Bob, a self-described radical, has in recent weeks proposed the novel idea that Left and Right have a great deal in common. His discussion was recently joined by a tea partier, who had specific suggestions. Which leads me to speculate about a platform that most Americans would agree on. Here’s a proposed starting point:
- The federal government is no longer responsive to its citizens. Too much money and influence come from corporate interests. Too much of our money returns to corporate interests in the form of bailouts, corporate welfare, assumption of liability, etc. The idea that corporations have freedom of political speech, and that money is a form of speech, must be rebuffed.
- Too much power has accumulated at the top. When Presidents can roll back civil rights, send our young people to die overseas without the approval of Congress, and unilaterally overrule decisions of the states, there’s too much power in one place. Our Constitution says that powers not specifically granted to the Fed are reserved to the people and the states. The federal government cannot be eliminated, but we should examine carefully what role it needs to play. Power should be devolved once again to its lowest possible level— to individuals, communities, and states.
- The federal government has been used to wage a “culture war,” attempting to remake the entire country into the image of one or another view of American culture. We must accept that the United States is culturally varied, primarily between urban and rural areas, but regionally as well. We share many common values, but there is no “universal” American culture and no top-down solution that all of us will embrace.
- There are many issues on which there are deep divisions in this country— divisions which have been exploited by politicians in order to keep us occupied with details while they solidify their power. For the greater good, many of these differences should be set aside, or decided locally. It serves all of us to focus on the areas on which we agree.
Specific areas in which change must occur:
- The two-party system concentrates power in a few hands. Replace it with a multi-party or no-party system.
- Get corporations out of government. Let campaigns be funded only by contributions from individuals.
- Improve government transparency. The process of government should be visible to all.
- Return our civil rights. “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” —Benjamin Franklin
- Break up monopolies. If a company is “too big to fail,” it’s a monopoly.
- Demand fiscal responsibility. Huge government debt is not just a liability for our children and grandchildren— it erodes our own wealth through inflation at an alarming rate.
- Revamp our energy policy. Relying on (and giving profit to) unstable and/or unfriendly states for oil with which to power our economy is both impractical and unwise.
- Adopt the Principle of Subsidiarity: that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority, and that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level.
There will be discussions about which functions a central government ought to fulfill, what energy policy is appropriate, and how much freedom a local government ought to have. These are positive discussions as long as we don’t get bogged down in knee-jerk opposition.
Some may think this platform is impossible to achieve. Strategy is another issue entirely. If we can agree on some basic principles toward which we ought to move, then we can look at how to reach them.
(crossposted from Asymptotic Life)