Friday, April 08, 2005

April 7, 2005

Will the Real Progressives
Please Stand Up

A story in today’s Washington Post reports on a survey of Howard Dean supporters. The results are hardly surprising. Those who supported, and continue to support, Dean are the most liberal folks in the Democratic Party. And, when asked, they say their party should move further to the left, challenge Republicans more vigorously and aggressively push “progressive” issues.

I think most of “Blues” share the same frustrations, distaste, disdain and depression as the Dean people. But frustration and distain are not policies. And neither is simply vaguely advocating “progressive policies.”

The trouble Democrats face is that, thanks largely to the Clintonite reign, the party triangulated itself right out of orbit. Who the hell do Democrats now represent, anyway? Honestly, I cannot tell you.

The poor? If so why are so many working poor still poor? The American dream is supposed to be readily available to anyone who works hard. Millions of American work very, very hard, and remain dirt poor.

The middleclass? Oh, you mean “the shrinking middleclass.” We are talking here of families in which both partners hold fulltime jobs and are still up to their necks in debt, many cannot afford healthcare for themselves or their kids. And now Congress is about to pass, with Democratic votes, a bankruptcy “reform” bill that will lock middleclass debtors into perpetual indentured servitude to usurious credit card companies.

The trouble with Democrats is their party has gotten all tangled up in its own cynical conniving. What do they believe? Whatever it takes to win. Trouble is they can't seem to even connive their way into office any longer. If this were a chess match, Republicans are simply better players. Time and time again Republicans have thrown red meat into the middle of the road and Democrats have elbowed one another out of the way to become road-kill.

Democrats have become a party without a platform. They don't want to be called liberals any longer, so they have glomed onto the term "progessive," like a drowning man would grab a life preserver that just happened to float by. But they have no idea what the hell to do with the term now that they have hitched themselves to it.

So, let me help. Here is what I think most of us out here would recognize as “progressive” policies:

- Protecting Citizens: Yes that means a strong military. The world is chuck-full of jerks and we always need to be ready to defend ourselves. But citizens can be attacked by many kinds of enemies. Since WWII a whole lot more Americans have died from illnesses than enemy attacks. So, why isn’t the Department of Health funded as lavishly as the Department of Defense? Why do we have a large standing Army and Nation Guard but no National Health Insurance? Personnally I worry a whole lot more about getting a catastrophic illness than I worry about getting bombed. I bet you do too.

- Put the Damn Carrot Back: The labor movement is constipated and employers have gotten away with murder. First they reduced the size of the carrot at the end of the stick, and got away with it. Then they removed the carrot entirely. Companies looted and then dumped their employee retirement funds, replacing them with 401K plans funded out of employee’s paycheck -- and they got away with it. They outsourced million of US jobs -- and got away with it. And they continue to fight increasing the minimum wage which, adjusted for inflation, is now worth less than it was in 1958. A progressive nation would assure that those willing to pay their own way through life by working, be able to do so. Therefore the minimum wage should be increased to reflect the minimum needed cover the cost of food and housing. And, this wage should be calculated based on the actual cost of living for the state and/or city in which the worker resides.

- Stop Crapping in Our Own Mess Kit: A progressive nation is a good steward of its natural resources and environment. So, Detroit should be given no more than ten more years to covert all it’s vehicles to run on clean, renewable fuels. Power plants should be given even less time to do so, five years. They should have and could have done so long ago. Enough with the studies. We know what has to be done, and why. So just get it done. Yes, we know it will cost money. But we seemed able to find $200 billion to make the rubble bounce in Iraq, so I am sure we can find a few bucks to clean the air here at home. (Oh, and Congress should pass a law tomorrow imposing a stiff “idiot tax” on anyone who purchases a Hummer.)

- The Abortion Mitigation Act of 2005: Democrats cannot seem to figure out how to continue supporting a woman’s right to choose and still get elected in Red States. Let me help them. Propose a law that establishes a national adoption database that right to lifers can sign onto. When their name reaches the top of the list they get the next unwanted child born, no matter. Signing on would contractually obligate them to take the next child regardless of color, gender or health. Failing to comply would result in a $100,000 non-dischargeable fine, which would go into a fund for the child. Until right to lifers have some of their own skin in the game they will continue to show no regard for the rights of women or the unwanted children they are forced to bear. By pushing this law Democrats would show they really do care about life, both lives, the child’s and women’s. Then it would be up to the right to lifers to show how much they really care about the lives of full-term babies.

- Representative Democracy for Us Too: While peddling representative democracy to other countries it might be an interesting experiment to try it here. The Electoral College is an artifact of the nation’s nascent configuration. Keeping it now makes no sense at all and only adds to the growing cynicism among voters whose votes should be the final word, but isn’t. Dump the Electoral College now.

- Stop Locking Up Druggies: If alcoholism is a disease, why isn’t drug addiction? Oh don’t worry I know the answer. If drugs were legal like liquor drug addiction would be classified a disease. It’s just not good business to lock customers up because they can’t get to the store. Nevertheless America keeps locking up tens of thousands of harmless druggies. It’s expensive, dumb and counter productive. All that we accomplish by convicting some poor pot smoker or coke sniffer of a felony is to further damage their lives by reducing their chances of straightening out. Get them into treatment instead. Like alcoholics, some druggies will never kick the habit. But whole lot more will, and treatment is cheaper to boot.

Now, those policies would turn some heads out here. They are bold, progressive policies that millions of enlightened Americans could get excited about. But a word of warning to Democrats – there’s one prerequisite before you can succeed by embracing such progressive ideas – you have to really believe in them. If you don’t, then don’t even bother. We can smell a phony, conniving Democrat a mile away. After all, we’ve had a lot practice.

Raconteur at Large

No comments: