Support Our Troops and Keep Faith with Our Veterans
Democrats believe America must continue to have the strongest military in the world. Donald Trump has called our military “a disaster.” We reject that view of our brave men and women in serving in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. They perform admirably while sacrificing immeasurably.
We support a smart, predictable defense budget that meets the strategic challenges we face, not the arbitrary cuts that the Republican Congress enacted as part of sequestration. We must prioritize military readiness by making sure our Active, Reserve, and National Guard components remain the best trained and equipped in the world. We will seek a more agile and flexible force and rid the military of outdated Cold War-era systems.
We must end waste in the defense budget. We will audit the Pentagon, launch a high-level commission to review the role of defense contractors, and take greater action against those who have been involved in fraud. And we will ensure that the Department of Defense invests its budget wisely.
Veterans and Service Members
Our country has a sacred, moral responsibility to keep faith with all our veterans and wounded warriors. We must take care of those who have put their lives on the line to defend us. That is why we will push for more educational benefits and job training, end chronic homelessness and combat suicide, and protect and preserve the post-9/11 GI Bill for future generations. We will also ensure that reservists and Guard members are treated fairly when it comes to employment, health, education benefits, deployment, and reintegration.
We are outraged by the systemic problems plaguing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). We will fight for every veteran to have timely access to high-quality health care and timely processing of claims and appeals. We must also look for more ways to make certain the VA provides veteran-centric care, such as providing women with full and equal treatment, including reproductive health services; expanding mental health programs; continuing efforts to identify and treat invisible, latent, and toxic wounds of war; treating post-traumatic stress; and expanding the post-9/11 veteran’s caregiver program to include all veterans. We reject attempts by Republicans to sell out the needs of veterans by privatizing the VA. We believe that the VA must be fully resourced so that every veteran gets the care that he or she has earned and deserves, including those suffering from sexual assault, mental illness and other injuries or ailments.
Democrats honor the sacrifice of military families who serve alongside our service members. We recognize the unique concerns and challenges they face, especially after 15 years of continuous deployments. We will support military families with jobs, education, childcare, and health care. We will promote family-friendly policies and champion efforts to care for our military family members, especially for the spouses and children who have to rebuild their lives after the loss of a loved one or life-altering injury or disability.
A Strong Military
Democrats welcome and honor all Americans who want to serve and will continue to fight for their equal rights and recognition. We are proud of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and we commit ourselves to insuring fair treatment for LGBT veterans, including by proactively reviewing and upgrading discharge records for veterans who were discharged because of their sexual orientation. We are also proud of the opening of combat positions to women. Our military is strongest when people of all races, religions, sexual orientations, and gender identities are honored for their service to our country.
Democrats are committed to addressing the scourge of military sexual assault. We must increase efforts to prevent sexual assault and rape, and aggressively investigate and prosecute allegations. And we must make sure victims receive timely, appropriate and comprehensive treatment for physical, emotional, and psychological trauma resulting from sexual assault.
Confront Global Threats
Democrats will protect our country. We will strengthen our homeland security, deal wisely and firmly with those who seek to imperil America or our partners, deter aggression, and promote peace. We will use all the tools of American power, especially diplomacy and development, to confront global threats and ensure war is the last resort.
We must defeat ISIS, al Qaeda, and their affiliates, and prevent other groups from emerging in their place. Democrats will continue to lead a broad coalition of allies and partners to destroy ISIS’ stronghold in Iraq and Syria. We will press those in the region, especially the Gulf countries and local forces on the ground, to carry their weight in prosecuting this fight. We will dismantle the global network of terror, which supplies terrorists with money, arms, and fighters, and stop them from recruiting and inspiring potential radicals. We will improve our intelligence capabilities, with appropriate safeguards here at home, and ensure that the intelligence community and law enforcement is prepared to deal effectively with the threats we face. We will harden our defenses as well as those of our partners against external and homegrown threats. We will secure the homeland, investing more resources to improve mass transit, aviation, infrastructure, and port security. And we will remain a resilient nation, always coming together to stand up to terror.
