Democratic Platform
Home

Strong at Home, Respected in the World

CONTENTS

PREAMBLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 1

A STRONG, RESPECTED AMERICA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

DEFEATING TERRORISM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

KEEPING WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION OUT OF THE HANDS OF TERRORISTS . . . . .. 6

PROMOTING DEMOCRACY, PEACE, AND SECURITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

STRENGTHENING OUR MILITARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

ACHIEVING ENERGY INDEPENDENCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 14

STRENGTHENING HOMELAND SECURITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

A STRONG, GROWING ECONOMY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

CREATING GOOD JOBS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . 21

STANDING UP FOR THE GREAT AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 24

STRONG, HEALTHY FAMILIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 29

REFORMING HEALTH CARE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . 29

IMPROVING EDUCATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 32

PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 34

A STRONG AMERICAN COMMUNITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

PREAMBLE

As we come together to declare our vision as Democrats, we are mindful that the challenges of our times are new and profound. This November, the choice we face as Americans may have more impact on our people and our place in the world than any in our lifetimes. We approach this task with a seriousness that matches the challenges before us, but also with a profound optimism about our future – an optimism that springs from our great faith in America, and our great pride in what it means to be Americans. We know the stakes are immeasurably high.

For the first time in generations, we have been attacked on our own shores. Our brave men and women in uniform are still in harm's way in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the war against terror. Our alliances are frayed, our credibility in doubt.

Our great middle class is hard-pressed. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and millions more are struggling under the mounting burden of life's everyday costs.

In Washington, the President and his allies stubbornly press on, without regard to the needs of our people or the challenges of our times. It is time for a new direction.

John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democratic Party bring a new vision for America – strong at home, respected abroad. An America that offers opportunity, rewards responsibility, and rejoices in diversity.

We have a plan to build a strong, respected America: protecting our people, rebuilding our alliances, and leading the way to a more peaceful and prosperous world.

We have a plan to build a strong, growing economy: creating good jobs, rewarding hard work, and restoring fiscal discipline.

We have a plan to help our people build strong, healthy families: securing quality health care, offering world-class education, and ensuring clean air and water.

And we will honor the values of a strong American community: widening the circle of equality, protecting the sanctity of freedom, and deepening our commitment to this country.

In offering this vision, we affirm our faith in the greatness of America. We recommit to the ideal of a people united in helping one another, an ideal as old as the faiths we follow and as great as the country we love. To those who are threatened, we pledge protection; to those who are victims, we promise justice; to those who are hopeless, we offer hope. And to all Americans who seek a better future for themselves, for their loved ones, and for our country, we say: your cause is our own.

That is the America we believe in. That is the America we are fighting for. That is the America we will build together – one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

A STRONG, RESPECTED AMERICA

Alone among nations, America was born in pursuit of an idea – that a free people with diverse beliefs could govern themselves in peace. For more than a century, America has spared no effort to defend and promote that idea around the world. And over and over, that effort has been marked by the exercise of American leadership to forge powerful alliances based on mutual respect with longtime allies and reluctant friends; with nations already living in the light of democracy and with peoples struggling to join them.

The might of our alliances, coupled with the strength of our democratic ideals, has been a driving force in the survival and success of freedom – in two World Wars, in the Korean War, in the Cold War, in the Gulf War and in Kosovo. America led instead of going it alone. We extended a hand, not a fist. We respected the world – and the world respected us.

As Americans, we respect and honor our veterans. We are indebted to all those courageous men and women who have answered our country's call to duty. Their service and sacrifice, their dedication and love of country advance our cause of freedom and uphold our finest traditions as a nation. That is the America we believe in. That is the America we are fighting for. And that is the America we can be.

But the Bush Administration has walked away from more than a hundred years of American leadership in the world to embrace a new – and dangerously ineffective – disregard for the world. They rush to force before exhausting diplomacy. They bully rather than persuade. They act alone when they could assemble a team. They hope for the best when they should prepare for the worst. Time and again, this Administration confuses leadership with going it alone and engagement with compromise of principle. They do not understand that real leadership means standing by your principles and rallying others to join you.

John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democratic Party believe in a better, stronger America – an America that is respected, not just feared, and an America that listens and leads. Our vision has deep roots in our Declaration of Independence and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Four Freedoms, and in the tough-minded tradition of engagement and leadership—a tradition forged by Wilson and Roosevelt in two world wars, then championed by Truman and Kennedy during the Cold War. We believe in an America that people around the world admire, because they know we cherish not just our freedom, but theirs. Not just our democracy, but their hope for it. Not just our peace and security, but the world's.

We believe in an America that cherishes freedom, safeguards our people, forges alliances, and commands respect. That is the America we are going to build.

Our overriding goals are the same as ever: to protect our people and our way of life; and to help build a safer, more peaceful, more prosperous, more democratic world. Today, we face three great challenges above all others – first, to win the global war against terror; second, to stop the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; and third, to promote democracy and freedom around the world, starting with a peaceful and stable Iraq.

