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I'm writing this brief diary as an experiment to to try to ascertain the degree to which the Left's efforts remains fractious and diffused, and the reasons why.

For those familiar with my writing, they already know that I'm always advocating for the need of the progressive movement to come to a common understanding of the challenges we face (as the result of the wealthy elite and supra-national corporations having taken over the levers of power), and most importantly how to go about taking on those challenges in an unified manner.

My main argument is that if the Left remains fractious, with multiple groups exclusively focused on multiple issues, while neglecting to build consensus about root causes, we will forever remain ineffective.

But here, today, I'm not going to push that angle.  I'm genuinely interested in reading from as many people as possible about how they see things; about what they find important; and most importantly, about how they would go about taking on the challenges.

From the answers, I will try to see if there are patterns, commonalities, and consensus in some areas...

I think if enough people participate it may be very informative and interesting.  For example, if someone were to ask me to list my first five priorities, the indictment of Bush administration officials for war crimes would be right there in the top five.  Also, the indictment and prosecution of Wall Street bankers at the highest levels (for the looting that caused the latest Great Recession) would be in the top five.

The interesting thing about that is that I'm aware that many would find those priorities kind of weird or misplaced, given all the challenges we face (in their view).  But again, that's why I think this exercise may be worth it...

My reasons for including those two issues in my top five priorities is because I want to reiterate the importance of the rule of law applied equally to all citizens, and that without that, society deteriorates--when you have a two-tiered justice system.

For you, what is the most important issue/challenge we face, and how would you address it?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great question. Hope many people answer. (7+ / 0-)

    The indictment of Bush officials and Wall Street bankers is high on my wish list, but my top issue (rather vaguely) has something to do with the disconnect between the vast majority of citizens in this country and the policies of the few in power.

    (Actually, maybe that's not entirely unrelated to the indictments ...)

    I just read this:

    Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives...
    The disconnect is deep.

    So I think my major issue is the lack of a truly representative democracy. Because I think it's possibly the first issue. I mean, impending climate catastrophe, for example, is kinda important, but I don't see how we address it via the system we have now. I guess I think we need a pro-democracy moment, where every American adult has not just the right to vote but an equal opportunity to vote, and every American's vote counts for the same amount.

    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

    by GussieFN on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 09:41:14 PM PDT

    •  Thank you so much for participating. You see, (6+ / 0-)

      you went straight to the root.

      So I think my major issue is the lack of a truly representative democracy.
      You correctly point out that our "democracy" is not real.

      There are all kinds of implications that follow from that, once people come to that conclusion.

      I'm with you there... I tend to focus on the root causes.

      I'm trying to illustrate that it is indeed possible for the entire progressive movement to agree on the root causes of the problems we are facing.  If that were to happen, then it follows that we may be able to find consensus about how to tackle those root causes.

      •  I happen to think that just about all others flow (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador, quill, hardhatmama

        As a natural consequence or an element of its implementation.

        Our government is not a democracy, it is far closer to a collective elite/corporate fascist state. As I understand it, communism is where the government owns all property/business, fascism is where the biggest owners of property and business run the government.

        Unemployment and Low Wages: Needed to suppress power from the middle class and ensure maximum money/power to ownership.

        Attacking Social Contract: Need to trim government back to free up public treasury to flow into corporate/elite welfare.

        Voting Rights - Women's Issues: Solidifying the powerful influence of elites on lower middle class - minorities - poor.

        Climate Change - Environmental Issues: Carbon concern, renewables threaten existing energy structure and investment. Limit regulatory structure limiting corporate profit, exploitation.

        I could go on and on but I sincerely think that every single significant issue has its roots right in the drive toward government by a very small group of elites for benefit of elites.

        Blessed are the peacemakers, the poor, the meek and the sick: The "party of Jesus" wouldn't invite him to their convention - fearing his "platform."

        by 4CasandChlo on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 12:41:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  All of Institutional Civilization is Against Its (12+ / 0-)

    people, which means advocates for the people have no present means to make contact with most of them. We've got the cart before the trilobite.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 09:48:10 PM PDT

  •  NSA / Surveillance / 4A (8+ / 0-)

    If it continues unchecked, the ability to advocate for other things will become increasingly restricted.

