This was the first year that YDA accepted online submissions for the Platform from the general membership and allowed all participants to give real-time feedback to the platform delegates through new technology called the Online Progressive Congress sponsored by one of YDA’s Legacy Donors, Garrett Gruener.
VALUES • VOICES • VICTORIES
PARTY STRUCTURE + CORE
We Believe . . .
• Acceptance of diverse viewpoints is fundamental to a well-functioning democracy and an inclusive society.
• We should be proud of our values,
especially in the face of opposition.
We Act To . . .
• Implement a nationwide strategy, believing that there are Young Democrats in every state in the Union, and that the giving up on the young generation in state currently controlled by Republicans means conceding them permanently.
• Recruit 435 Democratic candidates for Congress and all 100 seats in the Senate. We believe that Young Democrats should be encouraged to stand up and support the beliefs and ideals of their communities and the Democratic Party by running and representing the voters.
• Build up the Young Democrats of America by running young candidates in local and state office races, so that no election goes uncontested and no chance to build young leaders is missed. To do this, we must recruit, fund and train those candidates, in support of this we will help local chapters find races in which to run young candidates.
• Increase peer-to-peer communication by speaking with progressive and democratically allied issue groups, by using the internet to locate voters in our local communities, by speaking out to our friends and family members more and amongst ourselves less and by framing our discussions by talking about the future.
• Become involved in local democratic clubs and other progressive organizations and gaining leadership positions with such groups so as to reinforce our commitment to the Party and its ideals.
• Be included at all levels of the Democratic Party, including state and local executive committees, allowing the voice of the Young Democrats and future leaders of the Democratic Party to be heard and listened to.
• Never concede that there are races
that cannot be won, or issues that
should be avoided, or by taking a step
back from this vital fight for the our
GOVERNMENT + ELECTORAL REFORM
We believe the federal government should be in charge of standardizing voting procedures and devices in order to avoid discrepancies and to ensure that votes cast are tabulated scientifically and impartially.
We believe voter registration should be open up to and including Election Day. We further believe that the federal government should encourage all Americans to participate in the democratic process.
• Fair and free elections.
• The efforts to find cost-effective methods to implement non-precinct voting.
• Early voting, and Election Day as a national holiday.
• Having elections on a day that does not disenfranchise any group.
• A paper trail requirement that protects individual privacy while preventing fraud because electronic voting is becoming more popular and widely used.
• The formation of an independent commission to construct district lines that accurately represent the electorate.
• Campaign finance reform to ensure that money is not a deciding factor in the outcome of elections.
• State and federal agencies in providing ongoing absentee ballot application services.
• Uniform national standards for voter registration and absentee ballot application allowing all citizens, regardless of state residence, to apply for and participate in ongoing absentee voter status.
• State efforts to restore voting rights to ex-felons.
• Providing the American citizens of Puerto Rico with a fair process to determine their final, non-colonial and non-territorial political status, which will define their future relation to the United States of America either as a state of the union or as an independent nation.
• Citizens of the District of Colombia having voting representation in Congress equal to one of the 50 states with same population.
• Voting impediments or voter intimidation in any form.
• Any law that would require
identification to vote and any attempt
to purge voter rolls.
We believe that free and fair trade can benefit the United States in today’s global economy and that the trade liberalization process can be a forum for raising the environmental and labor standards of our trading partners, thus creating a global race to the top.
• Including rigorous labor and environmental standards in all trade agreements to improve the living and working conditions throughout the world.
• Negotiating trade agreements with a strong priority placed on raising environmental and labor standards as is given to opening markets to American goods.
• Developing the draft Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement further to bring it into compliance with the aforementioned goals.
• Investing in the creativity of American workers and businesses to maximize the competitiveness of the United States in the global economy.
• Retraining programs specifically targeting American workers who are displaced by trade liberalization so that they can quickly return as productive members of the US economy.
We believe that in an era of globalization, unions and employers must adopt new practices which are better suited to the rules of a service-based, flexible economy in a joint effort to expand opportunities for workers to organize.
• The right of workers to organize unions without employer intimidation or interference.
• The rights of workers and employers to enter into agreements for card check union recognition and oppose efforts to make such agreements illegal.
• Any effort to silence labor’s voice through “paycheck protection” legislation.
• Any effort to restrict the right of workers to organize through “right to work” legislation.
The Young Democrats of America are proud that Social Security has been the most successful American social program for 70 years and wish to ensure that future generations of Americans are able to enjoy this hard earned right.
We believe Social Security must always remain both social and secure. We further believe that the taxable Social Security income cap should be raised from its current level.
• A Social Security system that protects the funding, benefits, and long-term viability that Social Security provides for young Americans.
• The privatization of Social Security.
• Any effort to reduce Social Security benefits.
The Federal Budget
We believe that long-term budget deficits are tantamount to a federal youth tax. As such, the government should take concrete steps to balance the budget.
• Restoration of the requirement that any increase in discretionary spending or decrease in revenue by offset in corresponding decreases in spending and/or increases in revenue.
• Ensuring that the steps taken to bring the federal budget into balance should be consistent with the policy goals of this platform, and specifically should not be taken at the expense of vital social programs.
• Refraining from the passage of further tax cuts so long as the Federal budget remains out of balance.
• Enacting long-term budget plans that are designed to balance the Federal budget over the course of the business cycle, offsetting deficits during economic slowdowns with surpluses during periods of strong growth.
• The Estate Tax, recognizing its power to help each generation rise or fall on its own merits. We also recognize that family farms and businesses are important and that this tax must protect and take into account these unique circumstances.
The Young Democrats of America are proud of America’s history as an immigrant nation. While supporting secure borders, we believe Americans show a welcoming spirit to those of diverse backgrounds and other cultures.
We believe an effective way of enforcing immigration laws is to prevent companies from using illegal immigration labor. We recognize the value that immigrant labor brings to our economy. We further recognize the transnational cultural awareness and commerce tied to migrant work.
• The humanization of immigration laws, to allow decent, non-threatening immigrant who seek only an honest living and a commitment to community to enter our country.
• Day labor passes as a way to curb illegal immigration.
• The extensive rate of illegal immigration into the United States, and its consequences in both fiscal terms and in human cost.
• Vigilantism as an answer toward immigration regulation and encourage federal and local prosecution of such practices.
• The creation of a federal fund that would identify the most impoverished areas of the nation and develop a plan for said areas to break the cycle of poverty. The aforementioned fund would be responsible for funding improvements to the infrastructure roads, schools, hospitals, and the like.
• Predatory lending practices because
such practices prey upon lower- and
We believe the U.S. foreign policies should promote liberty, democracy and opportunity throughout the world in a truly collaborative fashion with our allies that shuns unilateralism and upholds the Wilsonian principle of peace without victory.
• The efforts of young people to have the most direct influence over the foreign policy interests of the United States. As the primary demographic of soldiers serving overseas, we as young people have a vested interest in solving and preventing unnecessary conflicts that put young Americans in harm’s way.
• In the long-term security interests of the United States, efforts to determine a timely, responsible withdrawal from Iraq that leaves Iraqis responsible for their sovereign future without a permanent American presence in the Middle East.
• Efforts to achieve long-term peace in the Middle East by encouraging reconciliation efforts between Israelis and Palestinians that recognize the injustices suffered by both sides.
• The value of diplomacy as the most desirable way of achieving the United States’ strategic goals, especially within the setting of the United Nations, incurring the lowest cost to American taxpayers and lives of our soldiers.
• A repeal of the military doctrine of preemptive warfare when a clear threat has not been demonstrated to the security interest of the United States.
• Policies that support U.S. trade relations with and the provision of aid to nations that uphold democratic values
• Increased U.S. support for programs promoting the equal access to resources and opportunities for women throughout the world.
