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December 28, 2012
The Left is Moving Right. What to do?
By Rob Kall
The left has been moving further and further right and it has to stop. Here are some thoughts.
The left has been moving further and further right and it has to stop. Here are some thoughts.
Australian Salvatore Babones has written a thought provoking article, There Is no American Left. He writes,
"Over the past forty years America has become much more politically correct with regard to gender and sexually...
On every other issue America -- or at least American politics -- has swung violently to the right. The more social class is involved, the further to the right America has swung. Poverty was once a social disease to be cured; it is now an individual crime to be punished. Put it down to individualism, conservatism, neoliberalism, or whatever -ism you want, America is now the world's greatest reactionary force.
Unfortunately, all the evidence is that the rest of the world is following America down the road to perdition. Nowhere are national health-insurance schemes, access to free education, and old-age pensions being expanded. Nowhere is the world moving forward. Everywhere the social gains of the twentieth century are either being eroded or destroyed."
Babones is correct. American is sliding, and dragging the rest of the world, into a corporatist pit that puts corporations before people-- which looks sort of like conservatism, but is really a collection of lures and attractions that move the remaining voters-- since so many have been lulled and disgusted into non-voting-- to vote against their own self interest.
And the two party system is also a big part of the problem, of course. It offers up next to no choice. The last election was a prime example. The GOP presidency was basically sold to the highest bidder. Fortunately he, Romney, was a loser. And the Democratic party is run by a handful of the most powerful. Obama beating Hillary was an anomaly, but now, things are back to normal-- no Democracy, no decisions made by the people.
There was talk, close to ten years ago, of the need for progressive think tanks like the right has-- organizations that support progressives when they are out of power, that feed the echo chamber and generate policy ideas and strategies that support ideology. The answer was the Center for American Progress (CAP.) it had Soros backing and a more than $10 million budget. CAP's problem was it was headed by DLC John Podesta, former Bill Clinton Chief of Staff. CAP does some good work, but it is a purely pro-democrat, Democrat enabling org that does not challenge or push the Democrats. We still, ten years later, need a truly progressive organization-- a policy promotion tank, not a think tank-- pseudo-progressive liberals have plenty of THEM.
So we are almost on our own.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on solutions-- on what we need to do to turn things around.
I have a few thoughts.
1- call a spade a spade-- people like Rahm Emanuel are fascists, not liberals or progressives. The Democratic party is one of two corporatist parties. Liberals are enablers of Democrats who are enablers of corporatists.
2-Find some serious money, committed for the long haul, to create a true progressive policy envisioning and promotion organization, like there are dozens of on the right. Surely there must be a few Billionaires and very wealthy millionaires who are not right wing sociopaths and who can see that what the left has is not even close to enough.
3- define a vision of a progressive future, something that we can aim for-- and we should aim high, so high that people call us unrealistic, because there are always compromises along the way.
And think outside the box-- coming up with ideas that people call crazy and unrealistic, because the best ideas are described that way until they are discovered to be brilliant, revolutionary and life changing.
-single payer healthcare for all
-free college education for all
-end corporate personhood. Establish death penalties for corporations. Establish laws that lead to prosecution and incarceration of corporate leaders who violate laws.
-equal rights and equal pay for women and all minorities
-marital rights for all
-legalize Marijuana and stop release all marijuana related prisoners from jail with a clean record.
-protect the commons in all aspects-- make privatization much harder and more costly to do, with no profit motive.
-teach activism in schools, at all grade levels. Establish university departments that study and support activism, like the arts and science are supported.
-fund protests. Yes. Protests keep democracy healthy. Invest in supporting all kinds of protest. And protect protesters-- from police, homeland security.
-Fund investigative journalism-- at least $100 billion-- and develop a way to do it so those funded are not unduly influenced by those who provide the funds.
-end lifelong appointments to the supreme court
-end gerrymandering and make congressional districts as compact and uniform in size as possible.
-end the Fed
-public banking for every state, for the federal government and major cities and counties.