    How this gets addressed and to what degree we can individually affect change is a difficult question, I admit.

    Non-specifically: If we keep pressuring congress and helping to keep this in the news, we may see progress. There's been some positive movement lately, and I hope it continues that way.




    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ J. Garcia

    by DeadHead on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 09:58:12 PM PDT

    •  I'm afraid that whatever Congress ends up doing (7+ / 0-)

      about the NSA will be more window dressing and subterfuge, Kabuki theater, than anything substantive.

      Why? Congress works for their paymasters, and it ain't us, the people.

      The corporate-owned surveillance state is one of the main mechanisms the ruling elite is implementing to control and subjugate the population.

      They will not relent unless they are forced to relent in the face of massive and overwhelming (and relentless) popular resistance.

      That happening at this stage, is certainly (almost) impossible because the population does not understand this reality.

      •  You may not mean to do so, ... (3+ / 0-)

        but discounting someone else's priority, when it's not among yours too, goes against the inclusiveness you implied by seeking the opinions of others.

        "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

        by Neuroptimalian on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 10:20:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are right; I don't mean to do so at all. (3+ / 0-)

          I don't think I'm discounting their priorities.  In this case the writers priority is addressing the NSA issue, which I completely agree with.

          I'm commenting on this statement:

          If we keep pressuring congress and helping to keep this in the news, we may see progress. There's been some positive movement lately, and I hope it continues that way.
          I honestly believe that Congress does not work for the American people, and I share that opinion.

          I think we can all have an honest debate here (in this diary); sometimes on the way to building consensus you have to challenge certain assumptions.

      •  Sadly, I can relate to the cynicism (5+ / 0-)

        you appear to be expressing regarding the results we'll likely end up with, at least in the short term.

        The Administration has made clear their position on this issue. Whatever DOES get done in Congress still has to make it past the veto.

        Then again, it will always have that particular obstacle to overcome -- an executive branch unwilling to cede any of the power they've amassed.

        Vigilance is required, even without guarantee of results, otherwise it WILL keep growing.

        Since these leaks happened, everything else seems so secondary to me, unfairly, I admit.

        It just seems that if our basic constitutional rights are infringed, it undermines everything else we try to do.




        Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ J. Garcia

        by DeadHead on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 10:44:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I believe that is the purpose of the NSA security (0+ / 0-)

      state. It is to maintain the status quo.

      Socioeconomic disparity is reaching a breaking point all over the world. There is an ever increasing groundswell of citizens protesting and demanding a fairer share the world's resources in return for their labor. It's like a pot of water coming to a boil -  there's a bubble here, a bubble there. Each seems disconnected but eventually, if the heat is maintained, these independent bubbles will coalesce into a roiling boil.

      Many here will call it CT (a good way to minimize dissent), but the threat of terrorism to the US simply does not warrant the size, scope and costs of the domestic security apparatus which is continually being expanded at national, state and local levels. Just look to the massive militarization of police forces all around the country being done since Obama took office. BTW, Bush may have sown the seeds but Obama has been watering and fertilizing it.

      The only possible reason for such an apparatus is to protect against an uprising from within the country. This thing has taken on a life of it's own and has the potential to do great damage if it is not curtailed.

      How much more Orwellian does it have to get before one understand what is going on?

  •  I think the biggest ones are that civilization is (8+ / 0-)

    undemocratic and controlled by sociopaths; these sociopaths might kill us all with their wars and imperialism and world domination plans; and climate change and environmental disaster largely caused by the sociopaths we let control the planet.   So I say get rid of the sociopaths.  Take back the power.  It's like we said in the 60's and early 70's, Power to the People.  It's the same thing then as now except the stakes keep getting higher.  The problem I have with wish lists that include ending torture or putting Bush and his cabal in jail, or bringing the bankers and Wall Street crooks to justice and things like that is it's just not going to happen unless we take the power and influence away from "ruling elite".   It's a revolution against those that control the government and our country.  

    "America is the Terror State. The Global War OF Terror is a diabolical instrument of Worldwide conquest."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 10:01:25 PM PDT

    •  I agree with you. You also go straight to the (6+ / 0-)

      root of the problem, and you nailed it (IMHO).  I'm starting to see consensus in the answers.

