Under the title “Listening to America,” the Obama campaign issued an open invitation to voters to organize meetings in their homes, union halls, churches and schools this month to discuss what planks should be added to a 2008 “Platform for Change.” In the past, the Democratic Party platform was written by “paid professionals,” the call said. “This year, that’s going to change.”
Most times these platforms are sterile documents to which hardly anyone pays attention. Barack Obama’s message of change, unity and hope – in short, a new vision for America — has important democratic and class dimensions that, if reflected in the platform, could energize millions of people to not only vote but also participate in making that vision a reality.
After eight long years of extreme right-wing rule, the country is hungry for change.
The stark reality of economic insecurity hitting millions of Americans, while the wealth gap grows between the super-rich and everybody else, cries out for redress. A platform for change needs to come down squarely on the side of working-class families.
Certainly a top priority is national investment in job creation — meaningful, necessary jobs like rebuilding schools, parks, bridges and water systems, expanding mass transit and tackling the 21st century environmental and energy challenges, with livable wages, collective bargaining rights, and priority to the hardest hit communities.
Affordable, universal health care, protection and expansion of Social Security and investment in quality public education are also steps in the right direction.
Global problems such as terrorism, poverty, trade issues, climate change and pandemics all need international cooperation that puts people first, not belligerence, “shoot first, ask questions later” and unilateralism. A new vision for America has to put our foreign policy firmly on the side of peace and respect for human rights, worker rights and national sovereignty. That means a speedy withdrawal from Iraq, and de-escalating other conflicts in the Middle East and Asia.
Americans want a government that is really of, for and by the people. A new vision for America must restore democratic Constitutional protections so badly trampled by the Bush administration, and expand hard-won civil liberties and rights. And it must move to curb the rampage of unbridled corporate greed.
That’s a platform for change.