• Increased international efforts to address the broad health, social, economic, and political effects of the AIDS pandemic, including making generic medicines available to underdeveloped nations.
• Giving underdeveloped nations the tools they need to confront the challenges faced by poverty, hunger, starvation and disease.
• Stronger international efforts to protect women and children from sexual violence, whether as a result of conflict or sanctioned by law, and to provide requisite support and health care for victims.
• A strong commitment to the concerns of human rights, labor, religious freedom, environmental, and health issues in the negotiations and implementations of all international agreements.
• Encouraging our trading partners, especially those who are party to Free Trade Agreements with the US or have favored nation status, to uphold safe and fair working conditions and a living wage.
• Continued efforts of the United Nations and other fair and efficient inter-government organization to further diplomacy, peace and justice in the global community.
We believe our government must fulfill its obligation to protect its citizens from foreign and domestic dangers, while upholding the freedoms and ideals for which this nation stands.
• Funding homeland security operations in states and localities in proportion to the risk that is faced therein.
• Promoting interaction between communities and police forces so that communities understand the operations of police and feel that all Americans are equal and vital partners in homeland defense.
• Policies that take affirmative steps to ensure the safety of America’s public and infrastructure, whilst respecting civil rights and ensuring that no American feels suspect for any racial, ethnic, or class distinction.
• Redeploying National Guard from foreign theaters to their homeland security duties, recalling the historical purpose of the National Guard.
• Raising the level and quality of inspections at all points of entry into the United States, including commercial shipping ports.
• Strengthening our cooperation with allies to prevent terror attacks at home and abroad.
• Maintaining a strong defense against threats foreign and domestic.
• Increasing soldier pay and veterans’ benefits out of respect for the vital sacrifice that members of the military willingly undertake on behalf of all Americans.
• Repealing policies that prohibit or otherwise restrict Americans from serving openly in the military based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
• Restricting the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and securing poorly guarded nuclear, chemical and biological materials.
LAW + JUSTICE
The Constitution is the cornerstone of our democratic system of government. This is the supreme law of the land, and its protections apply equally without prejudice or bias to all citizens and people of the United States.
The Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence incorporate inalienable rights, and we dedicate ourselves to ensuring that these rights never be denied to any American. These rights of life, liberty, privacy, property, and the pursuit of happiness place no barrier upon race, religion, color, gender, gender identity, ethnic background, disability, age, sexual orientation or any other ascribed or achieved status or trait that a person may have.
All incarceration facilities shall be safe and clean. It shall be unlawful for any custodial officer to have sexual relations with those whom they guard.
We believe that prisoner-to-prisoner rape will be considered a felony and will be dealt with in a court of law. We advocate that police forces refrain from the excessive use of force and police brutality, and we support programs that prevent and punish such actions.
We advocate that police forces use the least invasive methods of investigation necessary to uphold the law. The war on drugs and terrorism should not be used to justify widespread violation of privacy and civil rights in the United States and abroad.
We advocate the initiation of studies by both the Food and Drug Administration and independent research facilities or organizations regarding the advantages and disadvantages of the medicinal uses of marijuana.
We believe that the portions of the Patriot Act that violate civil liberties and Fourth Amendment protections should be repealed. We further believe that the freedoms embodied in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights include dignity in death and the freedom to choose the means of one’s own passing.
• Our safety and law enforcement professionals and recognize that their services are vital to a safe and secure America.
• The proper handling of juveniles. Juveniles convicted of criminal offenses requiring incarceration should be housed in facilities that are safe and clean. Emphasis must be placed on rehabilitation of juvenile offenders rather than mere incarceration. Juveniles who are accused of crimes should enjoy the same Due Process rights as adults.
• Reforms in sentencing procedure to allow greater judicial flexibility regarding sentences, alternative punishments, and community or victim redress, particularly for non-violent offenders.
• The legal right of every law-abiding citizen to own and possess firearms. We support strict background checks prior to any firearm purchase, including purchases at gun shows and Internet purchases.
• Safety training in gun usage and handling techniques prior to the first firearm purchase.
• Enforcement of the laws relating to intermediaries who aid in the furnishing and distribution of firearms to those who cannot legally acquire them. We call on the federal government to invest the necessary resources to accomplish instant background checks.
• The renewal of the assault weapons ban and other commonsense measures to keep the most dangerous weapons off our streets.
• The decriminalization of marijuana.
• Granting people who are seriously ill or debilitated access to marijuana as prescribed by a physician to alleviate symptoms and to improve their quality of life, without fear of being charged or convicted of a crime.
• People who are subject to deportation proceedings shall have the same Due Process rights as those accused of a crime.
• The ongoing practices of profiling by race, socioeconomic status, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic background, national origin, or disability practiced by individual law-enforcement officers and agencies alike. This practice is a threat to public safety and welfare, and is an insult to the lives of Americans who have fought to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the rights embodied therein.
• Any statues that criminalize euthanasia or assisted suicide.
• A juvenile being incarcerated at a facility that incarcerates adults.
• The use of secret evidence being used in connection with any criminal proceedings.
We are committed to ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to achieve the American dream. We recognize, however, that systematic discrimination against women and minorities continues to plague our country.
• Local, state, and federal laws which promote equal opportunity for all Americans by prohibiting discrimination, based on race, gender identity, religion, ethnicity, disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
• A nationwide moratorium on or elimination of the death penalty because we recognize that the criminal justice system is not without flaw in its determining the guilt or innocence of an individual and because we recognize that the imposition of the death penalty is grossly disproportionate, particularly in regard to racial minorities and indigent persons.
• Affirmative action programs. Affirmative action is not another form of discrimination. Affirmative action is a process by which institutions make opportunities available for minorities.
• Tort reform that limits a citizen’s right to redress in the judicial system.
• Recent changes to the bankruptcy code which make it more difficult for working class families and small business owners to discharge insurmountable debt and once again become contributing members of the American economy.
• The use of contracts of adhesion that include non-negotiated, mandatory binding arbitration clauses, imposed on parties with unequal bargaining power by parties with superior bargaining power.
CIVIL + HUMAN RIGHTS
All people deserve equal rights and equal access under the law. We will advocate for a pluralistic society where all people are treated with respect, dignity and equality under the law. The separation of church and state are essential to defending religious freedom for all Americans.
• A call on the U.S. Congress to establish a commission to examine the racial disparities in the criminal justice system and their effects on communities of color and the greater U.S. society.
• Passage of legislation that acknowledges the fundamental injustice of slavery and establishes a commission to study slavery’s effect on U.S. society and the residual effects of slavery on currently living African Americans.
• Extension of official U.S. recognition of Native Hawaiian political rights similar to the status held by Native American and Alaska Native groups.
• Equal and compassionate treatment for those living with HIV and AIDS.
• Full legal and social equality for LGBT Americans.
• Federal, state and local employment non-discrimination laws that outlaw bias in hiring on the basis of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, color, disability, or religion.
• Increased funding for assistive technology and interpreters.
• Focused services for people with disabilities with improved outcomes in low income, minority, and rural communities.
• Affirmative action in higher education and employment.
• Addressing the 60% unemployment rate among youth with disabilities. Recommended policies include: removing disincentives to employment, as well as to the affordability of higher education, increasing investment in peer mentoring and job shadowing programs, and developing peer-to-peer youth information resource centers.
• Adopting legislation to create programs promoting the smooth transitioning of young persons with disabilities to higher education and career opportunities according to their interests and goals.
• Legislation to remedy the institutional bias in the Medicaid program so that young people with disabilities are able to receive services and supports in community settings, empowering them to pursue and attain their educational and career goals.
• Increased support for programs and curricula to raise awareness of the disability rights movement and to dispel stereotypes about disability.
• Increasing the minimum wage, and passage of federal, state and local living wage legislation to help Americans rise out of poverty.
• Adhering to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights using the influence of the government of the United States to pressure other nations into doing the same.
