[News] Draft Manifesto for a Reconstruction Party: What We Want; What We Believe; What We Need. Now!

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Feb 4 10:18:24 EST 2008



[Note: This Draft Manifesto was produced by a group of Reconstruction 
Party activists who met in New Orleans on Saturday, Jan. 26 in 
support of the International Days of Action against Neo-Liberalism. 
This draft is being submitted for wide discussion and amendments to 
all activists interested in joining the effort to build a 
Reconstruction Party. Sister Cynthia McKinney participated in this 
meeting and contributed to this Draft Manifesto.]


What We Want; What We Believe; What We Need. Now!
Draft Manifesto for a Reconstruction Party

" . . . whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these 
ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to 
institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles 
and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most 
likely to effect their safety and happiness." -- Declaration of Independence

In the context of what is perhaps the most important Presidential 
election in a generation, we feel compelled to add our voices to the 
deafening silence coming from both the Democratic and Republican 
parties on the real issues of concern to us. We therefore insert this 
agenda -- our agenda -- into the current political discourse and 
assert our readiness to cast our votes on the specificity with which 
these issues are addressed in the electoral arena. We reject 
"differences" that will not make a difference and "changes" that will 
not bring about any change. The vision of the Reconstruction Party 
encompasses all communities in need of reconstruction.

1. We Want Freedom Now!

We want the power to determine our destiny. We want an electoral 
system that allows true representation and that ensures that all 
votes are counted. We want an economic system that provides 
opportunity, security, and dignity for all. We want an end to all 
spying on U.S. citizens. We want respect for human rights as the 
bedrock consideration in all the political deliberations of this country.

We believe that we will not be free until we are able to determine 
our destiny. We believe that free and fair elections are not possible 
in the current climate in which electronic voting machines, special 
interest money, corporate control of the two-party system 
predominate. In the 2000 Presidential election, an estimated 6 
million votes cast were not counted, reflecting a crisis in our 
voting system and a concrete denial of self-determination.

We need to remove the dominance of special interest money from our 
elections by instituting public financing of elections that restores 
true power to the people. We need to eliminate privately owned 
electronic voting machines and every machine that does not provide a 
paper ballot. We must never again allow political parties to control 
the hardware on which official votes are counted (as in Ohio 2004). 
Voters should never again be told that election results belong to a 
private company and are not accessible by the public (as in Georgia 
2007). And any individuals found to have participated in any act or 
scheme to deny U.S. citizens their right to vote, or found to have 
obstructed such right to vote in any way, including the counting of 
votes cast, should be brought to justice.

Freedom also includes the rights to education, health care, housing, 
living wages, and freedom from racism, sexism, homophobia, 
Islamophobia, gentrification, and police terror. Therefore, 
elimination of all health, education, home ownership, and social 
justice disparities must form the foundation of every plank of any 
acceptable political and economic platform that seeks to address the 
real concerns of the peoples' of the Americas.

Therefore, we need comprehensive federal investment in low-income 
families and communities, with an emphasis on people of color. The 
continuing plight of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors, cases 
like the Jena 6, the Palmdale 4, the San Francisco 8, the ongoing 
situation with the country's Black farmers demonstrate the 
unfulfilled need to address these basic issues for communities across 
our country.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors specifically need recognition 
as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs); protection of their right of 
return, including protection of their right to vote in their home 
states; and reparations for the losses they incurred due to 
government abandonment and negligence.

Finally, we need repeal of the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, 
the Military Commissions Act, and other legislation that rolls back 
bedrock civil liberties.

2. We Want Full Employment Now!

We want the definition of national security to include the general 
well-being of U.S. citizens and residents. No children in this rich 
country should be raised below the poverty line.

We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated 
to implement an economic policy that provides an opportunity for 
every family to have gainful employment at a guaranteed income. No 
family should remain mired below the poverty level when the head of 
household works in a full-time job. We believe that workers must be 
free to organize unions wherever and whenever they choose. We believe 
that by setting a goal of carbon neutrality within the next 20 years, 
our country can begin the shifts in investment necessary to fuel an 
investment renaissance in jobs, energy independence from fossil 
fuels, and manufacturing.

Unemployment is at a two-year high. We need a living wage. Official 
statistics fail to capture the immense pain and suffering being 
experienced by the American people, especially people of color. We 
need massive infrastructure investments and a greening of our economy 
that can also put people to work. An end to the illegal and immoral 
war/occupation of Iraq can provide much needed funding for such an 
initiative that would focus on rebuilding the skills of every 
able-bodied American and restoring manufacturing jobs in this country 
to assist in the greening of our economy. Special emphasis should be 
placed on a green rebuilding program, consisting of all areas in need 
plus infrastructure, and especially New Orleans and the Gulf Coast 
with a massive public works project.