To meet these challenges, we need a new national security policy guided by four new imperatives:

First, America must launch and lead a new era of alliances for the post-September 11 world. Second, we must modernize the world's most powerful military to meet the new threats. Third, in addition to our military might, we must deploy all that is in America's arsenal – our diplomacy, our intelligence system, our economic power, and the appeal of our values and ideas. Fourth and finally, to safeguard our freedom and ensure our nation's future, we must end our dependence on Mideast oil.

DEFEATING TERRORISM

Today, the Bush Administration is waging a war against a global terrorist movement committed to our destruction with insufficient understanding of our enemy or effort to address the underlying factors that can give rise to new recruits. This war isn't just a manhunt. We cannot rest until Osama bin Laden is captured or killed, but that day will mark only a victory in the war on terror, not its end. Terrorists like al Qaeda and its affiliates are unlike any adversary our nation has ever known. We face a global terrorist movement of many groups, funded from different sources with separate agendas, but all committed to assaulting the United States and free and open societies around the globe. Despite his tough talk, President Bush's actions against terrorism have fallen far short. He still has no comprehensive strategy for victory. After allowing bin Laden to escape from our grasp at Tora Bora, he diverted crucial resources from the effort to destroy al Qaeda in Afghanistan. His doctrine of unilateral preemption has driven away our allies and cost us the support of other nations.

We must put in place a strategy to win – an approach that recognizes and addresses the many facets of this mortal challenge, from the terrorists themselves to the root causes that give rise to new recruits, and uses all the tools at our disposal. Agents of terrorism work in the shadows of more than 60 nations, on every continent. The only possible path to victory will be found in the company of others, not walking alone. With John Kerry as Commander-in-Chief, we will never wait for a green light from abroad when our safety is at stake, but we must enlist those whose support we need for ultimate victory.

Victory in the war on terror requires a combination of American determination and international cooperation on all fronts. It requires the ability and willingness to direct immediate, effective military action when the capture or destruction of terrorist groups and their leaders is possible; a massive improvement in intelligence gathering and analysis coupled with vigorous law enforcement; a relentless effort to shut down the flow of terrorist funds; a global effort to prevent failed or failing states that can become sanctuaries for terrorists; a sustained effort to deny terrorists any more recruits by conducting effective public diplomacy; and a sustained political and economic effort to improve education, work for peace, support democracy and extend hope.

Improving intelligence to find and stop terrorists. We will train and equip the military to enhance its capabilities to seek out and destroy terrorists. We will strengthen the capacity of intelligence and law enforcement around the world by forging stronger international coalitions to provide better information and communication.

We must also improve our intelligence here at home. From the failure to uncover the September 11th plot to the deeply misguided reports about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction, we have experienced unprecedented intelligence failures in recent years. We must do what President Bush has refused to do – reform our intelligence system by creating a true Director of National Intelligence with real control of intelligence personnel and budgets. We must train more analysts in languages spoken by terrorists. And we must break down the old communications barriers between national intelligence and local law enforcement, taking care to fully preserve our liberties.

Cutting off terrorist funds. We will move decisively to cut off the flow of terrorist funds. We will impose tough financial sanctions against nations or banks that engage in money laundering or fail to act against it. We will strengthen our anti-money laundering laws to prevent terrorists from using hedge funds and unregulated institutions to finance terror. We will launch a "name and shame" campaign against those that are financing terror. If nations do not respond, they will be shut out of the U.S. financial system. And in the specific case of Saudi Arabia, we will put an end to the Bush Administration's kid-glove approach to the supply and laundering of terrorist money.

Preventing Afghanistan and other nations from becoming terrorist havens. Nowhere is the need for collective endeavor greater than in Afghanistan. The Bush Administration has badly mishandled the war's aftermath. Two years ago, President Bush promised a Marshall Plan to rebuild that country. Instead, he has all but turned away from Afghanistan, allowing it to become again a potential haven for terrorists.

We must expand NATO forces outside Kabul. We must accelerate training for the Afghan army and police. The program to disarm and reintegrate warlord militias into society must be expedited and expanded into a mainstream strategy. We will attack the exploding opium trade ignored by the Bush

Administration by doubling our counter-narcotics assistance to the Karzai Government and reinvigorating the regional drug control program.

Beyond Afghanistan, terrorist attacks from Saudi Arabia and Indonesia to Kenya, Morocco, and Turkey point to a widening network of terrorists targeting this country and our friends. Failed and failing states like Somalia or countries with large areas of limited government control like the Philippines and Indonesia need international help to close down terrorist havens.

Increasing public diplomacy to promote understanding and prevent terrorist recruitment. At the core of this conflict is a fundamental struggle of ideas: democracy and tolerance against those who would use any means and attack any target to impose their narrow views. The war on terror is not a clash of civilizations. It is a clash of civilization against chaos.

