichotomy. We will restore our
constitutional traditions, and recover our nation’s founding commitment
liberty under law.
We support constitutional protections and judicial oversight on any surveillance program involving Americans. We will review the current Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. We reject illegal wiretapping of American citizens, wherever they live.
We reject the use of national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. We reject the tracking of citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. We reject torture. We reject sweeping claims of “inherent” presidential power. We will revisit the Patriot Act and overturn unconstitutional executive decisions issued during the past eight years. We will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine duly enacted law. And we will ensure that law-abiding Americans of any origin, including Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans, do not become the scapegoats of national security fears.
We believe that our Constitution, our courts, our institutions, and our traditions work.
In its operations overseas, while claiming to spread freedom throughout the world, the current Administration has tragically helped give rise to a new generation of potential adversaries who threaten to make America less secure. We will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools to hunt down and take out terrorists without undermining our Constitution, our freedom, and our privacy.
To build a freer and safer world, we will lead in ways that reflect the decency and aspirations of the American people. We will not ship away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, or detain without trial or charge prisoners who can and should be brought to justice for their crimes, or maintain a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of the law. We will respect the time-honored principle of habeas corpus, the seven century-old right of individuals to challenge the terms of their own detention that was recently reaffirmed by our Supreme Court. We will close the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, the location of so many of the worst constitutional abuses in recent years. With these necessary changes, the attention of the world will be directed where it belongs: on what terrorists have done to us, not on how we treat suspects.
We recognize what leaders on the front lines of the struggle against terrorism have long known: to win this fight, we must maintain the moral high ground. When millions around the world see America living up to its highest ideals, we win friends and allies in this struggle for our safety and our lives, and our enemies lose ground.
For our Judiciary, we will select and confirm judges who are men and women of unquestionable talent and character, who firmly respect the rule of law, who listen to and are respectful of different points of view, and who represent the diversity of America. We support the appointment of judges who respect our system of checks and balances and the separation of power among the Executive Branch, Congress, and the Judiciary–and who understand that the Constitution protects not only the powerful, but also the disadvantaged and the powerless. Our Constitution is not a nuisance. It is the foundation of our democracy. It makes freedom and self-governance possible, and helps to protect our security. The Democratic Party will restore our Constitution to its proper place in our government and return our Nation to our best traditions–including our commitment to government by law.
Voting rights are fundamental rights because they are protective of all other rights. We will work to fully protect and enforce the fundamental Constitutional right of every American vote—to ensure that the Constitution’s promise is fully realized. We will fully fund the Help America Vote Act and work to fulfill the promise of election reform, including fighting to end long lines at voting booths and ensuring that all registration materials, voting materials, polling places, and voting machines are truly accessible to seniors, Americans with disabilities, and citizens with limited English proficiency. We will call for a national standard for voting that includes voter-verified paper ballots. We will ensure that absentee ballots are accessible and accurately counted. We will vigorously enforce our voting rights laws instead of making them tools of partisan political agendas; we oppose laws that require identification in order to vote or register to vote, which create discriminatory barriers to the right to vote and disenfranchise many eligible voters; and we oppose tactics which purge eligible voters from voter rolls. We are committed to passing the Count Every Vote Act. Finally, we will enact legislation that establishes harsh penalties for those who engage in voter intimidation and creates a process for providing accurate information to misinformed voters so they can cast their votes in time.
Partnerships with States
Given the economic crisis across the country, states, and territories today face serious difficulties. More than half of our states face a combined billions of dollars in shortfalls. As a result, states have had to innovate and take matters into their own hands—and they have done an extraordinary job. Yet they should not have to do it alone. We will provide significant and immediate temporary funding to state and local governments, as well as territories and tribes. We will give these governmental entities a partner in the federal government, and a president who understand that prosperity comes not only from Wall Street and Washington, but from the perseverance of the American people. County and municipal governments, as well as territories and tribes, are also key partners with the federal government. These partnerships need to be revitalized to address their critical needs.
Partnership with Civic Institutions
Social entrepreneurs and leading nonprofit organizations are assisting schools, lifting families out of poverty, filling health care gaps, and inspiring others to lead change in their own communities. To support these results-oriented innovators, we will create a Social Investment Fund Network that invests in ideas that work, tests their impact, and expands the most successful programs. We will create an office to coordinate government and nonprofit efforts.
District of Columbia
Our civil rights leaders and many Americans of every background have sacrificed too much for us to tolerate continuing denial to the nearly 600,000 residents of our nation’s capital of the benefits of full citizenship, especially the vote, that are accorded to citizens of every state. We support equal rights to democratic self-government and congressional representation for the citizens of our nation’s capital.
