herein set forth by the Populist Wedge on behalf of Working Family Democrats across the United States.
Proposed in the spirit of "The Declaration of Independence of The United States of America", ratified July 2, 1776; "The Working Men's Declaration of Independence", July 4, 1829; "Declarations of Sentiments and Resolutions Woman's Rights Convention", July, 1848; "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" by Fredrick Douglas, July 5, 1852; the "Negro Declaration of Independence National Independent Political Union", February, 1876; The Omaha Platform of the Populist (or People's) Party, July 4, 1892; the "Declaration of Interdependence" of the Socialist Labor Party, July 4, 1895; "New Declaration of Independence" by Emma Goldman, July 4, 1909;"Declaration of Workers' and Farmers' Rights and Purposes" of the National Unemployed Leagues, July 4, 1933; The Homestead Steel Workers Declaration of Independence, Summer, 1936; and "Declaring Independence from Big Oil, Big Coal, & other Domineering Corporations", the Shalom Center, July 4, 2010
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one class to assert its natural rights in opposition to another class and to assume among peoples a political station of equality to which the laws of "nature and of nature's God" as well as the principles of their political compact, i.e. The Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution, entitle them; a decent respect to the opinions of humankind, and the duty owed to their fellow citizens, requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to such a separation. We are working class families who make up the majority of the Democratic Party. Below we set out the causes that force our separation from the corporate controlled wing of the Democratic Party.
We hold these truths to be self evident: that all women and men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of happiness is dependent on both political and economic democracy. Each individual is entitled to a sharing in community; honorable employment and living incomes; laboring hours conducive to a rhythm of work and rest, that frees time for family, neighborhood, civic involvement, participation in self government, and the expression and nourishment of the spirit; a life sustaining share of the earth's abundance; democratic elections not controlled by wealth and legislatures that can respond to the democratic will of their constituents; peace with and among all peoples of the earth; and responsible relationships amidst the whole web of life upon this planet.
We therefore set forth the following precepts and demands:
First: That the working people of all nations share more in economic interest with each other,than the workers of any nation share with the political and economic elites of their own nation. Working people gathered in their trade unions, community organizations,cooperatives,and farm associations are the bulwark of democracy. We demand the end to all unjust wars where America's most important resources, i.e. the lives and health of its young people, are squandered in controlling the destinies of our peoples. We demand an end to all trade agreements such as NAFTA and GATT that allow American based multinational corporations to send formerly American jobs to foreign countries were the laws allow increased worker exploitation and coercion, along with lower pollution control standards, and the manufacture of shoddy, often hazardous, goods.
Second: That governments derive all just powers from the consent of the governed. That governments exist for the benefit of the governed and not the reverse. Therefore, it is the duty of the governed to alter and abolish all forms of domination, political, economic, cultural, and religious, that would seek to deny the governed full and complete access to the power which belongs to them alone. We therefore demand a Constitutional amendment providing for all election campaigns funding solely by the United States, or the individual States, paid for by the contributions of natural persons, actual human beings, under limitation set by Congress and the legislatures of individual States. We further demand that all elections in the United States be conducted by Single Transferable Ballot (STV) thus assuring the broadest selection of candidates, parties and positions represented in each election. Further we insist that every electoral constituency be allowed to trigger a recall election for any public official, state or federal when a petition signed by 15% of that constituency be presented to the appropriate office. In the case Federal officials, a petition supported by 15% of the electorate in 2/3's states ought be considered sufficient to trigger a recall election. In addition, a petition signed by 15% of the voters of any constituency should be sufficient to trigger a statewide or federal referendum on an initiative proposed by citizens. We demand the end of the filibuster in all legislative bodies.
Third: That war, by its very nature,is a crime against humanity. Occasionally, it may be necessary for a people to defend itself from attack. This is never an excuse for the imperial acquisition of resources, territory, or an attempt to establish military or ideological hegemony. We therefore demand an immediate end to Western involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and thoroughgoing investigation of all public figures involved with these unwarranted wars. We demand the resumption by Congress of its Constitutional duties to declare war or initiate military conflict, further, we insist on strict adherence to all international laws, conventions and treaties regarding the conduct of war by the United States and any ally benefiting from its military aid. We insist upon an immediate 50% across the board cut in United States military spending, with the exception of programs that support the health and well being of those in the military services and veterans who have served their nation. These tax payer dollars rightly to be redirected to fund the urgent civilian needs of the American people and people of poverty stricken regions around the world. A nation which fails to defend its citizenry from homelessness, poverty, infrastructure degradation, preventable disease, bankruptcy due to medical costs, and to aid less fortunate peoples around the world with equitable humanitarian assistance is not a "super power" by any definition.
Fourth: That the rights of humanity as set forth in the United Nations International Declaration of Human Rights may never be transgressed by any party no matter how imperiled or aggrieved that party believes itself to be. Torture and the deliberate targeting of noncombatants is never morally justified. Likewise the use of an antipersonnel device, regardless of whether the explosive comes from a fast moving aircraft or is carried in a backpack aboard public transportation or is buried in the ground to indiscriminately kill and maim, is unacceptable. The deliberate, killing, imprisonment, starvation, or displacement of massive numbers of people for political gain is now and forever WRONG! We insist that the United States submit to the jurisdiction the international Criminal Court and join in all international conventions against the manufacture of cluster bombs, depleted uranium and phosphorous projectiles, and land mines. The United States must declare a moratorium on the manufacture and deployment of nuclear weapons and move expeditiously and transparently toward a decommissioning its own and the world's stockpile of radiological and chemical weapons.
