Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, June 06, 2016

Platform Fun!

One of the million or so scarcely-stealthed fundraising e-mails I receive on a daily basis from the Democratic Party asked for feedback about the Party platform. I know nobody will read it, but like most busy-body leftists I can't resist things like this, especially as I am strenuously avoiding preparing for teaching this week. Here's what I wrote, off the top of my head. I daresay most of this is just boilerplate Dem wish-list, tho' the Bernie phenomenon seems to be premised on the false and frankly idiotic fantasy that their little fauxvolutionary band of disorganized purity-cabaret performers are the only ones who ever had any ideals of this kind. [Dag, AP called it for Clinton while I was writing the next sentence, so read it with that in mind I guess.--d] Here's hoping come tomorrow -- first at five my time when New Jersey is called and takes HRC's count including those pesky superdelegates over the finishing line, and then later that evening when, win or lose, the New Mexico and California result takes her pledged delegate count into the majority (the number that matters if you are pretending superdelegates don't count or shouldn't count... or are they the only ones that should count now? I can't keep up with the latest BS as in Bernie Sanders BS as in bullshit on superdelegates -- anyway, come tomorrow as I say, I do hope that sort of deceptive destructive demoralizing hagiographizing/demonizing nonsense will begin to be behind us and those who are serious about achieving progressive goals such as I am about to recount will remember that the work to accomplish them requires a Democratic Congress, Democratic State governments, and lots of movement education, agitation, and organization on the ground to shift the terms of the possible and the important within which party politics operate and push an Executive from their left while at once supporting the Executive as they solve problems and offer up their best compromises in real time in the direction before the horizon of We The People.
Green economic stimulus/increase employment: mass FDR-style tree planting and soil restoration projects, federal high-speed rail or even maglev trains connecting twenty-five major cities by 2025, bury exposed wire to harden/weatherize vulnerable power grid, replace water infrastructure (especially given lead issues), provide public EU-level high speed connectivity via local not-for-profit co-ops, subsidize residential/small business rooftop solar and solar parking canopies in every state, limit food deserts and encourage sustainable agriculture and lower long-term health costs by building local/organic farmer's markets-cum-community centers in neighborhoods.
End the Hyde Amendment. End Unconstitutional restrictions and harassment of women's healthcare providers, waiting periods, unscientific moralizing interference with qualified diagnoses and recommendations, misleading and humiliating compulsory sermons, invasions of privacy and public threats. Never re-instate the global gag order. Provide safe, free, anonymous women's health, counseling and abortion services in every county, in every state, in every territory, in or of the United States.
Save our postal service and end predatory lending and finance while encouraging responsible savings by allowing post offices to function as community-based savings-and-loans and provide other needed financial services on a highest-standard non-profit basis.
Prohibit for-profit policing/prisons, de-militarize police forces, end broken windows and racial profiling, mandate independent investigation and prosecutors in all cases of harm involving police, mandate community representation and oversight in police governance, train all police (anyone involved in policing at any level) in violence de-escalation and bias sensitivity, legalize recreational cannabis, shift from drug and sex-work prohibition to harm reduction/voluntary rehabilitation/protection of the vulnerable model, increase funding for mental health, rehabilitation, training programs and shift from zero-tolerance judgments to end school-to-prison pipeline and misuse of prisons as warehouses for traumatized and distressed citizens due our treatment and care, ban all military-style and assault weapons, make gun manufacturers and sellers liable for gun harms at least demonstration of negligence, include demonstration of competent use and knowledge of safety regulation in periodic licensing of gun possession for hunters and hobbyists, end inherently cruel and unusual, prohibitively costly, discriminatory, error-prone but irreversible capital punishment, increase funding to protect and facilitate independence of women and children and vulnerable who are sexually assaulted, bullied, or subject to hate crimes.
Strengthen the general welfare in order to form a more perfect union and ensure domestic tranquility by increasing social security benefits, ensuring long-term unemployment benefits, federally mandating paid family/health leave, allowing medicare buy-in as a public option, lowering prescription drug costs through public bargaining with companies over prices, federally mandate a living wage pegged to inflation (allowing for local cost-of-living variances), vastly increase public grants for artistic work and scientific/technical research that is made available for immediate free public use, mandate equal pay for equal work, raise teacher salaries and shrink classroom sizes in every zip code, forgive current paralyzing college loan debt and provide for debt-free college in the future through free community college and public service after graduation (in public education, ecological restoration, support for first responders, community service, foreign aid work).
Stop breaking up families and communities including immigrants, stop the regular harassment, arbitrary raids, and mass-detention of immigrants. Broaden the available pathways for people to enter the country legally in order to work and study, or to reunite with family members who are already here. Provide an accessible path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Increase legal immigration channels, taking special care to protect children and refugees from social, political, and ecological danger. Provide services to welcome the contributions and facilitate the successful integration of immigrants into our society.
Automatically register citizens to vote when they get or renew their drivers' license or their passport. Provide an option for postage-free vote-by-mail in every jurisdiction. Renew the Voting Rights Act and apply pre-clearance provisions to all states equally. Create a federal election day holiday. Provide an automatic one-dollar tax break or tax credit to every citizen who votes in the preceding year's election, the same one dollar that now goes optionally to the Presidential election campaign. End Citizen's United. Strengthen restrictions against and increase waiting periods for public servants to work as lobbyists. Within the Democratic Party itself: Eliminate exclusionary caucuses, close participation in primaries to non-Democrats but allow for same-day registration for membership in the Democratic Party, eliminate "superdelegates" but retain as separate from pledged delegate counts the necessary mechanism by which current Democratic politicians, leaders, activists can provide unity for a nationally viable nominee on the occasion of an emergency related to health, criminal conduct, or extraordinary misconduct disqualifying the elected nominee in the aftermath of voting in the primary contest.
Build and maintain a permanent international science station on the Moon and a series of international Mars exploration missions with the aim of establishing a permanent international science station on Mars as well.
Create new millionaire, multi-millionaire, and billionaire tax brackets, raise and progressivize the taxable cap for social security, introduce taxes on global financial transactions, raise but progressivize property taxes, create a federal system of state-based public renewable/sustainable infrastructure investment banks.