American Indian and Alaska Native tribes have always been sovereign, self-governing communities, and we affirm their inherent right to self-government as well as the unique
government-to-government relationship they share
United States. In exchange for millions of acres of land, our nation
provide certain services in perpetuity; we will honor our nation’s
trust obligations by increasing resources for economic development,
care, Indian education, and other important services. We will respect
Indian cultural rights and sacred places. We will reexamine the legal
that allows extreme rates of violent crime in Indian country; we will
White House advisor on Indian Affairs; and we will host an annual
We support the efforts for self-determination and sovereignty of Native Hawaiians, consistent with principles enumerated in the Apology Resolution and the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act. We will increase federal resources for economic development, education, health, and other important services. We will respect Native Hawaiian culture rights and sacred places.
Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
We recognize and honor the contributions and the sacrifices made in service of our country by the people living in Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We believe that the people of Puerto Rico have the right to the political status of their choice, obtained through a fair, neutral, and democratic process of self-determination. The White House and Congress will work with all groups in Puerto Rico to enable the question of Puerto Rico’s status to be resolved during the next four years. We also believe that economic conditions in Puerto Rico call for effective and equitable programs to maximize job creation and financial investment. Furthermore, in order to provide fair assistance to those in greatest need, the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico should receive treatment under federal programs that is comparable to that of citizens in the States. We will phase-out the cap on Medicaid funding and phase-in equal participation in other federal health care assistance programs. Moreover, we will provide equitable treatment to the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico on programs providing refundable tax credits to working families. We believe that U.S. citizens in Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands should receive similar treatment.
The American people believe Washington is broken … and for good reason. Short-term politics overshadow the long-term interests of the nation. Our national legislature uses a budget process devised long before the Internet and seems unable to deal in realistic ways with the most pressing problems of families, businesses, and communities. Members of Congress have been indicted for violating the public trust. Public disgust with Washington is entirely warranted.
Republicans will uphold and defend our party’s core principles: Constrain the federal government to its legitimate constitutional functions. Let it empower people, while limiting its reach into their lives. Spend only what is necessary, and tax only to raise revenue for essential government functions. Unleash the power of enterprise, innovation, civic energy, and the American spirit – and never pretend that government is a substitute for family or community.
The other party wants more government control over people’s lives and earnings; Republicans do not. The other party wants to continue pork barrel politics; we are disgusted by it, no matter who practices it. The other party wants to ignore fiscal problems while squandering billions on ineffective programs; we are determined to end that waste. The entrenched culture of official Washington – an intrusive tax-and-spend liberalism – remains a formidable foe, but we will confront and ultimately defeat it.
Washington’s Failure: the Scope of the Problem
The federal government collects $2.7 trillion a year from American families and businesses. That’s $7.4 billion a day. Even worse, it spends over $3 trillion a year: $8.2 billion a day. Why? Largely because those who created this bloated government will not admit a single mistake or abolish a single program. Here are some staggering examples of the overall problem:
With so many redundant, inefficient, and ineffective federal programs, it is no wonder that the American people have so little confidence in Washington to act effectively when federal action is really needed.
The Budget Process – A Fraud that Guarantees Runaway Spending
For more than three decades – since enactment of the Budget Act of 1974 by a Democrat-controlled Congress – the federal government has operated within a rigged system notable for its lack of transparency. The earlier approach – annual passage of the appropriation bills, amended and voted up or down, with the numbers there for all to see – had its flaws and generated much red ink. But its replacement, the current budget process, only worsened the money flow and came to rely on monstrous omnibus spending bills. The results are adverse to all seeking to limit government’s growth. For example:
the budget’s review process is a sham. Of the $3 trillion spent
annually, only one-third is reviewed each year during the budget and
appropriations process. The remaining $2 trillion automatically
to interest on the national debt or entitlements. And because the
budget process assumes an automatic increase in spending, the debate on
the remaining one-third is only over how much more spending to approve.
Finally, while government requires corporations to budget for future pension and health care costs, our government ignores those requirements. No family or private sector business could keep its books the way Washington keeps ours.
A Plan to Control Spending
Republicans will attack wasteful Washington spending immediately. Current procedures should be replaced with simplicity and transparency. For example:
Empowering the States, Improving Public Services
The long term solution for many of Washington’s problems is
Congress must respect the limits imposed upon it by the Tenth
Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the
States respectively, or to the people.”
We look to the model of Republican welfare reform, which, since its enactment in 1996, has accomplished a major transfer of resources and responsibility from the federal government back to the states – with an accompanying improvement in the program itself. Applying that approach to other programs will steer Congress back into line with the Constitution, reversing both its intrusion into state matters and its neglect of its central duties.
To aid in the fulfillment of those duties, we propose a National Sunset Commission to review all federal programs and recommend which of them should be terminated due to redundancy, waste, or intrusion into the American family. The Congress would then be required by law to schedule one yea or nay vote on the entire sunset list with no amendments.
Additionally, as important as returning power to the states is returning power to the people. As the Declaration of Independence states, our rights are endowed to us by our Creator and are inalienable: rights to life, liberty, and property. Government does not confer these rights but is instituted by men to protect the rights that man already possesses. The Republican Party strongly affirms these rights and demands that government respect them.