Fifth: That humankind has a right to be free from the persecution of ethnicity, gender, religious preference, political ideology, sexual orientation, age, or infirmity. Nations are entitled to borders that reflect national sovereignty and realistic concerns for self defense. While governments have a right to maintain the security of their borders, they lack the right to harass those forced to cross a particular national frontier in order to find gainful employment or shelter from the ravages of war, famine, or natural disaster. We reject all laws that would racially profile any group or punish undocumented workers merely for the crime of attempting to earn a livelihood.
Sixth: We are not cheerleaders for the slaughter of any group of people no matter the ideology of those pursuing the massacre. We will never apologize for tyranny or injustice, regardless what grave exigencies that the tyrant or the insurgency shall claim. We insist that the U.S. premise civilian and military assistance and trade relations with our allies and trading partners on those nations' willingness to respect the human rights of their own citizens and and the peoples of other nations.
Seventh: While people are hungry, homeless, poorly clothed, and without the basic necessities of life, there can be no democratic process. As Thomas Paine said, "Necessitous men are not free men." We therefore insist upon the creation of meaningful jobs by our government and a minimum livable family income for all American residents regardless of a person's age, infirmity, or resident status.
Eighth: People have an inherent right to worship or not worship their Creator(s) and participate in spirituality as their conscience dictates. The state must never be the arbiter of religious thought. Instead, it is the people who must instruct the government as to spiritual and moral precepts. Therefore, it is the right of each person to disagree vehemently with others in their society upon the nature of what is moral. A democratic government cannot take sides. This does not mean that the individual members of an elected government cannot and should not be guided by moral precepts. No one seeking election in a democratic society should be asked to divest him or herself of whatever spiritual and moral precepts he or she holds. We insist on an open political system that ends all discrimination on the basis of one's social views on religion or sexuality. We hold the Defense of Marriage Act and all state laws against same sex unions and the military policy "don't ask; don't tell" to be an infringement on personal liberty that violate the separation of church and state and equal protection doctrines held to be essential to our republic.
Ninth: Human beings are the stewards of the earth, not its masters. No generation has a right to pass on a polluted or degraded planet to the generations that follow. We demand strong international laws to prevent global climate disaster by capping green house gas emissions; ending all offshore oil drilling by July 4, 2015; an immediate moratorium on new drilling; and swiftly moving the US and world economy from fossil fuel dependence and nuclear power to renewable energy.
Tenth: That in any prosecution brought for any crime a defendant shall have a right to be heard by himself, and/or through counsel, and shall have an absolute right to examine all evidence, to face all accusers, to call all material witnesses and to make whatever representations to the tribunal which he or she faces, which may seem to the defendant to be exculpatory. The judiciary of a democratic nation must be independent and separate from that nation's legislative and executive branches of government and there must be put into place a Constitutional Amendment that the American judiciary be elected to office in the same manner as other public servants, holding office for set terms and facing recall at the discretion of the voters. All privilege and immunities must be ended for lawsuits brought against public officials for wrong doing.
Eleventh: There is only one cure for the ills of democracy; more democracy! Free people will build a wondrous and diverse culture that will express what it is to be truly human. We therefore demand a Constitutional amendment to pay for all election campaigns solely by public contributions of the United States, or the individual states, paid for by the contributions of natural persons and the banning of all corporate money in elections. Limits for election spending must be set by Congress and various State Legislatures. These limits must also include in-kind contributions of anything excerpt a citizen's uncompensated time.
Twelfth: The corporate wing of Democratic Party has become destructive of the ends of democratic governance. It has betrayed the heritage of the Democratic Party that brought women's suffrage, social security, Medicare, the right to organize trade unions, civil rights and voting rights into legislative existence. The corporatist Democrats are a minority of bought and paid for big business lackeys that have abandoned the tradition of the New Deal and Civil Rights Movement. As outspoken members of the Democratic Party's populist majority, woprking
families—we insist that our Party fight for the following: universal single payer health care on"Medicare for all" model; the full implementation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Economic Bill of Rights (reprinted below); full government funding of the Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment and Balance Growth Act; and a government assurance of a decent job at a livable wage, maximum 32 hour regular work week and 46 week work year, with paid medical and family leave; the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act along with of all statewide anti-Labor legislation; and the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. We cannot support any Democratic candidate who does not insist on the immediate implementation of the measures we have set forth above and will actively oppose those who try turn the clock back on our nation and our Party. To this end we pledge to each other our lives, our energies, our treasures, our solidarity, and our sacred honor.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's “The Economic Bill of Rights”
Excerpt from 11 January 1944 message to Congress on the State of the Union
It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one third or one fifth or one tenth are ill fed, ill clothed, ill housed, and insecure. This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty. As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence."Necessitous men are not free men." People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident,and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well being. America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.
This rough draft was composed by Gabriel McCloskey-Ross based on the suggestions of the the other members of the Populist Wedge. It was edited by Seamus Johnston. It is dedicated to the memory of "Red" George Peterson and Mary Jane McCloskey-Peterson founding members of Americans for Democratic Action, "Red Eddy" McCloskey, populist mayor of Johnstown, PA for nonconsecutive terms from the late 1920's through 1950's, George Ross, signer of Declaration of Independence, and to George's daughter-in-law, Betsy Ross. Thanks for the inspiration folks.
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