Since Fair is Fair, Let’s Look at What the Democrats are Offering

Shall we?

At first glance, it seems that the Democrats are far more comprehensive in the description of their aims and goals, but let’s take a closer look:

Adopted June 14th, 2014

New Hampshire Democratic Party Platform

New Hampshire Democrats stand for policies that ensure a strong economy, healthy communities, strong families, justice and fairness. Democrats are committed to spurring job creation, building our infrastructure, and bringing fairness and opportunity to our economy and our civic life.  We believe that healthy communities and strong families are essential to the well- being of our citizens and to our ability to foster business development.  We pledge a government that works collaboratively across the aisle to address the issues that matter to the people of New Hampshire.

So far, so good.  Those are some pretty clearly articulated goals there, and it should be noted that the Democrats, right off the bat in their introduction, say something positive about working with their counterparts; the Republicans never said a word about collaboration.

  1. Economic Development and Opportunities

 Business Investment and Jobs

Democrats support policies that foster a vibrant and diverse business climate and economy. The foundation of a favorable business environment is a well-trained workforce with the skills necessary to compete in an increasingly globalized economy. We recognize and support policies that make it possible for businesses to thrive by building roads, highways and bridges that allow the transport of goods throughout our state. We understand that access to broadband and telecommunication technologies is essential to our efforts to recruit business and promote entrepreneurship. Policies ensuring equitable access to credit are critical to promoting the growth of our businesses. Ensuring a robust workforce requires that New Hampshire offer affordable housing, access to health care and a good education in safe communities with clean air and water and we support policies that promote these essential elements of business development.

I can’t find a single thing to argue with in this paragraph that isn’t grammatical (paragraphs should focus on a single idea; this one focuses on about 10, but they’re all related to the main idea of fostering a favorable business climate, so I’m going to let that go)

Job Security

We support our workers and policies that ensure fair and competitive wages and equal pay for equal work. We support an increase in the minimum wage to ensure full time workers do not live in poverty. We support workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively for wages, benefits, and safe and fair working conditions. We will fight for the rights of women in all aspects of society, including equal pay at work.

Again we have some clearly articulated aims and goals which, it should be noted, stand in pretty stark contrast to what the Republicans put in their document.

Job Education and Training

Democrats believe our residents are our most valuable economic asset. Skilled workers enrich our communities, ensure that our economy continues to grow and provides for a strong middle class. We support ensuring workers have access to lifelong learning and affordable career training at high school, community colleges, universities as well as registered apprenticeship programs and other opportunities. We applaud the efforts of our community colleges and private business interests to forge partnerships that create job opportunities.

Okay, here’s where I’m taking some issue.  First, while these are all lovely sentiments, I would like to see some concrete ideas for how they plan to ensure access to learning, and how they define “affordable.”  I’d also like to know how they plan to foster things like apprenticeship programs and what “other opportunities” look like.  Also?  There are some pretty significant (and careless) grammar mistakes in that paragraph; they need to have a proofreader.

Keeping and attracting the Next Generation

Democrats believe that retaining the next generation and attracting young families and individuals to our state are imperative for ensuring economic growth. We need to reach our students at a young age to help them understand that they can stay in New Hampshire, find jobs here that are interesting and exciting, and build careers that will allow them to support their families and climb the ladder of opportunity. We support investing in education, training and providing our next generation with affordable higher education without the burden of excessive debt.

This is important, and is an interesting departure from the Republicans’ platform.  The Democrats say, “{w}e support investing in education [and] training.”  The Republicans make no mention of funding education, only that they “support education choices,” which is another way of saying that they like the idea of vouchers and sending public money to private schools (which, if you’re not familiar with the practice, is very, VERY harmful to already de-funded public education).  Again, though, there needs to be some proofreading over at the NHDP.  Maybe I’ll volunteer…

Rural Development  

Democrats believe that investing in our rural communities—especially the North Country—builds a sustainable economy and vigorous middle class. We support the building and maintenance of our infrastructure, including roads, bridges, water, sewer, renewable energy, telecommunications, and broadband technologies. We support expanding access to capital for rural entrepreneurs, rural businesses, and farms. We will continue to fight for our rural health care systems, which are critical for sustaining a healthy workforce and a growing middle class. We support investing in our local and regional food systems, providing access to fresh and nutritious food while benefiting the economy of our local communities.

There’s no correlating section in the Republicans’ platform for this section, though I think it’s interesting – and heartening – that the Democrats are looking to include those of us in the hinterlands.

Urban Development

Democrats recognize the important role of our urban areas in providing job opportunities. We appreciate the unique challenges presented in urban settings and support policies to address important concerns such as the shortage of affordable housing, the need for greater access to public transportation, homelessness and public safety. We embrace the growing diversity of our urban areas and the cultural and economic benefits it provides.

