HEALING THE SOUL OF AMERICA
Democrats believe in bringing the American people together, not stoking division and distrust. President Trump has denigrated virtually every segment of American society—and in so doing, he has insulted the very idea of America itself. Healing the soul of America means facing up to the deepest inequities in our society, from structural racism to misogyny to discrimination against people with disabilities, and enacting ambitious measures to fix them.
Protecting Americans’ Civil Rights
Democrats are committed to ending discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, language, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability status. We will appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices and federal judges who look like America, are committed to the rule of law, will uphold individual civil rights and civil liberties as essential components of a free and democratic society, and will respect and enforce foundational precedents, including Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. Democrats are committed to restoring the full power of the Voting Rights Act and ensuring every citizen can access the ballot box. We will enforce and strengthen the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and will end racial and religious profiling in law enforcement.
President Trump’s words and actions have given safe harbor and encouragement to racists, anti-Semites, anti-Muslim bigots, and white supremacists. It’s time to root out domestic terrorism in all its forms. We will use federal law enforcement tools and resources to address domestic terrorism, and if necessary work with Congress to pass a domestic terrorism law that is consistent with the Constitutional right to free speech and civil liberties.
Achieving Racial Justice and Equity
Historic wrongs and abuses perpetrated against Native Americans, two and a half centuries of slavery, a hundred years of Jim Crow segregation, and a history of exclusionary immigration policies have created profound and lasting inequities in income, wealth, education, employment, housing, environmental quality, and health care for communities of color. Democrats are committed to standing up to racism and bigotry in our laws, in our culture, in our politics, and in our society, and recognize that race-neutral policies are not sufficient to rectify race-based disparities. We will take a comprehensive approach to embed racial justice in every element of our governing agenda, including in jobs and job creation, workforce and economic development, small business and entrepreneurship, eliminating poverty and closing the racial wealth gap, promoting asset building and homeownership, education, health care, criminal justice reform, environmental justice, and voting rights. Democrats will ensure federal data collection and analysis is adequately funded and designed to allow for disaggregation by race and ethnicity, among other important factors, to better design policies to address the needs of the most vulnerable communities and make informed policy choices.
Hate and its symbols have no home in America. Democrats believe that we can only build a more just and equitable future if we honestly reckon with our history and its legacy in the present. We support removing the Confederate battle flag and statues of Confederate leaders from public properties. We recognize Black history has too often been intentionally suppressed or excluded from our history books, and will invest in recovering, celebrating, and highlighting Black history as American history. Democrats believe Juneteenth (June 19th) represents the end of slavery, the freedom for millions of enslaved Black Americans, and should be recognized as a federal holiday.
We believe Black lives matter, and will establish a national commission to examine the lasting economic effects of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and racially discriminatory federal policies on income, wealth, educational, health, and employment outcomes; to pursue truth and promote racial healing; and to study reparations. We must acknowledge that there can be no realization of the American dream without grappling with the lasting effects of slavery, and facing up to the centuries-long campaign of violence, fear, and trauma wrought upon Black Americans.
The extreme gap in household wealth and income between people of color—especially Black Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and certain Asian American and Pacific Islander communities—and white families is hurting our working class and holding our country back. Democrats are committed to improving economic mobility for people of color. We will fight to tackle intergenerational poverty and close the racial wealth gap.
Democrats support policies to end discrimination and unfair practices in the housing market, will empower local governments to combat gentrification trends that disproportionately harm long-time residents of color, and will create a Community Restoration Fund to repair the toxic legacy of historic investments in transportation that were designed to enforce racial segregation. We will equalize access to credit and expand support for first-time homebuyers to make homeownership and the wealth-building it creates more accessible for people of color.
Democrats recognize that racial wealth gaps are rooted in longstanding discrimination and unjust policies. We will equalize established pathways for building wealth while exploring innovative approaches to closing racial wealth gaps, including policies that provide seed capital in order to access the economic security of asset ownership.
The right to organize and collectively bargain benefits all workers, but especially for workers of color. Unions close pay gaps between white workers and people of color. The union wage premium is high for all workers, but remains especially substantial for people of color, including Latinos and Black workers. This is one reason why Black workers represent a higher share of the labor movement than the workforce as a whole.
Unemployment rates for people of color are persistently higher than the national average, which is why Democrats support making racial equity part of the mandate of the Federal Reserve. Specifically, we will work with Congress to direct the Chair of the Federal Reserve to report on the extent of racial employment and wage gaps, and how the central bank is countering them, in addition to monitoring, reporting on, and responding to macroeconomic conditions in general.