      I'm fully aware that in order to jail the war criminals (of any administration), and the criminals of the Wall Street global racketeering cartel the Corporate State would have to be taken down by the people.

      The people already have the power to do whatever we choose to do, but we are being controlled to do otherwise, through propaganda and manipulation.

      •  I think there are options to reach the people (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Free Jazz at High Noon

        with the right message and if enough "activists" could agree on an approach.  One in particular I favor but it can't be discussed on the blog. I think we can use democracy as the issue.

        "America is the Terror State. The Global War OF Terror is a diabolical instrument of Worldwide conquest."

        by BigAlinWashSt on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 10:40:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Democracy in the work place and in the media (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BigAlinWashSt

          instead of top-down "You'll get what we give you."

          Rubes believing in the myth of "liberal" media is the only way I can explain working people consistenly voting for Republicans (and Democrats) who won't look out for their intersts at all.

          Reaganomics noun pl: belief that government is bad, that it can increase revenue by decreasing revenue, and unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods for unlimited people on a planet with finite resources.

          by FrY10cK on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 04:52:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  What is opposite of "man oppresses man"? (2+ / 0-)

      It is impossible to permanently

      get rid of the sociopaths.
      because sociopaths gravitate towards power in any political system, and many revolutionary movements.

      This explains why this old joke rang true:

      "In Capitalism, man oppresses man. In Socialism, its just the opposite."
      But I agree with your implication that punishing particular bad actors is less important than the definition of justice and the nature of the system that defines and enforces it.
       
  •  OT fantasy: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GussieFN, Ray Pensador

    First, an international Occupy manifesto, a statement of principles: equal rights, fair trade, green environmental standards, no to state repression and aggression.

    Then, a set of standards that accord with those principles, monitored by PETA, Human rights Watch, labor unions etc. Have a list of businesses and governments that meet those standards, those who wish can choose to deal with them.

    In the fullness of time, this group becomes cohesive, an identity forms. Then you've got a new nation, and the possibility that it could declare itself as such. A landless nation, that individual citizens could choose to join and separate themselves from the rule of the 1%.

    I think I read somewhere that when the moment of crisis came in Poland, it passed without bloodshed because by that time, most of the regime had already joined Solidarity.

    So, a global version of Solidarity.

    "The war on drugs followed by the war on terror has eliminated protections we have had since the Magna Carta." -Horace Boothroyd III

    by mookins on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 11:06:27 PM PDT

  •  I might break it down into different (5+ / 0-)

    categories

    Economics: income inequality

    How to reverse the trend in giving all the wealth to the few when it doesn't make economic sense to do so.

    Environment global warming/clean water

    For me personally the biggest problems we all face by far and has the potential to start global conflict.

    Personal freedom and equality.

    Covers a whole range of issues but the basic point remains the same, it's more an attitude than a policy.

    Education

    Rolling back the two [or more] tier system and improving educational opportunities for all. If this means cutting the MIC to pay for it so much the better.

    Healthcare

    Open access to a good health care system improves the health of the population as a whole, what is there not to like.

    Democracy

    Politics is the playground of the rich and their sponsors, adjust the system to allow more participation.

    Just some basic starting points the details come from the objectives.

    Each category needs to stay on topic.

    "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

    by LaFeminista on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 11:29:42 PM PDT

  •  Work on postcapitalism (6+ / 0-)

    Is the political economy of the world after capitalism going to be decided by a few rich people, or do the rest of us get any input into what it might be like?

    That's the biggest issue.

    Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." -- Frederick Douglass

    by Cassiodorus on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 11:40:41 PM PDT

  •  Regardless of what you think is most important... (4+ / 0-)

    Look, I'm pretty sure I know what is the single most important problem we should be focused on, and it's not the same as the one you think we should be focused on. But this comment isn't about my issue or your issue.

    Nearly all of the problems that progressives care about can be solved or at least lessened through the development of appropriate public policy responses. However, we have lost the ability to craft solutions through public policy. We have lost the ability to address problems through consensus-based government action. Any proposed solution that touches on the interests of the moneyed class gets sidelined or distorted in ways that protect the interests of money and diminish the effectiveness of the law or regulation.

