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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

MundiMuster! Mandate for Peace

Sign the Mandate for Peace!
The people have spoken out through the 2006 mid-term election. By voting out pro-war candidates and changing control over Congress, we have repudiated war policies and issued a mandate for new policies that promote peace and international cooperation. We insist that the newly elected Congress, in its earliest days in office, pass legislation requiring the prompt removal of all US troops from Iraq and discontinue funding for military purposes in Iraq except the safe withdrawal of all U.S. forces.

Join the Mandate for Peace campaign by signing the petition... and helping us bring the troops home from Iraq. Just fill in your name, email address, and your zip/postal code, then click the Sign Now! button.

6 comments:

Martin Striz said...

I don't think this election was a mandate. A mandate for a new direction in Iraq, yes, but not a mandate for Democratic policies per se. Look out how many races were won by 1% or less. What we have is a tenuous and fragile majority, that can easily swing back the other way.

Remember that this election was not so much a vote for Democrats as a vote against Republicans, mostly on a single issue. This is still a center-right country, and Democrats need to work hard not to alienate the people that supported them this time.

They need, first and foremost, to be pro-business, grow the economy, and keep taxes low on the middle class (they can get away with raising them on people earning >$200K). Then they need to solve the Iraq problem and implement real security (a la the 911 commission). If they are seen as good for the economy, and good for security, then they have a chance of retaining their majority.

Then they can work on other issues that Americans really do side with them on (stem cell research and funding for science in general, keeping abortion legal, education, etc.) but that aren't as important, generally, as the economy and security.

Dale Carrico said...

You agree that the election was a "mandate for a new direction in Iraq" which is all I meant to call attention to in this post. The Mandate for Peace is an effort to mobilize anti-war senitment expressed in this election to bring about a real end to the conflict rather than any of the cosmetic pseudo-responses that are all too likely to prevail instead.

As for the larger issues that you mention, we seem more or less to agree. I'm not sure that I agree that the tight result margins represent so straightforward an indication of a tenuous majority given the undemocratic institutional privileges of incumbancy and corporate money and so on. But your point about the current Democratic majority's fragility is certainly true, as is, no doubt, the point others are making that once Pelosi's first one hundred hours are through we are likely to see a definitional crisis between the Blue Dog and New Dem and Progressive factions of the party. Probably needless to say, I'm in the corner of the Progressive Caucus.

I can't say whether I agree with you or not about the need for "pro-business" politics, since it seems to me this can mean radically different things to different people. I know that many large and small businesses would agree with me that universal single-payer health coverage is a priority, while many others who would call their politics "pro-business" are sure to stupidly castigate such a priority as "socialism." I think the neoliberal consensus is as dead as the neoconservative one and that globalization must be as fair as it is free -- which means labor and environmental standards, possibly a role for the ILO and an environmental court that is as prominent as that of the WTO and world bank now. I think that is a "pro business" attitude but I am sure many would disagree. I agree we need to re-instate progressive taxes on income, estates, and property and stop the punitive dismantlement of the middle class.

I can't prioritize "growing the economy" so long as the standard measures for growth that tend to guide policy so conspicuously skew attention away from registers of general well being, long-term needs, healthy infrastructure, and so on. In my view it would be disastrous for Dems to get behind any notion of "pro-business" that just ends up meaning business as usual.

If they go wishy-washy on science r & d, legal abortion, civil rights, good education, renewable energy, peace and so on -- views most Americans attribute to them anyway and which enough Americans agree with them about that Dems should be able to use their power for good -- then they'll seem to stand for nothing and surely lose again soon enough to the market fundamentalist and religious fundamentalist zealots of the right who are endlessly radicalized by the engine of ongoing secularization and democratization.

I think real economy and real security will be consolidated by universal health care, improved labor standards in trade treaties, renewable energy research, the repudiation of preemptive war and unilateral foreign policy, and so on. You can't worry that America is a center-right country while simultaneously conceding that most Americans agree with Dem positions tarred by corporate media as far left. Dems will win by doing right. This is no time for timidity, and no time to circle the wagons. This is a victory and we should treat it as one by doing what needs to be done. The wingnuts will complain about Dem radicalism whatever we do. Only the courage of our conventions will inspire rather than alienate the American people.

Martin Striz said...

Well, I agree that public sentiment is much more on the Democrats' side than election outcomes indicate, particularly since our elections are weighted so much by money. I favor banning all political advertising 6 weeks before an election, but I'm sure people will find loopholes.