We will invest in low-income communities, urban and rural areas, and communities of color by strengthening the Community Reinvestment Act, improving federal support and access to credit for women- and minority-owned small businesses, expanding and making permanent the New Markets Tax Credit, and doubling funding for CDFIs.
We will restore and build on the Obama-Biden Administration’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces policy, and use the purchasing power of the federal government to incentivize private companies to recruit and advance people of color, women, people with disabilities, and veterans.
Democrats believe it is unacceptable that schools are more segregated today than they were in the late 1960s. We believe education is a critical public good, and will increase investments to guarantee all students can access high-quality public schools, no matter where they live, so students of color are well prepared to thrive in college and careers. We will break the school-to-prison pipeline that sees children of color disproportionately punished by the criminal justice system for disciplinary issues that should be handled by school administrators or counselors.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately sickened and killed Black Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and certain Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, has made long-standing racial and geographic disparities in health care and health outcomes into front-page news. Democrats will launch an all-of-government effort to eliminate health disparities, including by achieving universal health coverage through a high-quality, affordable public option; expanding funding for community health centers, rural health centers, and mobile health clinics; and tackling environmental racism that sees communities of color disproportionately impacted by air pollution, water pollution, and toxic chemicals.
All people in the United States should be able to easily access public services, and all citizens should be able to exercise their Constitutional right to vote without facing unjust or discriminatory barriers. Democrats will restore the full powers of the Voting Rights Act and go further to roll back discriminatory policies that have been put in place in recent years to prevent people of color from voting. We will ensure all federal agencies produce materials in languages commonly spoken in the United States, including languages spoken by Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and that voting materials are also easily accessible for citizens with limited English proficiency.
Protecting Women’s Rights
Democrats will fight to guarantee equal rights for women, including by ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment and at long last enshrining gender equality in the U.S. Constitution. We will take aggressive action to end pay inequality, including by increasing penalties against companies that discriminate against women and passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. Democrats are committed to ending sexual assault, domestic abuse, and other violence against women, including the epidemics of violence against Native American women and transgender women of color.
Like the majority of Americans, Democrats believe every woman should be able to access high-quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion. We oppose and will fight to overturn federal and state laws that create barriers to women’s reproductive health and rights, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment and protecting and codifying the right to reproductive freedom. And Democrats will take action to protect the rights of pregnant women in the workplace, including by requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding workers and those who have recently given birth and at last joining other advanced economies by enacting paid sick days and universal paid family and medical leave.
Protecting LGBTQ+ Rights
Democrats applaud this year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that made clear that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity violates the law, but we know we still have work to do to ensure LGBTQ+ people are treated equally under the law and in our society. We will fight to enact the Equality Act and at last outlaw discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in housing, public accommodations, access to credit, education, jury service, and federal programs. We will work to ensure LGBTQ+ people are not discriminated against when seeking to adopt or foster children, protect LGBTQ+ children from bullying and assault, and guarantee transgender students’ access to facilities based on their gender identity. Democrats will ensure federally funded programs for older adults are inclusive for LGBTQ+ seniors.
Recognizing that LGBTQ+ youth and adults suffer from significant health disparities, including mental health and substance use disorders, Democrats will expand mental health and suicide prevention services, and ban harmful “conversion therapy” practices. We will ensure that all transgender and non-binary people can procure official government identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity. We will stop employment discrimination in the federal government, and will restore full implementation of President Obama’s executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Democrats are committed to ending the homelessness crisis, including among LGBTQ+ youth. We will fight to end violence against transgender Americans and particularly against Black transgender women, who are disproportionately victims of assault and homicide, and will prioritize the investigation of hate crimes against transgender and non-binary people.
Protecting Disability Rights
One in four American adults live with a disability. Democrats believe people with disabilities deserve to lead full, happy, and healthy lives. Democrats will fully enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, and the Help America Vote Act, among other bedrock statutes protecting the rights of people with disabilities. We will oppose any efforts to weaken enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We will ensure non-discrimination in access to health care, building on the protections for people with disabilities enshrined in the Affordable Care Act. We will ensure every federal agency aggressively enforces the integration mandate affirmed in the Olmstead decision, and repair the damage done by the Trump Administration. We will rigorously enforce non-discrimination protections for people with disabilities in health care, employment, education, and housing, and ensure equal access to the ballot box.
Democrats are committed to supporting the millions of Americans on the autism spectrum and their families. We will expand early childhood screening, particularly in underserved communities, and promote equitable treatment of students on the autism spectrum in schools and educational settings, in keeping with our commitment to providing equal educational opportunities for students with disabilities. By eliminating state waiting lists for home and community-based care, ending the institutional bias in Medicaid, and expanding support for informal caregivers, Democrats will enable more individuals with autism to receive the support they need in their homes and communities.
