THE DEMOCRATIC PLATFORM

The Chester County (Pennsylvania) Democratic Committee believes in Freedom, Fairness, and Opportunity for all Americans, regardless of what they believe, who they are, and where they came from. Join CCDC in making Chester County a better place for all!

We have a chance to fundamentally shape the future of our country.
But that will only happen if all of us work together — starting right now.

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Every four years, the Democratic Party puts together our party platform, the ideas and beliefs that govern our party as a whole.

What follows is our 2016 platform — our most progressive platform in our party’s history and a declaration of how we plan to move America forward. Democrats believe that cooperation is better than conflict, unity is better than division, empowerment is better than resentment, and bridges are better than walls.

This party platform was voted on and passed by our membership at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016. The platform will be updated and re-approved at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Download 2016 Party Platform PDF

Platform Contents

To read the entire platform, choose a section to jump ahead or scroll down.

Preamble

Raise Incomes and Restore Economic Security for the Middle Class

Create Good-Paying Jobs

Fight for Economic Fairness and Against Inequality

Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Opportunities

Protect Voting Rights, Fix Our Campaign Finance System, and Restore Our Democracy

Combat Climate Change, Build a Clean Energy Economy, and Secure Environmental Justice

Provide Quality and Affordable Education

Ensure the Health and Safety of All Americans

Principled Leadership

Confront Global Threats

Protect Our Values

A Leader in the World

Close Races

Candidates need your vote; your local and state governments need your vote; your nation needs your vote. You choose who you want to run your government, your democracy. “If you stay home, you’re voting for the other side.”

West Chester has eight (8) precincts. Mayor Comitta’s 23-vote-win in the 2009 Primary meant that if just three people (3) from each precinct stayed home, she would have lost.

If you stay at home, you’re voting for the other side. So, don’t vote for the other side. Get up, get dressed, and go to your polling place, which is open from 7AM to 8PM.

This is what your vote means — why each vote counts …

  • 2000, WC Borough Council President, Ward 2, Diane LeBold tied the general election and won by a coin toss. She is now President of Borough Council.
  • 2006, State Representative, 156th District, Barbara McIlvaine Smith, won the general election by 28 votes.
  • 2009, Mayor, Borough of West Chester, Carolyn Comitta won the primary election by 23 votes.
  • 2015, Magisterial District Justice, Marion Vito won the general election by 44 votes.
  • 2016, State Representative, 156th District, Carolyn Comitta won the general election by 25 votes.

So, don’t vote for the other side. Get up, get dressed, and go to your polling place.

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Vice Chairman’s Take on Vietnam 50 Years Ago Today

A few of my close buddies leaning over the ship rail. I flew back thirteen months later, but some of these guys did not.

A few of my close buddies leaning over the ship rail. I flew back thirteen months later, but some of these guys did not.

Fifty years ago today, I shipped from Jacksonville aboard the USS Boxer with others from the 1st Air Cavalry Division, bound for Vietnam via the Suez Canal. We were the first full division sent to the war.

Please hold off on what has become the obligatory “thank you for your service” comment. As I look back on this anniversary with mixed feelings, I would like you to thank me another way.

As with many of our wars before and since, we fought in Vietnam for the wrong reasons and wasted lives, treasure and some of our claim to honor as a country. We were lied to. We were misled. If we learned something from that waste, I’d be prouder to have served. As it is, we repeated and magnified our mistakes and we now find ourselves in an endless war of attrition, again because of the lies of our leaders.

As Pete Seeger sang, we’re still “waist deep in the big muddy and the big fool says to push on.”

So, yes, you can thank us for our service, but not with a few perfunctory words. Do it by holding our leaders more accountable. Make them prove the effort is worth the sacrifice. And demand to throw them in jail when you find out they lied again. Don’t just “support the troops.” DEFEND the troops!

Anyway, the photo is one I took the day we sailed. It shows a few of my close buddies leaning over the ship rail. I flew back thirteen months later, but some of these guys did not. Not many smiles then or now, I’m afraid.

