A Progressive Plan for Action
Michael Lind’s article, The South is Holding America Hostage, strikes me as compelling. Certainly, the history of the South and my personal experiences living in that part of the country provides support for that point of view. And he is also right that like an army on the offensive, they have their opposition constantly fumbling around trying to set up some kind of last minute, patchwork, cobbled together defense.
Lind offers a set of goals to put what he calls the “Southern Autonomy Project” on the defensive. I find many of them good choices.
I would like to add as goals, a nationwide system of high speed rail, a system of free college education and implied in that a total and complete end to the student load system and a repair of America’s failing infrastructure.
The Tea Party’s not crazy — they had a plan. Now liberals and progressives need one, too
Setting political difficulty aside, it is intellectually easy to set forth a grand national strategy that consists of coordinated federal policies to defeat the Southern Autonomy Project.
A federal living wage. At one blow, a much higher federal minimum wage would cripple the ability of Southern states to lure companies from more generous states which supplement the too-low present federal minimum wage with higher local state or urban minimum wages. (Strong national unions could do the same, but that is not a realistic option at present.)
Nationalization of social insurance. Social insurance programs with both federal and state components, like Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), allow Southern states to be stingier than many other states, creating more desperate workers who are more dependent on the mercy of employers and elite-dominated charities. Completely federalizing Medicaid (as President Ronald Reagan suggested!) and other hybrid federal-state social insurance programs would cripple the Southern Autonomy Project further.
Real voting rights. Using the authority of the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Congress should completely federalize voting requirements for all federal, state and local elections, making it as easy as possible for U.S. citizens to vote — over the objections of kicking and screaming neo-Confederates.
Nonpartisan redistricting. Partisan redistricting by majorities in state legislatures should be replaced by nonpartisan redistricting commissions, as in California, New Jersey and other states. The redistricting commissions should be truly nonpartisan, not “bipartisan” arrangements in which incumbent Republicans and incumbent Democrats cut deals to protect their safe seats from competition. (Electoral reforms like instant run-off voting and proportional representation are struggles for a more distant future).
Abolish the Senate filibuster. The filibuster is not part of the U.S. constitution. It has been used by Southern white conservatives from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first to preserve Southern white power and economic privilege. This relic of premodern British parliamentary politics should be abolished. Democracy means majority rule. If the Southern Right loses a battle in Congress, it can try to round up allies and win next time. It should no longer be able to paralyze the Senate, the Congress or the federal government as a whole.
Abolish the federal debt ceiling completely. The federal debt ceiling is another institution like the filibuster which has now been ruined by being abused by Southern conservatives. Now that the Southern right is trying to turn it into a recurrent tool of hostage-taking when it loses votes in Congress, the federal debt ceiling should be abolished. The federal government should be authorized to borrow any amount necessary to fund spending appropriated or authorized by Congress, if there is any shortfall in tax revenues.
From around the web.
From the web site,
The Progressive Liberal agenda has always
been about caring for and empowering the least among us (Matthew 25),
and setting a secure floor under our citizenry. Teddy Roosevelt’s Square
Deal: a living wage, a basic safety net; Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal:
Social Security; Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society: the elimination of
poverty and racial injustice, and Medicare/Medicaid. It’s been about
building America from the ground up using government only for what is
absolutely necessary and providing a basic standing point: free public
education, free medical care, and care for the needy and elderly as in
all other developed countries in the world. And, yes, tax the wealthy
and very wealthy more than the middle class folks who
are just working every day. Why? Because the wealthy benefit more from
the commons and thus should pay a higher percentage of their income for
Every positive step forward in this
country has been brought by the Progressive Left… and the Right’s agenda
has been to say No. Progressives brought us the 50-hour work week, then
the 40-hour work week. The Right said No. Progressives brought us the
Minimum Wage. The Right said No. Progressives brought us the right to
unionize the workplace. The Right said No. Progressives brought us
worker safety laws so people don’t die in factories or offices which
used to be one of the leading causes of death in the US, but not
anymore. The Right said No.
- The Lowdown on Tea Party Strategy (and Why It’s Doomed to Fail) (santitafarella.wordpress.com)
- Tea Parties, Know Nothings, and Klansmen: The Enduring Specter of American Nativism (thatdevilhistory.wordpress.com)
- A New Perspective on Tea (afeatheradrift.wordpress.com)
- Deja vu and Redistricting … (followthetangerineroad.wordpress.com)
- More States Seek Increases in Hourly Wage (hispanicbusiness.com)