Congress Must Improve
Oversight of Government Programs
Congress has a fundamental duty to conduct meaningful oversight on the effectiveness of government programs, not use every hearing as an opportunity for political grandstanding. To that end:
Improving the Work of
Modern management of the federal government is long overdue. The expected retirement over the next ten years of more than 40 percent of the federal workforce, and 60 percent of its managers, presents a rare opportunity: a chance to gradually shrink the size of government while using technology to increase its effectiveness and reshape the way agencies do business.
Each agency must be able to pass a financial audit and set annual targets for improving efficiency with fewer resources. Civil service managers should be given incentives for more effective leadership, including protection against the current guilty-until-proven-innocent grievance procedures which disgruntled employees use against them to thwart reform. Due process cannot excuse bad behavior.
We will provide Internet transparency in all federal contracting as a necessary step in combating cost overruns. We will draw on the expertise of today’s successful managers and entrepreneurs in the private sector, like the “dollar-a-year” businesspeople who answered their country’s call during the Second World War, to build real-world competence and accountability into government procurement and operations.
Domestic Disaster Response
Americans hit by disaster must never again feel abandoned by their government. The Katrina disaster taught a painful lesson: The federal government’s system for responding to a natural calamity needs a radical overhaul. We recognize the need for a natural disaster insurance policy.
State and local cooperation is crucial, as are private relief efforts, but Washington must take the lead in forging a partnership with America’s best run businesses to ensure that FEMA’s Emergency Operations Centers run as well as any Fortune 500 Company. We must make it easier for both businesses and non-profits to act as force-multipliers in relief situations. We believe it is critical to support those impacted by natural disasters and to complete the rebuilding of devastated areas, including the Gulf Coast.
The American people can have safer roads and bridges, better airports and more efficient harbors, as long as we straighten out the government’s spending priorities. The politics of pork distorts the allocation of resources for modernizing the nation’s infrastructure. That can leave entire communities vulnerable to natural disasters and deprive others of the improvements necessary for economic growth and job creation. We pledge a business-like, cost-effective approach for infrastructure spending, always mindful of the special needs of both rural and urban communities.
We support a level of investment in the nation’s transportation system that will promote a healthy economy, sustain jobs, and keep America globally competitive. We need to improve the system’s performance and capacity to deal with congestion, move a massive amount of freight, reduce traffic fatalities, and ensure mobility across both rural and urban areas. We urgently need to preserve the highway, transit, and air facilities built over the last century so they can serve generations to come. At the same time, we are committed to minimizing transportation’s impact on climate change, our local environments, and the nation’s energy use. Careful reforms of environmental reviews and the permitting process should speed projects to completion.
Safeguarding our transportation infrastructure is critical to our homeland security. An integrated, flexible system – developed and sustained in partnership between state and local governments and the federal government – must also share responsibilities with the private sector. We call for more prudent stewardship of the nation’s Highway Trust Fund to restore the program’s purchasing power and ensure that it will meet the changing needs of a mobile nation.
The job of modernizing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid calls for bipartisanship, not political posturing. Through the last four presidential terms, we have sought that cooperation, but it has not been forthcoming. The public demands constructive action, and we will provide it.
We are committed to putting Social Security on a sound fiscal basis. Our society faces a profound demographic shift over the next twenty-five years, from today’s ratio of 3.3 workers for every retiree to only 2.1 workers by 2034. Under the current system, younger workers will not be able to depend on Social Security as part of their retirement plan. We believe the solution should give workers control over, and a fair return on, their contributions. No changes in the system should adversely affect any current or near-retiree. Comprehensive reform should include the opportunity to freely choose to create your own personal investment accounts which are distinct from and supplemental to the overall Social Security system.
Medicare and Medicaid
As discussed in the health care section of this document, we commit to revive Medicare by rewarding quality care, promoting competition, eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse, and giving patients and providers control over treatment options. We envision a new Medicaid partnership with the states, improving public health through flexibility and innovation.
Constitutionalist Judges for the Nation’s Courts
Judicial activism is a grave threat to the rule of law because unaccountable federal judges are usurping democracy, ignoring the Constitution and its separation of powers, and imposing their personal opinions upon the public. This must stop.
We condemn the Supreme Court’s disregard of homeowners’ property
in its Kelo decision and deplore the Court’s arbitrary extension of
Americans’ habeas corpus rights to enemy combatants held abroad.
object to the Court’s unwarranted interference in the administration of
the death penalty in this country for the benefit of savage
whose guilt is not at issue. We lament that judges have denied
people their right to set abortion policies in the states and are
undermining traditional marriage laws from coast to coast. We are
astounded that four justices of the Supreme Court believe that
individual Americans have no individual right to bear arms to protect
themselves and their families.
