Against a backdrop of constant Repuglican criticism that Democrats don't have a plan and don't stand for anything, the Dems unleashed their platform this week, "A New Direction," aimed at demonstrating to voters that they're worthy of regaining control after 12 years of right-wing rule. The platform includes the following promises:

-to raise the minimum wage to $7.25
-to make college tuition tax deductible
-to cut the interest rates of student loans by 50%
-to eliminate subsidies to oil and gas companies
-to impose lobbying restrictions
-to negotiate lower drug prices in the Medicare prescription plan
-to maintain social security
-to increase funding for stem-cell research
-to restore the pay-as-you-go policy for federal budgets
-to reduce oil consumption 25% by 2020 through development of fuel alternatives
-to help millions of illegal immigrants work towards U.S. citizenship
-to shore up homeland security
-to bring the troops home from Iraq "at the earliest practicable time"

This is interesting, huh? Democrats fighting for the little guy; the poor; the sick; college students and their parents; the elderly; minorities. Fighting for science and medicine; against big business and the fat-cat oil companies. Fighting to end an unjust war and to truly make America safe. Who would've thought?

On the issue of the war, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) dismissed the Repugs' claim that Democrats are not unified on a position regarding troop withdrawal. "It's the president's war, and one of the things we'll do is hold the president of the United States accountable for his war. We don't foist any position on any of our members." She criticized Bush for using the war as a political wedge, and said that Democrats have discussed a plan for troop withdrawal in the near future, but that the lack of a single, unified position will not hurt the party's chances to win in November.

Now let's take a look at what the Repugs are promising voters:

-to keep the minimum wage at $5.15 for another ten years
-to continue giving fat tax breaks to their oil company pals
-to destroy social security
-to reduce funding for health, education and social services across-the-board
-to continue spending like drunken sailors in a whorehouse
-to restrict spending on stem-cell research
-to continue allowing the drug and oil companies to make federal policy
-to continue giving huge tax breaks to the wealthiest taxpayers
-to eliminate the estate tax (and $1 trillion in revenue in the process)
-to deny homosexuals the right to marry
-to send illegal immigrants to jail
-to make sure that "English is the official language of the United States"
-to outlaw flag-burning
-to continue sending troops to die in an unjust war, squandering precious military and financial resources that could be used to hunt down and fight our real enemy, Al Qaeda.

How's that for a platform chock full of dangerous, self-serving, elitist, race-baiting, discriminating policies?

"Americans can't afford the priorities of this Bush administration any longer," said Sen. Richard J. Durbin (IL). "Democrats are ready for this election. We have the message, we have the candidates, we're bringing that message to the American people."

I guess the American people have a decision to make this November. Will they choose to vote for the issues that serve their own interests, or will they allow Karl Rove and Company to fear-monger themselves to victory once again? Let's hope this time around voters make the right choice.