Again with the fucking proofreading!  Seriously!  Leaving aside the egregious grammatical mess that is this sentence (we’re going to assume that the Democrats don’t want greater access to homelessness…), I like the balance between looking at the hinterlands and the cities (which, let’s be fair, are few around here, but important).  I also like that the issues are pretty clearly articulated, though I’d like to see some more detail about how they plan to make those things happen.

 

  1. Promoting Healthy Communities and Strong Families

Public Safety  

Democrats believe public safety, emergency preparedness, and homeland security are vital to our ability to build and preserve strong communities. We support our fire, police, and emergency responders and honor their often unsung work. Proper staffing is essential to public safety. Police and fire departments should be staffed according to national standards to reduce response times. We believe in policies, including reasonable background checks, that appropriately balance the rights of individuals to responsibly own and use firearms, and to live in a community safe from violence. We support laws that curb violent and repeat offenders, reduce recidivism through prevention, education, treatment and rehabilitation, and maximize taxpayer resources. We believe the administration of our prison system is a public responsibility and function.

So far, this is my favorite section, mostly because it stands in such stark contrast to the corresponding section in the Republicans’ document.  Where the GOP is all about “protect[ing] and defend[ing] their lives,” the Democrats want “reasonable” regulations that “balance” rights and public safety.  There’s nothing about this paragraph that I don’t love.

Transportation and Infrastructure

Democrats believe New Hampshire’s transportation system should be safe, efficient, reliable and cost effective. We support development of affordable public transportation, including buses and rail service throughout the state. We believe investment in roads, bridges, ports, airports, public transportation, water systems, utilities, and broadband access will provide the foundation we need to ensure a strong economy. We support passenger rail from Concord through Manchester and Nashua, connecting with the MBTA in Boston and the return of rail service to the North Country. We recognize that the North Country of our State has a critical need for these investments to overcome its unique barriers to economic development including investment in the improvement of U.S Route 2. We support policies that encourage the use of alternate fuels and renewable energy, and upgrading transmission lines in a manner that respects individual property owners’ rights. Any major energy project, including Northern Pass, must preserve our environmental heritage, utilize low impact technology, respect individual property rights, promote clean energy for New Hampshire’s use, protect existing businesses including tourism and create jobs.

Again, there’s no corresponding section in the GOP’s platform for this, and I like that it’s something that’s on the Democrats’ radar; having a reliable transportation infrastructure ripples out in a number of positive ways.

Environment  

Democrats support responsible economic development that protects our environment and preserves our natural resources for future generations. Protection of our environment is critical to the survival of our planet, to the health and well-being of our residents, and to the quality of life and economy of our State. We support policies that protect land we can cultivate, water we can drink, air we can breathe, and streams we can fish, and that address the threat of climate change and pollution. We support the protection of our public parks and recreation areas which enable us all to enjoy the beauty of our state.

The GOP talks about “…free people, free markets and free enterprise;” the Democrats talk about protecting the environment.

Have a look at the next few sections; there are no corresponding sections in the Republicans’ platform, and there’s really not much I can say about the following sections that isn’t obvious to anyone who can read.

Housing  

Democrats believe affordable housing is essential to the growth of our economy and the strength of our families and communities. We seek solutions for homelessness through a comprehensive approach that addresses its root causes. We support legislation to assist struggling homeowners to refinance their mortgages where appropriate and prevent premature or improper foreclosures.

Veterans 

Democrats honor the innumerable sacrifices made by our military personnel and their families. We support the efforts of our congressional delegation to expand access to health care for our veterans including open access to health care facilities, contracting with local hospitals and bringing a full service Veterans Administration Hospital to New Hampshire. We applaud the recent expansion of outpatient Veterans Administration Services to most rural parts of our state. Our nation must honor its commitments to veterans of all wars, including physical and mental healthcare, education, and disability support. We support policies that create employment opportunities for veterans and address the problem of homelessness. Democrats are committed to welcoming veterans back into our communities with support and honor.

Education

Democrats believe that public education provides the foundation for a brighter future for all New Hampshire’s children by preparing them for participation in society and the responsibilities of living in a democracy. We support policies that ensure all children have equal access to high-quality public education so that each student can pursue affordable advanced education and learning that leads to full and prosperous lives without the burden of debt. We honor and support our educators and applaud their contributions to our communities. We encourage the participation of students in mathematics, science, technology, the arts, history, reading and writing as fundamental tools for life. We support policies that ensure access to participation in public preschool, early intervention services and learning, and elementary, middle and secondary education for all New Hampshire students, including: setting high expectations for all students, eliminating the achievement gap, enforcement of anti-bullying policies and laws, education for healthy lifestyles, education that is evidenced-based and civic education so that future generations have the tools to participate as leaders.  We believe everystudent who wants post-secondary education should have the opportunity, and we support affordable access to New Hampshire’s public community colleges, colleges and universities. Education holds the promise for better jobs to keep our youth working, contributing and living in our New Hampshire communities.

