What a Successful Democratic Party Would Look Like
The Democratic Freedom Caucus: The Democratic Party's Last Hope?
Have corruption, pandering and decay completely ruined the Democratic Party, or is there still some hope for it to represent the American people? While some devote their work to growing the principled Green and Libertarian parties, others are building a new vision for Democrats. In this article, Todd Altman takes a look at the Democratic Freedom Caucus.
by Todd Altman
January 31, 2003
AND UPDATED 2006
The Democratic Freedom Caucus (DFC) is a progressive libertarian caucus within the Democratic Party. DFC members are libertarian in the sense that they advocate limited government on both personal and economic issues. They are progressive in the sense that they believe efforts to reduce government spending should be directed at programs designed to provide aid to the poor only to the extent that the economic conditions which made these programs seem necessary in the first place are reduced.
In the past few elections, the Democratic Party has fielded candidates who seem wedded to the idea that they can win elections by pandering endlessly to "seniors" while virtually ignoring the concerns of wage-earners. Realizing this, Republicans simply adopted Democratic rhetoric on "prescription drugs," and spent the rest of their time paying lip service to the principles of limited government. The result is that the Democrats have lost ground both at the federal and state level. At the federal level, they lost control of the White House in 2000, and of the Senate in 2002. At the state level, they lost (among other things) the governorship in traditional democratic strongholds such as Maryland, Massachusetts and New York.
While the political downfall of the Democratic Party has many causative factors, the bottom line is that it simply hasn't given the average American worker a reason to show up on election day.
In my opinion, most voters want two things from government. First, they want an economic environment in which financial security and peace of mind are much easier to come by. Second, they want a social environment in which they are free to live their private lives in any peaceful manner they choose without fear of government intrusion. Now, with that in mind, consider the following questions.
If you're a wage-earner who wants relief from the terribly regressive payroll tax, can you remember the last time a Democratic incumbent attempted to reduce this tax?
If you're a senior who is sick and tired of being forced to choose between your own financial security and that of your children in the workforce, can you remember the last time a Democratic incumbent proposed tax reform legislation that would reconcile this conflict?
If you're a small business owner who wants relief from both the income tax and sales tax, can you remember the last time a Democratic incumbent attempted to reduce either of these taxes?
If you're a civil libertarian who opposes the shameful manner in which politicians have used victimless crime laws as a means with which to expand the prison industrial complex at an alarming rate, can you remember the last time a Democratic incumbent called for the repeal of any victimless crime law?
If you're the parent of a military person stationed overseas, can you remember the last time a Democratic incumbent attempted to curtail our interventionist foreign policy?
These, I submit, are the questions that millions of citizens think about (perhaps subconsciously), first when deciding whether or not to vote to begin with, and then when standing in the voting booth. Judging by the results of the last two elections, it is apparent the majority of the electorate has answered "no" to all or most of these questions.
If the Democratic Party is to have any chance of reversing this trend, they must have the courage to check their premises, i.e., to question the wisdom of the policies they've been mindlessly supporting all these years.
That's where the DFC comes in. The following five planks constitute what I believe would be the ideal campaign platform of a DFC candidate. (Beneath each plank are web sites that provide supportive information):
If a Democratic candidate were to run on such a platform, I have no doubt he would inspire a record-high voter turnout in his or her respective district, and would almost certainly win the election.
- Abolish corporate welfare, drug prohibition, and the Departments of Commerce, Education and Energy, and use the $160+ billion in savings to exempt the bottom 75% of all taxpayers from the federal income tax.
- Gradually replace the payroll tax with a tax on land rent.
- Replace our debt-based money system with a debt-free money system.
- Repeal both the "Patriot" Act and the Homeland "Security" Act.
- End our interventionist ("world policeman") foreign policy.
Todd Altman is an Air Force veteran, has a bachelors degree from the University of Maryland, and is the author of the Geolibertarian FAQ.
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