Also, it would not be good for the Democrats to have a power struggled now. Part of the strength of the Republicans over the last few years was their ability to put significant differences between fiscal conservatives and religious conservatives aside to follow Bush.

I know that many large and small businesses would agree with me that universal single-payer health coverage is a priority

Absolutely. That's one of those issues on which Democrats are in the majority. BUT I think that raising taxes on the middle class at this point would be a mistake.

I can't prioritize "growing the economy" so long as the standard measures for growth that tend to guide policy so conspicuously skew attention away from registers of general well being, long-term needs, healthy infrastructure, and so on

One interesting thing about America's robust economy is how poorly it translates to other metrics of quality of life, such as health, life expectancy, literacy, etc. However, we live in a world where the only thing that's going to win Democrats more elections is the value of the Dow, not citations to obscure metrics. You have to keep in mind that there are some things you have to compromise on in order to retain power, to get done the things you want to get done. It's either that or you can be ideologically pure and sit on the sidelines.

You can't worry that America is a center-right country while simultaneously conceding that most Americans agree with Dem positions tarred by corporate media as far left

Oh, it's definitely center-right, on both social and economic issues. I will remind you that in the last few election cycles, gay marriage bans were passed by 23 of 24 states in which they were on the ballot. The problem is that, on economic issues, as just mentioned, people have very simplistic ideas about what constitutes a healthy economy or a high quality of life, and that Dem positions are actually better for them (the middle class, at least).

Now that we have the microphone, it's crucial to get that across to the public against the right-wing noise machine.

Dale Carrico said...

I agree that public sentiment is much more on the Democrats' side than election outcomes indicate, particularly since our elections are weighted so much by money. I favor banning all political advertising 6 weeks before an election, but I'm sure people will find loopholes.

Yep, I agree with your assessment, your recommendation, and your expectation of circumvention, all three!

[I]t would not be good for the Democrats to have a power struggled now. Part of the strength of the Republicans over the last few years was their ability to put significant differences between fiscal conservatives and religious conservatives aside to follow Bush.

I'm not happy about it, and Pelosi and Reid are smart pols who might be better at smoothing divisions than I worry will be the case, but I do think the post-election Honeymoon phase among Dems will be short-lived (and between Dems and GOPs non-existent). The struggle here is between a machine politics model that defined the Third Way era of the last Dem generation (and may still be well positioned to prevail in the next, to our cost) and the populist model arising out of p2p networked organizing, fundraising, criticism.

Hopefully, the deep divisions between corporatists and Christianists on the Right will -- in a moment of defeat following a long-fought-for power-monopoly that didn't really deliver enough to justify the costs of movement conservatism -- will be spectacular enough to overshadow the growing pangs of the progressive caucus.

I know that many large and small businesses would agree with me that universal single-payer health coverage is a priority

Absolutely. That's one of those issues on which Democrats are in the majority. BUT I think that raising taxes on the middle class at this point would be a mistake.

Actually, we agree here. That's why I insisted on progressive tax reform. We're already agreed on health care -- and what a stunning work for good that might be on its own terms! -- so I'll just supplement the tax point for now.

I think it will be key for Dems to get a hold on the rhetorical shenanigae of conservatives, and point out that taxing rich elites -- who are conspicuous disproportionate beneficiaries of both the normative and architectural infrastructure of stable propserous societies as well as disproportionate beneficiaries of the cultural and environmental commons -- is not taxing the middle class but a way of funding the base on which a middle class depends to thrive.

(The correlary point that workable democratic society seems to require such a thriving middle class is one that needs to be stressed as well.)

If Dems can finally grab the bull by the horns and respond directly and sensibly to the phony populism of anti-tax aristocratic politics, as they seem finally to be beggining to respond directly and sensibly with the mantra of "good government" to the anti-government and/or ever-smaller-governement rhetoric of these self-same aristocrats, then we really will be getting somewhere.

However, we live in a world where the only thing that's going to win Democrats more elections is the value of the Dow, not citations to obscure metrics.

We're reality-based or we're not. The obscurity of these metrics is a function of the corporate-ownership of the mainstram media through which such metrics circulate in the public sphere as the ones that matter to policy-makers and consensus narrative. If I may be allowed to be facile for a moment, if the Dow was all that mattered we wouldn't have won.

You have to keep in mind that there are some things you have to compromise on in order to retain power, to get done the things you want to get done. It's either that or you can be ideologically pure and sit on the sidelines.