Republicans will insist on the appointment of constitutionalist judges, men and women who will not distort our founding documents to deny the people’s right to self-government, sanction federal powers that violate our liberties, or inject foreign law into American jurisprudence.
We oppose stealth nominations to the federal bench, and especially to the Supreme Court, whose lack of a clear and distinguished record leaves doubt about their respect for the Constitution or their intellectual fortitude. Nominees must have a record of fidelity to the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.
We reject the Democrats’ view that judicial nominees should guarantee particular results even before the case is filed. Judges should not be politicians. Jurists nominated by a Republican president will be thoughtful and open-minded, always prepared to view past error in light of stare decisis, including judicial fiats that disenfranchised the American people.
No qualified person should be denied the opportunity to serve on the federal bench due to race, ethnicity, religion or sex. In affirming Article VI of the Constitution – that no religious test shall ever be required for any office – we insist that the Senate should never inquire into a nominee’s religious convictions and we condemn the opposition, by some members of the Democratic Party, to recent judicial nominees because of their ethnicity or religion.
Protecting the Right to
Vote in Fair Elections
Many members of the Armed Services will find it difficult to participate in this year’s elections because of the government’s reliance on outdated and inadequate voting, notification, and ballot delivery systems. The mishandling and delaying of registration forms and absentee ballots disenfranchises thousands of our servicemen and servicewomen. The Commander-in-Chief, the Department of Defense, and state and local election officials must do more to protect the voting rights of those on the front lines of freedom. That means using expedited mail delivery to bring ballots to and from our troops abroad, including those serving in areas of conflict, while completing work on an electronic ballot delivery system that will enable our military personnel to receive and cast their ballots in a secure and convenient manner.
We oppose attempts to distort the electoral process by wholesale restoration of the franchise to convicted felons, by makeshift or hurried naturalization procedures, or by discretionary ballot-reading by election boards.
Preventing voting fraud is a civil rights issue. We support the right of states to require an official government-issued photo identification for voting and call upon the Department of Justice to deploy its resources to prevent ballot tampering in the November elections. We support efforts by state and local election officials to ensure integrity in the voting process and to prevent voter fraud and abuse, particularly as it relates to voter registration and absentee ballots.
The rights of citizenship do not stop at the ballot box. They include the free-speech right to devote one’s resources to whatever cause or candidate one supports. We oppose any restrictions or conditions upon those activities that would discourage Americans from exercising their constitutional right to enter the political fray or limit their commitment to their ideals.
Constitutional Census in 2010
The integrity of the 2010 census, proportioning congressional representation among the states, must be preserved. The census should count every person legally abiding in the United States in an actual enumeration. We urge all who are legally eligible to participate in the census count to do so; at the same time, we urge Congress to specify – and to constitutionally justify – which census questions require a response.
Working with Americans in
We appreciate the extraordinary sacrifices the men and women of the territories are making to protect our freedom through their service in the U.S. Armed Forces. We welcome greater participation in all aspects of the political process by Americans residing in Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas, and Puerto Rico. We affirm their right to seek the full extension of the Constitution, with all the political rights and responsibilities it entails.
We recognize the valuable contributions made by the people of the United States Virgin Islands to the common welfare of the nation, including national defense, and their contributions to the federal treasury in the form of federal excise taxes paid on products produced in the territory.
We support the Native American Samoans’ efforts to protect their right to self-government and to preserve their culture and land-tenure system, which fosters self-reliance and strong extended-family values. We support increased local self-government for the United States citizens of the Virgin Islands, and closer cooperation between the local and federal governments to promote private sector-led development and self-sufficiency. We recognize that Guam is a strategically vital U.S. territory, an American fortress in the western Pacific. We affirm our support for the patriotic U.S. citizens of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to achieve greater self-government, an improved federal territorial relationship, new economic development strategies, a strong health care system that meets their needs, and continued political self-determination. We support a review to determine the appropriate eligibility of territories as well as states for Supplemental Security Income and other federal programs.
We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a state, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the U.S. government.
District of Columbia
The nation’s capital is a special responsibility of the federal government. Yet some of the worst performing schools in the country are mere blocks from the Department of Education, and some of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the country are blocks from the Department of Justice. Washington should be made a model city. Two major Republican initiatives – a first-time D.C. homebuyers credit and a landmark school choice initiative – have pointed the way toward a civic resurgence, and a third piece of GOP legislation now guarantees young D.C. residents significant assistance in affording higher education. Because Washington’s buildings and monuments may be top targets of terrorist groups, the federal government must work closely with local officials to improve security without burdening local residents. We call on the District of Columbia city council to pass laws consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in the Heller case. We honor the contributions of the residents of the District of Columbia, especially those who are serving honorably, or have served, in our Armed Forces.
