Tag Archives: platform

They All Want To Be The Yacht Party

You wouldn’t think that anyone would look at the dysfunction that is the California legislature and use it as a model, but that’s precisely what the national Republicans have done in their party platform, as the eagle-eyed Matt Yglesias discovers:

Page 16 of the Republican Platform endorses a Balanced Budget Amendment “to require a balanced budget except in times of war” and then page 17 says that “because the problem is too much spending, not too few taxes, we support a supermajority requirement in both the House and Senate to guard against tax hikes.”

The next time you see some legislative Republican weeping crocodile tears about the impact of the late budget, understand that they consider it a success, all the way up to John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and John McCain.  They desire a balanced budget amendment and supermajorities to pass tax increases, so that no matter who holds the seat of power, spending cuts must be used as the only possible answer to any fiscal crisis or economic downturn, with no consequent way to reverse them after the downturn subsides.  This is what they want – they think a paralyzed government is the best possible solution.  In fact, if they could do away with the government itself – except for the cushy salaries for the lawmakers and their staffs, of course – then it would be absolutely perfect.

In practice, there aren’t enough votes to make the desired spending cuts, either, so the only recourse is borrowing.  So what the Republican wet dream really looks like is a perpetual mortgaging of the future, spending billions upon billions in taxpayer money for no material benefit.

When we do get the opportunity to overturn this at the ballot box, what has to be made clear is that Republicans want no part of governing.  They are hostage-takers, and far from this being a localized problem in California, it’s a national strategy to strangle government, and to lock in impossible burdens that constrain Democrats and Republicans alike.  There’s a name for professional hostage-takers, but I don’t think I need to tell you what it is.

Núñez and Sanchez on DNC Platform Committee

While not tremendously important, the Platform Drafting Committee kinda does its thing every four years. In 2004, the DNC produced this piece of milquetoast (PDF). As the nation’s largest state, we always have some sort of hand in this, but this year, California will be represented by some interesting choices:

Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez were among the 19 Democrats named to the Democratic Party’s national Platform Drafting Committee. (CapAlert 7/9/08)

I’d guess that clean money campaigns won’t be the first thing we see Núñez lobbying for, but I imagine that the pair will have some specific issues of concern. These things tend not to get into a great deal of specifics, but they can become oppo pieces for a number of candidates. It will be interesting to see how the pair plays this.

Platform happenings

Well well…after a marathon 4+ hour session in room C3/4 of the San Jose Convention Center, we have a working platform draft that will apparently be up for more discussion Saturday night.

You may be interested in hearing what happened on the more controversial issues:

Death penalty: All motions tabled pending completion of a questionnaire.  Every delegate has a “death penalty questionnaire” in the convention bag.  When the results of the survey are finally tabulated, we’ll have some sort of consensus for moving forward.

Assisted suicide: Untouched by consent of everyone involved.

Single Payer: Publicly funded, privately delivered.

Any other questions, please put them in the comments.  As soon as I get a full draft of everything I’ll post it for your review (provided it’s not in a PDF).

The Coming Republican Platform Battle

Among other sources, the AP reported yesterday on the many issues up for debate as Republicans consider overhauling their current platform.  Schwarzenneger has lined up support from GOPers in the legislature to move away from divisive (and presumably NOT post-partisan) “values” issues like gun control, abortion and gay rights.  Arnold is pushing for a more practical, Reagan-worship focus, hoping to distill things down to just low taxes, strong defense, and small government.  And if you think those three items were intentionally ordered to contradict themselves, you’re quite right.

It’s hardly news to find the Governor at odds with the socially conservative wing of the Republican Party, but what’s been brewing for a while has the potential to boil over at the Republican Convention as the battle over the state party’s soul comes to a head.  While Schwarzenegger thinks it might be time for the Republican Party to abandon platform points like overturning Roe v. Wade and opposing gun registration, President of the California Republican Assembly Steve Pence laments that “[t]here’s a move afoot to make sure the Republican Party stands for nothing… [it’s]…a direct assault on Republican Party principles.”