    There's one thing that prevents us from arriving at solutions to most, perhaps all of our pet issues -- the distorting effect of money and bribes in politics and government regulation. We need to take private money entirely out of elections and ballot issues. We need to make lobbying a non-commercial activity, and we need to eliminate the "revolving door" that exists amid legislators, regulators, and corporations.

    Fixing those things is the one solution that makes all other policy solutions possible. Failing to fix those things leaves us with an oligarchy that becomes ever more powerful and harder to dislodge. Failing means we won't be able to solve the specific problems we think are the most important.

  •  I see two major overriding issues... (5+ / 0-)

    1. Corporate control (At least very heavy influence) over our Government at the Federal level (and in a number of cases state). How do we get 'We the People' back in control?

    2. Global Climate Change/end of carbon based energy. How do we gear our nation for the 21st century so we don't end up in a purely reactionary position. Given the worlds current  pace we will not be stopping major change so the only other choices is preparing for it or constantly reacting to it after the fact.

    The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 11:59:09 PM PDT

  •  okay -- for usa, which is a problem before we get (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gulfgal98, GussieFN, Ray Pensador, quill

    started

    1. redesign the monetary system completely.  this means eliminating the profit motive behind holding money.  as crazy as this sounds, many systems like this already exist.  -- this point obviously helps us make huge progress on any other issue.

    2. take immediate action on climate change by installing solar, etc. everywhere in the usa, using this process as one method of stimulating our general economy

    3. address neo-liberal fascism which has blossomed in past thirty years -- wrest control of usa government away from the 1%

    4. address all the 'isms' -- racism and sexism are just the start

    5. recognize that our entire educational system is now controlled by neoliberal forces.  it needs to be scraped.  this has been true for forty years, but the situation keeps worsening.

    6. recognize that our food system is poisoned.  localize production make our food safe

    7. single payer health care. period. . . .

  •  Destroy neoconservatism and neoliberalism. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gulfgal98, Ray Pensador, quill

    The unholy folie à deux between these two has deeply infected the entire military, industrial, congressional, banking complex. It is destroying the US and it is destroying the world.

  •  fighting back against the ratfucking of the Left (4+ / 0-)

    There are so many big problems these days. If I were to list one concrete problem I'd have to say Climate Change, which if not dealt with has the possibility of extinguishing the human species. Given that threat, I think it trumps all other issues, in the long run.

    However, before we can address that or any of the more immediate problems, the Left needs to figure out how to find its power to affect change, because right now we are weak and marginalized and can't get anything done. Which is too bad, because a majority of people in the US would suport truly liberal solutions.

    I've always wondered why it is that the various factions of the left (including the Democratic Party base) are always so fractured and disfunctional. One possible answer is that we've been deliberately divided and coopted by various corporate and political forces using Cointelpro-style methods.

    This notion is reinforced by a diary posted today, Exposed: Stratfor’s 3-Step Plan To Conquer & Divide Activists, that described the history of the company and the methods it has been using since the 80s to neutralize activists fighting for change. Read this and tell me you don't sense that these methods are being used right now against activists fighting for progressive causes:

         
    Duchin outlined a corresponding three-step strategy to “deal with” these four activist subtypes. First, isolate the radicals. Second, “cultivate” the idealists and “educate” them into becoming realists. And finally, co-opt the realists into agreeing with industry.

    “If your industry can successfully bring about these relationships, the credibility of the radicals will be lost and opportunists can be counted on to share in the final policy solution,”
    .
    .
    .
    A book by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton — “Trust Us, We’re Experts!” — explains that MBD promotional literature boasted that the firm kept “extensive files [on] forces for change [which] can often include activist and public interest groups, churches, unions and/or academia.”

    “A typical dossier includes an organization’s historical background, biographical information on key personnel, funding sources, organizational structure and affiliations, and a ‘characterization’ of the organization aimed at identifying potential ways to co-opt or marginalize the organization’s impact on public policy debates,” the authors proceeded to explain


    So my question/problem is this: how do we find effective ways to neutralize this sort of monkeywrenching?

