Open Letter to DNC Chair Howard Dean
Before I get started, have you signed the petition for the people of Oaxaca yet?
Dear Chairman Dean:
I'm writing to you today to express my gratitude and my concern. Gratitude that you had the foresight to build up the fortunes of the Party in every single state, and concern that you are unwilling or unable to encourage the Party to move in a truly progressive direction for the future.
I understand that moving the Party forward on policy decisions isn't really your call to make, as you are largely a manager of resources and not an elected official yourself, but it seems to me that what this country needs now more than ever is someone who has a national platform to speak to the issue that dominated this campaign:
Corruption was the issue that over sixty percent of Americans polled on Election Day agreed was a serious problem, and yet, the Democratic Party in Washington appears to be pulling back from taking the steps necessary to clean up corruption in Washington and bring back some semblance of honest democracy.
What we need now, more than anything else, is a full restoration of the promise of our nation, a return to the fundamental tenets of democracy. For my money, and for the activists of the party to feel like their efforts were worth the risk, we need to go back to the way this country was run under liberal Presidents such as Kennedy and Carter, moving forward with all the liberal reforms of government they advanced, but also going further since so much has been done in recent years to erode our democracy.
"Rebuilding Democracy" is a message that can be delivered from the Democratic National Committee in a way that expresses the overwhelming outrage of so many American citizens without pushing for a particular agenda, other than the rolling back of the most egregious violations of law pushed by this President and his administration in the last six years.
Here's a short list just off the top of my head:
Repealing the Military Commissions Act and restoring habeas corpus to our prisoners;
Ending the use of the phony term "enemy combatant" to describe prisoners of war;
Revoking the right of the President's intelligence agencies to spy on Americans without judicial review;
Returning to the primacy of science in government reports instead of the administrative fiat of corrupt political appointees;
Ending the pull of money in Congress by tightly regulating the use of earmarks and lobbyist expenditures;
Real reform of our national election system, including public financing of elections and free airtime for candidates, regardless of party;
and finally, intense scrutiny of all Administrative blunders and/or policy decisions that have led to waste, fraud, and abuse and/or grievous injury to American citizens and innocent civilians in this country and around the world (9/11, Katrina, Enron, Iraq, Afghanistan, to name a few).
Howard, you have a tremendous opportunity in the next two years to advance the same themes Democrats have always advanced, from health care to secure retirements to workplace safety, etc., but you have a very short window of time, due to the upcoming Presidential race, to stake out a clear Democratic position on this defining issue of our time. Rebuilding our democracy can and should take center stage. We have so many crimes that need investigating, and without a clear, compassionate voice guiding the will of the electorate towards that end, the people will stop believing that they elected the Party of justice to prominence in Washington. If your office does not stand up and speak clearly and directly to these issues, the American people will quite likely believe, rightly or wrongly, that they just elected yet another tired old political machine with no interest in reforming the abuses of this President and his rubber-stamp Congress, and the consequences of that perception, whether accurate or not, will be the end of Democratic control and a near-total loss of our democracy.
Please do your part to remind the American people why they elected us, the Democratic Party, to represent their interests in Washington. It was, as many have said, to send a message on Iraq, but just as important, this vote should be seen as a call for real reform of a system of government falling rapidly into disrepair.
We have the power now to fix everything this President and this Congress have foisted upon us. Let us use this power to, once and for all, rebuild the democracy our forefathers won for us all those generations ago.
We know you can do it, Howard. We have faith in you.
Jeff Richardson AKA The Tahoma Activist
America in Solidarity