No ethnically identifiable groups should also be economically 
identifiable. Sadly, today that is not true. Forty-three percent of 
the poor are Black, and 24 percent of Latinos are poor. We need a 
specific program agenda that reduces poverty and dismantles existing 
economic disparities.

We need to promote and enact laws for U.S. corporations that keep 
labor standards high at home and raise them abroad. Toward that end, 
it is clear that we need a repeal of NAFTA, CAFTA, the Caribbean FTA, 
and the U.S.-Peru FTA and justice for immigrant workers, including an 
end to the guest-worker program riddled with abuses. In that regard, 
we also need immigration reform that includes amnesty and a path to 
documentation of those workers who are already in this country, have 
been here working for years, and who are undocumented. Surely the 
current policies are little more than union-busting, wage depressing 
tactics that rob all workers of their dignity and a fair wage for 
their labor. We need a complete overhaul of our country's labor laws, 
beginning with the repeal of Taft-Hartley, to ban scabbing, stop the 
unjust firing of union organizers, and enable workers to exercise 
their voices at work. Finally, we need justice for victims of 
corporations that have participated in crimes against humanity, 
torture, human trafficking, or other illegal activities.

We need equal pay for equal work. It is intolerable that women and 
minorities performing the same job as white men receive less pay.

3. We Want Reparations Now!

African Americans are now sustaining the worst loss of wealth in U.S. 
history due to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, an estimated $71 
billion to $92 billion, according to United for a Fair Economy.

We believe that the U.S. government never kept its promise to former 
slaves of the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres 
and two mules were promised as restitution for slave labor and the 
mass murder of Black people. Enduring racial disparities reflect the 
U.S. government's failure to address the reality and the vestiges of 
Black poverty in this country. Hurricane Katrina is but a 
manifestation of the generations of previous neglect combined with 
current neglect.

A 2003 Harvard University study found that Black infant and maternal 
mortality rates are 2 and 3.5 times higher than for whites. The New 
York Times wrote that by 2003 nearly one half of all Black men 
between the ages of 16 and 64, living in New York City, were 
unemployed. Dr. David Satcher found in 2005 that 83,750 Black people 
died from premature deaths for no other reason than that they were 
Black. And in its 2005 report, United for a Fair Economy told us that 
it would take 1,664 years to close the home-ownership gap and that on 
some indices the racial disparities are worse now than at the time of 
the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In its 2006 report, United for a Fair Economy told us that Blacks and 
Latinos lost ground, and that in order to close the racial wealth 
divide in our country, it would take the equivalent of a "G.I. Bill 
for Everyone" that would include comprehensive federal investment in 
low-income families and communities, with an emphasis on people of 
color. In its 2007 report, United for a Fair Economy concluded that, 
while Blacks overwhelmingly vote Democratic, they had little to show 
for such party loyalty according to the statistics reflecting the 
State of Black America and the policy initiatives of the Democratic 
Party in its first 100 hours as a Congressional majority. In 2008, 
United for a Fair economy concluded that it would take 440 years to 
close the racial disparity on per capita income.

That one million Black votes were not counted in the 2000 
Presidential election is symptomatic of a host of broken promises, 
the denial of self-determination, and a refusal of both major parties 
to deal with the vestiges of slavery, racism, and discrimination with 
which too many families are forced to live today.

We urgently need policies enacted on the federal and local levels 
that will address the enduring disparities in education, health care, 
imprisonment, family income, wealth, home ownership, that reflect 
purposeful malign neglect of communities of color in this country. 
Further, these public policies must also specifically recover 
economic losses sustained during the current sub-prime mortgage crisis.

4. We Want Resources for Human Needs Now!

We want budget priorities that satisfy pressing and unmet human needs 
in health care, education, wealth development, and ending enduring 
disparities, not that further corporate greed or the war machine. We 
agree with United Nations representative and the findings of the 
International Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that the United 
States must do more to help those hurricane victims without financial 
means to rebuild.

We believe in full reproductive rights for women -- for legal rights 
and safe access to comprehensive prenatal and postnatal/infant care; 
family planning services and contraception, including "morning after" 
medication; and abortion.

We believe the United States has a responsibility to alleviate human 
suffering at home and abroad. We believe it is shameful that U.S. 
children suffer from malnutrition and that U.S. mayor's report to us 
that homelessness and hunger have intensified in our cities. While 
food prices are rising and food banks report decreased supplies, our 
children suffer from worms and the physical stature of U.S. residents 
is now declining because of childhood malnutrition. According to the 
2007 CIA statistics, the United States ranks 42nd in the world in 
infant mortality and 45th in life expectancy.

We need to reject forced, coerced, or uninformed medication and 
sterilization. We need a universal access, single-payer, health care 
system. Americans should be able to purchase drugs from other 
countries if the price is cheaper, and the U.S. should negotiate with 
drug companies to provide cheaper drugs for all U.S. residents.

We need an education system that prepares our children for lifelong 
learning and that prepares adults to survive and thrive in a global 
economy. We need subsidized higher education; no student should 
graduate from college or university tens or hundreds of thousands of 
dollars in debt. We need affordable childcare in order to facilitate 
lifelong learning by parents. We need an end to the criminalization 
of our children in school. The Jena 6 and Palmdale 4 incidents, along 
with thousands of other incidents that take place in schools across 
our country, demonstrate that administrative measures are not taken 
when they could be to prevent the criminalization of our children. It 
is clear that current practices merely feed an insatiable criminal 
justice system building prisons, not for restorative justice, but for profits.

We need equal access to institutions and programs that help families 
build wealth. In 2004, 76 percent of Whites owned their own home, 
compared to 49.1% of Blacks and 48.1% of Latinos. Both 
African-Americans and Latinos have been disproportionately hit by the 
higher-cost loans that characterize sub-prime lending. Just in the 
sub-prime mortgage crisis alone, Latino families have lost between 
$76 and $98 billion, due to predatory lending practices on the part 
of lending institutions.

We need affordable housing for the working class and homeless 
throughout this country struggling to make ends meet. We oppose the 
senseless destruction of public housing in New Orleans and the Gulf 
Coast. Housing is a fundamental human right that we must protect and extend.

We need to stop giving outrageous sums of money to the Pentagon. The 
Pentagon cannot balance its books and admits to having "lost" $2.3 
trillion. It claims it can't balance its books because its computers 
don't communicate with each other. However, even after having spent 
$20 billion to make the computers talk to each other, they still 
cannot, and hence, Department of Defense books cannot be properly 
audited. By canceling increased funding for the F-22 and weaponizing 
space, we would have $1.4 billion to devote to basic needs. A careful 
examination of corporate and millionaire welfare, combined with 
elimination of Pentagon waste, would yield at least an additional $99 
billion that could be put to better use.

We need to repeal the Bush tax cuts and take appropriate steps to 
regain control over our monetary system because they both have 
contributed to the current economic crisis facing our country.

We need to defend and strengthen laws ensuring clinic access and that 
expand services to women and children fleeing domestic violence.

We need a Department of Peace that would put forward projects for 
peace all over the world. We should deploy our diplomats to help 
resolve conflicts through peaceful means. In the meantime, the 
Pentagon must oversee the orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops from the 
more than 100 countries around the world where they are stationed. We 
should deploy our Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild infrastructures 
and communities here and abroad.

5. We Want to Stop the War at Home Now!

The decision by Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown to prosecute 
the San Francisco 8 is chilling in the message it sends about 
impunity in the face of clear police wrongdoing. The San Francisco 8 
(several of whom were members of the Black Panther Party for 
Self-Defense), are being prosecuted and investigated by the very same 
police officers that committed torture against them decades ago. 
Obviously not satisfied with the 32 Black Panthers killed by law 
enforcement by 1973, a decision has been made to continue targeting 
Black Panther members in another way.

We want the hundreds of political activists falsely imprisoned by 
COINTELPRO and similar programs from the 1960's to the present to be 
released from prison immediately. We want full disclosure on all the 
governments spying and destabilization programs and for restitution 
to be provided to victims of these governmental abuses and their 
families for the suffering they have long endured.

In addition, members of the general public have become targets for 
police repression, including Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and other 
easily identifiable minorities. By 2004, Cincinnati had seen 18 young 
people murdered at the hands of brutal cops. Louisville, Kentucky saw 
seven young Black males killed in four years. In New York City, three 
unarmed Black men were killed within a period of 13 months. In fact, 
the book Stolen Lives lists the names of over 2000 people killed by 
police during the 1990s. Unfortunately, it is clear that the poor and 
people of color are disproportionately affected by the 
disproportionate application of force by law enforcement. Adding 
insult to injury, offending police officers are rarely if ever punished.

We believe that disparities in sentencing and in the criminal justice 
system as a whole can be overcome with political will to change the 
policies and punish those guilty of the racial profiling that often 
result in disparate treatment at each step of an encounter with the 
criminal justice system.