• All efforts to align public policy
around the tenets of any specific
religion or to discriminate against
elements of our citizenry based on
Our society and government should treat all families equally, whether traditional or non-traditional, and support them to build stronger communities.
• Civil marriage equality for same-sex couples.
• Adoption and foster parenting laws that do not discriminate based on the attributes of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
• Day care programs for federal employees, and encourage all employers to create such programs for their employees.
• Strict sentencing for convicted domestic violence offenders.
• Parental involvement in children’s education and development of life and social skills.
• Creating a culture that values balancing family time with work.
• The value of faith as a driving principle behind our nation’s highest ideals such as kindness, family values, grace, self-sacrifice, and community service.
• Marriage incentives that force families to stay together based on finances rather than love.
• State and local marriage discrimination amendments and laws.
• Laws that have a disproportionately negative impact on single individuals.
HEALTH + SOCIAL ISSUES
The Young Democrats of America are strongly committed to securing an equitable healthcare system that values all people before profits. We believe in universal access to affordable, quality healthcare.
We believe it is a national priority to maintain federal funding for medical research, disease prevention and education.
We believe that the healthcare financing industry should not discriminate based upon health status, physical or mental disability, sex, age, family composition, or sexual orientation.
We believe that healthcare decisions should reflect patient preferences and sensitivities.
We believe in the right to affordable healthcare coverage for all Americans through a single payer system as the most cost effective means of achieving universal health care access.
We believe in federal and state policies that strive to partner with the pharmaceutical industry to provide for affordable prescription drugs for everyone. Our priority should be to provide for our senior citizens, children, and the economically disadvantaged. We also believe that the federal and state governments have a responsibility to ensure that any such prescription drug program is fair to all. We further believe that all prescription drugs should be covered by healthcare.
We believe that where embryonic stem cell research offers a viable chance to find effective treatments to critical diseases where alternative research methods are not as promising or viable, we should enable rather than hinder this scientific work for the common good.
We believe that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. We believe that decisions regarding contraception and abortion are private decisions between a woman and her doctor. We oppose any unreasonable restrictions on a woman’s right to legal abortion procedures.
We believe that all women should have access to all reproductive options, including education, contraception, and abortion when necessary, regardless of socio-economic status.
We believe that all women should have
access to RU-486, the morning after
pill, and other forms of emergency
contraception, without a prescription.
We further believe that all
contraceptive methods should be included
in medical coverage.
We believe that reforms are necessary to protect the individual while ensuring that skilled medical professionals may continue to practice and maintain affordable malpractice insurance.
We believe that it is the federal government’s responsibility to properly fund the medical establishment and emergency personnel – first responders, EMT’s, firefighters and police – to be able to respond to crisis situations.
We affirm that mental health is as
important as physical health. We
recognize drug addiction to be a health
issue, not a criminal issue, and should
be dealt with as such.
• Continued funding for comprehensive scientific-based HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and research because every effort must be made to protect the confidentiality of HIV-antibody testing.
• Funding for home health, hospice care, and Medicaid buy-in options.
• State policies that foster the creation and protection of programs to assist small businesses in the provision of health insurance.
• Expansion of state and federally funded embryonic stem cell research.
• The adoption of a true Patient’s Bill of Rights by the Congress of the United States, including the right of patients to choose, along with their doctors, their own path of medical care, as well as the right to sue their HMO.
• Parity and coverage by health insurers, we also support efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness and issues surrounding appropriate treatment.
• Comprehensive, science-based public
education focused on family planning – a
vital component of universal health care
– which includes factual information on
biology, birth control, sexually
transmitted diseases, abortion,
reproductive choices, and abstinence
education for all people, regardless of
• Tough penalties for professional athletes caught using performance-enhancing drugs.
• Discrimination against any persons with HIV/AIDS for housing, employment, education, healthcare coverage, or medical care.
• The application of the “global gag rule” to funds allocated for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs in at-risk countries.
The Young Democrats of America are strongly committed to the principles that are a matter of simple human dignity. The protections, services, and opportunities that this nation affords should be equally available to all. Therefore, we strongly oppose discrimination on any basis, including race, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression and identity, age, national origin, creed, religion, disability, or socioeconomic status.
We believe that individual victims of
discrimination by state entities should
have recourse to file civil lawsuits for
damages in federal court under federal
• Making affordable childcare a national priority.
• The right of women to serve in all capacities and aspects of the military in both combat and non-combat capacities.
SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY
We believe the United States currently leads the world in scientific research and technology development. Continued excellence requires government funding of research and higher education.
We believe that continued governmental support of space exploration has multiple benefits extending beyond the scope of space travel. We believe that space is an environment that must be respected and protected.
We believe technology and scientific advances are primary mitigating factors to the United States’ dependency on foreign oil.
We believe the fundamental right to privacy should extend to all activities in the digital world.
We believe in the importance of copyright and the protection of intellectual property while confirming the necessity of fair use.
We believe that continued research in technology security may require the open release of modern encryption and security advances and flaws. We believe that the release of this information is protected speech.
We believe that Congress should limit patent rights where restricting new technology puts lives in danger, especially emphasizing patents on pharmaceuticals.
• We support strong incentives for scientific research and development.
• We support responsible space programs that minimize dangerous chemicals and unnecessary debris being placed in Earth’s orbit.
• We vigorously support government funding for scientific research to reduce our fossil fuel dependency.
The Young Democrats of America recognize that a clean environment is critical to the health and safety of present and future generations of Americans.
Because protecting the environment is an investment in our collective future, environmental concerns must become as integral to the considerations of corporate America as fiscal matters currently are. Corporations should be rewarded for pursuing environmentally sound business models and should be held accountable when their activities have an adverse impact on the environment.
We believe in personal responsibility. Executives in industry should personally certify that their company is in compliance with environmental laws. Strict personal legal and financial consequences should result from false certification.
Policy decisions regarding environmental concerns should be based upon scientifically sound, peer-reviewed research. Government agencies and committees charged with making such decisions should further include scientists and individuals whose education, training and credentials demonstrate their integrity, objectivity and acceptance in the scientific community.
• Policies that aggressively protect our natural resources including our air, water, soil, forests, open spaces and promote energy independence.
• Policies designed to promote environmentally responsible business practices, such as tax incentives for “green” businesses, as well as aggressive enforcement of existing environmental statues.
• Reform of public health and environmental statutes to make penalties for violation more costly than the expense of compliance.
• Aggressive enforcement of environmental statutes such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Recovery Act (CERCLA), among others, by both state and federal governments.
• Efforts to promote environmental justice, including increased federal funding of Superfund programs and revitalization of brownfields.
• Incentives to encourage environmentally sustainable farming practices (agro-ecology).
• Policies that encourage domestic carbon sequestration through the establishment of an open carbon sequestration market. Practices such as no-till land management allow the American farmer to capture a portion of the carbon monoxide and limit its release into our environment.
• The development of policies and procedures to provide the highest standards of safety and security of our nation’s nuclear and chemical facilities.
• Policies that allow for the transportation of nuclear waste and highly toxic chemicals through large population centers.
Our national parks, seacoasts, coastlines, and waterways are among our greatest assets. The government has a responsibility to maintain and to protect these national treasures.
We recognize that our public lands are vital to the social and economic lives of all Americans. Public lands should be managed according to principles of multiple use and responsible stewardship, including preservation of open spaces.
• Reinstatement of the “roadless rule” in national forests and other public lands. We oppose oil exploration and mineral extraction in areas with fragile ecosystems, particularly the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.
• Aggressive efforts to protect the water resources and ecosystems of the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways.
• Any initiative that irreparably damages our nation’s natural habitat, including lifting moratoria on offshore drilling and related mapping activities.
• Any policies that systematically subject public lands to use by destructive industries and interests to the exclusion of other Americans.
• Any attempt to weaken the Endangered Species Act as currently enacted. Americans have expressed a desire to protect the health and welfare of animals through a variety of statutes. However, these statutes and their implementing regulations are not aggressively enforced. We support adequate funding and aggressive enforcement of these statutes.
We recognize that our future lies with clean energy, which will reduce pollution, diversify our national energy sources, promote national security and provide Americans with huge cost savings. Thus, we urge a strong national commitment to a clean energy future.
The scientific community has reached consensus: global warming is real, and it is affecting us today.
We recognize that environmental decisions have transnational effects. Accordingly, we urge ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, which is an important step towards global reduction of greenhouse gas pollution.
• Efforts to reduce and eliminate greenhouse gases, including aggressive promotion of public transportation and alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, hydrogen fuel cells, “clean” coal extraction, biomass, fuel cells, wave and tidal energy. Such new energy sources benefit not only the environment, but also American farmers and industries for which such new technologies represent untapped markets.
• Efforts to reduce mercury pollution, including the reduction or elimination of the single largest source of mercury pollution in the United States: coal-fired power plants.
• The elimination of the “grandfather” provisions of the Clean Air Act that exempt certain legacy coal-fired power plants from complying with current emissions standards.
• The long-term replacement of nuclear power with clean, renewable energy sources should be encouraged. We urge greater protection and vigilance to ensure the safety of existing nuclear plants, storage, and other facilities.
• The long term efforts to conserve energy and reduce pollution by complementing our clogged interstate highway system with efficient regional and national high-speed rail systems.
As a party of opportunity for all Americans, we must work to build strong rural communities based on family values that are vibrant places to live, work and play.
• Efforts to encourage the development of small businesses that are best positioned to serve the needs of rural communities.
• Measures to protect the unique character of rural communities, including smart growth policies that preserve farmland and open space while expanding economic opportunity for community residents.
• Efforts to support the development of family farms by protecting their ability to make a living off the land and successfully compete on a fair playing field with larger agribusiness corporations.
• Measures to encourage community involvement in the development process to ensure it benefits the community in the best way possible.
• The development of medical services and urgent care in rural areas so needed medical care is available as quickly as possible.
• The right of every citizen to own guns for hunting and sport.
• Expanding broadband Internet access to bridge the digital divide and attract young professionals to raise families, as well as business investment to create more economic opportunity.
• Efforts to encourage the development of arts and culture programs for students in rural communities.
We believe urban areas and communities are important economic, cultural, and social epicenters which are vital to our country’s well being.
We believe these areas are rich in history and diverse, and support their continued preservation.
We believe urban centers have the highest population density and they contain the highest percentage of poverty by area.
We believe that since the Americans with Disabilities Act has not sufficiently addressed the lack of accessible housing for persons with disabilities, that government policy should promote the use of inclusive design principles in housing projects receiving federal funds.
• Downtown revitalization efforts through public and private partnerships, bringing community activists, business leaders, and government officials together to rebuild and reinvest in urban communities.
• Funding and implementation of public transportation systems to reduce congestion and improve air quality.
• Smart growth policies to promote urban renewal while keeping racial and ethnic concerns in mind and attempting to preserve the character of a community.
• The continued development and improved quality of government sponsored low-income housing.
• The government sponsorship of urban mental health and substance abuse clinics to support urban residents in underserved communities.
• More vigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act to prevent discriminatory practices.
• The use of inclusionary zoning to ensure that urban neighborhoods reflect the full socioeconomic diversity of their cities.
• The use of eminent domain to take private property unless such taking is for traditionally public use such as the building of public facilities or roads.
Public schools are the foundation and first lesson of democracy, bringing together families of diverse experience, ability, and backgrounds for the common purpose of learning. Public education should be the ultimate equalizer. As Democrats it is our top priority to mobilize all communities to eliminate the socio-economic achievement gap apparent in America today.
• Mechanisms that encourage new and innovative approaches to address educational challenges and needs.
• Mechanisms which help students, parents, educators, and the community to have a significant voice in their own education.
• Financial mechanisms which ensure consistent education funding regardless of economic cycles.
• Adequately funding public education on the state and federal level.
• Fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Act on the national level.
• Increased funding for need-based grants, and changes to federal financial aid programs to ensure that taxpayers’ investments are used efficiently to maximize benefits for all students. Financial obstacles should not interfere with any American’s right to higher education.
• Comprehensive and effective sex education, including abstinence, contraceptives, same-sex sex education, HIV/AIDS and other STD prevention programs.
• Allowing every child to be able to attend pre-K, full day Kindergarten, and Head Start programs.
• The doctrine that all mandated programs be fully supported and funded by the mandating institution.
• Bilingual and multi-cultural education programs for everyone starting at an early age.
• A fair wage and benefits for teachers and annual cost of living increases for all levels of education.
• Smaller class sizes which in turn improves the quality of education.
• A comprehensive financial literacy education, including responsible use of credit, basic knowledge of investments, and the importance of savings.
• Efforts opposing any funding or voucher program that would withdraw funding from public schools and redirect it to private and/or parochial institutions.
• A renewed effort to improve schools and quality of education in urban communities and high density areas.
• Rural schools and do not discriminate based on population density or sparsity.
• Efforts to keep rural schools open
and allowing local autonomy in dealing
with this issue.
YDA Platform 2003-2005: A Fresh Start for America
The primary purpose of American government is to provide for and protect the American people.
It is vital that Democrats are entrusted as leaders because we care about the fate of all Americans. Because of this, we are the best choice for citizens who wish to build their communities and provide a quality existence for their families.
These are the values that will give a fresh start to America.
* We will restore the American economy
and create jobs though immediate tax
relief for middle and working class
Americans, establishing a public works
initiative in rural and urban areas, and
return confidence to our nation’s stock
markets by mandating honest disclosure
and accounting practices.
* The most fundamental function of
government is to protect its people. We
encourage federal, state, and local
governments to work together to fight
terrorism. We support preventative
programs that encourage children to
abstain from a life of crime, and
innovative ideas like community policing
that encourage people to fight crime
* Education is a fundamental right for people of all ages. In order to ensure a quality education, we will fully fund early childhood programs and improve public schools through better teacher pay and smaller class sizes. We will make a college education affordable for all Americans through targeted tax cuts, low interest loans, and stronger student aid programs.
* Too many hard working citizens do not posses health insurance. We will pass legislation guaranteeing access to coverage for every child and every working American. We will ensure every person can afford prescription drugs.
* A government that lives within its means is essential to avoid burdening future generations with our current fiscal irresponsibility. We will balance the budget by reigning in runaway spending, implementing tax plans that favor working Americans, and modernizing government services.
* Democrats recognize that the United States is part of a global community where nations work together to achieve prosperity. We will support policies that foster a spirit of international cooperation, solving global problems with global solutions. We believe that a strong military is necessary to maintain foreign and domestic interests.
* Democrats believe in equality for all people. We support initiatives that guarantee all Americans have the right to equal protection under the law, opportunities in the workplace, and access to a quality education.
* We will create policies that enforce corporate accountability, justly punish white collar criminals, and ensure that abuses effecting employees never happen again. Furthermore, we explicitly support the right of employees to collectively bargain.
* The fundamental rights found in the Constitution lay at the heart of our democracy. Democrats will always seek to protect and defend these freedoms. We will exercise restraint in all areas where these rights may be infringed.
* Democrats recognize the importance of protecting the environment for ourselves, our children, and all future generations. We will actively pursue policies that promote activities such recycling and environmentally friendly energy alternatives. We will hold companies who hurt the environment responsible.
We, the Democratic Party, put forth this vision for the future of the United States of America to guarantee that the greatness of the generations of the 21st century surpass all others before them.
Affordable Housing and Transportation
We support the funding and implementation of public transportation systems to improve the mobility of all urban citizens, reducing congestion cost-effectively.
* We support the creation of regional planning authorities as the best means of managing and controlling urban growth, optimizing transportation systems, sustaining rural communities, and preserving farmland and green space.
* We support fair and inclusive housing ordinances to avoid concentrations of poverty and to enhance social cohesion.
* We believe existing public assistance is inadequate to cover rental costs for low income individuals. We understand that block grants are not the answer. Rather, we support increased funding to ensure existing Section 8 vouchers can be renewed.
* We support more vigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act to prevent discriminatory practices.
* We support policies that will lead to increased homeownership, especially for first-time homebuyers. We support economic incentives to empower public housing residents to become home buyers.
*We support policies that will lead to the availability of privately built affordable housing, including increased density along transit corridors in urban and suburban areas.
*We believe that since the Americans with Disabilities Act has not sufficiently addressed the lack of accessible housing for persons with disabilities, that government policy should promote the use of inclusive design principles in housing projects receiving federal funds.
The Young Democrats of America acknowledge that agriculture is a vital part of the American economy and homeland security and believe that government should take an active role in supporting its sustainability. Because agriculture embodies the connectedness of communities and bio-regions as well as serves as the economic base for rural America, government should take measures to promote the economic health of the family farm.
* It is imperative that the United States maintains a broad base of domestic agricultural production. In the interest of domestic food security this base should include diverse commodities as well as protections for small family farmers. We recognize the challenges that cyclical markets place on American agriculture, and deem it necessary to provide sustainable price supports.
*We support removing barriers to trade for American farmers. Tariffs and embargoes restrict access to vital international markets. Developing new markets, such as in Cuba, is imperative in increasing product distribution and maintaining sustainable prices for agricultural commodities.
*We urge the Congress to fully fund the Country of Origin Labeling requirement of the 2002 Farm Bill. Once fully funded, Country of Origin Labeling will allow consumers to make more informed decisions in their food purchases, increase the demand for domestic commodities, and increase a sense of security among consumers.
*We support increased research funding for developing alternative crops, and the integration of bio-technology. We recognize that American agricultural research has been the driving force in allowing the American farmer to maintain a competitive advantage on the world market. Investments in agricultural research and development will increase yields and reduce environmental impact.
*We support incentives to encourage American farmers to engage in environmentally sustainable farming practices (agro-ecology).
* We support measures in the recent Farm Bill to increase funding for the Conservation Reserve Program. This program is a shining example of the American farmer and the environmental community walking hand in hand to preserve America’s precious natural resources. By removing marginal farmland from production, we will lessen the impact on the health of our water supplies, conserve precious topsoil, and return native species by creating additional habitat. This slight reduction in production will improve commodity prices and help level the cyclical nature of agricultural markets.
* We support policies that encourage domestic carbon sequestration through the establishment of an open carbon sequestration market. Practices such as no-till land management allow the American farmer to capture a portion of the carbon monoxide and limit its release into our environment.
* We support enacting legislation that more strictly limits the quantity of vertical integration within the production of agricultural commodities.
* We support subsidies for the development of agro-based fuels and bio-mass energy production. This provides a new market for the American farmer while reducing dependence on foreign oil in a manner that is environmentally sound.
Rural Economic Development
The Young Democrats of America supports investing in America’s small towns and rural communities, therefore we support preserving the livelihood and well being, as well as the integrity and character of rural America.
* We support economic incentives to attract and keep business and industry in rural America. This provides economic growth and promotes job creation in these communities and surrounding areas. This gives citizens of rural communities the opportunity to reside in their community without having to move for employment.
* We consider high-speed Internet a vital component of education and communication with the outside world. Governments should consider it a priority to work together to bring affordable high-speed Internet access to rural communities.
* We support preserving the Federal Loan Repayment Program for physicians practicing in rural communities. We also believe in expanding the program to include nurses and other health professionals to ensure access to healthcare and preserve the quality of life in our rural communities. Furthermore we believe that fair Medicaid reimbursements need to be paid to states with small communities so that quality health care can be available to those living in those areas.
* We support the funding, construction, and maintenance of quality roads, highways, bridges, rails, and airports serving remote rural areas; therefore connecting these communities to better economic opportunities.
* We support Smart Growth policies that bring community and business leaders, and environmental activists together to better maintain and support the integrity and character of rural communities as they expand.
Urban and Suburban Economic Development
The Young Democrats of America supports the livelihood and well being of urban and suburban America, therefore we back initiatives that maintain the health of these communities and promote a stable economy.
* We support urban and downtown revitalization efforts through public-private partnerships bringing community activists, and government and business leaders together to rebuild and reinvest in our communities, promoting tourism, encouraging business investment, and creating jobs.
* We support the funding and implementation of public transportation systems to improve the mobility of all urban and suburban citizens and lessening dependency of automobile use, therefore enhancing cleaner air.
* We support responsible efforts that will help curb unnecessary suburban sprawl, preserve natural open spaces and promote the livelihood of the city’s urban core.
* We support the further funding of incentives to foster the growth and stability of neighborhood and educational organizations that enhance the quality of life in the surrounding communities.
* We support initiatives that provide for the infrastructure to bring high-speed Internet access to impoverished urban and suburban communities, therefore narrowing the gap of the Digital Divide.
* We support preserving the Federal Loan Repayment Program for physicians practicing in underserved urban communities. We also believe in expanding the program to include nurses and other health professionals to ensure access to healthcare and preserve the quality of life in our at risk urban communities.
* We support Smart Growth policies that bring community and business leaders and environmental activists together to better maintain and support the integrity and character of urban and suburban communities as they expand.
The Young Democrats of America believes that all Americans need to have an opportunity for economic success while being held responsible for their individual actions. We believe that federal policy should foster a healthy economic environment for all Americans.
* We believe that government has the responsibility to promote the continued growth of our economy through investments in people and infrastructure.
* We support the effort to balance the federal budget and eliminate the national debt while protecting American values such as public education, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the environment.
* We support tax reforms that are fair and reasonable, beneficial to all, and that facilitate and encourage an overall decrease in the economic gap between the upper and lower classes. We also support any restructuring of the Bush tax cut plan that would put less financial burden on the middle and lower class.
* In addition to tax reforms, we support a public works program to rebuild America’s infrastructure, create jobs, and stimulate the economy.
* We recognize the need to protect the economic security of current and future generations. In order to preserve and protect Social Security for our Nation’s senior citizens, people with disabilities, and other groups at risk, we oppose any privatization of Social Security.
* We recognize the increasing importance and demand for responsible international trade in restoring America’s economic growth and prosperity. We also recognize the need for regulatory standards in international working environments as a part of responsible international trade. To this end, we believe The United States should take an active role in promoting the rights of workers here and abroad.
* We believe that the federal government has a duty to protect consumers, laborers, and citizens from abusive, negligent, and predatory trade practices. This oversight role is important to the lives of Americans.
* We believe that the proper measure for success in any welfare reform program is that the families health and general well-being is to be addressed first, and that and that any action taken is not merely the reduction of a caseload.
* We oppose the funds for Faith-based Charities as outlined in the Bush Administration initiatives. This in light of the capacity for unfairness and prejudice in American fiscal policy.
Young Democrats of America believes that public education at all levels and for all abilities is the wisest investment we can make for the future of our nation. Democratic Education policy will truly leave no child behind.
* We recognize that smaller classroom size allows students to have more individual attention from teachers, thus translating to an accelerated learning curve, especially in pre-secondary education, and therefore actively support the funding of programs designed to reduce classroom sizes.
* We believe in every child’s right to attend pre-school and full day kindergarten. We also recognize every qualified student’s right to attend Head Start and recommend that the program continue to be funded at the Federal level.
* Because students and teachers hail from different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, and because the Bill of Rights must be protected, we support the separation of church and state in the educational system.
