THEDEMOCRATIC WARD COMMITTEE
Lesley R. Phillips
Vice Chair &
Affirmative Action Advisor
Linda Sophia Pinti
Public Information Advisor
The Cambridge Ward 6 Democratic Committee designated the undersigned subcommittee to evaluate the process of and formulate proposals for the 2005 Massachusetts Democratic Party Platform.
We examined the overall structure and philosophy of the platform, the current platform hearing process, and specific issues of concern to members of the committee.
We oppose any effort to remove specificity from the Massachusetts Democratic Party platform.
We believe that the fundamental goal of a party platform is to be a resource for candidates and for the public – to inform them about the party’s position on the important issues of the day.
We also believe that it is important to remember why we call such a document a “platform” in the first place. In everyday language, a “platform” is a structure comprised of planks, sufficient in number, and strong enough in character, to create a base that people can stand on.
Clearly, such a metaphor did not come into being by accident. Candidates for office should have a resource for quickly determining what position the party has taken on any given issue. The party provides that base by crafting that document we call a platform. It is important for the party be clear and specific so that people will know exactly where the Democrats stand on the key issues of the day: gun control, gay marriage, women’s right to choose, the budget deficit, war, and so forth.
We feel strongly that the party should not try to shirk this responsibility. Avoiding clarity and specificity in an effort to avoid controversy will only lead to defeat. Democrats must stand for something. The people have a right to know what it is.
We affirm the need for an open and participatory Democratic Party. We believe strongly that our Party’s structure and operation should reflect its principles of governance. To that we end, we support regular and well-publicized state party meetings with local committees and with the public. We support open, two-way communication between our Party and its constituents. We affirm our continued support for legislative accountability in the form of the Massachusetts Scorecard. As the party of open and inclusive government, we support any and all efforts to hold our legislators accountable to our ideals.
We continue our strong opposition to the death penalty. This opposition is based on ethical, legal and pragmatic grounds. The death penalty is unfair, immoral and useless in preventing crime. In other states, administration of the death penalty is fraught with error, prejudice, bigotry and political influence. Numerous studies prove the glaring inequalities in the application of the death penalty on the basis of race and class. Many of those sentenced to death receive abysmal legal representation. The quality of legal representation is a better predictor of whether or not someone will be sentenced to death than the facts of the crime. The killing of an innocent person is a tragic, irrevocable and likely: many “death row” inmates are eventually found to be innocent. Every reputable academic study has proven that the death penalty does not provide any additional deterrent value beyond that of a lengthy prison sentence. Most importantly, we believe that the death penalty is wrong, immoral and contrary to the values of our Commonwealth. We deplore the growing tendency of federal prosecutors to circumvent Massachusetts' abandonment of the death penalty by superimposing federal prosecutions, even of lesser offenses, on essentially state-law crimes.
The Ward 6 Platform Committee:
Eric E. Weltman
Lesley R. Phillips, ex officio
March 1, 2005