Health Care

Democrats believe all people should have access to affordable, comprehensive health care. In partnership with the federal government, we support policies that build on the national health reform law to expand access, end coverage discrimination, increase transparency about cost and quality, eliminate health insurance companies’ abusive practices, and control health care costs in New Hampshire. We believe Medicare, Medicaid, and other publicly-funded programs are critical to maintaining health and reducing health disparities across the State.  No family should be forced into bankruptcy by a health crisis. Democrats support a public health infrastructure to promote the health and safety of our population, coordinated health care that promotes physical and mental well-being, freedom from government interference in private medical and family decisions, including reproductive health care of women, the right to privacy in such decisions and confidential access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education. We support policies to address the growing shortage of providers in underserved communities and populations. We oppose discrimination in insurance coverage of family planning services, including prescription drugs. We support contraceptive coverage and will not compromise on this important health issue.

Preserving the Safety Net for Our Most Vulnerable Citizens

Democrats support policies that help ensure vulnerable families and individuals may live, work and participate in their communities. We support community-based services for individuals with disabilities, physical and mental illnesses and low-income elderly residents; the increased availability and continued access to affordable, high quality childcare, programs that enable individuals with disabilities and low income parents to find sustainable employment at a living wage; and partnerships with communities to reduce substance abuse and delinquency rates.

Marriage Equality

Democrats support and will defend marriage equality for all couples, including those married in New Hampshire and elsewhere.

Here it is, Friends and Neighbors!  The Republicans are determined to roll back marriage equality.  Where “traditional families” are the center point of the Republican stand on this issue, the Democrats are all about “equality for ALL couples.”  What more is there to say?

Retirement Security

Democrats believe every person deserves to retire with dignity. We believe that all residents of New Hampshire should have the opportunity to be financially secure as they reach retirement. We believe that financially secure retirees benefit the State through their contributions to the economy and their volunteerism.

Again, the GOP is silent about this issue in particular, though a number of their stated values  -“We believe that happiness and success are the result of individual effort, hard work and dedication to a purpose,” chief among them, which I read as “no entitlements” (though I HATE that word, especially when applied to Social Security) – run directly contrary to the Democrats’ goal of making sure that everyone is taken care of.

  1.  Justice and Equality

Voting Rights and Democracy

Democrats seek to secure the right to vote and to broaden voter participation, not restrict it through voter identification laws or measures that are aimed at preventing students, the elderly, voters with disabilities or minorities from exercising their constitutional right to vote. Democrats believe that voting is a right and not a privilege, and that every step should be taken to ensure that all eligible individuals vote in every election. This means that registration should be made as easy as possible, polls should be safe and accessible, no eligible voter should be denied access to the polls, and every vote should be counted.

…while the Republicans are busy talking about the “integrity of the ballot box,” the Democrats seem pretty invested in ACCESS to the ballot box.  BIG difference.

First in the Nation

We are proud to support and defend New Hampshire’s first in the nation primary and will fight to protect this important status.

This annoys the crap out of me.  As I said about the GOP’s stance on this issue, it’s a way for a small and insignificant state to get some credibility and influence.  I would be fine with doing away with the “First in the Nation” crap and just vote like everyone else.

Working Together to Protect our Constitutional Freedom

 Democrats believe in working cooperatively whenever possible with Independents, Libertarians, and Republicans – our neighbors and friends – to move New Hampshire forward. When we disagree we do so with respect. We appreciate the bipartisanship shown during our legislature’s recent consideration of a repeal of the death penalty.  Democrats do not divide the State along lines of race, religion, disability, immigration status, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

…unlike our Republican friends and nieghbors, who DO divide people along those lines…

Equal Access to Justice

Democrats believe in equal justice under the law. We support full, fair and timely access to our courts, both criminal and civil, and in the protection of the constitutional right to a trial by jury.

Fiscal Responsibility 

Democrats believe government provides essential services to our citizenry. These services include the rule of law, the health and safety of our residents, consumer protection, the protection of our environment, public education and the physical infrastructure necessary to maintain a robust economy and expand employment opportunities. Democrats have worked to ensure these services are provided as cost-effectively as possible in order to avoid downshifting costs to the overburdened local property taxpayer.  The budget not only must reflect the true costs of operating an effective and efficient government but also must be supported by sufficient revenues and honest revenue estimates. It is the New Hampshire way to take a hard look at all reasonable revenue solutions while respecting both the will of the people and the constitutional requirement of fair and equal taxation. Democrats are committed to engaging New Hampshire residents in an effort to develop fiscally sound, transparent and accountable approaches to a balanced budget designed to serve the needs of our residents and our economy.

Where I suspect that our Republican friends would say that this is just a nice way of saying “we don’t mind raising your taxes” – and they may be right – the point of this section is, I think, important.  The things that we want – the things we need to live out our stated values – cost money.  We have the capacity – we’re smart enough – to figure out how to do that in a way that is both fair and effective, as long as those who are asked to contribute their fair share don’t think that their fair share is “nothing.”

Respectfully submitted,

The 2014 New Hampshire Democratic Party Platform Committee.

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