A Pew Values Study from August 2003 found that 57% disagreed with the idea that “business corporations generally strike a fair balance between making profits and serving the public interest.” Seventy-seven percent agreed “there is too much power concentrated in the hands of a few big companies” and 62% said “business corporations make too much profit.”
Do such results call for Americans to pull up an easy chair and wait for the market to fluctuate or does such an agenda suggest that people give government support (permission) necessary to employ measures to redistribute wealth?
Polls like these seem to portend an agenda yet progressives and especially elected Democrats are shy when it comes to advocating for policies and principles that would change people’s mindset on the economy. [“Today it’s really true that the rich just get richer while the poor get poorer” (which 68% thought in this Pew Values Study from 2003) to the rich and poor both get a seat at the table.
Why shouldn’t government seek policies aimed at redistributing wealth when 65% agree “the government should guarantee every citizen enough to eat and a place to sleep”?
Certainly, if government were to employ policies that would redistribute wealth, taxes would be involved. But, if the system for taxes works fairly and if money is being used for policies and programs that the public at large supports, Republican cries against taxes are out of place.
Unfortunately, youth in high schools and colleges who lean toward conservatism are being indoctrinated with this idea that they will be hampered for their entire life by generational debt and that government entitlement programs should be handled by them personally (e.g. Social Security should be something not controlled by government and instead, something that is in personal accounts).
My economics teacher in high school tried to impress this idea on me. His argument didn't work because the basis for free market ideology didn't sit well with me; it seemed flawed and worth questioning.
Individual responsibility and American idealism through the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are powerful to any person aspiring to lead this country. As Donald Rumsfeld might say, individual responsibility and American ideas are “known knowns” while progressive virtues, values, and ideas remain “unknown unknowns” and are just now becoming “known unknowns.”
To keep hope and change alive, progressives must be risk-takers and must take the risk of defining themselves as something that is wholly new to the American people.
Over half of CPAC’s 9,000 registrants were college students. They were told to bet Obama will fail and when he fails, they will provide an alternative to Obama.
At the People for the American Way's Young People For (YP4) conference I attended weeks ago, 150 young progressive leaders gathered to learn how they could give their passion for progressive values some direction so that social change could be achieved in communities all over America. Youth were empowered to act and given pathways for pursuing campaigns for local office.
At CPAC, (as this Newsweek article supports), youth were not given that empowerment despite the fact that youth are the only reason the Republican Party hasn’t totally collapsed. Youth came away thinking they are the next speechwriters, campaign staffers, and journalists for the conservative movement instead of the next candidates because the guard cannot allow youth to become a faction that overpowers the conservative movement.
The Democratic Leadership Council harbors this mentality too. But, youth are the way forward.
Youth didn't just come to Washington, D.C. this weekend for CPAC. Thousands of young people were also in D.C. for Power Shift 2009, a conference meant to bring “10,000 young people to Washington to hold our elected officials accountable for rebuilding our economy and reclaiming our future through bold climate and clean energy policy.”
On March 2nd, youth are going to engage in one of the most historic acts of civil disobedience ever at the coal-fired power plant that powers Congress and they are going to do it because they believe America's economy should be a clean energy economy.
The youth in America are heeding the words of Al Gore who said less than a year ago, "I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants."
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