Some of my friends identify themselves as Dean Democrats. Others bristle at that nomenclature or call themselves Yellow Dog Democrats. I wrap myself in the wonderful history of the Democratic Party and call myself a Jefferson Democrat.

There is a famous quote attributed to Jefferson, “An informed citizenry is the bulwark of a democracy…” Whether or not he actually said those specific words, it does capture an important theme he dwells upon, the importance of a well-informed citizenry.

The secretiveness and dishonesty of the current administration provides a stark contrast to Jeffersonian Democracy and we must take all efforts to make sure the citizenry is well-informed.

Over the past few days, I’ve been in many discussions with people about the drafting of the Democratic Party platform and the plans for the Convention. Progressives, particularly those who have supported Dean and Kucinich, are looking for their chance to influence the platform. Others have sought to keep the process as free from controversy as possible.

As a Jefferson Democrat, I embrace the process the party has been through in selecting its candidate. I embrace a similar process in the drafting of the platform. I believe that the primaries have made the party stronger. I am proud of the work I did for Dean in the primaries and I am proud of the work I am now doing for Kerry.

Bush said that he is “a uniter, not a divider.” The way the Republicans achieve unity is by squashing dissent. Ultimately, this ends up uniting a smaller and smaller group. In contrast, the Democrats can best bring about unity by committing to have frank, open and honest discussions about how best to run this country. We recognize that dissent is patriotic. We can struggle through the difficult planks of the platform, and as we have united by behind Kerry, unite in support of the final platform, whatever it ends up looking like.

As a common citizen with no official role in the Party, I have begun gathering as much information about the platform, the delegates and the convention as I can get my hands on. I have started organizing this information on a website, http://platform.smartcampaigns.com. It is my hope that this will be a useful tool for the Party, a prototype of new technology to promote openness.

I encourage everyone to find out more about the platform, the convention and to work together to become the informed citizenry that we Jefferson Democrats, believe is the bulwark of our democracy.