March 5, 2017

Some things to do now

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 voting.

- 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.

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