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Economic and religious implications of the DNC platform

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Earlier this week, I talked about the religious and economic implications of the RNC platform. As the DNC wraps up, it is time to examine the relevant points of the Democratic platform.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

We need an economy that prioritizes long-term investment over short-term profit-seeking, rewards the common interest over self-interest, and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship.

Minimum Wage

Democrats believe that the current minimum wage is a starvation wage and must be increased to a living wage. No one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty. We believe that Americans should earn at least $15 an hour and have the right to form or join a union. We applaud the approaches taken by states like New York and California. We should raise and index the minimum wage, give all Americans the ability to join a union regardless of where they work, and create new ways for workers to have power in the economy. We also support creating one fair wage for all workers by ending the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers and people with disabilities.

Democrats support a model employer executive order or some other vehicle to leverage federal dollars to support employers who provide their workers with a living wage, good benefits, and the opportunity to form a union. The $1 trillion spent annually by the government on contracts, loans, and grants should be used to support good jobs that rebuild the middle class.

Poverty

We believe that today’s extreme level of income and wealth inequality—where the majority of the economic gains go to the top one percent and the richest 20 people in our country own more wealth than the bottom 150 million—makes our economy weaker, our communities poorer, and our politics poisonous.

We reaffirm our commitment to eliminate poverty. Democrats will develop a national strategy to combat poverty, coordinated across all levels of government. We will direct more federal resources to lifting up communities that have been left out and left behind, such as the 10-20-30 model, which directs 10 percent of program funds to communities where at least 20 percent of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years or more. We will also focus on communities that suffer from persistent poverty, including empowerment zones and areas that targeted government data indicate are in persistent poverty.

Democrats will protect proven programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—our nation’s most important anti-hunger program—that help struggling families put food on the table. We will also help people grow their skills through jobs and skills training opportunities.

Religious Liberty

Opposes attempts to impose a religious test to bar immigrants or refugees from entering the United States.

Supports a “progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.”

Supports protecting both Muslims and religious minorities and the “fundamental right of freedom of religion” in the Middle East. (Read more here)

On the subject of religious liberty, the Democratic platform says considerably less than the Republican Party. What little they do say targets a rather specific facet of religious liberty, and could potentially limit the rights of business owners. The Democrats say as little about innovation as they do about religion, and offer no suggestions on how to achieve such an economy. Regarding their minimum wage policy, Joe Carter makes an extremely thorough analysis of all the reasons this would “harm the poor while giving the appearance of helping them (in order to win their votes).” The biggest red flag appears in their strategy to combat poverty, in phrases such as “[protecting and expanding] proven programs, including robust support for nutrition assistance to stop people from going hungry” with “more federal resources…coordinated across all levels of government.” These statements lie in direct opposition to Anielka Münkel Olson’s position in One and Indivisible: The Relationship between Religious and Economic Freedom that “aid models tend to foster dependency, and they can deform the culture of entire countries.” Despite the best of intentions in these government programs, these powerful statements that “No one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty,” these types of policies can be even more oppressive and act as shackles at the local level.

The good news: the situation is not hopeless. Read more from Olson and other authors about how economic policy and religious freedom, a topic glossed over in the Democratic platform, must be used in tandem to alleviate poverty in One and Indivisible: The Relationship between Religious and Economic Freedom, available now on sale in the Acton Book Shop.

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Liz Crandell

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