State GOP chair Ron Nehring for his part says the party is in the midst of a “healthy discussion” and has a draft platform with fun terms like “one man and one woman and “the unborn.”  Bob brought us Nehring’s excitement over the “significant step” of endorsing the Dirty Tricks maneuver and in the same day, while jockeying for position heading into the debate, Julia noted Schwarzenegger belittling the Dirty Tricks Initiative.  One wonders if there are broader implications as Reagan worship squares off against “values.”  Is this a sign of the unholy Republican alliance finally splintering in the face of reality?

Prop 83 in San Diego

On Sunday, The Union-Tribune reported on the simmering issue in San Diego of sex offenders concentrating in the downtown area.  Now that Jessica’s Law (Proposition 83) has been overwhelmingly approved by Californians, local officials have been given the greenlight to run sex offenders out of downtown.  But has anyone given any thought to where they’re supposed to go?

To recap, Proposition 83 prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of parks and schools (among other things).  It also happens to be the pet issue of Republican Assemblywoman Shirley Horton who represents many of my neighbors and who just rode it to a very expensive reelection to the State Assembly.  The constitutional applicability of Jessica’s Law is already being considered in U.S. District Court, but in the meantime, that would restrict all but a few blocks of the entire San Diego downtown area.  The reasoning from City Councilman Kevin Faulconer is that “downtown is a neighborhood now” which leads me to wonder what residential non-neighborhoods he’s imagining sex offenders moving into.  The NIMBYism that goes on in debates like this is perfectly understandable of course, but regardless of what ruling eventually comes from the courts, shouldn’t we be focusing on the bigger issues?  Like, for starters, how to prevent sex offenders who are potentially dangerous from being released in the first place?

Southern Californians for Jessica’s Law, right on the front page, presumably as the crux of their argument since they went to all the trouble of bolding it, announces the horrible reality that “many [sex offenders] are living in our communities and neighborhoods, near our schools and parks…”  Well geez, prisoners are being released and trying to integrate themselves back into communities and neighborhoods?  It would be much better if we could keep them all together somewhere, isolated from the rest of us.  Maybe we could call it jail or something.

Obviously, this is a complex issue with a lot of wrinkles that’s too much for any politician to take on with one bite.  It involves reconsidering penalties for non-violent and drug offenders, it involves the rate of prison construction, it involves reviewing and probably reforming the parole evaluation and tracking system.  And probably it involves treading a very careful course that many will see as soft on child predators.  You can’t get everything into a soundbite though, so we get crap laws like this that are wildly popular in San Diego and elsewhere because they glamorously treat symptoms but never dive into the root causes of the problems we face.

Which steers us to the essence of the issue.  In San Diego, in California, in DC, we’ve spent the past several (or more than several) years suffering through reactive legislation dressed up as proactive and visionary.  Sex offenders are being let out of prison while still potentially a threat?  Don’t keep them in jail or innovate treatment procedures, just don’t let them live anywhere except prison.  Corporations are outsourcing jobs overseas?  Don’t make American workers more desirable via advanced training and education, create tax penalties.  There are people who so hate the way in which the United States has conducted itself internationally that they’ll kill themselves and murder innocent people?  Don’t consider treating people who hold different beliefs with respect or consider dialing back the hegemonic drum-beating, just do your best to kill them.  While the stated goals of these policies will always be presented as exceedingly admirable, problems just don’t get solved.  At the local, state and federal level, we’ve spent years watching the whack-a-mole school of policy in action.

The application of Proposition 83 is in the hands of the courts now, and we’ll see what happens in the next couple of months.  In the meantime, is there such a thing as comprehensive politics anymore?  Are there politicians willing to take a swing at legitimate, large-scale reform?  And if they’re out there, is it even possible to accomplish something like this in the age of soundbites?

If there’s hope for comprehensive reform, it won’t come from the top down.  While it’s a bit much to expect actual legislation to be written and pushed from the grassroots, it’s increasingly clear that a comprehensive platform that reflects the rank and file of the Democratic Party at the local, state, and national level would be best driven by the grassroots, in particular a progressive version thereof.

So when you get a DFA invitation to participate in party elections, or when people talk about Taking Back The CA Democratic Party, it’s exactly this issue.  It’s giving the grassroots an opportunity to ensure that the party’s platform and the laws pursued and enacted make more sense from a functional level.  Ultimately, that our party and our government is working on sustainable progress with the minimum of wasted effort.

So if your district needs a good progressive to run, do it.  If your district already has one, vote for them.  It doesn’t save the world, but it’s a start.