I think the collective blog/netroots community could come up with a such a list that could even be promoted as a "Contract With America" sort of thing. Obviously not all Dems are going to get behind it but those who do will get priority support and fundraising from the netroots.
Here are three more to add:
"I will help give unions a level playing field by supporting the complete repeal of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, strengthening enforcement of the Wagner Act in cases of unfair labor practices by employers interfering with the right of employees to join and form unions, and the passage of national card-check legislation."
"I will support the complete repeal of the Patriot Act."
"I will support a Constitutional amendment making voting a right for all adult citizens, with no exceptions."
"The fact of the matter is, however, that the Democratic coalition was pretty highly-mobilized in the 2004 election, especially in the battleground states. The fatal problem was that they couldn't convert the considerable dissatisfaction with Bush among independents and moderates into large enough margins among these groups to win the election."
I overheard many conversations in 2004 by people who were furious with Bush but when the subject turned to Kerry, said something like "well, I don't know if I can trust him either, he's just like any other politician. The Republicans are ruining our country but the Democrats will too if they get back into power. I don't trust either party" - or some variant of that. These are people I doubt voted in 2004. They're the classic "non-voting" middle, politically apathetic, although it's possible they do turn out and vote on occasion for a maverick, like Perot in 1992 or Jesse Ventura in Minnesota.
We did a bang-up job of mobilizing our base in 2004, probably better than any election since 1964. In the end it didn't matter. We can mobilize all we want but the problem is our base is too small. We have to grow our base before anything else.
Voter turnout was 50% in 1988, 55% in 1992, 49% in 1996, 51% in 2000, 60% in 2004. (1992 may have been higher because of the Perot factor.) It was up in 2004 but that still leaves 40% of eligible voters who didn't vote - and the jump in 2004 still didn't help us. If the conversations I heard are any indication, a lot of that 40% were very displeased with Bush, but still didn't bother to vote.
That right there is our biggest untapped potential base. We have to give the apathetic non-voters a reason to believe in us and trust us.
"They fear the morals issue because they only see it in political terms (abortion, gay rights). But as I said earlier, this isn't about abortion. What people are hungering for is an explanation for the cultural decline they see all around them.
When you understand the morals issue properly, you can begin to see how a Democrat can successfully address this issue."
That's a very good point that deserves a lot more attention. I believe there is a cultural decline in our society. The right wing has gotten a lot of mileage by pinning the blame on specific wedge issues - abortion, gays, no prayer in schools. They give a simplistic answer based on a few single issues and people are buying it.
It's a lot more complex than that, and I believe cultural decline ultimately goes back to economic policies. Economic regulation, a social safety net, unions in the workplace, strong minimum wage laws, ensuring health care is available for all, an equal playing field in the job market, and ensuring that everybody has a chance to participate in civic involvement; these are things which promote an overall stability in society. Deregulate business, deregulate the media, let wages decline relative to inflation, bust the unions, etc., and you wind up with the lowest common denominator taking hold in popular culture. Why do people turn to gangs, drugs, antisocial behavior? I sumbit that it has nothing to do with the right-wing bugaboos like abortion and gays, and everything to do with two decades of Reaganomics and other elitist policies which leave many people believing that they have no stake in society.
There is also the whole line of debate used by some Republicans, which is to ridicule anything good and decent. I think everyone should be able to agree that peace is good, environmental protection is good, individual choice and social tolerance are good, ending poverty and giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy a middle class lifestyle are good. The right wing noise machine's modus operandi is to subject every one of these things to ridicule, and promote a general cynicism in society. I could go into the whole "South Park Republicans" thing here as a case in point. Another case in point, "liberal do-gooders"; does this mean the people ridiculing the do-gooders are "do-badders"? Yes, it does, and we need to drive that point home at every opportunity. Right wingers are people who side with evil over good for the sake of siding with evil.
That cynicism and ridicule directed at everything good, decent, and moral is a big reason for the cultural decline we are seeing. Al Gore actually came very close to the core issue a few years ago when he started talking about "postmodernism." He got ridiculed for saying that but I knew exactly what he was talking about. I wish he had elaborated a lot more on the subject.
We have the moral high ground already, if we could only see it and start promoting it as such.
Regarding Bed, Bath & Beyond, they're one of the few big box stores (along with Costco, Bashas supermarkets, & Barnes & Noble) that I go out of my way to buy from. The reason: BB&B and the others I listed are big Democratic Party donors.
About the Blue Dogs: I'm a big advocate of pushing the Democratic Party way to the left on economic issues such as labor, wages, and trade, and on civil liberties issues such as repealing the Patriot Act.
