From our overstocked archives
Sam Smith, 2011 - Progressives, populists,
Greens, socialists and others fed up with the bipartisan crisis
of our politics need to make a clearly visible break with dysfunctional
liberalism and define a new way of approaching our problems.
Here are a few things that could help it happen:
- Put economic issues
at the top of the list. If you review the historical examples
above you will find an overwhelmingly concern for improving the
economic life of ordinary Americans. Today’s liberals, if
they care, don’t have much in the way of suggestions; witness
the stimulus program that overwhelmingly favored Wall Street
over ordinary Americans.
- If you wish to win people’s
support, argue with them, encourage them, heal them, teach them
but don’t insult them. Raise hell against the big guys but
don’t abuse the ordinary citizen. Show them the way, not
the door. Today’s liberals repeatedly castigate those they
should be recruiting.
- Build communities not
clubs. Liberalism used to be street theater. Now it’s a
private club. You can’t build a movement with a club.
- Stop federalizing everything.
There’s no evidence that it works and people don’t
like it. Adopt the principle that government should be carried
out at the lowest practical level and you’ll be surprised
how many new friends you make.
- Elaborate processes,
data collection and rule-making are crummy substitutes for effective
policies. Yet they define liberal politics today.
- Encourage reciprocal
liberty: I can’t have my liberty if you don’t have
yours. So some get their guns; others get abortion. It’s
part of the essential nature of being an American: sharing space
with those with whom you don’t agree.
- Build new constituencies
issue by issue. Many of your allies will disagree with you on
other things but so what? One of the reasons that liberals are
in such trouble is that they support diversity of skin color
but not of thought. Besides when people come together on one
issue they discover that the things that divided them aren’t
as important as they thought.
- A major cause of violence
in America is the completely failed drug war. Liberals have largely
ignored this issue.
- Bring back labor unions,
the most positive non-governmental institution in America’s
past century. Yes, they need to improve their act, but that won’t
happen until more people get involved. Encourage them to take
new approaches such as pre-organizing the non-unionized on, say,
a AARP model or creating co-ops as the USW is currently looking
into. But fight against the assault on the folks who brought
you the weekend.
- Stop supporting wars
just because a Democratic president is leading them. Imagine
if the money we’re spending in Afghanistan was being used
to help the American economy, its schools, its transportation
and the less fortunate. Both our economy and our lives would
be much better.
- Help small business.
Neither of the two major parties do, so you can make a lot of
new friends this way. And, along the way, end corporate personhood.
- Unrig our elections.
End campaign bribery by public financing and make it constitutionally
clear that corporations are not persons. Press for instant runoff
- Keep it simple. Remember
that the media is not comfortable with complexity.
- Give it a name. You
know, something simple like the Dunkin Donuts Party that even
the media can understand.