Lorraine said...

That's a very progressive platform; very much the type of platform the DNC machine is going to try hard to prevent. Perhaps they will pleasantly surprise me, though. If it turns out that people representing your platform wish list are railroaded out of the platform drafting process, will you be a dissident among Democrats, or still taking every opportunity to dump hard on the party's left faction?

Dale Carrico said...

I doubt you will be much surprised by what transpires, but your final choice is a false one as I conceive of things. Also, I must say, it seems to serve no useful purpose. The conjuration of a "DNC machine" twirling its mustache and struggling to prevent the crystallization of ideal outcomes is the sort of conspiratorial silliness I have grown used to seeing from Bernie/Nader/anarcho/etc quarters. In which I am not corralling you -- the discourse drifts into these formulations whatever folks' practical commitments.

Look, Bernie's campaign wasn't a revolution, it was a soda ad, and that should matter to people who claim to care about radical democracy. Hell, Bernie was never even particularly clear or detailed in his policy proposals (unlike HRC's, if you will forgive me). A President can't accomplish much of the sort of things he promised without mass movements and organizational coalitions behind him -- but his movement considerably underperformed Obama's while he actively disdains indispensable organizations as The Establishment.

I think it is weird to want to protest the executive branch by fixated on a DreamPrez, just as I think it is weird to express condemnation of an establishment while trying to hijack it. There are incoherencies rumbling in the background of such programs. You know, I do believe there are plenty of Democrats in the Progressive and Black caucuses, for example, or in civil liberties and labor and harm reduction model policy organizations affiliated with the Democratic Party who fully deserve to be regarded as part -- actually the overwhelming majority -- of the party's "left faction" most of whom support HRC and all of whom are committed to pragmatism and reform.

