Monday, January 25, 2010
Freedom vs. The Public Option
Why has it worked to rally conservative populists against their interests?
conservatives really believe that the issue is freedom
All politics is moral
Conservatives know a morality tale when they see it: Greedy Wall Street bankers,
Obama administration made a 180-degree turn, trading Obama's 2008 moral principles for the deal-making of Rahm Emanuel and Tim Geithner, assuming it would be 'pragmatic' to court corporations
that made ordinary folks feel they were being bamboozled. And in many cases, they were
Say "public option" and the conservative hears "government bureaucracy."
The results of deal-making in the name of pragmatism have been considerably immoral, as documented thoroughly by progressives like Drew Westen, Matt Taibbi, Robert Kuttner,
Advice is all over the blogs. Guy Saperstein is an excellent example
But we have been dealt a triple blow. A year of failed deal-making by our side, the Tea Party win in Massachusetts, and worst of all,
the 5-4 Supreme Court decision to turn our democracy into a corporate plutocracy.
"Where's the movement?"
the movement must already have:
* a popular base;
* organizing tools;
* a generally accepted morally-based conceptual framing;
* an overall narrative, with heroes, victims, and villains;
* a readily recognizable, well-understood language;
* funding sources;
* and a national communication system set up for both leaders and ordinary citizens to use.
The base is there, waiting for something worth getting behind. The organizing tools are there. The rest is not there.
What is needed is an organized activist public with a positive understanding of what our values are and how to links them to every issue.
An effective movement must be positive, organized, and long-term, where an overall positive understanding defines the isolated negatives. And it must have all of the above.
The California Democracy Movement
government should be privatized and shrunk to fit in a bathtub
as if governing would disappear with government
governing doesn't disappear
instead corporations come to govern your life - like HMO's, oil companies, drug companies, agribusiness, and so on, with accountability only to maximizing profit, not to public needs
believe that government should serve public needs
Democracy is The Issue
is based on empathy
on citizens caring about one another
freedom and fairness, for everybody, not just for the rich and powerful
responsibility, not just for oneself, but also for others
empathy demands an ethic of excellence
Government has two sacred moral missions: protection and empowerment
Protection goes well beyond police and the military and the fire department to consumer protection, environmental protection, worker protection, health care, investor protection, social security, and other safety nets.
Empowerment is what the stimulus package was about: building and maintaining roads, bridges, public transportation, and public buildings;
systems for communication, electricity, water; education, from pre-school through graduate and professional schools; scientific research and technological development; a banking system that works; a stock market that works; and a judicial system that works
the more you make from what the government gives you, the more you should contribute to keeping it going
tax cuts for corporations last year led to cuts in the support for public universities
led to 32% higher tuition
That 32% constituted a tax on those students
the tax of a lost education lasts all one's life
cost in human potential
cost to employers
the richest one percent owns more assets than the bottom 95 per cent
The principles are simple
Democracy is about empathy - caring about your fellow citizens, which leads to the principles of freedom and fairness for all. Empathy requires both personal and social responsibility. The ethic of excellence means making the world better by making yourself better
your family better, your community better, and your nation better. Government has two moral missions: protection and empowerment for all. To carry them out, government must be by, for, and of the people.
The principles apply to all issues
Movements are based on principles
The framing of moral principles comes first and the policies elaborate on the principles
The time is now
We have a triple disaster on our hands: the administration's failure at deal-making in the name of pragmatism and bipartisanship; the Tea Party victory in Massachusetts fueling and propelling ultra-conservatism; and the anti-democratic 5-4 ruling of the Roberts Court
We can no longer sit on our hands