Jim Salvas

Bayard Rustin’s civil rights legacy

by Mchael P. Rellahan, Daily Local News, 8/24/13

His work helped galvanize MLK’s ideals in Chester County

WEST CHESTER — Without the supreme eloquence of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s stirring “I Have a Dream” speech delivered at the March of Washington, D.C. — the 50th anniversary of which will occur Wednesday — the course of the civil rights movement in America might have been very different.

But without the tremendously successful organization of that event by Bayard Rustin, a behind-the-scenes worker known for bringing disparate groups together in common purpose, King’s speech might have fallen on fewer ears — or worse, been lost in a sea of criticism and recrimination over its disarray.

But even more than that, without the unique world of the West Chester that Rustin grew up in the first half of the 20th century — with its strange dichotomy of Quaker influence and Southern, Jim Crow-like racial segregation — he himself might not have held the burning desire to fight for equality in the country of his birth.

Or so say those who knew Rustin and his work, and who have championed his memory as one of the foremost figures in the history of the civil rights movement, among the most challenging of historical eras in the United States. Last week, some of those took time to discuss Rustin — his life, his work, and his legacy, with the Daily Local News.

“He was energized by people who were left out of our social order for no other reason than that they were considered unfit,” said C. James Trotman, a professor emeritus at West Chester University and founder of the Frederick Douglass Institute there. “That, he would not tolerate.”

Trotman agreed that the confluence of Quaker beliefs and first-hand experience with segregation led Rustin, who died in 1987 at the age of 75 in New York City, down the path his life took on the way to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, as it was formally known.

As the architect of the march, Rustin saw to it that those attending had ways to get there, places to stay, food to eat, and that the area at the Lincoln Memorial was clean and spotless afterward. If there had been problems, the fight of legislation would have been made more difficult, Trotman said….

read more at Daily Local News

Bayard Rustin: the gay black pacifist at the heart of the March on Washington

by Gary Younge, The Guardian, 8/23/13

Though he was chief strategist for King’s march, Rustin was kept in the background as some organizers considered him a liability. He died in 1987, and is sometimes forgotten in civil rights history

When civil rights leaders met at the Roosevelt Hotel in Harlem in early July 1963 to hammer out the ground rules by which they would work together to organise the March on Washington there was really only one main sticking point: Bayard Rustin.

Rustin, a formidable organiser and central figure in the civil rights movement, was a complex and compelling figure. Raised a Quaker, his political development would take him through pacifism, communism, socialism and into the civil rights movement in dramatic fashion. In 1944, after refusing to fight in World War Two, he had been jailed as a conscientious objector. It was primarily through him that the leadership would adopt non-violent direct action not only as a strategy but a principle. “The only weapons we have is our bodies,” he once said. “And we have to tuck them in places so wheels don’t turn.”

Rustin was also openly gay, an attribute which was regarded as a liability in the early sixties in a movement dominated by clerics. His position became particularly vulnerable following his arrest in Pasadena, in 1953, when he was caught having sex with two men in a parked car. Charged with lewd vagrancy he plead out to a lesser ‘morals charge’ and was sent to jail for 60 days.

Some in the room that day believed all this made him too great a liability to be associated with such a high profile event. Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, was candid. “I don’t want you leading that march on Washington, because you know I don’t give a damn about what they say, but publicly I don’t want to have to defend the draft dodging,” he said. “I know you’re a Quaker, but that’s not what I’ll have to defend. I’ll have to defend draft dodging. I’ll have to defend promiscuity. The question is never going to be homosexuality, it’s going to be promiscuity and I can’t defend that. And the fact is that you were a member of the Young Communist League. And I don’t care what you say, I can’t defend that.”

