Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two Reminders

If you are a progressive, here are two things to remember:
One: We can have a full progressive agenda immediately: public regulation of banks and corporations, public health care, better education, rational energy and environmental policies, deliberative democracy, and the rest. There are many good progressive policy proposals out there, and it’s not as if there are physical laws of the universe out there to prevent good governance -- only entrenched interests. We only lack the political will to overcome them. Have the strength, courage, and unity to create that will, and we could have a full-scale liberal polity in short order.
Two: if you support that policy agenda, or any sort of economic fairness, then you support the Occupy movement, whatever the polls say about its current public image and popularity.
I've been sick for a few days and haven't been posting, but I'll try to catch up this week. Here's a couple items that I read that were worthwhile:
Bernie Sanders sure has the right attitude:
“The American people are very clear. They do not want Democrats to reach another 'grand bargain' with representatives of the rich and powerful that eviscerates the most successful and popular social programs in the history of this country. They want Democrats to stand up for the 99 percent, not the 1 percent.
If the president and Democrats on the super committee go along with cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the three pillars of the New Deal and the Great Society, and permanently extend the Bush tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent, the American people will shake their heads in disbelief. They will arrive at the reasonably valid conclusion that there are no significant differences between the two parties controlled by corporate interests…
If Democrats stand with ordinary Americans and make it clear that they are prepared to take on the wealthy and the powerful, they could win both houses of Congress. They could give Obama a fresh infusion of boldness as he enters a second term in the White House.”
The political calculus is very clear: the way to win more votes is to enact a progressive economic agenda that benefits the majority of the people. That’s good for regular people generally, and it really isn't  hard to see that it's also in the interest of politicians seeking re-election. Even from a purely self-interested standpoint the political calculus simply screams populism -- and that’s the way it’s supposed to be: elections are there to align the interests of the people and their representatives. Some political science types might object that politicians still need campaign cash, so it's still in their interest to be subservient to the moneyed elite. Except that campaign funding isn’t good for it’s own sake, it is only an instrumental good useful for winning votes, usually by spending for large advertising campaigns empty of content and big on symbolism. But if you can win even more votes with policies that actually ensure the prosperity of the people, then you don’t need as much campaign cash -- to paraphrase Hamilton, good governance will win them over. And then you can dispense with being a servant of corporate donors.
Robert Reich lays out a rational agenda to deal with the budget here. The budget “crisis” is really a false one ginned up to advance the conservative agenda of cutting government for everyone but the wealthy, but if you want to make some cuts Reich identified where the best place to start is:
“Cut the budget where the real bloat is. Military spending and corporate welfare. End weapons systems that don't work and stop wars we shouldn't be fighting to begin with, and we save over $300 billion a year. Cut corporate welfare -- subsidies and special tax breaks going to big agribusiness, big oil, big pharma, and big insurance -- and we save another $100 billion.”

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