Kansas City Progressive Network
Ratified May 1996
2011 integral version, 15th anniversary edition
CHARTER 2000: PREAMBLE (1996)
Charter 2000 summarizes in highly concentrated form the issues, policies, and goals the signatories believe should become part of a national debate on the future of this country. We offer it to progressive individuals, political organizations, and parties with the objective of circulating it throughout the United States, and indeed, around the world, to stimulate discussion of its contents. Since this document is still in the process of evolution, we solicit on an individual and a group basis your thoughts, revisions, and additions, as well as the platforms, programs, mission statements and the like that you or your organization have developed.
Charter 2000 is the latest version of a document initiated in 1991 and circulated nationally and internationally in various forms. Since its inception about 80 people and half a dozen organizations have contributed to its evolution. It has also drawn on a variety of published sources (acknowledged below), the work of individuals and groups with special expertise. It was adopted in its current form in May 1996 by the Kansas City Progressive Network, whose members represent a wide spectrum of progressive opinion.
We believe it is high time to formulate a comprehensive, sustaining vision and program around which fragmented progressive constituencies can unite. Such a vision is an indispensable mass organizing tool for long-term change. A careful reading of the Charter shows that it is not a random laundry list but a broad and coherent political orientation grounded in fundamental human values. While the merits of each point should be debated separately, the Charter stresses their interconnectedness. The achievement of individual goals depends in large part on the enduring attainment of many others.
This Charter envisions a generous, inclusive, fair, and democratic society where the value of the work its members do is one of the foundations on which it rests. It is genuinely democratic because everyone is empowered, not just the privileged few. It honors the democratic process and works for democratic outcomes, maximizing the potential of all members of the community without excluding, marginalizing, discriminating against, or exploiting any individuals or groups. It guarantees each person the basis for a decent life of his own choice and encourages a productive one, and it lives in peaceful relations with itself, other societies, and the natural environment.
The vision on which Charter 2000 draws is summarized in the CAPITALIZED NUMBERED HEADINGS of each section of the document:
PUBLIC DOMAIN AND SERVICES
A separate section details the basic rights which we believe should be constitutionally guaranteed to all members of a society:
CULTURE AND THE ARTS
These rights, intended not to replace but to supplement already existing rights, are at best spottily supported in U.S. constitutional and statutory law and available in practice to increasingly fewer people here and abroad.
The signatories to Charter 2000 agreed unanimously on the overwhelming majority of its contents (most favor some form of mixed economy). The seven statements on which consensus could not be reached are marked with double brackets («»). There was unanimous agreement that all its ideas, both consensual and disputed, should be given the widest possible circulation and discussion.
The Charter presents a set of desirable outcomes unified by a common vision without specific recommendations on strategy. (But see Article I., Section 7. ABUNDANCE, item 3 for proposals about funding a just socio-economic system.) Some of the Charter's goals could be attained in short order, while others are more long-range. Strategy and actions will come from experience. We prefer flexibility: any strategy that furthers the broad progressive transformation of American society is a good one.
There are many effective ways of advancing progressive goals, ranging from educational efforts to testimony before public bodies, community and labor organizing, electoral and media campaigns, and actions in the streets (rallies, marches, demonstrations, picketing, and civil disobedience). We recommend immediately deploying some of the principles and concepts found in the Charter to challenge those running for office in this election year.
The radical right has successfully formulated its own comprehensive program. In spite of claims to the contrary, in practice it consists of greed benefitting the few, stinginess and meanness for the many, and intolerance and punishment of all who don't fit their reactionary vision of life and society.
So far the alternatives have been limited to piecemeal defensive measures. We believe that it is now imperative for us all to set our own agenda, together. We must hammer out what we really do want, rather than make do with what we are "given." Instead of being reactive, we must become proactive, seizing the initiative around a set of fundamental principles and persisting in our vision no matter how long its achievement may take.
It is now time to complete the Revolution of human rights and the age-old dream of Justice, begun by Paine, Jefferson and our other courageous ancestors 200 years ago.
If you wish to become a signatory, to the document as a whole or to specific parts of it, we will add your name.
And remember: "If you don't know where you are going, you might not get there" (Yogi Berra).
hoto credit: United Nations Photo