By Mary Westwood, Chair of the Yellowstone County Platform Committee
(Any opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author, but the words of the Montana Democratic Platform are available to all and should encourage discussion and understanding among all Montanans.)
Every two years, all Montana Democrats are invited to participate in defining what they and their party stand for. Next year, 2022, is the year we review our platform and make any necessary changes. These ideas begin in each county and are further refined at a statewide meeting of elected delegates where debate is welcomed and encouraged. Any Democrat can attend the State Platform Convention and advocate for a particular idea.
Now is the time to begin participating in this important process. The next Yellowstone County Platform Convention will be in May, 2022. The State Platform Convention will be held in the summer of 2022. As an individual Democrat, you have the power to define what your party believes and supports through participation, legislation and governance. Please be a truth seeker, ignore rumors and help your fellow citizens get the real information about your party, not some phony conspiracy theory.
I need volunteers who will review each plank of the Platform and suggest any necessary changes. To get involved, please contact Mary at [email protected] or call me at (406) 245-7704. The full language of each plank is available through the Montana Democratic Party website or I can supply you with it.
Below is what we call our “short platform.” Decide which issues are of major importance to you and see what changes you might propose. You need to tell others what your Party stands for and dispel the misinformation about Montana Democrats. Use this information to persuade and enlighten your fellow citizens. We are all in this together.
Platform of the Montana Democratic Party Adopted June 5th, 2020
The Montana Democratic Party is the party of the people. We welcome to our cause Montanans of every color, creed, and condition. Our history as a party teaches us that by working together and speaking as one, we can move society forward, especially when we raise our voices for those among us with little money, influence, or acceptance. Our cause as Montana Democrats is as simple and as ambitious as the purpose stated in the Constitution of the United States: We strive to create “a more perfect union.” Like the founders of this nation, we believe that such a union must be a government of the people and by the people dedicated to securing for every single citizen the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Like the delegates who crafted Montana’s constitution, we believe that a more perfect Montana requires that we secure even more expansive liberties. We treasure our explicit right to the privacy of our persons, our property, and our communications; our right to a clean and healthful environment; and our right to be notified, to observe, and to participate when our governing bodies make decisions. As Montanans, we are deeply grateful for the heritage, opportunity, freedom, landscape, and lifestyle we enjoy in this “last best place.” As Democrats we believe that, by ensuring and expanding these blessings for every Montanan, we improve the quality of life for all Montanans. Within this framework of belief, Montana Democrats are guided by these enduring principles:
Agriculture and Rural Development We believe in the value of strong family farms and ranches. We view agriculture as an essential identity of our Montana heritage, the life-blood of our rural towns, and an important part of our economy. We advocate for measures to ensure Montana-raised products are identified, labeled, and receive fair market prices based on quality. We believe in increasing our processing capabilities across agriculture markets to reduce risk and dependence on out-of-state facilities. We strongly support solutions between our conservationists and land owners to identify multiuse and joint programs beneficial to both sides. We must create incentives and inspiration to draw younger generations toward our agricultural communities by returning to the family ranch or farm, seizing new opportunities in agriculture, or successfully holding remote jobs – made possible by reliable high speed internet and cell phone service – in rural Montana.
American Indians We believe in the equality of all people, but as Montanans we have a particular obligation to Montana’s first people. We recognize that Montana’s American Indians are not only Montanans, but also members of their own tribal nations with the sovereignty to govern themselves and the right to preserve their cultural integrity.
Cultural Enrichment We believe that access to the arts, libraries, museums, and cultural experiences is an essential component of the quality of life and the economy in Montana. We are committed to ensuring that those who create and provide this access are supported and encouraged to prompt us to imagine, marvel, reflect, and learn.
Energy As we confront the increasingly urgent threat of global climate change, Montana Democrats believe that we must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels through a combination of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and the development of clean, renewable energy sources. We believe that we can achieve this goal AND create or provide transitions into good Montana jobs.
Good Government We view government as the means by which individuals work together to solve mutual problems, balance competing interests, and accomplish common goals. Good government meets its constitutional obligations to protect health and safety and to promote community, commerce, and culture. At every level, good government is open, accountable, and responsive to the people.
Health Care and Human Services We are dedicated to ensuring quality of life and equality of opportunity for all individuals and families, regardless of their socio-economic status. Fundamental to such quality and equality is access to the basic necessities of life, including, at a minimum, health care, education, shelter, adequate nutrition, human dignity, and lives free of violence.
Human and Civil Rights We believe that neither a peaceful planet nor a democratic society can survive without appreciation for the diversity of all people and respect for the unique value of each person. We embrace the rights guaranteed by the constitutions of our state and nation, recognizing that the meaning and application of those rights evolve as our knowledge and understanding as human beings in a democratic republic evolve.
Hunting, Fishing, and Outdoor Recreation We recognize that the opportunity for Montanans to enjoy our spectacular landscapes, clean waters, and abundant fish and wildlife is an integral part of our heritage, identity, lifestyle, and economy. We believe in public ownership of the fish, wildlife, streams, and rivers of our state and 3 rely on our government to hold these resources in trust for the beneficial use of our citizens and future generations.
International Relations In the spirit of the late Senator Mike Mansfield, we believe that America should treat all nations and peoples with the same dignity and respect we expect of one another. While we must maintain the military strength to be secure as a nation, we believe our greatest strength and our greatest security lie in our effective use of commerce, aid, diplomacy, and collaboration to improve the well-being and good will of all peoples and all nations.
Jobs and the Economy We know that it requires both government and private business to create the quality jobs necessary to sustain a healthy economy. Government at both federal and state levels is responsible for funding infrastructure, education programs, and economically and environmentally sound growth policies that are major job creators and strengthen and diversify our private-sector economy.
Justice – Access to Justice We expect our justice system to operate impartially and efficiently to protect and enforce the rights of all citizens equally, to provide every citizen with a venue to seek redress of grievances, and to ensure the safety and well-being of our communities.
Justice – Crime and Punishment We believe that the best approach to reducing crime is providing the education, opportunities, and social services that prevent crime. When crime does occur, we believe in a fair, balanced approach that seeks to restore the victim, safeguard the public, and rehabilitate the offender.
Labor We believe that stable jobs with livable salaries and wages are another cornerstone of a stable economy and a healthy society. Because the vast majority of Montanans make their living as wage-earners, we seek fair compensation for their labor so that they can provide for their families and sustain their communities. Montana workers deserve safety, security, and dignity as conditions of their employment, as well as conditions of their retirement after a lifetime of hard work.
Public Education We believe that public education not only acts as the primary catalyst for a strong economy, upward mobility, and the quality of life in Montana, but also fosters the lasting bonds of understanding, acceptance, and community that make Montana such a desirable place to live. We 4 are therefore committed to a continuum of high-quality public education opportunities with adequate state funding to develop the potential of every Montanan and of Montana itself.
Stewardship of Our Natural Resources The teeming bounty of Montana’s natural resources and wild country has always been at the heart of our prosperity, our heritage, and our lifestyle as Montanans. We believe that we must work together to ensure that these resources not only contribute to the strong economy needed to sustain families and communities in the 21st century, but also provide the clean and healthful environment that is our constitutional right.
Taxation We seek a progressive, broad-based, equitable tax system that reflects and enhances our changing economy and adequately supports a full range of quality public services and public education. We believe in being fiscally responsible while promoting quality of life and equality of opportunity for all our citizens.
Veterans and Active Military We ask Americans in the military to risk their lives and disrupt their families’ lives to serve our country. In gratitude for their sacrifice, Montana Democrats regard as sacred our obligation to care for America’s military – during active duty and for the rest of their lives.
Women We are the party of trail-blazing women. We are committed to securing equal opportunities in education, employment, and leadership for every woman and to ensuring safe, healthy, and nurturing environments for all women. To achieve these goals, women must have an equitable role, not only in determining local, state, and national policies, but also in allocating resources to meet the needs of families and communities.