Democrats will seek an updated Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that is more precise about our efforts to defeat ISIS and that does not involve large-scale combat deployment of American troops.
As we prosecute the fight against terrorism, Democrats will repudiate vile tactics that would do us harm. We reject Donald Trump’s vilification of Muslims. It violates the religious freedom that is the bedrock of our country and feeds into ISIS’ nefarious narrative. It also alienates people and countries who are crucial to defeating terrorism; the vast majority of Muslims believe in a future of peace and tolerance. We reject Donald Trump’s suggestion that our military should engage in war crimes, like torturing prisoners or murdering civilian family members of suspected terrorists. These tactics run counter to American principles, undermine our moral standing, cost innocent lives, and endanger Americans. We also firmly reject Donald Trump’s willingness to mire tens of thousands of our combat troops in another misguided ground war in the Middle East, which would only further embolden ISIS. There is nothing smart or strong about such an approach.
The Syrian crisis is heartbreaking and dangerous, and its impact is threatening the region, Europe, and beyond. Donald Trump would inflame the conflict by alienating our allies, inexplicably allowing ISIS to expand in Syria, and potentially starting a wider war. This is a reckless approach. Democrats will instead root out ISIS and other terrorist groups and bring together the moderate Syrian opposition, international community, and our regional allies to reach a negotiated political transition that ends Assad’s rule. Given the immense scale of human suffering in Syria, it is also imperative that we lead the international community in providing greater humanitarian assistance to the civilian victims of war in Syria and Iraq, especially displaced refugees.
In Afghanistan, we will work with the NATO-led coalition of partners to bolster the democratically-elected government as it assumes a primary role in tackling terrorism, forges a more secure future for the country, and safeguards advances, like securing women’s rights. Democrats will continue to push for an Afghan-led peace process and press both Afghanistan and Pakistan to deny terrorists sanctuary on either side of the border. We support President Obama’s decision to maintain a limited troop presence in Afghanistan into 2017 and ensure that Afghanistan never again serves as a haven for terrorists to plan and launch attacks on our homeland.
We support the nuclear agreement with Iran because, as it is vigorously enforced and implemented, it verifiably cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb without resorting to war. We reject Donald Trump’s view that we should have walked away from a deal that peacefully dismantles Iran’s nuclear program. We will continue the work of this administration to ensure that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon and will not hesitate to take military action if Iran races towards one.
Democrats will also address the detrimental role Iran plays in the region and will robustly enforce and, if necessary, strengthen non-nuclear sanctions. Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism. It violates the human rights of its population, denies the Holocaust, vows to eliminate Israel, and has its fingerprints on almost every conflict in the Middle East. Democrats will push back against Iran’s destabilizing activities including its support for terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, counter Iran’s ballistic missile program, bolster the capabilities of our Gulf partners, and ensure that Israel always has the ability to defend itself. Finally, Democrats recognize that the Iranian people seek a brighter future for their country and greater engagement with the international community. We will embrace opportunities for cultural, academic and other exchanges with the Iranian people.
North Korea is perhaps the most repressive regime on the planet, run by a sadistic dictator. It has conducted several nuclear tests and is attempting to develop the capability to put a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile that could directly threaten the United States. The regime is also responsible for grave human rights abuses against the North Korean people. Yet Donald Trump praises North Korea’s dictator; threatens to abandon our treaty allies, Japan and South Korea; and encourages the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region. This approach is incoherent and rather than solving a global crisis, would create a new one. Democrats will protect America and our allies, press China to restrain North Korea, and sharpen the choices for Pyongyang to compel it to abandon its illegal nuclear and missile programs.
