[N. B. This is a copy of the text of a letter from Marcel L. Groen to Sang Joo Kim.]
Dr. Sang Joo Kim
965 Clover Court
Blue Bell, PA 19422
Dear Dr. Kim:
I am writing in response to your letter dated September 20, requesting information about the Montgomery County Democratic Committee ("MCDC"), our policies and our commitment to minority groups such as the Korean community. The Democratic National Committee ("DNC") establishes a series of policies (it's "platform") every Presidential election year. This year's platform can be read in its entirety at the DNC website: http://www.democrats.org
1. The values of the Democratic party.
The Democratic Platform specifically states its commitment to core American values - hard work, community, embracing diversity, faith, family, and personal responsibility. Democrats see government as the embodiment of our national community - an entity that should be used to protect and encourage, to bolster the efforts and support the achievements of the private sector; a means of encouraging behaviors consistent with American values. Like its national counterpart, the Montgomery County Democratic Committee believes in open proceedings and the involvement of as many people as possible. The National Platform was created through a series of interactions with many people - in person, through the mail, and over the internet. MCDC welcomes all Democrats at every meeting - regardless of their background or views. The Democratic Party is dedicated to continuing the prosperity of the last eight years and making sure that all Americans have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from that prosperity. We believe that every individual has value and the right to share in the prosperity of our country. And while the Platform sets forth the general views of the Party, it also acknowledges the importance of individuals and the reality Democrats may have different ideas about the means of achieving the goals (or effectuating the values) of the Party. In discussing areas such as abortion and capital punishment, the Platform specifically states that individual Democrats may have deeply held and differing views, that this diversity of opinion if a sign of strength, and that all are welcome. Democrats are committed to resolving these matters in a "spirit of civility, hope and mutual respect."
2. How we plan to effectuate Democratic values.
The Democratic Platform sets forth a detailed plan for effectuating Democratic values. It discusses education, crime, health care, international affairs, the environment, small business, and many other issues. Some of the issues which seem more important at a local level are - education, healthcare, the concerns of small business owners, deficit-reduction strategies, and freedom of choice regarding abortion.
Democrats work for good public schooling for all. While non-public schools provide many benefits to those who choose to attend and have the ability to pay, the public school system is the backbone of our economy. It is the training ground for our people, a place for teaching community values as well as necessary skills. We are committed to public education - to treating teachers as professionals by providing adequate compensation and demanding accountability. Some of the specific proposals contained in the Platform and supported by our candidates for local school boards, State legislative offices, Congress, the Senate, and President of the United Sates, include: encouraging parents to be actively involved in our schools; allowing time off from work to attend school conferences and important school meetings; developing "second-chance" schools for students who are expelled or otherwise need concentrated help to learn how to succeed in school; providing head start programs for all children; using tax incentives to encourage the development and use of after school programs for children whose parents are not home when the school day ends; closing schools if students do not achieve basic standards in reading and mathematics; allowing students to choose among the public schools in their district; encouraging teacher contracts that allow hiring and promotion based on skill and achievement rather than solely on seniority; supporting alternative schools for the development of new and more effective approaches to learning; providing more tax incentives for life-long learning and college education; reducing class size; providing funding for more teachers and improved facilities; and making sure that all students have access to the internet and learn the computer skills that are so essential to employment and success.
In the area of healthcare, Democrats are strong supporters of medical research and care for the elderly and ill. At the County level, Democrats focus attention on care of infants and decreasing infant mortality, providing good healthcare to the elderly, enforcing standards at nursing homes, and providing quality care for the mentally ill. At the National level, Democrats are working for universal healthcare, prescription drug benefits for the elderly, tax cuts and tax credits for those who care for elderly or seriously ill family members, continued medical research into diseases, and a patients' bill of rights that allows the patient and his or her doctor to decide on a course of treatment and holds insurance companies and HMOs responsible for decisions which negatively impact the insured.