We support electoral systems that are more representative of the electorate at the federal, state and local levels. As private voluntary groups, political parties should be allowed to establish their own rules for nomination procedures, primaries and conventions. We call for an end to any tax-financed subsidies to candidates or parties and the repeal of all laws which restrict voluntary financing of election campaigns. We oppose laws that effectively exclude alternative candidates and parties, deny ballot access, gerrymander districts, or deny the voters their right to consider all legitimate alternatives.
Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of individual liberty, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to agree to such new governance as to them shall seem most likely to protect their liberty.(Section 3.6 and 3.7 of 4.0)
Our nation was born as the first great experiment in modern democracy. We seek to rescue that heritage from the erosion of citizen participation. Moreover, we seek to dissolve the grip of the ideology, intoned by big-money interests for more than twenty years, that government is intrinsically undesirable and destructive of liberty and that elected officials should rightly "starve the beast" by slashing all spending on social program, in the name of freedom. We challenge that tactic by calling on all Americans to think deeply about the meaning of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. In a democracy, individuals come together to form structures of governance that protect and advance the common good. We the citizens are the government, and we the citizens can direct it to fulfill its finest goals and purposes. Our citizens must not permit usurpation of their authority by acts of individuals and government agencies that isolate or insulate government from their oversight and control. We, the People, have a responsibility to participate in self-government through all the means that our Constitution provides.
Citizens of a democracy must have the information and ability to determine the actions of their government. Vast concentrations of wealth and power that have occurred in recent years are inherently undemocratic. The deregulation of corporate activity and the decentralization and underfunding of the regulatory structures that remain - accompanied by the centralizing of big money - has been a disaster for our country. The true owners of the public lands, pension funds, and the public airwaves are the American people, who today have little or no control over their pooled assets or their commonwealth.
The power of civic action is an antidote to the corporate control of so much of our law-making and regulating. The pervasive abuse imposed by corporate power increasingly undermines our democracy, but the Green Party seeks to rekindle the democratic flame. As voting citizens, taxpayers, workers, consumers, and stakeholders, we unite to exercise our rights and, as Thomas Jefferson urged, to counteract the "excesses of the monied interests." Toward this end, we consider serious reform of campaign funding to be essential, as well as curbs on the influence of corporations on lawmakers and regulatory agencies.
The Green Party considers American democracy to be an ongoing, unfolding project that is dynamic and creative in nature. We are committed to the strengthening of our civil society, including the many mediating institutions at the community level that have always characterized our democracy. We seek to heal the alienation and apathy that has been cultivated in the citizenry by the power-brokers of the status quo. Righteous anger about the crippling of our democracy is rising in the land, and the Greens offer constructive alternatives. In addition, we seek to repair the plummeting opinion of the United States in the international community resulting from our arrogant, narcissistic foreign policy of recent years. A growing and grave imbalance between the citizens of this country and the interests which extract power from the citizens is an imminent danger to our security and national and global social stability. We strongly feel that our country should view itself as a member of the community of nations... not above it. The United States could well play a leadership role in that community but only if we become committed to an eco-social vision of peace, national self-determination, and international cooperation.
Our goal is to become an important political force in this country, and to present candidates for election at every level of government.A. Political Reform
The Green Party proposes a comprehensive political reform agenda calling for real reform, accountability, and responsiveness in government through the powers and abilities of citizens as created by the Constitution of the United States of America.
1. Political debate, public policy, and legislation should be judged on their merits, not on the quid pro quo of political barter and money.
2. We propose comprehensive campaign finance reform, including caps on spending and contributions, at the national and state level; and / or full public financing of elections to remove undue influence in political campaigns.
3. All viable candidates at the state and federal levels should have free and equal radio and television time and print press coverage.
4. We will work to ban or greatly limit political action committees and restrict soft money contributions.
5. We support significant lobbying regulation such as strict rules that disclose the extent of political lobbying via "gifts" and contributions. Broad-based reforms of government operations, with congressional reorganization and ethics laws, must be instituted. At every level of government, we support Sunshine Laws that open up the political system to access by ordinary citizens.
6. We support increasing the role of independent expository agencies, such as the General Accounting Office.
7. We recognize individual empowerment, full citizen participation, and proportional representation as the foundation of an effective and pluralistic democracy.
8. We demand choices in our political system. This can be accomplished by proportional representation voting systems such as
(candidate-based), Mixed Member Voting (combines
with district representation),
and Party List (party based); and
such as Limited Voting, and
All are used throughout the free world and by U.S. businesses, and community and non-profit groups to increase democratic representation. We call on local governments to lead the way toward more electoral choice and broader representation.
9. We believe in majority rule and reject the present method of election without a majority. Accordingly, we call for the use of Instant Runoff Voting in chief executive races, (mayor, governor, president, etc.) where voters can rank their favorite candidates (1,2,3, etc.) to guarantee that the winner has majority support and that voters are not relegated to choosing between the lesser of two evils.