* We oppose any plan that increases the inequality of educational opportunity or that increases ethnic or socioeconomic isolation or diverts public moneys into private schools.
* We recognize the ongoing struggle in our public schools to recruit highly qualified professionals to educate our youth and strongly support the development of programs such as pay increases and increased benefits aimed to accentuate the paramount importance of teachers in today’s global society.
* We recognize the need for programs geared to preparing students to compete in today’s global market. Therefore we support the implementation of programs such as bilingual and two-way bilingual education in order to promote a cross-cultural exchange of ideas in the classroom. In addition, we support a multicultural model for education as a means of achieving a holistic approach to learning.
* We encourage the private sector support of public education through the formation of working partnerships between the corporate community, labor unions, local business community and local public education school districts. Through this mutually beneficial information sharing process, students will gain access to increased career opportunities and the business community will gain increased access to their stakeholder community.
* We support a strong health component being taught in the pubic schools that addresses issues of family planning, prevention of STDs (including HIV/AIDS), social relationships, contraceptives and abstinence. We also support making condoms available to middle and high school students.
* We support the local involvement of parents, students and teachers on school advisory boards and state education panels.
* At every level of education, we support the commitment of the ADA, IDEA sec. 504 of Education Rehabilitation Act as it pertains to educational access opportunities. To this end, we support that state and federal entities should fulfill their funding obligations as expeditiously as possible.
* We support increased funding and guaranteed access to state and federal funds via loans and grants so that every citizen has the opportunity to continue their education without financial obstructions.
* We support standardized testing only as a diagnostic tool and not as a requirement for graduation or promotion as all standard tests also promote a “teach to the test” philosophy that interferes with broad based and creative curriculums.
* We support programs aimed at reducing violence both inside and outside the public school system through educational resources such as after-school programs, workshops and community programs that advocate constructive conflict resolution as well as the understanding and acceptance of the inherent cultural and ideological differences in society.
* We recognize that public education is not limited to America’s youth. Therefore, we strongly support federal funding for programs allowing working adults to continue their educational advancement. We further support funding for programs that assist single parents with achieving their educational goals.
* We believe the federal government should invest in the arts, humanities and sciences because it is an important part of personal development and life-long learning.
* To ensure that the current and future generations of public school students are educated in an environment conducive to learning, we recommend that the Federal government assist state and local governments in the construction and innovation of public school facilities.
* We recognize that special need students with developmental, learning and/or physical disabilities may require additional assistance and/or time in order to complete their required coursework. Therefore, we recommend increased Federal funding for these students at all levels of education in order for them to achieve their highest level of learning potential as they progress through the elementary, secondary and higher education systems.
* We support the repeal of the No Child Left Behind Act. The Federal government does not provide school districts with additional time and funding necessary to meet the provisional requirements and does not create a rewards program for those districts that meet the NCLB standards in the time required
* We recommend that all university textbook sales be exempt from states sales tax charges.
* We support programs in public schools that educate students and promote acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. We also support mandatory teacher training to deal with on campus discrimination of GLBT students and provide these students with safe and secure environments
The Young Democrats of America recognize that health and safety of present and future generations of Americans depends on a clean environment. Democrats pursue policies promoting the protection of air, water, soil, forests, and energy independence.
* We oppose oil exploration and mineral extraction in areas with fragile ecosystems, particularly the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.
* Our national parks, seacoasts, coastlines, and waterways are among our greatest assets. The government has a responsibility to maintain and to protect these national treasures. We oppose any initiative that add irreparably damages our nation’s natural habitat. Including lifting moratoria on offshore drilling.
* We support offering tax incentives to companies dedicated to bettering their environmental practices and reducing pollutant output and improving energy efficiency.
* Corporations must be held accountable when their activities have an adverse impact on the environment.
* We support efforts promoting environmental justice, including increased federal funding of Super Fund programs.
* Grassroots organizations seeking to preserve and protect the environmental integrity of their communities should be consulted in matters of environmental policy.
* Greenhouse gasses need to be reduced. Water quality regulations need to be strengthened and enforced.
* We support energy independence and the reduction of the use of nuclear power should be encouraged. We encourage the development and implementation of safe, proven, and renewable energy sources. New and creative energy alternatives should be researched fully and implemented whenever possible.
* We urge greater protection and vigilance to ensure the safety of existing nuclear plants and facilities.
* We support the development of efficient and safe methods to dispose of our nuclear waste. We are opposed to the transportation of high-level radioactive waste to any waste repository such as Yucca Mountain in Nevada and Hanford Nuclear Facility in Washington.
The Young Democrats of Americas Strongly Support Ethical Conduct in all aspect of government.
* The Young Democrats of America Believe that candidate and public officials should continually adhere to the highest standards of professional ethical conduct and held accountable for their behavior. We respect the right of public officials to maintain separate professional and personal lives.
Health and Social Issues
The Young Democrats of America is strongly committed to securing an equitable healthcare system that values all people before profits. We believe in universal access to affordable, quality healthcare.
* We believe it is a national priority to maintain federal funding for medical research, disease prevention and education.
* Discrimination against any persons with HIV/AIDS for housing, employment, education, healthcare coverage, or medical care will not be tolerated.
* We strongly support continued funding for comprehensive scientific-based HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and research. We believe every effort must be made to protect the confidentiality of HIV-antibody testing.
* We believe that the healthcare financing industry should not discriminate based upon health status, physical or mental disability, sex, age, family composition, or sexual orientation.
* We believe in federal and state policies that strive to partner with the pharmaceutical industry to provide for affordable prescription drugs for everyone. Our priority should be to provide for our senior citizens, children, and the economically disadvantaged. We also believe that the federal and state governments have a responsibility to ensure that any such prescription drug program is fair to all. We also believe that all prescription drugs should be covered by healthcare
* We believe that healthcare decisions should reflect patient preferences and sensitivities. To that end, we support funding for home health, hospice care, and Medicaid buy-in options.
* We support state policies that foster the creation and protection of programs to assist small businesses in the provision of health insurance.
* Due to the potential for medical advances, we support government funding for research of stem cells at the donor’s discretion.
* We support the adoption of a true Patient’s Bill of Rights by the Congress of the United States, including the right of patients to choose, along with their doctors, their own path of medical care, as well as the right to sue their HMO.
* We believe late-term abortion should be a safe and legal option in cases of a threat to the life or health of the mother. We fully support the majority opinion of the Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court in 1973.
* We believe that reforms are necessary to protect the individual while ensuring that skilled medical professionals may continue to practice can reduce affordable malpractice insurance.
* We believe that it is the federal government’s responsibility to properly fund the medical establishment and emergency personnel – first responders, EMT’s, firefighters and police – to be able to respond to crisis situations.
* We strongly oppose the application of the “global gag rule” to funds allocated for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs in at-risk countries.
* We affirm that mental health is as important as physical health, support parity and coverage by health insurers, we also support efforts to destigmatize mental illness and issues surrounding app treatment
The Young Democrats of America are strongly committed to the principles that are a matter of simple human dignity. The protections, services, and opportunities that this nation affords should be equally available to all. Therefore, we strongly oppose discrimination on any basis, including race, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression and identity, age, national origin, creed, religion, disability, or socioeconomic status.
* We believe that all women should have access to all reproductive options, including education, contraception, and abortion when necessary, regardless of socio-economic status.
* We support making affordable childcare a national priority.
* The Young Democrats of America strongly support comprehensive, science-based public education focused on family planning – a vital component of universal health care – which includes factual information on biology, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, reproductive choices, and abstinence education for all people, regardless of sexual orientation. To that end, we also believe that all contraceptive methods should be included in medical coverage.
* We support the choice and ability of people, regardless of sexual orientation, to serve openly in the military, without the fear of facing social repercussions for their service or retaliation from fellow military personnel or supervisors.