America needs a major initiative in public diplomacy to support the many voices of freedom in the Arab and Muslim world. To improve education for the next generation of Islamic youth, we need a cooperative international effort to compete with radical Madrassas. And we must support human rights groups, independent media, and labor unions dedicated to building a democratic culture from the grassroots up. Democracy will not blossom overnight, but America should speed its growth by sustaining the forces of democracy against repressive regimes and by rewarding governments that work toward this end.

KEEPING WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION OUT OF THE HANDS OF

TERRORISTS

There is no greater threat to American security than the possibility of terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction. Preventing terrorists from gaining access to these weapons must be our number one security goal. Containing this massive threat requires American leadership of the highest order – leadership that brings our allies, friends, and partners to greater collaboration and participation – and compels problem states to join and comply with international agreements and abandon their weapons programs.

Unfortunately, this Administration's policies have moved America in the opposite direction. They have weakened international agreements and efforts to enforce non-proliferation instead of strengthening them. They have not done nearly enough to secure existing stockpiles and bomb-making materials. They have failed to take effective steps to stop the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs. We must change course now.

Defending America against attack at all costs. First, the world should be on notice that we will take every possible measure to defend ourselves against the possibility of attack by unconventional arms. If such an attack appears imminent, we will do everything necessary to stop it. If such a strike does occur, we will respond with overwhelming and devastating force. But we should never wait to act until we have no other choice but war. We must build and lead an international consensus for early preventive action to lock up and secure existing weapons of mass destruction and the material to manufacture more.

Locking away existing nuclear weapons and material. The first step is to safeguard all bomb making material worldwide. We need to find it, catalog it, and lock it away. Our approach should be simple: treat the nuclear materials that make bombs like they are bombs. More than a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia still has nearly 20,000 nuclear weapons and enough nuclear material to produce 50,000 more. For most of these weapons and materials, cooperative security upgrades have not been completed. The world is relying on whatever measures Russia has taken on its own. At the current pace, it will take 13 years to secure potential bomb material in the former Soviet Union. We cannot wait that long. We will do it in four years.

Stopping the creation of new nuclear material for nuclear weapons. We will lead an international coalition to put an end to the production of new materials – highly enriched uranium and plutonium – for use in nuclear weapons. And we will reduce excess stocks of existing nuclear materials and weapons. We will conduct a global cleanout initiative to remove stockpiles of vulnerable highly enriched uranium at research reactors and facilities in dozens of countries around the world within four years.

Leading international efforts to shut down nuclear efforts in North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere. We must show determined leadership to end the nuclear weapons program in North Korea and prevent the development of nuclear weapons in places like Iran. North Korea has sold ballistic missiles and technology in the past. The North Koreans have made it clear to the world – and to the terrorists – that they are open for business and will sell to the highest bidder. But while this Administration has been fixated on Iraq, the nuclear dangers from North Korea have multiplied. The North Koreans allegedly have made enough new fuel to make six to nine nuclear bombs.

We should maintain the six-party talks, but we must also be prepared to talk directly with North Korea to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that addresses the full range of issues for ourselves and our allies. But we should have no illusions about Kim Jong Il. Any agreement must have rigorous verification and lead to complete and irreversible elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Even as we have scoured Iraq for signs of weapons of mass destruction, Iran has reportedly been working to develop them next door. A nuclear-armed Iran is an unacceptable risk to us and our allies. The same is true for other countries that may be seeking nuclear weapons. This is why strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is so critical. We must close the loophole that lets countries develop nuclear weapons capabilities under the guise of a peaceful, civilian nuclear power program. We also need to strengthen enforcement and verification and make rigorous inspection protocols mandatory.

We must work with every country to tighten export controls, stiffen penalties, and beef up law enforcement and intelligence sharing. That way we can make absolutely sure that a disaster like the AQ Khan black market network, which grew out of Pakistan’s nuclear program, can never happen again. We must also take steps to reduce tension between India and Pakistan and guard against the possibility of their nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands.

PROMOTING DEMOCRACY, PEACE, AND SECURITY

We know that promoting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law is vital to our long-term security. Americans will be safer in a world of democracies. We will work with people and nongovernmental organizations around the world struggling for freedom, even as we work with their governments to protect our security from weapons of terror. We will restore America’s credibility and commitment as a force for democracy and human rights, starting in Iraq. We believe that upholding international standards for the treatment of prisoners, wherever they may be held, advances America’s national security, the security of our troops, and the values of our people.

And we believe torture is unacceptable. America should abide by its own laws and the treaties it has ratified, including the Geneva Conventions. We will also support international efforts to address the problem of landmines, while at the same time ensuring that our troops are protected. Winning the peace in Iraq. More than a year ago, President Bush stood on an aircraft carrier under a banner that proclaimed, “mission accomplished.