-Shrink the most out of control part of big government-- Cut the US military budget by 70%
-withdraw troops from 80% of the locations we now have them based.
-shut down and end our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan NOW.
-Re-assess all aspects of government and cut it in half-- while beefing up regulation of corporations and support for citizens.
-include the costs of damage to the environment in all products
-publicly finance elections-- take all money out of politics
-pass strong whistleblower protection laws that reward and support whistleblowers
-destroy all electronic voting machines and require recountable paper ballots. Re-establish the US voting and election system as the gold standard for the world.
-allow on-site voting registration for all elections
-criminalize vote corruption, criminalize intentional voter disenfranchisement
-make it so it costs more to live if people don't vote. Charge higher taxes to those who pay taxes. Give less social security or medicare or medicaid or VA aid, or food stamps to those who don't pay taxes-- with reasonable outs for those with health excuses.
-re-instate bank regulations like Glass Steagall and others. Support local banks over centralized ones.
-apply bottom up, non-hierarchical, de-centralized approaches to as many aspects of government and funding as possible. Use the Cash for Clunkers project as an example of how to spend large amounts of money from the bottom up. Require big money contracts to be bottom up-- with disbursement to local, decentralized recipients, not directly to top-down organizations.
-cancellation of legislation making it a crime to protest
-legislation that makes it a crime to treat or characterize protesters as terrorists.
-elimination of homeland security and other funding that has encouraged turning police into robo-cops and a police state
-cancellation of legislation making it legal to spy on citizens without cause.
-return to a tax system like we had under Eisenhower
-make it illegal for billionaires to exist
-tax exotic purchases at the 50% 95% level-- homes over $2 million, art over $2 million, cars over $100,000, pleasure boats over $50,000, dresses and suits over $2000, shoes over $500, cosmetic surgery that is not medically necessary, exotic travel, private jets,
-make it illegal for corporations to get too big to fail
-eliminate all corporate welfare
-fund research and development that supports finding ways to keep companies small.
-make it illegal for any corporate executive to make more than 10 times what any worker makes-- base policies on Mondragon... or tax corporations that pay executives massive salaries.
-give tax breaks to genuine worker owned cooperatives.
-fund research and development on how to bring neighborhoods and communities back to life
-eliminate the policy of measuring economic health based on growth and consumption and switch to one based on sustainability
-take aggressive steps to reverse global warming
-lower the retirement age, reduce hours worked per day and week, increase weeks of vacation-- all to open up more jobs so more people can find meaningful work.
-tax digital outsourcing.
-require all companies outsource work outside the US to declare the contracts visibly and in easy to see and find ways.
-invest heavily in diagnosing and treating the mentally ill, including identifying causes like violence in media and games, pharmaceuticals that create dangerous patients.
-Ban automatic and semi-automatic weapons. Limit magazines to six rounds.
-put liberal arts back into the school curriculum-- art, music, dance.
-bring back media ownership restrictions that we used to have that prevented massive media conglomerations
-End all existing global trade agreements-- they are designed for multinational corporations, not people.
-require competition for drug pricing for medicare
-require the educational system to build compassion, so Americans embrace the value that we are as good as the way we care for the weakest and most vulnerable-- that could include showing how Ayn Rand's ideas are very wrong for America.
-re-write the history books ala Howard Zinn and describe how pre-literate tribal people are just as good and wholesome and natural and maybe more so than those of us in the "civilized"world. Teach the values of tribal culture as a way of seeing how people in real communities treat each other and function with integrity.
-research and devise ways to change our economic model so it optimizes work opportunities for all, rather than profits for corporations.
-add measure of intelligence that reflect Howard Gardners model of multiple intelligences... and add one for awareness of the world-- not delusions like Fox News produces-- but actual awareness of facts.
I'll stop there. I'm leaving a lot out. Some of the ideas are far outside the box. Please add to the list in your comments. Dream big. We really need it now.
Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and website architect of OpEdNews.com, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), and publisher of Storycon.org, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor . He is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com
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