by John Blumenstiel
I write this as a member of the Green-Rainbow Party with the gravity of realizing that our economic and political system are beyond repair given our limited choices.
The world awaits the removal of our maniacal president from office for the mutual benefit of all. However, the way forward after his hoped for overwhelming defeat is far from encouraging. Our politics and economy for decades have been formed in a narrow crucible controlled by the economic interests of the few in direct contradiction to the needs of the many. The sense of relief with a Trump defeat will be palpable, but the future will look much like our past without a transformational way of moving forward.
Our economy is crippled with debt, devastated by pandemic, mired in war and war preparation while increasingly the ruling class see the citizenry as “the enemy”, thus dismissing our legitimate needs. The potential for rebuilding a viable global economy for the benefit of billions vs. the few thousands of obscenely wealthy, considering our limited imagination, is negligible. This, of all times, demands new thinking, new policies and new leadership. To begin with, let’s imagine some new thinking.
Foreign policy/military spending: This is the starting line. It consumes over 50% of our national discretionary expeditures. Until this is addressed, funds for our domestic needs will continue to be pillaged and the needs of the citizenry neglected.
Let’s start with reimagining a collaborative world order over a competitive one. To begin with let’s identify the current greatest threats to such a collaborative possibility. Let’s not use the traditional measure of good guys and bad guys. Those definitions rest solely on ones own personally or nationally held prejudices and historically programmed perspectives. Let’s just identify who are the actors in the most treacherous circumstances. Here is a pretty significant list of competitive dyads
1) US vs Russia
2) US vs China
3) US vs Iran
4) US vs Venezuela
5) US vs North Korea ( DPRK)
This is clearly not an exhaustive list, but is good for starters.
So what might a “transformational” foreign policy look like. With a new president in 2021, a positive starting point would be the creation of 5 separate commissions to establish ongoing communications/negotiations with our presently assumed adversaries ( identified above) to explore mutual needs, honest exploration of historic antecedent events leading to current day distrust and conflict, understanding of each party’s national interests and identification of areas of convergence as well as areas of conflict. To move in this direction necessitates a foundational commitment to peace and justice. Is that commitment demonstrated by either of our duopoly political parties?
With a willingness to remain at the table and working for even small steps towards reconciliation, eventually breakthrough points of mutual agreement could be achieved.
With an unequivocal commitment to peace and justice, with patience and persistence and risk taking, progress towards disarmament, cessation of wars and prioritization of human needs and security could be greatly enhanced. Sadly, it is these ingredients that are missing from our current diplomacy, thus resulting in our current narrow, destructive way of thinking about security as a strictly individualistic or nationalistic endeavor. Change our frame of mind, consider wider possibilities and unforeseen opportunities may become available. Is it not now a necessity to move beyond our current narrow views of possibilities?
Domestic issues: Our domestic collapse is as dramatic and fraught with danger as our foreign policy collapse. By all indications the US is in a political, economic, cultural and global decline. We are facing fascism head on. This is a bipartisan failure with one party unashamedly supporting an anti-people/ pro-corporate agenda while walking hand in hand with the opposition party which has a decades long record of abandoning the working class and poor.
So what would a “transformational” domestic policy look like. Here are some starting points as a general direction to pursue.
1) Create a Five Year emergency budget and national recovery plan. This would include the following
– Restoration of science as the guiding principle of reestablishing credible public health and addressing the climate/environmental crisis.
– Repeal the Trump/Obama/Bush era tax cuts for all making over $xxx,000 per family per year
-Implement a Five year (pick a doable %) surtax on all incomes over (pick the appropriate level)
– Reduce military spending by 25% each annual budget cycle to some essential baseline for the true purpose of DEFENSE, NOT GLOBAL DOMINATION, with funds being re-prioritized for domestic policy needs as well as implementation and ongoing support for our revised non-military Foreign Policy initiatives.
– Scrap the $1.5 Trillion Nuclear weapons upgrade program.
– Implement a minimum corporate tax level
– Approve constitutional amendment that declares “corporations are not people and money is not free speech” in order to return our democracy to the people.
2) Implement a single payor, universal national health plan
3) Budget and plan in conjunction with state public education authorities, implementation of quality free public K through university( trade school) education.
The solution for creating this change is pretty straight forward. It is our politics and captive main stream media that prevents progress. Suggested steps to clear the log jam:
1 Remove all federal, state and local legislators corrupted by money( Reverse Citizens United)
2 Implement a national Ranked Choice Voting system to strengthen our democracy.
3 Standardize ballot line access and electoral procedures across the country for at least federally elected positions.
The adage that insanity is defined as ” repeating the same thing over and over again, while expecting a different outcome” speaks clearly to our need for an entirely new thinking and acting to create for all the economy, politics and healthy culture that is possible.
It is clearly much easier to generalize some over arching principles and goals without attaching concrete actions. So, to that end, here are one individual’s starting points that clearly need building upon.
- Assuming a Biden presidency, the progressive movement must immediately articulate, broadly disseminate and organize around specific policy demands, starting with our foreign policy/military spending.
- Engage all level of policy makers on key policy initiatives. Frame them as achievable goals supported by polling data ( i.e. Medicare for All, end to perpetual war, and other popularly supported issues). Research their funders to see how their donor base compromises their commitment to desired policy changes. Then shadow them constantly.
- The organizing must be consistent, and expansive. We must learn new ways of engaging the public and building sustainable, transformational movements/organizations and economic structures that will promote progressive causes and elect truly independent progressive candidates to office.
As MLK stated over 50 years ago:” Those who love peace, must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war”
These are suggestions merely meant to prime the pump. There are many groups with great experience in advocating, lobbying, mobilizing who have great knowledge of the legislative power structures. We must increase our collaborative efforts. Develop and support shared policy initiatives that address both the domestic and foreign policy crises of our very dysfunctional country and support independent third party electoral efforts that offer true alternatives to a better path forward.
— John Blumenstiel is Membership Director of the Green-Rainbow Party