Although I am a conservative, I try to listen to what liberals are saying. I regularly read the liberal columnists in the NY Times and occasionally change channels from FOX to MSNBC. But regardless of where I am getting my news, the subject seems to be the same – i.e., the conservative agenda.
It seems a paradox for conservatives to be proactive and on the offensive while liberals are reactive and on the defensive. Traditionally, conservatives are in the posture of reacting by rejecting change and maintaining the lame status quo, whereas liberals are nobly working toward a utopia. Surely, liberals are not happy with conservatives setting the agenda and framing the discussion. As they say in football, it’s damn hard to score when you don’t have the ball.
One of the liberal problems may be that they have not clearly defined their agenda. I was recently reading a publication issued by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which is self-described as a non-partisan research institute whose mission is “to promote and defend liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise in Texas.” Its mission is an eloquent, succinct description of the conservative agenda that everyone can quickly recognize and no one would argue against.
By way of contrast, what is the liberal (Democratic) agenda? I had no idea, so I decided to look it up. And the Democratic Party of Texas platform of 2010, seemed a good place to start.
The Democrat’s 2010 platform for Texas proclaims the party’s belief in (a) freedom, (b) equal opportunity, (c) a safety net, and (d) ensuring that capitalists operate fairly vis-à-vis workers, customers, and the environment. Who would argue with that?
As always, the devil is in the details, so I read the individual planks in the 42-page document, and attached the most interesting below (with my comments bolded and underlined). But the overarching theme of the platform is attractive and powerful – i.e., individual liberty and economic justice. (I just made that up, but I suspect it’s been said before.)
All of which confirms what I often said during my congressional campaign – liberals are not bad people; they are people who have bad judgment. They care about the same things that conservatives care about – namely, for each person to be able to flourish. We simply disagree over the best way to get there.
Are Democrats on the run? Obviously, there are. And the reason for that is that Barack Obama was able to take this country further to the left than people wanted to go. Because we live in a democracy, the people will pull the country back, and that is what is happening now.
Planks in the 2010 Democratic Party of Texas platform
- Opposition to the “drill and kill” teach-to-the-test policy that Republicans have forced on students and teachers. Does this mean they oppose Obama’s Race to the Top program?
- Opposition to “inequitable, unaccountable voucher and privatization schemes.” No mention of charter schools, which are a variation of public schools.
- Rejection of efforts to destroy bilingual education; promote multi-language instruction. Bilingual education is great, but not at the cost of assimilation.
- Raise teacher pay to levels exceeding the national average. This will cost more, and there is not indication where the money will come from.
- Support innovative approaches to ensure diversity in every Texas institution of higher learning. More social engineering.
- Economy – a market system that is checked and balanced by government to prevent financial abuses and excesses
- Raise the minimum wage.
- Pass the Employee Free Choice Act. How can you title an act “Free Choice” when it calls for the elimination of secret ballots in union elections?
- Emergency action to protect those with sub-prime mortgages from losing their homes, while suing the Wall Street speculators who caused the financial meltdown on 2007-2008.
- State government should contract with Texas and American companies, to the extent possible. Protectionism.
- Trade policy – “level up” wages and working conditions by ensuring that foreign workers share in their countries’ gains and become customers for American goods. And how are we supposed to do that?
- State Fiscal Policy
- Oppose a national sales tax. I agree with this, but I think most Americans would prefer a sales tax to an income tax.
- Oppose extending the Texas sales tax to food or medicine. I agree with this, but I think most Texas would prefer anything over the implementation of an income tax. The platform neglects to discuss an income tax or any other means to balance our budget this cycle.
- Health care – is a right, not a privilege reserved for those with resources.
- Yes on ObamaCare.
- Yes to stem-cell research.
- Yes on a woman’s choice to abort.
- No to privatization of social security.
- Insurance rates should be approved or denied by commissioner. A big step toward a government-run economy.
- Allow mortgage victims to re-finance, except for 2nd homes, high-end homes, or speculative home investors.
- Public safety
- Moratorium on the Death Penalty pending further study
- Rural Texas and agriculture
- Yes on price supports.
- Yes on “preserving proper use of agricultural property tax exemptions and restructuring the current land appraisal system to insure a fair property tax system for all Texans.” But does that mean the current system is good or bad? The current system of exemptions is totally corrupted and should be eliminated.
- Immigration – America is a nation of immigrants and we honor them, both legal and undocumented.
- Help Mexico develop its economy so that its citizens don’t feel compelled to emigrate. Maybe we should fix our own economy first.
- Continue birthright citizenship. There is no rational argument for continuing this, so the Democrats don’t bother trying to make one.
- Create a path to citizenship for all immigrants.
- Freedom and rights
- Equal opportunity and equal protection
- Human and civil rights
- Freedom from government interference in our personal lives and decisions
- Freedom of religion and individual conscience. What about same-sex marriage? The party ideologues rightly declined to reject the will of the people expressed in a recent election on this issue.
- Foreign policy and national security – “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” JFK
- Access to Justice – Right to trial by jury can’t be waived by contract or mandatory-arbitration provisions. I like this, having seen mandatory arbitration imposed by USAA as a condition of employment.
- Religious freedom
- Separation of church and state.
- Entangling government with religion is dangerous to both religion and the state.
- Never use the power of government to impose our personal religious observances on others.
- Protecting the democratic process
- Prohibiting the revolving door in lobbying.
- Oppose voter ID because there is no proof of impersonation at the polls.
- Continue to elect judges while working toward judicial campaign finance reform. But the Access to Justice plank recommended the nomination and appointment of qualified, competent persons to serve as judges. Did you guys not read each others planks?