For months the political gurus have been predicting the outcome of today’s election. And my guess is they have probably got it right. The Republicans will add a dozen or so seats to their majority in the House and may take the Senate. Nevertheless the Democrats believe this prospect is not automatic. For the last several weeks I have received four to ten e-mails a day urging me to “chip-in” from three dollars to the much larger sums needed to save the party from annihilation. I have resisted all the requests on the basis that I believe the cards may have already been dealt and all that remains is the counting. I need to keep my financial powder dry for use in the 2016 campaign. I have also been convinced that this election will change little in Washington.
If the Republicans take the Senate there promises to be continued gridlock. Nothing President Obama wants to happen will have any chance. But what’s new about that? Obamacare was a political miracle, and following its enactment, the Republicans with the increase of their tea party power, have been committed to stalling the government, if not closing it down. Part of the resistance coming from America’s right is ideological, but I am convinced a substantial part of it is pure unvarnished racism. Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” is alive and well. It is just never talked about openly.
So what will America’s progressives do after the mid-term election? I think we need to work hard outlining a clear agenda and making certain that our candidates in 2016 are committed to lead the party in its support. So here are a few things I would like to see the party and its candidates fight for in the next two years.
- At the top of the list is a serious effort to halt the destruction generated by the CO2 we dump into the atmosphere—now 50 billion tons a year! Our goal would be a reduction of U.S. emissions by 2020 of 50%. This would involve, among other things, a robust carbon tax. Those who continue to foul the air which sustains life on this planet, must pay a price which is high enough to encourage them to stop. You contaminate the atmosphere, you pay for it! In addition, significant resources need to be dedicated to the research necessary to develop energy alternatives.
- It is essential that there be a substantial change in the economic systems by which the rich continue to get richer while economic viability for the rest of the population stagnates. The top ten percent of the population controlling almost half of America’s wealth is not acceptable. What is called for is a redoing of the tax code by designating capital gains as ordinary income. Funds need to be put in the pockets of America’s middle class through a jobs program, available education and the development of a significant effort to repair our decaying infrastructure. This effort must include a call for a livable minimum wage. The money is there. It just keeps gushing to the top. A healthy economy depends on consumer spending. You can’t spend what you don’t have.
- The military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about is more solidly in place then ever. Defense facilities in any congressional district are fiercely defended whether or not they contribute to our nation’s safety. Billions can be cut from the military budget, and a viable candidate must be committed to leading in the pursuit of that goal.
- Election finance reform was crippled in the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The kind of leader we need will be committed to finding a way out of that quagmire.
- It is long past time we updated our archaic immigration policies. A comprehensive immigration law should be honest and humane, while generating significant additional revenues.
- A revised policy in the Israeli/Palestinian stalemate must be adopted. Perhaps all military and civilian aid should be given on the condition that there is an agreement on a two state solution.
- Leadership must make it clear that American foreign policy will no longer involve an effort to dictate the political composition of any other nation by flexing our military muscle.
- The guarantee of a college education must be made available to any person with the dedication to see it through.
- The development of a single payer medical insurance program remains critical (such as Medicare for all), eliminating the excessive costs generated by hundreds of competing insurance companies.
- It is imperative that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid be strengthened so that the growing percentage of America’s elderly can live out their remaining years in dignity, protected against financial catastrophe through programs which provide adequate medical care.
- The Glass-Steagall Act, which formerly separated investment and commercial banking, must be reinstated.
- American democracy must prohibit any effort to keep groups from voting or realigning Congressional Districts for partisan advantage.
I’ll be looking into each of these and a half dozen other matters as the weeks go by. Is there a candidate who is willing to commit themselves to any or all of these concerns? Would Hillary? We don’t know, but sometime in the next few months she needs to be asked.