Three Pillars, Draft 2


The Democratic Party needs a new vision, a winning vision, a vision for the 21st century, a vision to take back the Congress, and then the White House. A vision to make it the natural party in power.

You have to be able to say it in one word, in one phrase, in one sentence. There has to be this core vision. Companies call it the mission statement. A political party also needs it, as does the Democratic Party. Democrats have to present themselves as progressives. I would like to propose there are these three broad pillars to progressive thinking. One, democracy. Two, the market. And three, social progress. Together we call them the three pillars.

Democracy

Democracy is about moving towards the ideal of one person one vote, in America, all over the world, and also as a principle in international relations. If you get rid of the electoral college idiocy and start having direct elections for president, if you divide the country into 100 constituencies of roughly equal population for the 100 seats in the US Senate, if you seriously do campaign finance reform, if you can get major voter registration drives, if you can get out the vote, if you can fight today's attempts at disenfranchisements, if you can turn DC into a state, if you can go back to the ideal of no taxation without representation so as to give all tax paying immigrants the right to vote. If you can run grassroots campaigns. If you can wisely and transparently spend the big money raised from many small contributors. Or ultimately end up with publicly financed campaigns. All that would be great on the domestic scene.

As for the global scene, it is only through a total global spread of democracy that the progressives can earn real gains. We have to envision a world where every country is a democracy. And that spread has to be non-violent for the most part. Indigenous movements that get global support. Iraq has 27 million people, and Nepal has 27 million people. We have to spread democracy like in Nepal not like in Iraq. Nepal's April Revolution has major lessons for the Democratic Party in the US. Imagine a California where all shops are closed, all private and government offices are closed, there's no traffic on the roads, and more than a quarter of the people are out in the streets for 19 days. A complete shutdown. That is what happened in Nepal. It was magic.

The only way to win the Long War, also known as the War on Terror, is to spread democracy in all Arab countries. And Nepal has set an example there. We have to move towards rule of law within nations and rule of law between nations. Immigration spreads democracy and prosperity across the world like no formal tool of US power could hope to do. Immigration is not something to be stopped, but something to be managed.

Market globalization is going ahead full speed. Trying to stop it is a disservice, not to say not possible. The right thing to do is to engineer a political globalization. If the market is electricity, democracy is magnetism. Together they make for beautiful electromagnetism.

Market

As for the market, corporations can go astray, they can go corrupt in parts. But overall I go with the Fortune magazine characterization that corporations are one of the greatest human inventions ever. It is important to counter corporate abuse, but it is even more important to "get it" when it comes to corporations. Market mechanisms can be harnessed to solve many of society's problems.

Economics is like physics: you ignore it at your own peril. Progressives can not afford to be economic illiterates. Money compares to words and mathematical symbols among the greatest tools for human communication ever. The progressive has to be market friendly while at the same time staying on guard to market and corporate excesses. Heck, the progressive can help engineer democratization within corporations. I think a great way to melt glass walls and ceilings would be to introduce lot of numbers for the hiring, firing and promotion processes within corporations. Let there be numerial, quantified measures to how well individuals do within corporations. Glass walls and ceilings are a major drag on productivity.

Progressives need to be dreaming up the corporations of tomorrow, to create the jobs of tomorrow, not blanket demonizing those corporations that exist today. When you blanket demonize corporations, you end up disengaging, and you lose the tools to right the few wrongs of the corporations. But overall corporations are great stuff. The progressives also have to think of market solutions to many problems, so that the public sector solutions to some remaining problems stay focused and well managed. There is also a need to spread credit in all income brackets, so that people in all income brackets can hope to start and sustain and grow businesses. And for the lowest income brackets, the concept of micro credit has to be widely applied. Credit without collateral at decent income rates.

But the most important topic on the market front is how to turn America into an information age economy. I think the concept of free, wireless broadband provided by the private sector is at the core of the idea. Textbooks should also be online and free, supported by ads. More wealth was created during the industrial than in the agricultural age. Similarly more wealth will be created in the information age than has been the case in the industrial age. Education has to be lifelong, and health care has to be universal. In an information economy, human capital occupies center stage, that's why. Human capital, physical capital, financial capital.

Social Progress

Social progress issues might be the trickiest, but to me personally, they are the most important. People who can dazzle you with their acumen of grassroots political organizing tend to be callous when it comes to the mechanics of social progress. Too often we see it in black and white and dismiss those who disagree with our positions, instead of seeing ouselves as the vanguard of social progress who need to educate the rest by going to their level, and then bringing them along. Instead of demonizing the homophobes, perhaps part of our efforts should go into understanding their mental mechanisms to see what change might be possible. This is not a call to not focus on political victory. Most people will not change their minds: they simply will have to be defeated. But we need to be more sophisticated, and not let our enlightened stance on social issues scuttle the rest of our common sense approach to mainstream governance issues. This is a call to be compassionate progressives. And we have to transform the whole pro choice talk into something much larger, a talk on gender relations in general. And we have to take race and gender relations together. Those two have much in common.

So, in short, there are three pillars to progressive power: democracy, the market and social progress. And we have to move along by building a winning coalition, a governing coalition. We have to become the natural party of power that makes the best of globalization and the internet to lead America into the information age and to spread democracy and prosperity across the planet.



Core Vision: Three Pillars For The Democratic Party

The Three Pillars

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