I wanted to pose a question that only time will answer:
Will the energy nationwide among progressives aroused by the Wisconsin public union fight grow and lead to a truly national movement that would sweep not Democrats, but progressives into office?
Will it happen? Only if we—meaning you, me and everyone we know—make it happen.
In the abstract that means three great demographic migrations:
- Working class to Democrats or small progressive parties: The long-alienated white working class, once called “Reagan Democrats,” must realize that the right-wing anti-government nonsense they bought into actually hurts their economic interests.
- Young and minorities to polls: The non-voting young and minority must realize that they have to show up at the polls for every election, including all the primaries.
- Everyone to activists: All of us should make it clear in emails and letters to all candidates and potential candidates where we stand on the issues.
For those elected to federal offices, here are the demands I would propose that people make of those seeking their votes or funds in the primaries:
- Oppose anti-union measures, especially those that curtail bargaining rights or raid pensions.
- Propose funding the minor Social Security gap by removing the cap on wages that pay the Social Security tax (called FICA). Right now, people only pay on a maximum of $106,800 in wages. Robert Reich recently said that if the cap were raised to $180,000, Social Security would be fully funded.
- Support legislation to raise the minimum wage and tighten the exemptions from it.
- Support a multi-billion-dollar investment program in mass transit in cities and between cities; getting high-speed Internet into every household; improving our existing roads, bridges, tunnels and public parks, and developing alternative fuels and industrial processes, all with the objective of creating jobs and erecting the infrastructure for future growth.
- Call for an immediate withdrawal from both Iraq and Afghanistan and a 40 percent reduction in military spending.
- Support legislation to raise federal income taxes to the levels of 1979, which were historically low at the time but much higher than today, and use the funds to lower the deficit and return social services, education and healthcare programs to full funding.
- Support gay marriage, a woman’s right to an abortion, a fair immigration policy, accurate science teaching in the schools, and greater controls on owning and carrying guns.
Let’s not let our energies dissipate. Let’s let our oligarchy (or should I say “nobility”) of elected officials and candidates know that they have to begin doing what’s in the best interest of all Americans, not just the wealthy.