Wilkins did not get his way. Rustin would lead the march and do so brilliantly while Wilkins would be called upon to defend him and do so. Fifty years on the White House has announced that Bayard Rustin will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. The award marks the end of a journey for Rustin, who died in 1987: from marginalisation in both life and history to mainstream official accolade just in time for the 50th anniversary of arguably his crowning achievement – organising the march on Washington….

read more and see many links at The Guardian

Black, Gay and a Pacifist: Bayard Rustin Remembered For Role in March on Washington, Mentoring MLK

Democracy Now!, 8/12/13

The White House has announced it will posthumously award the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to the trailblazing civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. Obama will honor Rustin and 15 others, including President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and baseball great Ernie Banks, at the White House later this year. Rustin was a key adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. and introduced him to Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings on nonviolence. Rustin helped King start the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. Six years later, he was the chief organizer of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, rallying hundreds of thousands of people for economic justice, full employment, voting rights and equal opportunity. “Rustin was one of the most important social justice activists in the U.S. in the 20th century,” says John D’Emilio, author of “Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin.” “Rustin pioneered the use of Gandhian nonviolence as a way of calling attention to segregation and other forms of racism in the United States.” We also speak to former NAACP chair Julian Bond and Rustin’s partner, Walter Naegle.

read the full transcript at Democracy Now!
including:

…AMY GOODMAN: Early in his life, Bayard Rustin challenged segregation, as you talked about, and racism; in high school, arrested for refusing to sit in a West Chester movie theater segregated balcony. In this clip from the film Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, which just aired last night on LIW’s World Channel, Rustin recollects how he responded to racism.

BAYARD RUSTIN: I once went into the little restaurant next to the Warner Theatre, and—can you believe it?—there was absolute consternation. That was the first occasion in which I knew West Chester had three police cars. They surrounded the place as if we were going to destroy motherhood. I purposely got arrested, and then I made an appeal that all the black people and white people who were decent-minded should give 10 cents to get me out of jail. And I got out, because they took up a collection….

Bayard Rustin’s Legacy: West Chester’s Civil Rights Hero

BY J. F. PIRRO, Main Line Today, 7/19/13

An integral part of the Civil Rights Movement and the march on Washington, Bayard Rustin and his influence is remembered by West Chester’s Bill Scott.

“Martin Luther King may have told us about his dream, but Bayard Rustin built the platform on which King stood.”

From an early age, Bill Scott was “hooked on Kennedy,” even attending JFK’s inauguration on his own at 15. Sympathetic with the Civil Rights Movement, the Conestoga High School graduate and Rutgers University student set out from home on Aug. 28, 1963, on a Presbyterian Interracial Council bus headed to the March on Washington.

Once Scott’s bus crossed the Maryland line, it joined a sea of others. “Going down, it was a mixed crowd, but mostly what we would’ve called colored folks or Negroes. We didn’t have the word black then,” recalls Scott, a onetime West Chester borough councilman who is now 68. “At one pit stop, someone said, ‘What if they don’t let us in?’ Another said, ‘Not today.’ There was no belligerence—just confidence. Everyone was cheerful, upbeat and excited. They understood that this was a significant thing.”…

As soon as he got there, Scott left his bus group and “weaseled” his way up front. He was on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for King’s speech and other festivities, including performances by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. The 18-year-old college sophomore used his 35 mm Zeiss Ikon camera (a gift to his father after 35 years of service at Gulf Oil) to shoot 24 high-quality pictures. “I’m not saying that I could touch King, but I was within 15 feet,” he says. “When he spoke about having his dream, I was right there.”

After King spoke, Scott went to shake his hand, but the two sergeants at arms (on either side of King in every image from that day) made it clear that no one was to touch King. “[Bayard] Rustin was there, and he was getting a lot of hype,” says Scott. “I remember my dad telling me that he was from West Chester, just down the road from us. He was jumping all around. He was all over the place. He was palpably in charge. Martin Luther King may have told us about his dream, but Bayard Rustin built the platform on which King stood.”….

see the whole article and photos at Main Line Today. Photo by Bill Scott, 8/28/63:

Rustin by Scott 8-28-63