    History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce - Karl Marx

    by quill on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 01:17:24 AM PDT

  •  I stumbled across this video the other day (5+ / 0-)

    by one of Obama's former professors, Roberto Mangabeira Unger. It's a pretty scathing critique of the current state of liberalism in the United States and it's inability to address the fundamental problem of inequality and economic stagnation.

    The video ends with Unger calling for liberals to vote against Obama (he apparently viewed this as the only way to provoke a shakeup within the Democratic party). And of course this was the context in which it was reported a year ago (Controversy! Obama's professor urges his defeat, blabla etc).

    But putting the election part aside, it's interesting when you consider how rarely we hear anything like this — a detailed policy critique that tries to offer an alternative to the current neoliberal policy agenda. Whatever you think of Unger's specific ideas (he doesn't spell them out in much detail here, but does in other videos), it made me think about how much the average voter tends to just blindly adopt the narrow spectrum of acceptable thought that is fed to them by the party and the media. At times, it seems like the U.S. has stopped trying to come up with new ideas altogether...at the same time that other parts of the world, like South America, are actively experimenting with new approaches.

    So getting back to your original question...not to get all meta but I would say the biggest challenge is simply to articulate and popularize ideas that realistically address the problems facing the country.

    When you think about inequality and economic stagnation, clearly the biggest issue facing America today, it's difficult to think of anything even being contemplated by mainstream Democrats that can realistically begin to provide a solution.

  •  IMHO, (8+ / 0-)

    The over riding root cause of all the issues we now face is the influence of big corporate money in our political system.  

    Big money is why we are not focused on solving the climate change issue.  It is why the banksters got away with the biggest crime of the century and are still getting bailed out.  It is why we are engaged in never ending war and why the NSA has gotten out of control.  It is why our education system is being dismantled. It is the force behind the prison system. It is why we have exported our manufacturing and will enact the odious TPP.  It is why we do not have universal single payer healthcare.  It is why there is a push toward austerity and the dismantling of the social safety net.  It is why our government has become a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America. Etc, etc, etc.

    Until we get the money out of our political system, both out of our elections and out of the out sourcing of governmental functions, we cannot solve the problems we are facing.  The problem is not the lack of will or focus of the people.  The problem is that the odds are so stacked against us that the will of the people is only being given lip service, not action.

    "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

    by gulfgal98 on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 02:24:53 AM PDT

    •  Money is blocking all other solutions (5+ / 0-)

      Yes, this is a good point. We have lots of problems that we know how to solve, but the basic process of government is broken, so those problems remain unsolved. My first answer was to focus on the problems that aren't getting solved, but focusing on the reason we can't solve anything is probably a precondition to actually solving anything.

    •  How do you propose to do this? The ruling elite (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gulfgal98, Ray Pensador

      (yes that can be said to be the best descriptor) have their hands firmly on the levers of power.

      They intimately control and manipulate the entire democratic process from phoney grass roots organizations, to an extremely effective propagandizing media, to access to hundreds of millions of dollars to grease the system in their favor, right up into to the highest echelons of incumbent political power both at the state and federal levels.

      Yes, there are a number of good politicians, corporatists and media outlets but only in sufficient quantities and effectiveness to give a 'democratic' flavor and appearance to this cesspit.

      From events now occurring around the world, it is only with the massive movement of people into the streets will there be a chance for change. But, even then the outcome is not certain. Many of these movements have been compromised and deflected using race and religion (a historically common ploy).

      We can expect tremendous push-back from the state - they will not give up power easily. They've known this was going to come for several decades now and are well prepared.

      •  I am not sure (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador, Claudius Bombarnac

        I do not believe that most Americans are prepared to take to the streets yet although the latest figures on poverty and near poverty may indicate that we are near a tipping point.  People who have nothing to lose are more likely to risk everything. As Kris Kristofferson so beautifully articulated in his song, Me and Bobby McGee, "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose..."

        Look what happened with Occupy.  Occupy was a strong challenge to the establishment because they so clearly articulated the issue of income and class disparity. The Obama Administration coordinated the crackdowns on various Occupy groups around the country, particularly those of any size.

        When Dr. Cornel West spoke to Occupy Tallahassee, he said something that has stuck with me since that day.  He said, "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!"  I think Dr. West completely correct.