I'm a democratic eco-socialist feminist queer for whom class critique in the American instance must foreground white supremacy. So of course my ideal platform reflects my ideological commitments. I am also a member of the Democratic Party -- which means I think the party is an indispensable tool through which struggle in the direction of ends defined by my ideology are to be accomplished. The Party is indispensable but it is not adequate, it is a tool but not the only one, it is powerful in part because it is a coalition that contains members who differ from me in their emphases and concerns and strategies, and the party compromises in ways that never exactly thrill me both to get governing majorities elected and also to solve shared problems in real time which are part of what parties do. None of these basic realities are compatible with glib declarations about me dumping on the left or being forced into dissidence or machine politicos railroading the good into the muck.

Dale Carrico said...

Politics is not ethics, politics is not aesthetics. Forms of purity available to those normative registers are not available to politics properly so called. Not getting this isn't a sign of righteousness or commitment but of not knowing stuff that matters. It is perfectly understandable not to get it if it bores a person or distracts from other good works a person wants to do but the not knowing isn't admirable, it's not some end in itself, it's not a badge of honor.

If anybody wants to hear ideal outcomes they can listen to the lectures I teach all the time -- or comparable lectures from almost any lefty academic type of the least sense, decency, and conviction I know -- all of which are suffused with environmental justice critique and democratic socialism and queer gender studies and democratic technodevelopment. I don't expect such things from politicians nor do I welcome them from politicians -- at least when they have their politician hats on. I think it is a weird thing some people seem to want from politicians of all thing -- to hear them lecture us on ideal outcomes rather than respond to shared problems and shepherd best compromises through diverse stakeholders to make change.

I do some measure of progressive work through my teaching and my bouts of activism (queer stuff in my younger days and adjunct labor organizing lately, mostly), but in terms of partisan politics I vote, contribute and support the best candidates within the Democratic Party on offer given the clarity of their proposals, the endorsements they muster, the temperament and intelligence they evince, things like that. All electable politicians seem to me a bit sociopathic and quite some measure to my right. That reflects realities that seem pretty palpable in this continent-scaled, diverse, insulated, anti-intellectual, consumer society stratified by white supremacy patriarchy and industrialism.

I don't agree with anybody completely and that seems pretty much to be expected. I don't expect to get to the promised land and that seems pretty much to be expected too. The world is perishing from environmental crisis and wealth concentration. The solutions are known and in various measures lots of people in the Democratic Party seem to want to do something about them. We'll we manage it in time? I don't know. It doesn't matter that that upsets me. Change happens from education, agitation, organization, legislation. That's all there is.

jimf said...

> Politics is not ethics, politics is not aesthetics. . .
> Not getting this isn't a sign of righteousness or commitment but of
> not knowing stuff that matters.

I got to try to be smart like other pepul. Then when I am smart
they will talk to me and I can sit with them and listen like
Joe Carp and Frank and Gimpy do when they talk and have a
discushen about importent things. While their werking they
start talking about things like about god or about the truble
with all the mony the presedint is spending or about the
ripublicans and demicrats. And they get all excited like their
gonna have a fite so Mr Donner got to come in and tell them
to get back to baking or theyll all get canned union or no union.
I want to talk about things like that.

If your smart you can have lots of frends to talk to and you never
get lonley by yourself all the time. . .

-- _Flowers for Algernon_

Dale Carrico said...

Are you flirting with Eli?

jimf said...

> Are you flirting. . . ?

I've known a few guys who thought they were
pretty smart,
but you've got bein' right down to an art.
You think you're a genius, you drive me
up the wall.
YOu're a regular original

Oh whoah
you think you're special
Oh whoah
you think you're something else.

OK, so you're a rocket scientist.

That don't impress me much. . .