* We support the right of women to serve in all capacities and aspects of the military in both combat and non-combat capacities.
* Not withstanding the recent Supreme Court decisions in Garrett, Morrisson, and Kimel, we believe that individual victims of discrimination by state entities should have recourse to file civil lawsuits for damages in federal court under federal anti-discrimination laws.
The Young Democrats believe in a foreign policy that embraces cultural and political diversity. We believe our foreign policy plan should focus on building international cooperation, on improving the world’s environment, promoting an open marketplace for economic trade between all countries, and protecting our national interest.
* Although we strongly oppose the human rights violations on the island of Cuba, we support efforts that allow trade between the United States and Cuba to promote democratic principles and ideologies.
* We acknowledge the enduring tragedy that is the spread of AIDS in Africa and around the world. Instead of mere rhetoric, we must truly employ measures that will supply African nations with access to AIDS education and health care.
* We support the advancement and encourage the role of women in international politics.
* We believe the United States should play a leading role in fostering environmental progress in cooperation with the international community.
* We endorse no policy that stifles the ability for a people to achieve representative government.
* We believe that the United States should not engage in preemptive military action.
* We support eliminating our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
* We believe all foreign prisoners captured by the United States military should be afforded all rights and privileges provided to prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.
* We believe the United States should not take part in any assassination of any foreign leaders.
* We will work to strengthen international relations, understand our role as a model for the world and hold ourselves to the same standards which we hold other nations.
* We support the use of diplomatic means to resolve all conflicts and turn only to military action when all diplomatic options have failed.
* We promote the values of free trade: capital, labor, and goods without catalyzing a race to the bottom (I.e., social dumping, degradation of human rights, and the destruction of the natural environment.).
The Young Democrats of America strongly supports the rights of workers to form unions to gain a voice in their workplace, and the political process. We recognize that the labor movement has been responsible for the advent of the eight-hour day, minimum wage, and overtime pay. We firmly believe that union membership should be open to all, including immigrant workers, regardless of legal status.
* We applaud the efforts of state and local governments to increase the minimum wage beyond the level currently mandated by federal government. We also support state and municipal efforts to pass living wage ordinances because every worker should be able to afford food, housing, and health care to his or her family
* We believe that all workers should be assured the protection of effective laws that guarantee their right to organize, join the union of their choice, and bargain collectively with their employer, free from anti-union tactics. In that spirit, we oppose permanent replacement of striking workers. We also strongly oppose “right to work” laws that dismantle the strides taken by organized labor to ensure workers’ safety.
* We support comprehensive right to know laws giving all employees access to information about hazardous materials used in their workplace and the correct protective measure to reduce the risk of harmful exposure. WE support the overall safety of all employees.
* We strongly endorse the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLA) which benefits both workers and businesses by ensuring that projects are on time and on budge.
* We realize as Young Democrats that emergencies and family crises should not cause undue loss of employment. We fully and unconditionally support the Family and Medical Leave Act.
* The Young Democrats of America is concerned about the loss of labor intensive jobs that are being replaced by technical means and automation. We do however; strongly support scientific and technological progress. Thus, the Young Democrats of America backs expanded job retraining at the federal, state, and local level.
* Gay and lesbian employees in the workforce should be provided with benefits that recognize a legal domestic partnership as equivalent to spouses.
* The Young Democrats of America strongly supports employment practices that prevent discrimination in the workplace based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, creed, religion, disabilities, and socioeconomic status.
* We support the creation of a meaningful ergonomics standard to prevent injuries to thousands of workers annually.
* The Young Democrats of America supports efforts to grant amnesty and labor protection to legal immigrant workers.
* We support the concept of an equal days’ pay for an equal days’ work. Gender disparities in salary are inexcusable. Therefore, pay equity is viewed by the Young Democrats as a serious issue that should be addressed by federal and state legislation.
* The Young Democrats of America supports initiatives that increase workers’ compensation and/or temporary disability benefits for injured or disabled workers.
* The Young Democrats of America firmly supports the enforcement of existing labor laws to eliminate the use of “sweatshop” manufacturing facilities domestically. Furthermore, we encourage our members to avoid the use of products made under the sub-human conditions in foreign factories as well.
* We believe the federal government while fostering and creating positive international trade, should support initiatives that protect and create jobs for workers in the United States.
* The YDA supports and recognizes the rights of student employees, including resident assistants, to organize, join, and participate in unions free of coercion and intimidation tactics.
* We support the reform of H1B and L1B visas granted to foreign information technology workers.
Law and Justice
The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are the cornerstone of our democratic system of government. These are the supreme law of the land, and their protections apply equally without prejudice or bias to all citizens and people of the United States.
The Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence incorporate inalienable rights, and we dedicate ourselves to ensuring that these rights never be denied. These rights of life, liberty, privacy, property, and the pursuit of happiness see no barrier placed upon race, religion, color, gender, ethnic background, disability, age, sexual orientation or any other ascribed or achieved status or trait that a person may have.
* We support the men and women of this nation who every day wear the badge of safety and law-enforcement agencies. The senseless death of any one of these protectors is a tragedy.
* We, however, condemn the ongoing practices of profiling by race, socioeconomic status, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic background, national origin, or disability practiced by individual law-enforcement officers and agencies alike. this continual practice is a threat to the public safety and welfare, and is an insult to the lives of Americans, both past and present, who have fought to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the Civil Rights encompassed in the body of its text.
* Juveniles convicted of criminal offenses requiring incarceration should be housed in facilities that are safe and clean. Emphasis must be placed on rehabilitation of juvenile offenders into prosperous and productive adults. Juveniles who are accused of crimes shall have the same Due Process rights as adults. At no time shall a juvenile be incarcerated at a facility that incarcerates adults.
* All houses of incarceration shall be safe and clean. It shall be unlawful for any custodial officer to have sexual relations with those whom they guard.
* We advocate that police forces refrain from the excessive use of force and police brutality, and we support programs that prevent and punish such actions.
* We advocate that police forces use the least invasive methods of investigation necessary to uphold the law. The war on drugs and terrorism should not be used to justify widespread violation of privacy and civil rights in the United States and abroad.
* We support the legal rights of every law-abiding citizen to own and posses a firearm. We support strict background checks prior to any firearm purchases, including at gun shows, Internet purchases, to ensure that those who should not get firearms do not get them. We support mandatory safety training in gun usage and handling techniques prior to the first firearm purchase. We support penalties and enforcements of the laws relating to intermediaries, including parents or guardians, who aid in the furnishing and distribution of firearms to minors. We call on the federal government to invest the necessary resources to accomplish instant background checks.
* We advocate the initiation of studies by both the Food and Drug Administration and independent research facilities or organizations about the advantages and disadvantages of the medicinal uses of marijuana. Additionally, we support granting people who are seriously ill or debilitated access to marijuana as prescribed by a physician to alleviate symptoms and to improve their quality of life, without fear of being charged or convicted of a crime.
* Secret evidence should never be used in connection with any legal proceedings. People who are subject to deportation proceedings shall have the same Due Process rights as those accused of a crime.
* We reaffirm our commitment to preserving, protecting, and defending the right to a trial by jury in all matters exceeding $20 as enumerated by the 7th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
* We oppose any attempts by any state legislatures and judiciaries to restrict to its citizenry the fullest measures of justice in the court system. We further oppose any hindrance to the deliverance of justice and compensation to the people whom corporations and big business have wronged through the imposition of caps on jury awards.
* We oppose the use of contracts of adhesion that include non-negotiated, mandatory binding arbitration clauses, imposed on parties with unequal bargaining power by parties with superior bargaining power.
* We strongly support legal, civil marriage laws which provide identical privileges and responsibilities to couples, same sex or opposite sex, to contribute to stable communities. Furthermore, same-sex legal, civil marriages that are performed in, and sanctioned by, one state, should be recognized as legal marriages in all other states, by and through the “Full, Faith, and Credit” clause of the Constitution.