        I am of the firm belief that we have gone too far down the rabbit hole for reform to work.  The system itself must be brought down or implode so that a full scale house cleaning can occur and change instituted.  Bringing the system down will not be easy.  

        Chris Hedges has said that we need to basically drop out of the consumer culture and focus on local merchants and local food.  This is much the same idea that is found in a movement that began in England called Transition Towns.  A series of nationwide strikes might also have some effect.

        What do you think?

        "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

        by gulfgal98 on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 02:00:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Frankly. I don't think the system can be brought (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ray Pensador, gulfgal98

          down by force or by reason. As you stated, "we have gone too far down the rabbit hole".

          The real culprit in all of the current problems has been unfettered capitalism, aka neoliberalsim aka the Washington consensus.

          There are two things looming on the horizon that will change the current status quo. Another massive banking failure caused by systemic risk created by the 750 trillion dollar derivative market or global climate change. Most likely one will trigger the other. Both of these are a direct consequence of runaway unfettered capitalism and neither will be able to be stopped once they gain momentum. There is simply not enough money or resources in the world to do another TARP.

          Banks, corporations and governments are currently operating as if these dangers do not exist. It is like a gigantic house of cards that can be toppled by the failure of one card. I used to think that they would reform after getting bitten in the ass but they did not. The next bite maybe big enough to pull out that one card and topple the entire mess.

          Unfortunately there will be death and destruction on a huge scale - especially for the 80% of the world's population that are even more vulnerable to this than we in North America are.

          •  Actually I agree (0+ / 0-)

            although I did not articulate it as graphically as you did.  My reference to imploding is exactly that. Chris Hedges has also alluded to it. It makes me extremely sad to think that so many people will suffer and die as a result of this unsustainable system that controls the world.

            "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

            by gulfgal98 on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 06:08:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  My biggest concerns (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GussieFN, Ray Pensador, quill

    1. Climate Change - We have to make it expensive and difficult to burn fossil fuels while simultaneously creating incentives for companies to make alternate energy cheaper and available.  

    2.  Fair Elections - How can we do ANYTHING else if the will of the people isn't done at the ballot box?  We need to undo gerrymandering, either through the courts or by redrawing the districts ourselves and we need to fight back against racist and otherwise vote-suppressing measures state-level republicans are enacting, by challenging laws in the courts and by making sure our voters have IDs and can pass every other roadblock the republicans throw at them, then repeal those laws.

    3.  Raising Revenue - Even as populations increase, the cost of government functions increase, and our problems grow larger, we are trying to limp along an underfunded government.  We need to do 2 things:  drastically reduce our bloated military budget and increase taxes.  Nobody LIKES to pay higher taxes, but if you like research and development, properly funded schools and properly-compensated high-quality teachers, national parks and forests, safe highways, effective food and drug inspections, law enforcement, etc etc, we need to start paying for this stuff.  If you try to do government on the cheap, you get cheap results.  

    4.  Economic Fairness - We need to bring jobs back to the US and address income inequality.  First, we need to educate people on WHY all that cheap Chinese junk they like is so cheap--because it's produced at the cost of American jobs where companies can pay low wages and ignore safety and environmental concerns.  We need to have a policy of taxing imports if the countries the imports are from don't have minimum wage and environmental standards at least closer to ours--then all that Chinese junk wouldn't undercut American products.  We need to raise taxes on the highest earners and on Wall Street transactions and put that money back into job-creating infrastructure improvement.  We need to raise the minimum wage and support businesses that give their employees benefits.  Also, we need to pursue single-payer health care doggedly to separate health care and employment which would increase the wages companies could pay and take away one of the most unpredictable and daunting costs many businesses have.  Finally, we need to stigmatize the concept of corporate execs earning hundreds of times what their employees do and find ways to place caps on executive compensation, at least where we can, like when the company profits from public dollars.

    5.  Focus on Local Offices - As a party, we need to start building a farm team and challenge the republicans where they have accomplished their most vicious erosion of public confidence in government.  We need to challenge republicans in red districts and we need to get more democrats to run for city, county, school district, and state offices.  Republicans have done A LOT of damage in those offices and in some cases we have let them.  It's time to press back.  To many voters, Washington is SO FAR AWAY and unimportant, but they see local government up front and center--we need those people to have a progressive choice locally.  