Democrats will phase out the subminimum wage, expand competitive, integrated employment opportunities, and protect and strengthen economic security for people with disabilities. We will take a holistic approach to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs that are essential for millions of Americans with disabilities by increasing SSI benefits, eliminating waiting periods for SSDI, and eliminating the “benefit cliff” for SSDI benefits. We will increase federal funding to expand accessible transportation and accessible, integrated, and affordable housing. We will protect people with disabilities in emergencies and meet the needs of travelers with disabilities. We will ensure new technologies benefit, and are affordable and accessible for, people with disabilities. We will expand access to tax-advantaged ABLE savings accounts, which provide people with disabilities a way to pay for disability-related expenses like housing, education, and transportation. And Democrats will improve access to home- and community-based care for people with disabilities and older Americans, including by enforcing the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Settings Rule, ending the institutional bias within Medicaid, and expanding the home care workforce to end state waiting lists for long-term services and supports.
Honoring Indigenous Tribal Nations
The U.S. government has a profound legal and moral obligation toward Native American Tribes and Indigenous communities—a trust which has been broken time and again, undermining Tribal nations’ ability to flourish politically, culturally, and economically. Democrats are committed to honoring, upholding, and strengthening the United States’ trust obligations to Tribal Nations and communities, as enshrined in the Constitution, treaties, federal statutes, and case law.
Democrats recognize and support the sovereignty of Tribal Nations and pledge to work on a nation-to-nation basis to empower Indigenous peoples, increase economic development in Tribal Nations, and protect Tribal lands, assets, resources, and treaty rights. We honor and support the great Indigenous traditions all across the country. We stand with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and all Tribal Nations in rejecting the Trump Administration’s efforts to remove land that had been put into trust by the Obama-Biden Administration. We will fight to enact a clean Carcieri fix and support policies to restore Tribal lands, including culturally significant federal lands, by moving land into trust, streamlining the land-into-trust process, and conducting land buy-backs. We will also support establishment of additional federal co-management agreements with Tribal Nations on federal lands that have cultural and historical significance to Tribes.
Democrats believe the federal government must commit to providing full funding to fulfill unmet trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations and Native American peoples. We will work on a nation-to-nation basis to increase funding, resources, and financial tools for Tribes, particularly in the key areas of criminal justice, health care, education, housing, and economic development. Democrats will work to address the predictability of funding for Tribes, and explore pathways including mandatory funding, advanced appropriations, shutdown exemptions, and other mechanisms.
The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated Indian Country, with some Tribal communities facing among the highest per capita infection rates in the country. As part of our commitment to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Democrats will support funding to hire sufficient staff to conduct contact tracing for all who test positive for this deadly disease. We will surge funding to the Indian Health Service and support investments to help Tribal governments address the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and President Trump’s recession, including investments to support and create jobs in Tribal communities and to support affordable child care, so parents are not forced to choose between keeping their jobs and keeping their children safe.
Democrats recognize the security of Native peoples (American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians) is paramount, and will ensure that they have the resources they need to investigate and prosecute crimes against Native peoples and communities, including cooperation from law enforcement agencies outside Tribal lands. We will fight for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Democrats will at last reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, reaffirm provisions relating to Tribal jurisdiction, and expand the list of crimes that can be prosecuted under the statute to include stalking, child abuse, and trafficking. We also support Indian Tribal jurisdiction over Tribal lands, and we support further efforts to address the Oliphant decision. We will defend the Indian Child Welfare Act and protect Native families and involve Tribes in child welfare cases. And we will build on federal programs to reduce the disproportionate incarceration of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian men and women, reduce sentencing disparities, and work to ensure all returning citizens have access to housing, employment services, and health care, including mental health and substance use disorder treatment.
American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians are uninsured at higher rates and suffer from disparities in health outcomes, including in the COVID-19 pandemic. Democrats will make mandatory and work toward full funding for the Indian Health Service and the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act to help expand access to health care for Native people, including mental health, dental care, and substance use disorder treatments, and will fully fund contract support costs. We will expand insurance coverage for Native Americans (including American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians) no matter where they live by creating a high-quality, affordable public option on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, and making the public option available without premiums to low-income families.
