Democratic Platform for America: Strong at Home, Respected in the World

Author: Platform Standing Committee

A Strong American Community

American history is the story of a diverse people striving sometimes fitfully, but in the end, faithfully to realize our ideals: a common dream of equality, and opportunity, freedom and community. Each step along that path has made us stronger.

This year we recall two of our country’s greatest steps toward equality and inclusion fifty years ago, Brown v. Board of Education, and forty years ago, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Those great achievements of the civil rights movement strengthened America immeasurably by breaking down the legal barriers to equal citizenship for African-Americans and expanding the circle of equal opportunity for all. This year, as we celebrate these anniversaries, we recommit to the spirit of service that secured these breakthroughs and the values they embody: all of our people should have the opportunity to fulfill all of their potential, and each of us should be as equal in the eyes of the law as we are in the eyes of God.

That is the America we believe in. That is the America we are fighting for. That is the America we will build together.

President Bush has a different vision instead of searching for common ground to bring our people together, he has sought political advantage in driving our people apart. He has neglected the opportunity of most Americans, choosing instead to lavish resources on those who need them least. He has rejected the American vision of greater equality, appointing judges more interested in rolling back rights than protecting them. Perhaps most striking of all, in a time of war, he has abandoned our great tradition of asking Americans to meet shared challenges in a spirit of shared sacrifice. This President has regularly governed for the benefit of special interests, not the public interest.

John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democratic Party believe in a better America, more equal, more free more American. We believe in common service to our commonwealth. And we will restore the commitment to ethics in government.

Our commitment to civil rights is ironclad. We will restore vigorous federal enforcement of our civil rights laws for all our people, from fair housing to equal employment opportunity, from Title IX to the Americans with Disabilities Act. We support affirmative action to redress discrimination and to achieve the diversity from which all Americans benefit. We believe a day’s work is worth a day’s pay, and at a time when women still earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, we need stronger equal pay laws and stronger enforcement of them. We will enact the bipartisan legislation barring workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. We are committed to equal treatment of all service members and believe all patriotic Americans should be allowed to serve our country without discrimination, persecution, or violence. We support the appointment of judges who will uphold our laws and constitutional rights, not their own narrow agendas.

Voting is the foundation of democracy, a central act of civic engagement, and an expression of equal citizenship. Voting rights are important precisely because they are protective of all other rights. We will call for legislative action that will fully protect and enforce the fundamental Constitutional right of every American to vote—to ensure that the Constitution’s promise is fully realized and that, in disputed elections, every vote is counted fully and fairly.

To advance these goals, and to guarantee the integrity of our elections and to increase voter confidence, we will seek action to ensure that voting systems are accessible, independently auditable, accurate, and secure. We will support the full funding of programs to realize this goal. Finally, it is the priority of the Democratic Party to fulfill the promise of election reform, reauthorize the expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act, and vigorously enforce all our voting rights laws.

Our voting procedures are observed by people and nations around the world. Every vote must count and every vote must be counted, including absentee ballots. To achieve all of our goals, we support moving toward a census that duly counts every American. And we support the election of candidates who express the many voices of America.

Because our democracy thrives on public access to diverse sources of information from multiple sources, we support measures to ensure diversity, competition, and localism in media ownership.

We will defend the dignity of all Americans against those who would undermine it. Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman’s right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay. We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine that right. At the same time, we strongly support family planning and adoption incentives. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.

Racial and religious profiling is wrong and we will work to stamp it out. Hate crimes desecrate sacred spaces and demean good people, and we support a strong national law to punish them.

We will extend the promise of citizenship to those still struggling for freedom. Today’s immigration laws do not reflect our values or serve our security, and we will work for real reform. The solution is not to establish a massive new status of second-class workers; that betrays our values and hurts all working people. Undocumented immigrants within our borders who clear a background check, work hard and pay taxes should have a path to earn full participation in America. We will hasten family reunification for parents and children, husbands and wives, and offer more English-language and civic education classes so immigrants can assume all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. As we undertake these steps, we will work with our neighbors to strengthen our security so we are safer from those who would come here to harm us. We are a nation of immigrants, and from Arab-Americans in California to Latinos in Florida, we share the dream of a better life in the country we love.

We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families. In our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there. We repudiate President Bush’s divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a "Federal Marriage Amendment." Our goal is to bring Americans together, not drive them apart.

We will honor our nation’s tradition of equal justice under law. President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft believe they can claim powers above and beyond the law of the land. As Democrats and Americans, we yield to no one in our commitment to do everything necessary to win the war on terror. But we can and must win that war without sacrificing the values we are defending. America must be strong and free.

As we encourage democracy around the world, we must extend democracy here at home. We support equal rights to democratic self-government and Congressional representation for the citizens of our nation’s capital.

We believe that four million disenfranchised American citizens residing in Puerto Rico have the right to the permanent and fully democratic status of their choice. The White House and Congress will clarify the realistic status options for Puerto Rico and enable Puerto Ricans to choose among them.

We support full self-government for the people of Guam, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands, and their right to decide their future status.

For all those who live under our flag, we support strong economic development and fair and equitable treatment under federal programs.

We honor the sovereignty of American Indians and reaffirm our commitment to respectful and meaningful government-to-government relations. We must renew the trust obligations that this Administration has disregarded, and must improve the education, health, and job opportunities for American Indians who too often face terrible poverty.

We honor the central place of faith in the lives of our people. Like our Founders, we believe that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it inspires. We will strengthen the role of faith-based organizations in meeting challenges like homelessness, youth violence, and other social problems. At the same time, we will honor First Amendment protections and not allow public funds to be used to proselytize or discriminate. Throughout history, communities of faith have brought comfort to the afflicted and shaped great movements for justice. We know they will continue to do so, and we will always protect all Americans’ freedom to worship.

We pledge to stand up for our beliefs and rally Americans to our cause. But we recognize that disagreements will remain, and we believe disagreement should not mean disrespect. Members of our party have deeply held and differing views on some matters of conscience and faith. We view diversity of views as a source of strength, and we welcome into our ranks all Americans who seek to build a stronger America. We are committed to resolving our differences in a spirit of civility, hope and mutual respect.

That’s the America we believe in.


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Chicago: Platform Standing Committee, "A Strong American Community," Democratic Platform for America: Strong at Home, Respected in the World in The Democratic Platform for America: Strong at Home, Respected in the World (Washington, D.C.: 2004 Democratic National Convention Committee, Inc., July 10, 2004), Original Sources, accessed December 2, 2023,

MLA: Platform Standing Committee. "A Strong American Community." Democratic Platform for America: Strong at Home, Respected in the World, in The Democratic Platform for America: Strong at Home, Respected in the World, Washington, D.C., 2004 Democratic National Convention Committee, Inc., July 10, 2004, Original Sources. 2 Dec. 2023.

Harvard: Platform Standing Committee, 'A Strong American Community' in Democratic Platform for America: Strong at Home, Respected in the World. cited in July 10, 2004, The Democratic Platform for America: Strong at Home, Respected in the World, 2004 Democratic National Convention Committee, Inc., Washington, D.C.. Original Sources, retrieved 2 December 2023, from