Oh, believe me I agree with you on all this. I am temperamentally drawn to open and compromise-addled stakeholder politics. The outright lunacy of the rightward skew of authoritative public discourse and Republican governance has made me very strident and uncompromising thse last few years, but I absolutely hate that sort of thing! It has made me grumpy and unhappy for far too long!

While my own politics (feminist, anti-miliatarist, anti-corporatist, Green, social democratic) are quite far to the left, I suppose, I am aware that I share the world with people arrayed rightward in many different degrees and that any truly democratic society worth having even by my own lights will properly take a form that registers and reflects those differences.

One jockeys back and forth between arguments that reflect one's best convictions and arguments that reflect one's assessment about what is opportunistically available to best implement those convictions and arguments that reflect one's affirmation of a world that is as best as may be.

I don't think any of my assessments here are those of an ideologue. Nor do I think yours are. Indeed, I get the feeling we come close to agreeing on both many of the ideal ends as well as assessments of best outcomes.

Oh, [America]'s definitely center-right, on both social and economic issues. I will remind you that in the last few election cycles, gay marriage bans were passed by 23 of 24 states in which they were on the ballot.

I don't agree with you that America is center-right and I don't agree with you that gay marriage bans would be an indicator of such a thing in any case. Many places that are banning gay marriage are doing so with the stipulation (sometimes only imaginary) that domestic partnership and employment protections and so on are extended to lgbtq people like me -- an attitude that would have been a marker of a far-left America as recently as when I first came out. We won the Culture Wars. These weird flare-ups of homophobia are symptomatic of other things -- including anxiety occasioned by the recognition that the culture wars are truly lost and that America is a secular and secularizing technoscientific society with unclear normative landmarks to steer by. These things are complicated, as I'm sure you'll agree!

Martin Striz said...

Agreed, agreed, and agreed on just about everything you said. I would only add, concerning what the public expects as a metric of economic health, is JOBS. If the Democrats can, in the next two years, create more jobs than Bush did on average over the last six (which shouldn't be too hard), they'll have great arguments for getting re-elected.

The Dow will probably do well over the next few years because of the gridlock that will exist between Congress and the President. When investors believe that there won't be any major policy changes, it creates a safe environment for them operate. Even though the robust economy under Clinton was mostly a result of the dotcom boom, it was also partially due to the gridlock between him and the Republican Congress.

So the only hard thing to work on is jobs. This is where taxes might pose a problem, especially if they are increased for small businesses. It's something that the Dems are going to have to work on.

Also, concerning health care, I am totally in agreement that a single payer system should be implemented. The United States currently spends 15% of its GDP on health care, more than any country in the world. Part of that is due to health care salaries, part of that is due to bureaucracy, and part of that is due to the fact that so many people are uninsured. Those people wait until their illnesses become severe before being treated (they pretty much have to), and most illnesses cost a lot more to treat when they are at an advanced stage. So it's an inefficient system. If you can prevent something before surgery or expensive drugs are required, you can actually save on health care costs. Everybody should have the opportunity to be on a routine health maintenance and prevention program, and a single payer system would allow that.

That would also improve a lot of those quality of life metrics.

I don't agree with you that America is center-right

I think so. It may seem contradictory to claim that America is center-right while simultaneously claiming that the Democrats have policies that more Americans favor (or would favor, if they weren't absorbed by the right-wing meme machine), but I don't think the Democratic Party is a left-wing organization. They are center-left at best, which in this country might look left-wing, but isn't. There is no real left-wing political option in American politics.

Many places that are banning gay marriage are doing so with the stipulation (sometimes only imaginary) that domestic partnership and employment protections and so on are extended to lgbtq people like me

That's true, but I haven't actually bothered to check what the percentages are on that. As I was pouring over the results from the November 7 election, I noticed a few ballot measures that also banned domestic partner benefits.

Anyway, I don't base my assessment on gay marriage bans alone. I base it on the religiosity of Americans, the streak of anti-intellectualism and superstition, the support of gun rights, the War on Drugs, and a host of social issues.

Martin Striz said...

I think it will be key for Dems to get a hold on the rhetorical shenanigae of conservatives

This is an important point as well. The Republicans have been winning the rhetoric game. It's a "death tax," not an estate tax. One of my favorite pundits, Bill Maher, has been pointing this out for years. An "estate tax" is something put on estates, which the typical American doesn't have. But death? That could happen to anyone! And who wants to be taxed when they die?

Or "tax burden." As opposed to "civic responsibility." Don't people want to pay their police officers and fire fighters -- you know, all those people we called our heroes after 9/11. George Lacoff wrote a book about this. I believe he's at Berkeley, too.