Russia is engaging in destabilizing actions along its borders, violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and attempting to recreate spheres of influence that undermine American interests. It is also propping up the Assad regime in Syria, which is brutally attacking its own citizens. Donald Trump would overturn more than 50 years of American foreign policy by abandoning NATO partners—countries who help us fight terrorism every day—and embracing Russian President Vladimir Putin instead. We believe in strong alliances and will deter Russian aggression, build European resilience, and protect our NATO allies. We will make it clear to Putin that we are prepared to cooperate with him when it is in our interest—as we did on reducing nuclear stockpiles, ensuring Iran could not obtain a nuclear weapon, sanctioning North Korea, and resupplying our troops in Afghanistan—but we will not hesitate to stand up to Russian aggression. We will also continue to stand by the Russian people and push the government to respect the fundamental rights of its citizens.
Cybersecurity and Online Privacy
Democrats will protect our industry, infrastructure, and government from cyberattacks. We will strengthen our cybersecurity, seek to establish global norms in cyberspace, and impose consequences on those who violate the rules. We will do this while protecting the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. We will also ensure a coherent strategy across federal agencies by building on the Obama Administration’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan, especially the empowerment of a federal Chief Information Security Officer, the modernization of federal information technology, and upgrades to government-wide cybersecurity.
Democrats reject the false choice between privacy interests and keeping Americans safe. We need liberty and security, and each makes the other possible. We will protect the privacy and civil liberties of the American people—standing firm against the type of warrantless surveillance of American citizens that flourished during the Bush Administration. We support recent reforms to government bulk data collection programs so the government is not collecting and holding millions of files on innocent Americans.
We will support a national commission on digital security and encryption to bring together technology and public safety communities to address the needs of law enforcement, protect the privacy of Americans, assess how innovation might point to new policy approaches, and advance our larger national security and global competitiveness interests.
Non-Proliferation of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons
Democrats are committed to preventing the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and to eventually ridding the planet of these catastrophic weapons. We believe America will be safer in a world with fewer weapons of mass destruction. Donald Trump encourages the spread of nuclear weapons across Asia and the Middle East, which would weaken the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and he is unwilling to rule out using a nuclear weapon against ISIS.
Democrats want to reduce the number of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons around the world, as well as their means of delivery, while retaining a strong deterrent as long as others maintain nuclear strike capabilities. We will strengthen the NPT, push for the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, and stop the spread of loose nuclear material. Democrats will be informed by a new Nuclear Posture Review in determining continued ways to appropriately shape our nuclear deterrent, with the aim of reducing our reliance on nuclear weapons while meeting our national security obligations. Democrats will also seek new opportunities for further arms control and avoid taking steps that create incentives for the expansion of existing nuclear weapons programs. To this end, we will work to reduce excessive spending on nuclear weapons-related programs that are projected to cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years.
Global Climate Leadership
Climate change poses an urgent and severe threat to our national security, and Democrats believe it would be a grave mistake for the United States to wait for another nation to take the lead in combating the global climate emergency. According to the military, climate change is a threat multiplier that is already contributing to new conflicts over resources, catastrophic natural disasters, and the degradation of vital ecosystems across the globe. While Donald Trump says that climate change is a “hoax” created by and for the Chinese, Democrats recognize the catastrophic consequences facing our country, our planet, and civilization.
We believe the United States must lead in forging a robust global solution to the climate crisis. We are committed to a national mobilization, and to leading a global effort to mobilize nations to address this threat on a scale not seen since World War II. In the first 100 days of the next administration, the President will convene a summit of the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists, and indigenous communities to chart a course to solve the climate crisis. Our generation must lead the fight against climate change and we applaud President Obama's leadership in forging the historic Paris climate change agreement. We will not only meet the goals we set in Paris, we will seek to exceed them and push other countries to do the same by slashing carbon pollution and rapidly driving down emissions of potent greenhouse gases like hydrofluorocarbons. We will support developing countries in their efforts to mitigate carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases, deploy more clean energy, and invest in climate resilience and adaptation.
As a proud Arctic nation, we are against putting the region at risk through drilling in the Arctic Ocean or the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Instead, while protecting our strategic interests, we will seek collaborative, science-based approaches to be good stewards of the rapidly changing Arctic region.