10. We believe in multi-party democracy for partisan elections as the best way to guarantee majority rule, since more people will have representation at the table where policy is enacted. We assert that introduction of a multi-party democracy is essential because
The change in the structure of electoral politics will moderate the influence of extremist views and domination by the larger parties, and offer more fair representation to a greater number of citizens; and
A third party can validate and raise other points of view that need to be heard.
11. The Electoral College is an 18th century anachronism. We call for a constitutional amendment abolishing the Electoral College and providing for the direct election of the president by Instant Runoff Voting. Until that time, we call for a proportional allocation of delegates in state primaries.
12. Using our voice to help others find their voice, a national Green Party should spring from many sources: state and local Green Party electoral efforts, individual efforts, political involvement and direction at every level. We look toward forming bioregional confederations to coordinate regional issues based on natural and ecosystem boundaries instead of traditional political ones.
B. Political Participation
Greens advocate direct democracy as a response to local needs and issues, whereas all concerned citizens can discuss and decide questions that immediately affect their lives, such as land use, parks, schools and community services. We would decentralize many state functions to the county and city level and seek expanded oversight and decision-making power of local governing bodies, such as neighborhood boards and associations, over issues that pertain to their jurisdiction.
1. To ensure transparency in government, lesser bodies such as neighborhood boards and county governments must have subpoena power over state governments, which, in turn, should have subpoena power over the national Congress.
2. Every jurisdiction should have a civilian complaint review board with subpoena power and the ability to order the dismissal of police officers who make false arrests and abuse those whom they arrest.
3. We call for more flexibility by states for local decision-making.
4. We advocate citizen rights to initiative, referendum and recall in all states. We believe that these tools of democracy should not be for sale to the wealthy who pay for signatures to buy their way onto the ballot. Therefore we call for a certain percentage of signatures gathered to come from volunteer collectors.
5. We call for citizen control of redistricting processes and moving the "backroom" apportionment process into the public light. Give the 10-year redistricting process to the Census Bureau or an independent agency. Minority representation must be protected and secured in order to protect minority rights.
6. We will act to broaden voter participation and ballot access. We advocate universal voter registration and an Election Day holiday and/or conducting elections over more than one day (say on a weekend).
7. We believe that a binding None of the Above option on the ballot should be considered.
8. We support statehood for the District of Columbia. The residents of D.C. must have the same rights and representation as all other U.S. citizens.
9. We advocate that all persons convicted of felonies shall regain full citizenship rights upon completion of their sentence, including the right to vote and to run for elected office.
10. We advocate that prisoners be granted the right to vote.
11. Individual participation in the life of our local community - in community projects and through personal, meaningful, voluntary activity - is also political and vital to the health of community.
12. We support citizen involvement at all levels of the decision-making process and hold that non-violent direct action can be an effective tool.
13. We advocate maintaining and enhancing federal guarantees in the areas of civil rights protections, environmental safeguards, and social "safety net" entitlements.
14. We demand re-enforcement of our civil liberties of speech, assembly, association and petition. Citizens may not be denied the right to public, non-violent protest. Citizens who engage in protest may not be intimidated by government surveillance, repression or retaliation.
15. We call for the implementation of Children's Parliaments, whereby representatives are elected by students to discuss, debate and make proposals to their city councils, school boards, county legislative bodies on a local level, to state legislatures statewide, and to Congress nationally.
16. As legislatures are updating voting equipment in response to the federal Helping America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2001, we support the growing movement of citizens calling for a strict requirement of a voter-verified paper audit trail for all voting machines installed across the United States. Electronic voting machines must include a verifiable paper trail that allows every voter to verify that his or her vote was recorded and counted accurately, coupled with random audits based on the paper trail. Technology must be used that incorporates a voter-verified paper trail that is accessible to vision-impaired voters.
17. Vote-counting software codes manufactured by private corporations have been deemed proprietary, banning public review of the means by which elections are determined. Therefore, to protect against fraud, voting machine source code must be open for public inspection and verification before and after an election.
Community is the basic unit of green politics because personal, value-oriented, and small enough for each member to have an impact. Community involvement is a foundation for public policy.
Social diversity is the well-spring of community life where old and young, rich and poor, and people of all races and beliefs can interact individually and learn to care for each other, and to understand and cooperate. We emphasize a return to local, face-to-face relationships that humans can understand and care about.
Among Greens, our guiding principle is to think globally and act locally. Community needs recognize a diversity of issues, and local control recognizes a variety of approaches to solving problems, ones that tend to be bottom-up not top-down. Green politics does not place its faith in paternalistic big government. Instead, Greens believe face-to-face interactions are essential to productive and meaningful lives for all citizens.
The Green vision includes building communities that nurture families, generate good jobs and housing, and provide public services; creating cities and towns that educate children, encourage recreation, and preserve natural and cultural resources; building local governments that protect people from environmental hazards and crime; and motivating citizens to participate in making decisions.
