Continuing from my prior post and Fenway’s excellent thread , I believe that it is important for the future of our movement and our party to focus on how we consolidate the great gains made by the two recent presidential elections into a longer and more sustainable progressive majority that achieves the progressive policy goals that have continued to elude us in spite of those triumphs. One way to do this is to define our tent in a way that allows it to be large enough to attract a majority of voters (55-60%) while also keeping core principles intact.
This metaphor is called the three legged stool. It first derived from Anglicanism-which strove to keep Catholics and Reformers united in a single state church that was flexible on doctrine but united in faith. It’s stool consisted of tradition (the Catholic heritage), scripture (the Reformed heritage) and reason (flexibility for a broad church) The conservatives adopted this for their movement, starting with Buckley and culminating in Reagan. This stool, also known as fusionism, brought disparate and once feuding groups within the movement united behind the common principles of social conservativism, economic libertarianism, and national security. Similarly, liberals should adopt a similar set of principles that will appeal to a broad electorate (in this regional map).
1) Social and Civil Libertarianism
Much as social conservatism kept the old right, neocons, and hawks happy-social and civil libertarianism can keep the wings of our party together. Even centrist Democrats like Grimes and Nunn are running in favor of marriage equality and choice-even in red states. There is growing consensus on those two social issues in particular-that we will protect a women’s right to choose and defend full marriage equality for all Americans.
Additionally, there is an area of convergence on civil liberties issues between the left and libertarians. We want to reverse the Bush administrations drastic curtailing of civil liberties, particularly in passing the Patriot Act and the extra judicial actions in Gitmo and with drone strikes. Curtailing and even shrinking the power of the security state is essential to regaining the trust of a war weary public and bringing our party together on this issue. We should also support an end to the drug war and full support for state based experiments in medical marijuana, decriminalization, and even legalization. Large majorities of Americans favor this approach and want the government to stay away from their bodies, out of their bedrooms, out of their inboxes and phone records too, and to give them and our potential enemies full due process of law. This are issues that most Democrats already agree on, and large majorities of Americans agree on-including swing voters and independents. Time to put these commitments in the platform.
Soundbite version: Government off your back, free to be you
While most Americans want Big Government out of their bedroom and away from their bodies, they also trust government to help level the playing field and make things fairer for the average hard working person. Liz Warren’s rhetorical shifts against big banks and for the middle class, ending predatory lending and credit report checks, expanding social security, are great starting points. But we need to do more.
-Raising the minimum wage
-Public option medicare buy in
-Universal pre-k and universal college
-Return to fair trade and ensuring foreign goods are safe and fairly made
-Environmental protection as a family value (your tap water should be safe)
-Pro-labor and making it easier to organize, national party visibly standing with striking workers, fast food workers, and political labor movements
-Prosecuting bad guys in banks, rich folk getting same justice as regular folk
Soundbite version: Government in your corner, fighting for you
3) Political Reform
People are worried that our very system and our institutions are broken. Time to fix them. Even when we may face electoral consequences. Basic reforms.
-Public finance of campaigns, setting legal limits to corporate contributions and individual contributions, repealing Citizens
-Federalized non partisan redistricting-will hurt us in IL and CA but lead to net gain and help with independents overall-stop gaming the system
-Expand house size-easy reform to give urban areas their voice back
-Big money out of politics-even if it “hurts” labor
-Universal right to vote-we always stand for voting rights-always
There may be some I am leaving out here, but having the progressive movement stand for political reforms that make it easier for citizens to participate, easier to vote, and that ensure the system is fair for everyone is the way to go. Even in situations where it may temporarily hurt the party.Embrace the reform mantle.
Soundbite version: Reforming the system so it works for you
This should be an open thread and conversation. Happy to improve these ideas and flesh them out, rename where feasible, get better soundbites, and craft better policy proposals. But this is about reclaiming a political language and asserting it for ourselves. Time to get it done.