The legacy of Native American boarding schools has caused generational trauma. We acknowledge this injustice and support continued education and restorative justice. We will invest in Indian education from early childhood through college and career education. Democrats will significantly expand funding for the Bureau of Indian Education and invest in improving public school buildings. We will increase resources for programs that promote cultural preservation and enable Native students to learn their Indigenous languages, and support national curricula to teach Native American history and culture in schools. Democrats will increase recruitment of high-quality teachers and school professionals in Tribal areas. And we will break down barriers that keep Native American students from accessing a college education, including by making community colleges free and significantly increasing support to lower attendance costs at Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs). Democrats are committed to reestablishing and strengthening the White House Generation Indigenous initiative and its annual White House Tribal Youth Gathering to support Native youth. We are committed to combating hurtful and racist Native American stereotypes in mainstream American culture, especially those associated with sports teams and educational institutions.
Democrats will substantially increase investments to meet Tribal housing needs, including by constructing and upgrading affordable housing on Tribal lands, investing in drinking and clean water infrastructure, and investing in rural and Tribal broadband infrastructure. We will make energy-saving upgrades to millions of low-income homes and affordable and public housing units, and increase funding for the Indian Community Development Block Grant program.
We will unlock significant new resources for economic development on Tribal lands, including supporting investments in clean energy, climate change resilience, and 21st century infrastructure projects. We will expand access to capital for Tribes by increasing resources for the Native American CDFI Assistance Program, expanding and making permanent the New Markets Tax Credit, and expanding technical assistance to enable Tribes to better access existing federal funding streams. We will continue to support and expand SBA programs for Tribes and fully implement the Buy Indian Act. We will also support Tribal governments and their authority to tax activities on their lands in support of Tribal self-sufficiency and government services. Democrats are committed to environmental justice for Indian Country, and will work to ensure all people have clean air, clean water, modern wastewater infrastructure, and can live without exposure to toxic chemicals.
Democrats recognize that the Native American men and women who have proudly served in the Armed Forces of the United States in all its wars, from the beginning of U.S. history, deserve the total and unqualified support of their needs by the federal government. We will ensure that all the benefits provided to U.S. military veterans are provided to Native veterans and fully funded to meet the special cultural needs of Native veterans. Democrats will additionally establish a Veterans Affairs Tribal Advisory Committee to foster improved collaboration and coordination between the federal government and Tribal Nations on meeting the unique needs of Native American veterans, and establish Tribal veteran service delivery programs in Tribal communities.
Democrats commit to managing federal actions and undertakings in a manner that honors the trust responsibility; respects the nation-to-nation relationship and sovereignty of Tribes; and protects subsistence, treaty, and other reserved rights, natural and cultural resources, and sacred sites of federally-recognized Indian Tribes. We commit to upholding leasing and rights-of-way regulations that strengthen Tribal sovereignty and ensure Tribal consent on lands in which Tribes hold an interest. We will create a more robust and meaningful consultation process that is consistent across all federal agencies, including the Office of Management and Budget, and use early and ongoing consultation to identify and work to appropriately mitigate or address concerns.
Democrats recognize that self-governance and self-determination empowers Tribes to prioritize their needs and plan for the future consistent with their distinct traditions, economies, and institutions. Recognizing the success many Tribes have had with self-governance, we will work to make it more effective within the Bureau of Indian Affairs and encourage other federal agencies to negotiate such agreements with Tribes.
Consistent with the policies of the Obama-Biden Administration, Democrats will make permanent the White House Council on Native American Affairs and commit to holding an annual White House Tribal Nations Conference. We will nominate federal judges who understand Indian law, and will ensure Native Americans and Alaska Natives are appointed to high-level and leadership positions within the federal government.
Over 70 percent of Native Americans live off-reservation. Democrats will create a strategy to support urban Indian populations and ensure their voices are heard and no one is left behind, including by expanding support to access quality health care, culturally relevant education, affordable housing, and other programs.
Democrats also support efforts for self-governance and self-determination of Native Hawaiians. Native Hawaiians are the Indigenous, aboriginal people of Hawai’i whose values and culture are the foundation of the Hawaiian Islands. We support proactive actions by the federal government to enhance Native Hawaiian culture, housing, health, language, and education. We recognize and honor the contributions and sacrifices made in service to our country by Native Hawaiians.
Ending Violence Against Women
Democrats are committed to ending sexual assault, domestic abuse, and other violence against women. We will act swiftly to overcome Republican obstructionism and reauthorize and expand the Violence Against Women Act to better protect Native American women, women with disabilities, children and young women, transgender women and other LGBTQ+ people, and other groups who are disproportionately affected by sexual assault and domestic abuse.
