Restoring American Values

That's my slogan, which I believe is better than "Let's get Real" and certainly better than "Together We Can Do Better."

I will explain why in the extended...

Crossposted at the Third Avenue

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A New Paradigm for Issue Integration.

It seems obvious that the challenges facing the nation and the world are not monolithic issues that stand alone and can be discussed as independent from other concerns.  The electorate instinctively knows this, contributing to the sense of disconnect between public officials and the people.  Progressives must begin to interweave issues in a way that will enable the public to relate better to the problems, and demonstrate positive, visionary solutions.  Here are five examples:
1.    Health care and retirement security.
    "Rising health care costs, especially for the aging Boomer population, is on a cataclysmic collision course with the economic viability of both future retirees and the generation that will be required to pay for them.  Not addressing BOTH crises renders the old adage, `At least we have our health' almost absurd."
2.    Economic opportunity and job creation through programs for energy independence and creating a clean, safe environment.
    "The automobile industry knows that its future is not with the internal combustion engine.  This presents an opportunity for an American resurgence, but only if the public sector provides the catalytic effect to promote the transition."
3.    Viewing learning as a "fourth leg of the economic stool."
    "In today's economy, manipulation of capital, labor and natural resources are not enough to assure success.  Leaving the next generation undereducated for the jobs of the future not only shortchanges future generations but also denies the economy a powerful engine for continued, expanding growth."

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Reid: No Good Military Options on Iran

Some elements of the Democratic leadership have decided that there is a better talking point than "all options remain on the table." Today, Harry Reid went with the far better "no good military options on Iran."From the WaPo:Reid said the Middle East is a "powder keg" because of U.S. failures in Iraq, the rise of fundamentalism and the recent election of Hamas in Palestine.

"Our not being involved diplomatically in trying to solve the situation in Iran shows the Bush failure in foreign policy there and elsewhere." And he said the U.S. has no military option in Iran.

"We don't have the resources to do it" because of the ongoing war in Iraq," he said.

On Wednesday, Republican National Committee spokesman Tucker Bounds said the president has not ruled out military action in Iran. Apart from the fact that threatening to nuke a country that hasn't attack you is insane and exactly the sort of reckless action we fear from a country like, say, North Korea, the number one reason why there are no good military options in Iran is because Bush and company are still in charge of the military. How can anyone trust Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice to make the right decisions with our military anymore? The same group that brought you the disaster in Iraq now wants to bring you into an even bigger war. Iran is much more ethnically and culturally homogenous than Iraq, and has three times the population. Even apart form the insanity of using nukes or trusting Bush, the idea that an invasion and occupation of Iran would ever be "successful" is insane. No country on Earth has the capability to invade, conquer, and impose their will on the Iranian populace.

Harry Reid deserves our support for this. While much of the House and Senate caucus are still repeating the horrible "all options remain on the table" line, Reid has stepped up and pointed out the obvious. There are no good military options on Iran. The country needs to know that a Democratic congress will not give Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice the authority to bring our military into another war.

Raise the Ant-Incumbent Chorus

Polls show that a majority of Americans are disatisfied with the performance of the President and Congress.  While Democrats are viewed more favorably, the opinions of the public are not overwhelmingly in favor of Democrats.  In essence, the Democrats are the lessor of two evils.  Any visit to your favorite blogs confirms the sentiment.  The progressive movement should play into this negative attitude the public has toward politicians and hammer a "throw the bums out" approach by voters this fall.

If every incumbent politician from both parties were to lose this November, the Democrats would have the majority in Congress.  Likewise, we would win in some of the critical states that haven't seen a Democratic governor as of late (CA, NY, MA, OH).  The risk in promoting a movement toward voting out all electeds in reality is minimal, since Democrats would benefit with high turnover.  At same time, there is the added reward that entrenched Democrat incumbants, who are the bain of the party (for instance, Joe Lieberman), would be thrown out of office.

Now, I think we can all agree that we all would prefer new leadership and are working diligently on campaigns to bring in new electeds.  The difference in this approach, though, is that people don't trust either party and may be willing to listen to neutral sources advocating pink slips for all of our electeds, rather than those who appear to have partisan interests.  To do this, we should invade the airwaves, editorials and online message boards with calls to throw the bums out in 2006.

The main talking point among activists should be an impassioned plea to bring in some new leadership to the Capitol and our state houses because the old ones are stained with corruption and are inept.  To justify this, we can look no further than the fact that the House will only convene 90 days this year while more and more Americans are seeking additional employment just to be able to pay their bills.

While I think the culture of corruption has a nice ring when criticizing Republicans, we must also be aware of the fact that, for many voters, they don't see the current batch of Dems as being all that great either.  Therefore, we must be cognizant of the weaknesses of our electeds and respond accordingly.  

If we can foster a stronger surge in anti-incumbent sentiments then I believe progressives and Democrats win.  It is about time that corrupt conservatives (whether there is a D or R next to their name) leave the halls of Congress so the business of the American public can be done.  

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Proud To Be In-Touch With Mainstream America

George Clooney has been given a little press boost today following his comments at the Oscars last night.  The Republicans at NRO's Corner are saying, "See, even they admit it!" While some liberal bloggers have given a nod to Clooney's defiance.

"And finally, I would say that, you know, we are a little bit out of touch in Hollywood every once in a while. I think it's probably a good thing. We're the ones who talk about AIDS when it was just being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn't really popular. And we, you know, we bring up subjects. This Academy, this group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters. I'm proud to be a part of this Academy. Proud to be part of this community, and proud to be out of touch."

I think Clooney misses the point, though, and, by trying to appropriate the right's "out of touch" slur, does little to combat the meme.

I grew up in Tom DeLay's district.  Not the upscale Sugarland part, but the working-class area outside Houston.  I grew up in a place that values God and country and baseball and country music.  It's a place where Rush Limbaugh and David Brooks would be uncomfortable and out of place, even though they like to talk about how much it's "real" America.  

It's also a place where the good Christian girls sometime get whisked away for a secret abortion to save the family shame.  Every once in a while, the football player turns out to be gay and transfers to another district.  The well-scrubbed son of the local dentist might just have a drug problem, so he ends up in a private school, far away from prying eyes.  In other words, it's full of "real" Americans - just like everywhere.

Growing up in "real" America, I noticed something.  The people who were "out of touch" were the parents and teachers who repeated these Limbaugh fantasies of a bygone era where everything was nice, clean, and convenient.  They didn't have any practical solutions to teen-pregnancy or drugs.  They offered solutions like "just say no" which did nothing to help anyone who was struggling.

Liberals and Democrats are not "out of touch" with mainstream America.  They are mainstream America.  Real, mainstream Americans are gay.  They have gay kids.  They get pregnant by accident.  They have struggles and obstacles that they wrestle with every day.  They have trouble paying the bills, and sometimes they make poor choices and stupid mistakes.

Liberals and Democrats are in touch with mainstream America.  They recognize these problems and work honestly to come up with efficient and effective solutions - real solutions that will make real people's lives better.

So, don't tell people that you're proud to be out of touch.  The only people out of touch are those who refuse to face the realities of life.  Our nation is suffering some real crises right now not because of Hollywood liberals, but because the people who are truly "out of touch" are running the White House, the Congress, and the Supreme Court.

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