Robert Wexler on Principles & Values
Democratic Representative (FL-19)
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Such factors as religious service attendance, belief, practice, familiarity with doctrine, belief in certain creeds, etc., may be important to sociologists, religious leaders, and others. But these are measures of religiosity and are usually not used academically to define a person’s membership in a particular religion. It is important to recognize there are various levels of adherence, or membership within religious traditions or religious bodies. There’s no single definition, and sources of adherent statistics do not always make it clear what definition they are using.
The members of the Progressive Caucus share a common belief in the principles of social and economic justice, non-discrimination, and tolerance in America and in our relationships with other countries. We also seek to embody and give voice to national priorities which reflect the interests and needs of all the American people, not just the wealthy and the powerful. Our purpose is to present thoughtful, positive, practical solutions to the problems confronting America and the world. In the post-Cold War era, we believe our nation’s priorities must change with the times and reflect new realities. Accordingly, we support curbs on wasteful, inefficient government spending at the Pentagon and elsewhere, a more progressive tax system in which wealthier taxpayers and corporations pay their fair share, adequate funding for social programs that are designed to extend help to low and middle-income Americans in need, and trade policies that increase the exports of more American products and encourage the creation of jobs and investment in America.
Since its inception, the DLC has championed policies from spurring private sector economic growth, fiscal discipline and community policing to work based welfare reform, expanded international trade, and national service. Throughout the 90’s, innovative, New Democrat policies implemented by former DLC Chairman President Bill Clinton have helped produce the longest period of sustained economic growth in our history, the lowest unemployment in a generation, 22 million new jobs, cut the welfare rolls in half, reduced the crime rate for seven straight years, balanced the budget and streamlined the federal bureaucracy to its smallest size since the Kennedy administration.
Now, the DLC is promoting new ideas -- such as a second generation of environmental protection and new economy and technology development strategies -- that is distinctly different from traditional liberalism and conservatism to build the next generation of America’s leaders.
America and the world have changed dramatically in the closing decades of the 20th century. The industrial order of the 20th century is rapidly yielding to the networked “New Economy” of the 21st century. Our political and governing systems, however, have lagged behind the rest of society in adapting to these seismic shifts. They remain stuck in the left-right debates and the top-down bureaucracies of the industrial past.
The Democratic Leadership Council, and its affiliated think tank the Progressive Policy Institute, have been catalysts for modernizing politics and government. The core principles and ideas of this “Third Way” movement [began with] Bill Clinton’s Presidential campaign in 1992, Tony Blair’s Labour Party in Britain in 1997, and Gerhard Shroeder’s Social Democrats in Germany in 1998.
When one reads accounts of Jews in American politics, the common theme is that Jews have achieved prominence in art, literature, academia, certain businesses, and entertainment, but not in politics or government. The Jewish politician was the exception, not the rule.
In the last third of the 20th century, however, that pattern changed. By 2000, Jews had become as prominent in the political realm as they have been in other aspects of American life. And Jewish participation is accepted for the contributions these activists make, not because of their Jewishness. Nothing could symbolize this trend more cogently than the nomination of Joseph Lieberman for vice president in 2000 and the national reaction to his candidacy. [Lieberman says]:
Although politics was not exactly a Jewish profession, individual Jews did throw themsleves into the democratic process. Some were traditional politicians; others machine politicians. Many more, such as Emma Goldman and the radicals of the early 20th century, were inspired by the ideal that they had a duty to repair the world—Tikkun Olam.[This book] provides brief biographical sketches for more than 400 Jews who have played prominent roles in American political life. The roster provides much of the basic information that we felt was previously lacking in one place.
Many reasons account for the broader representation of Jews in American civic life today. The forces of antisemitism have been relegated to the extreme margins of society, the principle of meritocracy has increasingly opened the doors of opportunity. Moreover, the idealism and purpose that were spawned by the movements for civil rights, opposition to the war in Vietnam, environmentalism, and other causes drew many Jewish Americans into the political arena. Jews are admonished tp help perfect the world by the ancient wisdom of Rabbi Tarfon, who tells us, “You are not required to complete the task, yet you are not free to withdaw from it.”
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 AU scores as follows:
Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom. AU is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.
Americans United is a national organization with members in all 50 states. We are headquartered in Washington, D.C., and led by the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director. AU has more than 75,000 members from all over the country. They include people from all walks of life and from various faith communities, as well as those who profess no particular faith. We are funded by donations from our members and others who support church-state separation. We do not seek, nor would we accept, government funding.
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