* We are committed to ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to achieve the American dream. We strongly support local, state, and federal laws, which promote equal opportunity for all Americans by prohibiting discrimination, based on race, gender identity, religion, ethnicity, disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
We recognize, however, that systematic discrimination against women and minorities continues to plague our country. For this reason, we strongly support affirmative action programs. Affirmative action is not another form of discrimination. Affirmative action is a process by which institutions make opportunities available for minorities.
President Clinton outlined the four standards of fairness in 1995:
o No quotas in theory or in practice
o No illegal discrimination of any kind
o No preferences for people who are not qualified.
o As soon as a program has succeeded it must be retired.
We believe that sexual orientation and gender identity should not be a factor in custody cases or in the removal of children from their homes in Department of Social Services (or agencies of similar titles-varies within the States) investigations and recommendations.
* We strongly believe that the constitution was created to protect and support all people in this country. Therefore, we strongly oppose any constitutional amendment that codifies discrimination of any type.
* Because we recognize that the criminal justice system is not without flaw in its determining the guilt or innocence of an individual and because we recognize that the imposition of the death penalty is grossly disproportionate, particularly in regard to racial minorities and indigent persons, we support efforts to compose a moratorium on the death penalty
* The Young Democrats of America agree wholeheartedly with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when we say, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
National Defense and Homeland Security
The Young Democrats of America supports efforts to secure our nation from all enemies, both foreign and domestic, by whatever means that are consistent with the Constitution.
* We believe the United States should maintain the strongest military in the world. The United States should ensure that our military meets the needs of operation and readiness in the most cost-effective manner with the highest level of technology available.
* We support full cooperation with the international community and within the structure of the United Nations to bring about peaceful resolutions to global conflicts and reject unwarranted unilateral military action.
* We support the ratification of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to ensure that future generations of Americans can live in a safer, more secure world.
* We believe that all men and women serving in the armed forces should be regarded with the highest honor and respect, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, disability, religion or sexual orientation. An open, inclusive military reflects the values of freedom and liberty upon which our nation was founded and increases the caliber of its personnel.
* We seek an American customs policy that prevents the smuggling of illegal armaments onto American soil. We support the provision of funds and implementation of policies to strengthen our borders by inspecting every cargo container that enters through America’s seaports or crosses our borders.
* We believe that the National Missile Defense System would further destabilize global politics and international relations, thus alienating our most important allies in the war against terror. Moreover, this undertaking is neither the most efficient use of our defense budget nor an effective deterrent to terrorism. Fully funding other federal, state and local law enforcement would do more the increase the safety of every American.
* We believe that securing the homeland means investing in our law enforcement and emergency personnel in communities across America, equipping them with the resources needed to combat terrorism on the home front. We believe that the heroes serving courageously on the front lines of our nation’s defense - firefighters, police officers, health professionals and others who serve - deserve the resources and funding required to perform the essential tasks of keeping our nation safe.
* We fully support the men and women who serve our country in the Armed Forces. To this end, we support providing a competitive livable wage, full health care coverage and benefits to all military personnel. Furthermore, we recognize the sacrifice our veterans have made for our country, and therefore support providing full retirement benefits, including full health care, housing support, and disability funding, as promised.
* We believe that National Guard and Reserve units represent an integral aspect of maintaining a strong national defense. We encourage the full funding and recruitment of these units.
The Young Democrats of America value democracy and support efforts to ensure fair and free elections.
* We believe the federal government should be in charge of standardizing voting procedures and devices in order to avoid discrepancies and to ensure that votes cast are tabulated scientifically and impartially.
* We support non-precinct voting, early voting, and Election Day as a national holiday.
* Additionally, we support same day voter registration and election.
* The Young Democrats of America support thorough campaign finance reform to ensure that money is not a deciding factor in the outcome of elections.
* We believe that the federal government should serve all people and encourage their participation in the democratic process regardless of race, age, disabilities, sexual orientation, religion, creed, gender, or criminal history.
* We will not tolerate voting impediments or voter intimidation in any form. We oppose any law that would require identification to vote, because such laws only serve as impediments to the elderly and minorities. In addition we oppose any attempt to purge voter rolls.
* We support state and federal agencies in providing ongoing absentee ballot application service, including among eligible college students, recently naturalized US citizens, and physically disabled citizens, and thereby to enable participation in ongoing absentee voting. We also support uniform national standards for voter registration and absentee ballot application allowing all citizens, regardless of state residence, to apply for and participate in ongoing absentee voter status.
* We support state efforts to restore voting rights to ex-felons.
* We believe that citizens of the District of Colombia should have voting representation in Congress equal to one of the 50 states with same population.
* As electronic voting is becoming more popular and widely used the Young Democrats of America strongly supports a paper trail requirement that protects individual privacy while preventing fraud.
Privacy and Technology
The Young Democrats of America believe that the fundamental rights to privacy enjoyed by American citizens should be extended to all activities in the digital world and we believe that technological developments should not threaten the integrity of intellectual copyrights.
* We believe in the protection of youth and adolescents from internet predators.
* We affirm the importance of copyright and protection of intellectual property. We also confirm the necessity of a doctrine of fair usage. We encourage the commercial development of contractual for pay services for exchange of electronic property that recognize both factors.
* We condemn groups holding intellectual property libraries for enforcing copyrights with underhanded tactics designed to intimidate users, specifically targeting youth and others without the resources the defend themselves, while selectively not targeting member companies associated with those groups.
* We oppose provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) that allow the circumvention of due process.
* We support exceptions to the DMCA to provide research and educational institutions the tools to build research and archival libraries such as through reverse engineering of defunct technologies in order to preserve them and other archival methods prohibited by the DMCA.
* We are in favor of updating of doctrine of fair usage to reflect developments in technology and widespread use of mixed media.
* We urge that federal laws and standards or privacy as applied to postal mail be extended to electronic mail. We urge federal laws and standards to protect the privacy of all citizens while connected to the internet.
Youth and Family
We believe that our nation’s youth and families are its most valuable resources and highest priorities. We urge the federal government—which often claims to agree with this statement in words – to begin to prove it in action.
* The Young Democrats of America believe there must be increased funding and attention to youth issues in general and positive youth development in specific. More federal dollars and energies must be spent on programs and services that not only prevent young people from engaging in negative behaviors but promote their involvement in positive ones.
* We believe that involving adolescents and youth in the decision making of educational issues and other youth related policies, have resulted in long-term benefits and have improved public policies. We believe that young people should be given a more integral role in decision-making issues that affect their lives.
* We believe that through its legislation, programs and services, the federal government should do all possible to encourage a culture of respect for children and youth.
* We support efforts by the federal government and non-profit organizations to eliminate youth and adolescent tobacco, alcohol and drug use through the use of science based education and prevention.
* We recognize the importance of nutritious meals being available to all students through public education regardless of their background and believe the nutritional value of these meals should continue to be governed by federal regulation rather than influence from the private sector.
* We believe there should be increased availability of children services with the eventual goal of ensuring access to affordable childcare for all Americans who need it. While these services are vital for all working parents we feel that single parents and working mothers would especially benefit. We believe that these services should also be provided for single parents or families pursuing education.
* We believe there should be increased funding and focus on intervention and prevention as ways to address issues of child abuse and maltreatment.
* We believe there should be more promotion and coordination of information and enrollment in health and social service related programs for children, youth, and families.
* We support the spread of living wage ordinances as means to promote stable and strong families.
* We believe in implementation and funding of comprehensive and inclusive counseling staff at all middle and high schools to prevent teenage suicide.
* We support complete funding of all available contraceptives for all Americans regardless of financial stability.
* We support the right of all qualified individuals and couples to adopt or foster children regardless of sexual orientation.