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

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Democrats Are Rising from the Defensive Crouch

Whenever Republicans and corporatist Democrats try to shrink public services and public resources I have come to realize that the proper response is never merely to struggle to preserve and protect them, however temperamentally right that may feel in the moment, but always instead aggressively to fight for their expansion:

Increase social security benefits don't lower them. Raise the taxable cap on income for social security don't voucherize or means test it. Lower the retirement age don't raise it. Expand medicare until it is medicare for all rather than privatizing it. Provide public health clinics offering healthcare services, including abortion services, safely and freely in every single county of the United States rather than allowing the de facto criminalization of legally protected healthcare services through frivolous activist regulations by forced pregnancy zealots.

Increase the useful public services available at the post office rather than closing post offices and cutting delivery.

When they whine that you are trying to take away their guns when you propose commensense gun safety regulation... stop coddling the bastards and start actually trying to take away their guns, ban more and more military grade weapons and confiscate private arsenals and marginalize recreational gun use to designated and supervised public ranges.

Make election day a national holiday and ensure that everyone with a social security number can cast a vote without fear or effort.

Too big to fail is too big to exist -- so break up risky financial institutions and nationalize failing ones -- rather than shoring them up, and bailing them out, and insulating them from consequences. Throw the white-collar criminals in whatever jails remain after we decriminalize (and tax and regulate for safety and provide free addiction counseling and treatment for) nonviolent recreational drug use and end the racist war on drugs for good.

Add higher and higher tax brackets rather than lowering taxes and multiplying loopholes for the rich.

Massively raise the minimum wage and pin it to inflation rather than watching in despair as more and more of the population is trapped in the poverty of full-time labor that doesn't pay a living wage. End the unemployment crisis by investing in more and more renewable energy and sustainable mass transit infrastructure rather than cutting spending and firing public employees. Rezone neighborhoods and whole cities for walkability and mixed-use instead of building yet another parking lot and widening yet another highway as traffic snarls and poisons acre after acre... hell, convert more and more parking lots to community gardens and kick down the interstates and put in bullet trains, instead! Subsidize small organic farms and connect them to farmers markets in urban food deserts rather than throwing up your hands about obesity epidemics in underserved communities. Subsidize home improvements to introduce better insulation, energy-efficient appliances, porches, attic fans, geothermal pumps in a hundred million residences and workplaces, to put over a million solar rooftops in every State in the Union...  End the military-industrial complex by incubating a thriving renewable domestic economy instead that serves the whole world. Regulate fossil fuel extraction to within an inch of its life and then mandate public utilities replace fossil fuels with windfarms and tidal turbines and whatever comes next, and simply stop the bullshit dithering over tar sands, the bullshit about "clean" coal, the bullshit about fracked-up natural gas as the "transition" fuel, the bullshit about "green nukes" once and for all.

After that, we're on the way to the really good stuff: a universal basic income guarantee, universal healthcare, and free lifelong education and counseling for everyone in American and everyone on earth, sustainable democratic planetary governance of labor, development, health, education, welfare, enormous public investment in advanced medical research and exploration of the depths of our oceans and the heights of outer space, and then who knows what a sustainable planetary polyculture of free healthy people can accomplish together or create to astonish the world?

Since the Reagan years, well-organized elite-incumbent interests -- mobilizing racism and resentment rationalized with facile libertopian pieties -- invested reactionary politics with a pseudo-revolutionary thrust while at once real progressives reacted with a defensiveness rendering them conservative preservationists of the vulnerable accomplishments of New Deal, New Frontier, Great Society, and civil rights struggles, thus ceding much of the energy and even the appearance of progressivity from actual progressives to actual reactionaries.

When you are in a defensive crouch even a righteous wind at your back merely makes your position more precarious, but stand up and that righteous wind propels you in the direction of freedom and justice and joy.

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