The Green vision calls for a global community of communities that recognize our immense diversity, respect our personal worth, and share a global perspective. We call for an approach to politics that acknowledges our endangered planet and habitat. Our politics responds to global crises with a new way of seeing our shared international security.
We will conceive a new era of international cooperation and communication that nurtures cultural diversity, recognizes the interconnectedness between communities, and promotes opportunities for cultural exchange and assistance.
1. We call for increased public transportation, convenient playgrounds and parks for all sections of cities and small towns, and funding to encourage diverse neighborhoods. [See section C.Transportation in chapter III]
2. We support a rich milieu of art, culture, and significant (yet modestly funded) programs such as the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. [See section E.Education and the Arts in chapter II]
The closer civil government is to the people, the more responsible, responsive, and accountable it is likely to be. The Constitution, itself, in Articles I through VI, enumerates the powers which may be exercised by the federal government. Of particular importance is Article I, Section 8 which delineates the authority of the Congress.
The federal government was clearly established as a government of limited authority. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution specifically provides that: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Over time, the limitations of federal government power imposed by the Constitution have been substantially eroded. Preservation of constitutional government requires a restoration of the balance of authority between the federal government and the States as provided in the Constitution, itself, and as intended and construed by those who framed and ratified that document.
We pledge to be faithful to this constitutional requirement and to work methodically to restore to the States and to the people their rightful control over legislative, judicial, executive, and regulatory functions which are not Constitutionally delegated to the federal government.
We stand opposed to any regionalization of governments, at any
level, which results in removal of decision-making powers from the
people or those directly elected by the people.
* * *
Character and Moral Conduct
John Adams, 2nd President and signer of the Declaration of Independence warned:
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
He also counseled:
"The people have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge - I mean of the character and conduct of their rulers." Our very Constitution is threatened when we permit immoral conduct by our leaders.
Public respect and esteem toward public officials has fallen to a shameful level. The Constitution Party finds that a cause of this national state of disgrace is the deterioration of personal character among government leaders, exacerbated by the lack of public outcry against immoral conduct by public office holders. Our party leaders and public officials must display exemplary qualities of honesty, integrity, reliability, moral uprightness, fidelity, prudence, temperance, justice, fortitude, self-restraint, courage, kindness, and compassion. If they cannot be trusted in private life, neither can they be trusted in public life.
It is imperative the members and nominated candidates representing
the Constitution Party and its state affiliates recognize the
importance of demonstrating good character in their own lives.
* * *
"The Senators and Representatives ... shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution". - US Constitution, Article 6, Clause 3
With the advent of the 17th amendment, a vital check on Congress was removed. Since then, Congress has usurped power relatively unchecked, where today, very few members of Congress make it through a single session, without violating their oath of office to the Constitution.
The Congress of these United States has become an overpaid, overstaffed, self-serving institution. It confiscates taxpayer funds to finance exorbitant and unconstitutionally determined salaries, pensions, and perks. Most members of Congress have become more accountable to the Washington establishment than to the people in their home districts. Both houses of Congress are all too often unresponsive and irresponsible, arrogantly placing themselves above the very laws they enact, and beyond the control of the citizens they have sworn to represent and serve.
We seek to abolish Congressional pensions.
It is time for the American people to renew effective supervision of their public servants, to restore right standards and to take back the government. Congress must once again be accountable to the people and obedient to the Constitution, repealing all laws that delegate legislative powers to regulatory agencies, bureaucracies, private organizations, the Federal Reserve Board, international agencies, the President, and the judiciary.
The U.S. Constitution, as originally framed in Article I, Section 3, provided for U.S. Senators to be elected by state legislators. This provided the states direct representation in the legislative branch so as to deter the usurpation of powers that are Constitutionally reserved to the states or to the people.
The Seventeenth Amendment (providing for direct, popular election of U.S. Senators) took away from state governments their Constitutional role of indirect participation in the federal legislative process.
If we are to see a return to the states those powers, programs, and sources of revenue that the federal government has unconstitutionally taken away, then it is also vital that we repeal the Seventeenth Amendment and return to state legislatures the function of electing the U.S. Senate. In so doing, this would return the U.S. Senate to being a body that represents the legislatures of the several states on the federal level and, thus, a tremendously vital part of the designed checks and balances of power that our Constitution originally provided.
We support legislation to prohibit the attachment of unrelated riders to bills. Any amendments must fit within the scope and object of the original bill.
We support legislation to require that the Congressional Record
contain an accurate record of proceedings. Members of Congress are not
to be permitted to rewrite the speeches delivered during the course of
debates, or other remarks offered from the floors of their respective
houses; nor may any additional materials be inserted in the Record,
except those referred to in the speaker's presentation and for which
space is reserved.
* * *
We affirm the original text of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We affirm that the nation's Charter, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution contain the foundational law of the federal union. We condemn, therefore, all legislative, executive, and judicial action that departs from the texts and intent of the Charter and the Constitution and their original meaning.