    There are other important issues for sure!  I have huge concerns about the future of our public land.  We have some looming issues around population and how we deal with our waste--landfills aren't going to cut it forever.  I am excited about progress made on marriage equality and want to see us attack institutionalized discrimination--racial and otherwise--anywhere we find it.  We need to start enabling teachers and get our kids off of the standardized testing treadmills.  We need to continue to push back at the NRA on gun violence by reducing availability of guns to certain people, repealing SYG laws, and banning pseudo-military style weapons and accessories.  We need to bring ALL of our troops home and reduce the size and influence of our military overall.  We need to make "Too Big to Fail" "Too Damned Big Then".  We need to bring some sanity to the drug laws in this country and stop locking up (primarily minorities) in the name of the Drug War.  

    I could probably name 20 more without much effort, but I think you see where I think our priorities should be.  Even on issues that didn't make my "Top 5", I am grateful for those who are working hard and being vocal for progressive ideals--you have to follow your passion and abilities.  Wherever we move the needle to the left, we have made the world a little--or in some cases, a lot--better.  

    Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

    by Mark Mywurtz on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 04:15:03 AM PDT

  •  Climate; big $; privacy/transparency; automation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ashaman, GussieFN, quill

    Climate change threatens the most irreversible damage, and big money’s dominance of politics is the most basic barrier to reversing many big problems.  

    In thinking about the long (soon to be the medium) term, one must acknowledge some of the fundamental ways that technology is changing things.

    For example, David Brin persuasively argues that emerging surveillance technologies make it impossible for individuals to avoid being monitored, especially by governments but also by private actors, and so the only achievable and reasonable goal is to to limit abuse of monitoring capability by enabling everybody to “watch the watchers”.

    Meanwhile, economists (including Paul Krugman) are starting to notice that the increasing sophistication of automation is pointing (in a way that is “different this time”) in a direction where there will not be enough jobs for most people. This requires rethinking most assumptions about economic systems, notably by making it necessary to provide goods, services and/or purchasing power to more people who do not “earn” them.

  •  Climate Change overwhelmes all other issues. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GussieFN, Ray Pensador, quill

    Honestly, I'd list climate change as top priorities 1 thru 5. Because if we follow the Republican plan, and we get 6C warming this century, agriculture mostly ends. And when agriculture mostly ends, so does civilization. And without civilization, every other priority on your list becomes meaningless.

    And even if we continue to have some form of agriculture and thus civilization remains, all your other issues still become overwhelmed. Immigration is a monster problem when there are hundreds of millions of climate refugees trying to move to the US. Health care will be impacted by spreading tropical diseases, and the hundreds of millions of climate refugees. Our economy will be destroyed by trillions of dollars of real estate damages every decade, not to mention skyrocketing food prices due to agriculture collapse. The war on terror and the war on drugs will both become meaningless, it'll be resource wars, fighting for control over fresh water and land suited for growing food. And during a time of endless war for things like food and water, individual freedoms and civil liberties are going to be mostly wiped out.

    Yea, we face a really ugly future if we don't tackle the climate. If we fail on that one issue, I honestly think nothing else matters.

    However, climate is a 20-year problem, and we've can address some other issues at the same time. So if I was to put a few more items on the list of priorities, I'd also put prosecution of Bush administration people for war crimes high on the list. And following that would probably be prosecuting Wall Street, at least where clear cases of fraud can be found. Ending the eternal 'war on everything' is probably next, we need to demilitarize our police force and demilitarize our military, breaking the stranglehold over spending that the military-industrial complex holds. I'd also like to see a wholesale conversion of religious stupidity into scientific understanding, but that's probably too much to wish for.

  •  Simple, difficult: public campaign financing. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador

    That's the single thread which when well pulled on will cause the bulk of our political  tangles to unravel, liberating a lot progressive momentum in the process.

    Hope: it's not rational, it's biological.

    America: a great idea; let's try it!

    Almost nothing has a name.

    by johanus on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 08:35:03 AM PDT

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