In study after study, the dismal performance of the criminal justice 
system against people of color has been documented. Policies designed 
to close the disparities in sentencing and treatment at the hands of 
the criminal justice system must be implemented with more than 
deliberate speed.
6. We Want an End to the War on Drugs Now!

We want an end to unequal justice in this country! We want an end to 
toxic spraying and military deployments in other countries. We want 
an end to the assault on our civil liberties. We want an end to the 
lies of the U.S. government around its own participation in the 
spread of drugs into poor communities in this country. We want an 
explanation of why a CIA rendition aircraft crashed in Yucatan with 
3.2 tons of cocaine on board. After the crack cocaine epidemic and 
what we now know of U.S. government complicity therewith, we want to 
know if the U.S. government is fighting or fueling the use of drugs 
in its so-called War on Drugs.

We believe that the war on drugs provides cover for U.S. military 
intervention in foreign countries, particularly to our south, and 
that this increased militarization is used to put down all social 
protest movements in countries like Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, 
and elsewhere. We believe that unequal justice is epitomized in the 
U.S. prosecution of the so-called War on Drugs. We believe that the 
United States has the most expensive, most repressive, least 
effective drug policy in the industrialized world. And it is this 
drug war that has helped the United States incarcerate a higher 
percentage of its own people than any other country in the world. We 
believe that the War on Drugs is waged largely against the poor and 
the resultant massive incarceration serves the profit-motive of 
prisons whose stocks are traded on Wall Street. The War on Drugs has 
become a war on truth, taxpayers, civil liberties, and higher 
education for the poor and middle class, and sadly, it has also 
become a war on treatment, addicts, and reason.

We need an end to mandatory minimum drug sentences. We need a budget 
focused on prevention and treatment. The law should include legal 
regulation of drugs. We need legalization of industrial hemp as a 
cash crop. We need drug laws based on the truth. According to the 
drug policy reform group Efficacy, from 1984 to 1996, California 
built 21 new prisons, and 1 new university. California state 
government expenditures on prisons increased 30% from 1987 to 1995, 
while spending on higher education decreased by 18%. This trend is 
echoed in every state of the nation. Clearly, we need a drug policy 
that is based on truth, compassion, prevention, and treatment. We 
need laws that franchise citizens of the United States without regard 
to incarceration status. No non-violent drug offender should suffer 
permanent or temporary disfranchisement of voting and other 
citizenship rights due to entanglement in the current system of 
criminal injustice.

We need to end the funding of Plan Colombia and Plan Mexico and other 
militarized "plans" enacted that fund and support a failed drug 
policy at home and abroad.

7. We Want to End Prisons for Profit Now!

We want an end to privatization of prisons and prison health 
services. We want an end to the racism that serves as an engine of 
growth for a profit-driven prison system. We want an end to prison 
labor schemes that are little more than corporate subsidies that 
provide little training or rehabilitation for inmates. We want 
reconciliation, transformation, preparation, rather than 
incarceration based on retribution and vengeance. We do not want race 
and class to serve as the primary determinants of punishment. And we 
want an end to the death penalty.

We believe that the prison-industrial, criminal injustice complex of 
today still operates in many respects as a vestige of slavery. And 
just as punishment was meted out disparately for Blacks and whites 
during slavery, these conditions persist today. For example, in the 
state of Virginia, a white person could only be sentenced to death 
for murder, but slaves could be sentenced to death for 71 offenses. 
Today, according to "Minding the Gap," despite higher drug use by 
White Illinois teens, African American youth who make up 15.3% of 
Illinois's youth population, are 59% of youth arrested for drug 
crimes, 85.5% of youth automatically transferred to adult court, 88% 
of youth imprisoned for drug crimes, and 91% of youth admitted to 
state prison. Disparities permeate the system from the laws enacted, 
to those who enact the laws, to those who enforce and interpret them.

Paul Street reports in Black Agenda Report, "one in three Black males 
will be sent to state or federal prison at some point in their lives 
compared to one in six Latino males and one in seventeen white 
males." Writer Tim Wise writes, "According to FBI data, the 
percentage of crimes committed by African Americans has remained 
steady over the past 18 years, while the number of Blacks in prison 
has tripled and their rates of incarceration have skyrocketed."

Clearly, it is time to rethink prison policy and the criminal justice 
system upon which it rests. Just as prisons for profit underscored 
profit-maximizing strategies, we need to explore new terrains for 
justice-maximizing policies, including prison abolition. We need 
public policy solutions that focus on reconciliation and restorative 
justice. Racism should not be rewarded with profits.
8. We Want an Environmental Protection Policy that Works Now!

