There are “Democrats,” including Blue Dogs who are indistinguishable from Republicans, and then there are progressive Democrats—authentic Democrats, who are fast becoming an endangered species. For decades the Democratic Party has been abandoning its progressive roots—and its mission to represent workers, the middle class, the poor, minorities, and the disadvantaged—in favor of a more business friendly, “centrist” agenda that is more attractive to corporate funding. Unfortunately, this has made the Democratic Party as beholden to Big Money as the Republican Party. With few exceptions, progressive ideas are put forward during Democratic campaigns as populist rhetoric, but are soon forgotten as corporate lobbyists heavily influence policies and legislation in Washington.
“Progressive Democrats of America” helps keep progressive ideas alive
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) emerged in 2004 out of the presidential campaigns of Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich. Former staffers and supporters, concerned with the centrist and right leaning trends in the Democratic Party, founded PDA to keep the progressive roots of the Party alive and to support progressive grassroots activities both locally and nationally. Founding members include Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Barbara Lee, and Tom Hayden.
PDA’s mission is to strengthen the voice of progressive ideas within the Democratic Party by using “inside/outside” and “grassroots fusion” models of working in the Democratic Party as well as with other progressive organizations, both inside and outside the Party.
Here are the current issues PDA is working on as quoted from their website:
End war and occupations and redirect funding to meet human needs at home and abroad.
Call on President Obama to fulfill his campaign commitment to withdraw all U.S. military personnel and mercenaries from Iraq within 16 months, and to resist redeployment to Afghanistan or the Pakistan border. Instead, bring the military home to their families and redirect wasteful military spending to meet human needs at home and abroad. Toward that end, we call on the Democratic-led Congress to use its powers to cut off funding that prolongs the military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and begin the important work of bringing peace to the Middle-East region.
We do not support Democratic leadership proposals with prolonged and porous timelines that allow tens of thousands of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq on vaguely defined “training” or “anti-terrorism” measures. Nor do we support escalation of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan; alternatively, we support a political and diplomatic solution to deter terrorist activities and create a foundation for peace and democracy. PDA coordinates its “Out of Iraq and Afghanistan” efforts with dozens of Congress members, including Reps. Raul Grijalva, Lynn Woolsey, Jim McGovern, Barbara Lee, and Maxine Waters.
Healthcare for All
It is immoral for a country as wealthy as ours to have 45 million people with no health coverage, and tens of millions more with inadequate or overly expensive coverage. It also makes no economic sense; despite spending twice as much as other industrialized nations on healthcare, our system performs poorly because the private U.S. insurance bureaucracy soaks up nearly one-third of all health care money in waste, profits, paperwork, and advertising. Poor health and poor healthcare are drags on the economy and job creation; up to half of all personal bankruptcies are caused by health care crises.
PDA supports enhanced Medicare for All. By replacing private insurers and recouping administrative savings of up to $300 billion per year, this single-payer approach provides topnotch health care to everyone. Care would be privately delivered by healers and hospitals, but publicly financed—with no bills, co-pays, deductibles, denials or medically precipitated bankruptcies. PDA also supports healthcare initiatives at the state and local level that move us toward a nonprofit, single-payer system.
Economic and Social Justice
The Economic Justice Organizing team is committed to supporting policies for economic recovery, which stimulate the economy through public investment in job creation, builds a sustainable economy and renders economic justice. The Bush administration’s enormous tax breaks for the wealthy must be rolled back on the richest 1 percent of our population (with yearly incomes averaging $1.3 million). Tax burdens on the middle class can be eased if the wealthy pay their share. Thirty seven million people (equivalent to the population of California) are living in poverty in the U.S. today. These immoral levels of poverty, which disproportionately impact communities of color and women, can be significantly reduced through concerted effort including a living wage for all workers, expanded earned income tax credits, childcare assistance and housing vouchers.
Protecting the right of workers to form and join unions in the U.S. is essential to preserving the middle class, as is federal investment in job creation, such as the Apollo Alliance for renewable energy, and investment in wireless Internet networks. We need fair trade deals with other countries that protect workers’ rights and the environment, not wage-reducing, “free trade” agreements that protect only corporate rights to globally exploit unprotected labor. Finally, we need humane and comprehensive immigration reform, which insures a fair attainable path to citizenship and the rights of undocumented workers in the workplace and affirms the dignity and integrity of immigrant families.
Clean, Fair, Transparent Elections
The U.S. election system is in crisis. Big-money interests dominate U.S. politics in ways unknown in other industrialized countries, with social and environmental progress often blocked by officials who cater to big donors to insure re-election funds. Incumbents are unfairly insulated by district gerrymandering, and rules obstructing independent candidates and parties. In recent years, voters themselves have faced political and even racial obstacles in casting votes and in getting their votes counted.
Soon after its formation, PDA worked with Rep. John Conyers in exposing the 2004 election irregularities in Ohio that helped elect Bush. PDA activists engaged in “election protection” monitoring during the 2006 voting. We support federal legislation that bans the further use of touch-screen (DRE) voting machines for counting votes, establishes a paper ballot as the official record for deriving voter intent, and requires rigorous mandatory audits of elections. To eliminate big-money dominance, PDA supports comprehensive campaign finance reform at the state and national level, including Clean Money public financing of the public’s elections, plus free TV time for candidates. PDA opposes the racially biased disenfranchisement of felons who’ve served their time, and supports reforms like “Instant Runoff”/proportional voting, paper ballots which assure more accurate and broader representation than winner-take-all elections.
Stop Global Warming/Environmental Issues
No issue reveals more clearly the flaws of the U.S. political-economic system than global warming—the dominance of greed and corporate power over the public good, and the near-sighted focus on the short-term over the welfare of future generations.
The success of Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” shows that many Americans are ready to act to save the planet and to protect our remaining wild places from further degradation in the pursuit of oil. PDA calls on the Democratic majority in Congress to lead boldly in reducing our country’s oil dependence and use of fossil fuels, while investing in public transportation, energy conservation technologies and alternative energy development. (Such investments create good paying jobs.)
Accountability and Justice
The primary mission of the PDA Accountability and Justice Action Group is to hold the Bush Administration accountable for all crimes there is probable cause to believe they committed during their tenure, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, the federal and state civil and criminal codes, and all international laws and treaties to which the United States is a party.
The A&J Action Group works closely with PDA Congressional District Point People and local chapters to affect legislation and Congressional action, especially the appointment of an adequately funded, independent Special Prosecutor/Counsel to prosecute (where appropriate) individuals belonging to and/or associated with the Bush Administration. We also pursue other avenues of accountability through courts, state and local governments, and international bodies.