Ten Propositions For The Democratic Party

By Walter Cronkite


Not the least of the Democratic Party's problems in the presidential election ahead is the electorate's confusion as to just what the party stands for.

In the last presidential and congressional elections, many voters and perhaps even more nonvoters complained that they found no political philosophy, no idealistic glue that held the Democratic Party together.

If the Democratic Party is to have hope of recapturing the White House, it will be helpful if its candidates for the presidential nomination agree on some basic objectives that will clearly define the principal policies and goals of their party.

Those basic goals still would leave plenty of room for the candidates to debate how best to achieve them and to display what they have in charisma and leadership.

Establishing the party's general principles on which the election campaign presumably will be waged essentially is the job of the convention's platform committee. But the committee's meeting sometime next year will come far too late if, in their primary campaigns, the nine candidates have so muddled the issues that there is no cohesion of party objectives left.

Let me dare suggest 10 propositions to be put before the candidates. The proportion by which they accept, reject or modify these basic programs would help define the party and presumably, therefore, a Democratic administration.

1. That the purpose of a powerful military and a huge defense budget is not to wage war but to preserve the peace -- on our own shores and abroad.

However, our foreign policy and our military strength shall leave no doubt that we will answer promptly and decisively those who would challenge our democratic freedoms.

2. That we would match defense dollars with peace dollars to promote democracy abroad, and that we would conduct our foreign affairs in such a manner that other nations would wish to emulate our example and need not be bludgeoned into accepting our leadership.

3. That deficit financing is bad business, and that taxes must be fairly imposed, with the heavier burden placed on those most able to contribute.

4. That our Social Security and health services would be reformed so that no American need fear that mismanagement in Washington will bankrupt his or her pension funds, and equally that every American is guaranteed not just adequate health care but care worthy of this nation's medical profession.

5. That in all federal programs no excuses will be tolerated and all citizens will be treated equally as we know they were created.

6. That we realize that the success, indeed the preservation, of a democracy depends on an educated citizenry, and that teachers, on education's front lines, must be paid commensurate with their responsibilities.

7. That "no child must be left behind" is a commitment, not a campaign slogan.

8. That our environment shall be fully protected, and that the fortunes of no industry or special interest shall interfere with that mission.

9. That in the pursuit of a cleaner environment and a more rational economy, the government will undertake the massive program required to develop substitute fuels that will relieve our dependence on foreign oil and diminish the environmental danger from the byproducts of fossil fuels.

10. That Democrats will lock the door against the naysayers, pessimists and political cowards who will maintain that these Democratic goals are only the dreams of idealists.

There is nothing impractical about seeking the best for this nation's people, and the restoration of America as a beacon of freedom for the world.


Write to Walter Cronkite c/o King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail him at mail(at)cronkitecolumn.com.

(c) 2003 Walter Cronkite

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