We want the range of production and consumption policies enacted by 
our policy makers to reflect the limits of the finite resources that 
sustain life on this planet. We want our forests protected and 
restored; we want sustainable resource use and reuse, and we want 
less waste to dispose. We want renewable energy and we don't want 
policies that pit food production against energy production. We want 
drinkable and clean water, soil, and air. We want to live within our 
resource means.

We believe that the production and pervasiveness of toxic chemicals 
in our environment is dangerous and must be stopped. We believe that 
workers should not be exposed to toxic work conditions. We believe 
that communities should be preserved and that local economies using 
local resources should be encouraged. We must put an end to child 
labor, forced labor, and other illegal or unethical activity included 
in the goods we consume: for example, Coltan (Columbite-Tantalite) 
and other minerals mined with slave labor and torture in eastern 
Democratic Republic of Congo and the 5 million deaths, political 
instability, and misery associated with pursuit of unfettered access 
to the mineral used in our computers, cell phones, and other 
electronic gadgets."

We need air, land, water, climate, production and consumption 
policies that reflect the real limits within which we must live. We 
need an entirely new paradigm that encourages us to produce green, 
local, and fairly; most importantly we need true, representative 
government that serves the needs of the people over that of 
corporations so that these policies can become law.
9. We Want an End to Militarism Now!

We want all U.S. troops stationed in other countries around the world 
to come home. We want all homeless veterans off the streets and in 
veterans' homes. We want the promise kept to veterans of free health 
care for a lifetime. We want military recruiters out of our schools 
and off our campuses. We call for an end to funding for war, products 
for war, preparation for war, intelligence for war or funds used to 
destabilize other countries, or to maintain or expand U.S. military 
presence at home or abroad. We call for an end to the expanding 
police state at home.

We believe that the United States has taken a dramatic turn against 
human rights and the rule of law by now permitting arrest and 
detention without charge, torture and spying without court oversight, 
prosecutors free to tape conversations between lawyers and their 
clients. We believe that the so-called "peace dividend" after the 
Cold War was stolen by the imposition of the War on Terror that is 
being waged against the people. War profiteers reap their profits 
while legislation passes that threatens to categorize as terrorists 
those who are innocent citizens. We believe it is wrong that the 
overwhelming amount of resources put into our foreign and security 
policies engage the world through military force.

We need the billions of dollars currently spent on militarizing 
domestic and foreign policies, and in weaponizing space to be spent 
on human needs and to alleviate human suffering.
10. We Want Peace Now!

We want to live in a peaceful world where the global community 
considers the United States a key partner for peace and development. 
We want the United States to adopt the United Nations Declaration on 
Indigenous Rights, recognizing that we cannot have peace until we 
start with our own history here at home. We want the United States to 
be a leader in research, development, technology, and innovation in 
the things that uplift people and help us to live more harmoniously 
with natural forces of this planet.

We believe that another United States is not only possible but 
necessary! But, the two parties of corporate rule are not offering 
this vision of peace and partnership. We believe that an explicit 
rejection of the policies of political and economic destabilization 
that we have witnessed played out on the African Continent, in Latin 
America (particularly in Venezuela and in Bolivia), in the Caribbean 
and the Muslim world, and in Asia is urgently needed.

We need an end to all wars and occupations by U.S. forces, including 
in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need an immediate cessation of funding 
for war. We need prosecution for all individuals guilty of violating 
the law, including having committed or authorized crimes against 
humanity, crimes against the peace, torture, or war crimes. We need a 
complete renunciation of the pre-emptive war doctrine. We need an end 
to all wars and war's utility. We need to dismantle the apparatus 
that implements schemes of regime change around the world, and that 
instead assists in self-determination of all peoples. Sadly, the Bush 
- Pelosi war policy is a formula for endless global conflict, 
deterioration of the rule of law among nations, and growing 
impoverishment, indebtedness and evisceration of civil liberties at home.

Conclusion

Already, calls are being made that the end of race in American 
politics has arrived due to the phenomenal success at the polls of 
Democratic Presidential candidate Barrack Obama. None other than Dick 
Morris, former Clinton Presidential advisor, noted, "Obama -- by 
winning in a totally white state -- shows that racism is gone as a 
factor in American politics." On CNN, Bill Bennett commented, 
"[Obama] never brings race into it. He never plays the race card. 
Talk about the Black community -- he has taught the Black community 
you don't have to act like Jesse Jackson; you don't have to act like 
Al Sharpton. You can talk about the issues." It is clear from the 
statistics that all working families without regard to race or 
ethnicity are hurting. But families of color are hurting the most. 
Let us not fail to speak out in our own name and to organize around 
these fundamental programmatic planks so that we can forge and win 
solutions to the problems facing our communities, our country, and our world.




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