Small businesses are critical to our economy and the essence of the American way. Democrats are committed to encouraging small businesses through tax credits for research and development, providing opportunities for small businesses to contract with governmental agencies at all levels, keeping the internet tax-free and a good source of commerce for companies of all sizes, and improving intellectual property laws both at home and on the international level. In Montgomery County, the Democratic Party, our candidates and elected officials have long supported open access to County contracts, fair bidding procedures, and the awarding of contracts on a non-political basis. Democrats support the proposition that the public benefits most from good services and fair pricing rather than the use of public money to repay political friends and contributors.
The Democratic Party believes that all taxpayers, businesses, consumers, and workers will benefit from the reduction of public debt and the elimination of budget deficits. Our elected officials have worked hard for the last 8 years to do both. We plan to continue to pay down the national debt and to pass balanced budgets.
There is an interesting and stark contrast between the Republican and Democratic Parties in the area of abortion. We evidence our faith in individuals by letting them make the difficult and painful choice of when it is necessary to end a pregnancy. We also work to make sure all children who are born are given every opportunity to thrive - through good education, decent nutrition, adequate healthcare, and access to good jobs. We do not ask people to publicly state reasons for their choice - to determine which reasons are "acceptable" and which are irresponsible. Rhetoric aside, abortions are actually less frequent and adoptions more frequent than in the past. Democrats support family planning, contraceptive research, education, and healthy childbearing.
3. Working with Minorities
The Democratic Party has a long and proud history of working with and for minorities. Both MCDC and the DNC are committed to making Montgomery County, the United States, and our elected officials more accountable to the community at large and to minority groups in particular. We believe that government works best when there is an active and interested electorate, and that elected officials serve the entire community - not just those who made political contributions. The current Democratic candidates for federal and state office are running on a platform that includes increased educational opportunities, affordable health care for all, saving Social Security, and protecting our open spaces. These issues reflect MCDC's concerns about all citizens in our community.
The Montgomery County Democratic Committee has always been dedicated to encouraging participation in the political process. To that end we have welcomed members of every religion and ethnic background, both as members of MCDC and as candidates. Our current candidates come from all areas of the County, are well-qualified to serve in the offices they seek, range in age and experience from young professional to retiree, and were not screened for religious views.
We not only encourage, but respect diversity among our members and the community. This philosophy is demonstrated by the support we have given to candidates on both sides of the abortion issue, in the manner in which we conduct our meetings (allowing differing opinions to be aired and discussed), and in our approach to organizations such as yours. Our respect for different cultures and groups is evident in the manner in which MCDC has worked with you and your organization. MCDC has responded to each of your requests, and those of other Korean Americans - providing non-partisan election materials such as voter registration forms, absentee ballot request forms, and instructions on using voting machines and voting in general. Our dedication to making the political process available to everyone is very real and very evident in our day-to-day dealings.
It would be presumptuous of me to set out specifics for promoting issues of importance to the Korean community until you have articulated those concerns. However, it is worth pointing out that due to President Clinton's efforts we helped facilitate the dialogue between North and South Korea, without which the recent summit could not have occurred. Our diplomacy has helped to halt North Korea's push for nuclear weapons, we got North Korea to stop testing long-range ballistic missiles, and are also engaged in continuing negotiations regarding their testing and export of such missiles. The tight coordination between the United States, South Korea, and Japan is critical to our success, and the Democratic Party is committed to maintaining good relations with the Koreas as the dialogue begun at the recent summit continues. Locally, our policy toward developing a working relationship with the Korean American community is clear in the efforts made so far - we look forward to a time when more Korean Americans are involved in County politics and with the Montgomery County Democratic Committee. We welcome input and participation by all. There are currently openings for Committee people in various areas of the County, and we would be pleased to meet with anyone - regardless of nationality - interested in taking on the responsibilities of being part of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee.
I hope this has adequately addressed your questions, and look forward to talking with you soon. I also look forward to meeting with your organization at an appropriate time and place.
Marcel L. Groen