Democrats will expand services for survivors of violence against women, including by expanding access to housing, legal assistance, and victim advocate services. We will support danger assessment and lethality training for law enforcement officers and community partners to help curb domestic violence homicides. We recognize that sex workers, who are disproportionately women of color and transgender women, face especially high rates of sexual assault and violence, and we will work with states and localities to protect the lives of sex workers. We will enforce and provide tools and resources for schools to implement Title IX, which requires schools and institutions of higher education to properly investigate sexual misconduct, including peer-on-peer sexual harassment and violence; take appropriate action; and prevent future sexual misconduct. Democrats will increase resources to eliminate the national backlog of untested rape kits so that more survivors can see justice be served. And we will support federal and state legislative efforts to make “revenge porn” and other unauthorized disclosures of intimate images a civil and criminal offense.
Ending the Epidemic of Gun Violence
Gun violence is a public health crisis in the United States. Over 100,000 people are shot and nearly 40,000 people die annually from guns—devastating countless families, friends, and communities. We can and will make gun violence a thing of the past. Addressing the gun violence crisis requires supporting evidence-based programs that prevent gun deaths from occurring in the first place, including by making mental health care more accessible and supporting suicide reduction initiatives, funding interventions to reduce homicides and gun violence in neighborhoods, and strengthening protections against domestic violence. Democrats will also ensure the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have sufficient resources to study gun violence as a public health issue, including the ongoing health care, mental health, economic, and social costs that can affect survivors and their families for years.
Democrats will enact universal background checks, end online sales of guns and ammunition, close dangerous loopholes that currently allow stalkers, abusive partners, and some individuals convicted of assault or battery to buy and possess firearms, and adequately fund the federal background check system. We will close the “Charleston loophole” and prevent individuals who have been convicted of hate crimes from possessing firearms. Democrats will ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high capacity magazines. We will incentivize states to enact licensing requirements for owning firearms and extreme risk protection order laws that allow courts to temporarily remove guns from the possession of those who are a danger to themselves or others. We will pass legislation requiring that guns be safely stored in homes. And Democrats believe that gun companies should be held responsible for their products, just like any other business, and will prioritize repealing the law that shields gun manufacturers from civil liability.
Supporting Faith and Service
Religious freedom is a core American value and a core value of the Democratic Party. Democrats will protect the rights of each American for the free exercise of his or her own religion. It will be the policy of the Democratic Administration to advocate for religious freedom throughout the world. Democrats celebrate America’s history of religious pluralism and tolerance, and recognize the countless acts of service of our faith communities, as well as the paramount importance of maintaining the separation between church and state enshrined in our Constitution.
During the Trump Administration, too many of our religious communities have been victimized by acts of intolerance, bigotry, and violence. We will reject the Trump Administration’s use of broad religious exemptions to allow businesses, medical providers, social service agencies, and others to discriminate. Democrats will increase funding and support for security investments and protection at houses of worship, because everyone should be able to pray without fear. We will confront white nationalist terrorism and combat hate crimes perpetrated against religious minorities.
Democrats also recognize that, to fully confront the legacy of systemic and structural racism, it is time to examine, confront and dismantle the government programs, policies and practices that have unfairly targeted American Muslims as security threats. We condemn the decades-long campaign to demonize and dehumanize the Muslim faith community, which has led to increased rates of violence and discrimination targeting American Muslims or those perceived to be Muslim. We will hold accountable those who engage in or enable violent or other illegal activity targeting religious minorities, including by directing the federal government to address the growing and violent threat of white supremacist, neo-Nazi and anti-government groups.
Supporting Press Freedom
The free press is essential to our free democracy. Democrats roundly reject President Trump’s denigration of the free and independent press, which has endangered reporters’ lives, helped fuel conspiracy theories, and deepened distrust between Americans and their government. Democrats will appoint an independent media professional to head the U.S. Agency for Global Media, to ensure that the news and information projected around the world by the federal government meets the highest standards of fact-based and unbiased journalism. Democrats are concerned about the potentially harmful effects of corporate consolidation in the media industry, including in television, radio, and newspapers, and will reinstate and strengthen media ownership rules and direct federal antitrust agencies to investigate the economic impacts of mergers in the media industry.
Supporting the Arts and Culture
The arts are essential to our free and democratic society, to our culture, and to our local economies. Democrats are proud of our support for arts funding and education, and will continue policies and programs that promote the creative arts. We support public funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and for art and music education in public schools. We recognize that federal grants supporting nonprofit cultural organizations, artists, scholars, and state and local governments help increase participation in the arts, enhance appreciation, and strengthen our nation’s cultural heritage. We value the arts and art education for developing imagination, creativity, innovation, and critical thinking skills in students and for building bridges between people and communities across the country and around the world.