We oppose any attempt to call for a Constitutional convention, for
any purpose whatsoever, because it cannot be limited to any single
issue, and such convention could seriously erode our Constitutionally
protected unalienable rights.
* * *
US Constitution, Article 1, Section 4, Clause 1:
"The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing* Senators." (*original spelling from Constitution) The Constitutional balance of power on this matter has been destroyed by the 17th amendment. The States no longer have a representative at the Federal level. (See "Congressional Reform" plank.)
The Constitution Party seeks the restoration of an electoral process which is controlled at the state and local level and is beyond manipulation by federal judges and bureaucrats. The federal government has unconstitutionally and unwisely preempted control in matters of district boundaries, electoral procedures, and campaign activities.
The Voting Rights Act should be repealed. The Federal Election Campaign Act, including its 1974 amendments, and the Federal Election Commission should be abolished.
Each citizen should have the right to seek public office in accordance with the qualifications set forth in federal and state constitutions. Additional restrictions and obligations governing candidate eligibility and campaign procedures burden unconstitutionally the fairness and accountability of our political system.
To encourage free and fair elections, all candidates must be treated equally. We call for an end to designated "Major Party" status that gives an unfair advantage to some candidates by providing ballot access and taxpayer dollars, while requiring others for the same office to gather petition signatures or meet other, more stringent criteria.
We call for a repeal of all federal campaign finance laws (i.e. McCain-Feingold) due to their violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In order to avoid election fraud, we urge an end to electronic or
mechanical voting processes and a return to the manual counting process
overseen by, and accountable to, voters resident in each precinct where
the votes are cast.
* * *
Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution states, in part: "Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to which the state may be entitled in the Congress: but no senator or representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector." This established our Electoral College.
Although the Constitution does not require the states to adhere to any specific manner in electing these electors or how they cast their votes, it suggests, by its wording, that prominent individuals from each congressional district, and from the state at large, would be elected or appointed as electors that represent that district. Under this arrangement, a voter would vote for three individuals, one to represent his district and two "at large" representatives to represent his state. These electors, in turn, would then carefully and deliberately select the candidate for president. Under this system each congressional district could, in essence, select a different candidate. The candidate with the most electors nationwide would become the next president.
This was the general procedure used until the 1830's, at which time all the states, except for South Carolina, changed to a "general ticket."
The "general ticket" system is still in use today. Inherently, it causes corruption by the inequitable transfer of power from congressional districts to the states and large cities at the expense of rural communities.
The Constitution Party encourages states to eliminate the "general
ticket" system and return to the procedure intended by the Framers.
* * *
Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution clearly restricts the power to make laws: "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States".
Presidential Executive Orders are clearly "legislative powers".
We oppose the use of Presidential executive orders that make law or
otherwise usurp the Constitutional authority and responsibilities of
the legislative and judicial branches. This Constitutionally subversive
practice must be stopped by Congress. All unconstitutional executive
orders must be repealed.
* * *
We call attention to the following provisions of the Constitution:
Article 3, Section 1:
"The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour". Note that the tenure of Federal Judges is not for life, but merely "during good behaviour".
Also, Article 2, Section 4:
"all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."
"All civil officers" clearly includes Judges.
And the Constitution says regarding jurisdiction:
(Article 3, Section 2, Clause 2) "the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction … with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make."
Note that the Constitution gives Congress the power to make exceptions to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
And regarding the duty of Judges:
(Article 6, Section 1, Clause 3) "all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution".
Which Constitution must they swear to support?
The United States Constitution does not provide for lifetime appointment of federal judges, but only for a term of office during good behavior. We support Congressional enforcement of the Constitutional rule of good behavior and to restrain judicial activism by properly removing offending judges through the process of impeachment provided for in Article I, § 2 and 3 of the Constitution. Furthermore, Congress must exert the power it possesses to prohibit all federal courts from hearing cases which Congress deems to be outside federal jurisdiction pursuant to Article III, § 2 of the Constitution.
We particularly support all the legislation which would remove from Federal appellate review jurisdiction matters involving acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.
We commend Former Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme
Court for his defense of the display of the Ten Commandments, and
condemn those who persecuted him and removed him from office for his
morally and legally just stand.
* * *
US Constitution, Article I Section 8 Clause 17:
"Congress shall have power …To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings…"
Article IV Section 4:
"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government."
Article IV Section 4 Clause 3
"New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union." Northwest Ordinance of 1787 (re-enacted under Constitutional authority 1789) defined that all new states appropriately admitted will enter the nation on an equal footing with the original 13 states.
We oppose any effort to confer statehood on the District of Columbia or any representation in Congress comparable to that of an independent state in the federal union.
We oppose efforts to confer statehood upon the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or expand statehood beyond the current fifty states.
We acknowledge that each state's membership in the Union is voluntary.
We support the equal footing doctrine co-equal with the original thirteen states for all states coming into and having entered the Union as states.