I'm also, conversely, one of those people who believes the Party should drop a number of unpopular social issues that it has taken on since the 1970s, particulary gun control and pandering to various pro-illegal-immigration positions. We can and should move back to the left on issues affecting Joe Six Pack - whether it's bread and butter issues or individual freedom issues, and get back to the forefront on advocacy for small farmers and other rural issues as we were in the FDR era, while at the same time moving back to the center on those issues where the Party has alienated Joe Six Pack and made him a target for Republican recruitment and backlash narratives.
I've watched Congressional voting records for years and taken note that the Blue Dogs are the Democratic faction most likely to support the Second Amendment and serious work on rural/farm issues while still maintaining good voting records from the AFL-CIO on bread and butter issues. This makes the Blue Dogs better than the DLC in my book. Take an issue like "free" trade; the DLC are the strongest supporters in the Party, while Blue Dogs split on the issue depending on what district they represent.
I've even entertained the idea of an alliance among Blue Dogs, old labor/civil liberties Democrats like Russ Feingold, and Deaniac/Netroots progressives to bring down the DLC and the Democratic Party establishment. The Blue Dogs, Dean, and Feingold all have the correct position, for example, on the gun issue, while the DLC, the entrenched party establishment, and far too many of the Progressive Caucus do not. Most Blue Dogs seem to be good enough on labor issues to be worth keeping in Congress, and I even sent a couple of them donations in 2004 (Carson and Stenholm) to try and keep them in office.
Do the Blue Dogs have the answer? No, but I think their main problem is that they are mavericks and free agents. This means some of them are going to vote against the party where they shouldn't be. Let's hold their feet to the fire on such things as Social Security and the bankruptcy bill. But do I want a Democratic Party in Congress that all votes in lockstep? No way, not if it means voting in lockstep with the way most Democrats have been voting in Congress the past 15 years. For that reason I'm glad the Blue Dogs are there. I'd be much more enthusiastic about them if they weren't so flaky and unreliable on major economic bills. But then, I'd also be much more enthusiastic about the Progressive Caucus if they'd follow the lead of the Blue Dogs on some of the issues I mentioned above where the Blue Dogs come out ahead.
Collin Peterson a DINO? He's a co-sponsor of the Americas Redrock Wilderness Act which puts him in the top tier of environmental champions in Congress; his labor voting record is in the 70-90% range depending on which union's scorecard you use; and he's a leader on farm and rural issues in Congress. He also votes pro-gun and anti-abortion, a necessity in his district which borders North Dakota. Tennessee? We have a majority Democratic delegation from that state right now, and they are all Blue Dogs. DINOs? Again, that depends on whether one believes liberalism is defined by economic populism or by a postmodernist social agenda. Those are really the two directions the Party can go. If we lose the Blue Dogs, we will lose our entire Congressional delegation from Tennessee, Collin Peterson's seat in Minnesota, our one seat in Utah, many others.
Somehow there has to be a way to push the Blue Dogs to the left (along with the rest of the party) on economic and labor issues, while letting Blue Dogs be Blue Dogs on social issues. An uncompromising left-populist stance on economic issues will play well in the Blue Dogs' rural districts, and I'm convinced it won't take much to convince the Blue Dogs of this. I can't say that about the DLC, who seem to be wholly in the pockets of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the "free" trade lobby.
A few unions, especially those in the service and public employee sectors (SEIU and AFSCME for example), as well as the Teamsters, have been growing.
Those are the exceptions to the rule and I think it's based more in the growth in their particular industries; historically many unions were based in manufacturing or in older blue collar industries such as automaking, railroads, steel, and textiles. All those industries have lost most of their unionized U.S. jobs, and the main culprit is globalization.
Some of the most radical leftie unions in fact were historically those representing miners and timber workers, who have suffered worst of all from globalization (while right wing liars have the nerve to falsely claim that it is "environmentalists" and not globalization that is to blame...)
There have been several individual acts of anti-union activity by Republicans which have added up to a lot of damage, including Reagan's destroying PATCO. Autos and steel started declining in the early 1980s because of increasing competition from other countries.
But the two single most destructive votes in Congress toward unions were the vote to approve NAFTA, and the vote to approve the GATT treaty, both in the mid 1990s. Sadly, we have many Democrats, from the pro-free-trade wing of the party, along with the pro-Chamber of Commerce wing of the Republicans, to blame for these passing. These Democrats cast a vote which did more long-term harm to future Democratic Party chances at the polls (due to destruction of union jobs, and the Democratic voting base that goes with union jobs) than anything else they could have done.
Somehow we need to fix the situation by reviving organized labor. Organizing the big box stores (e.g. Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Target) and restaurant chains (e.g. Dennys, Outback) seems like the most logical place to do it, since they employ so many people and since service industry jobs are jobs which by definition cannot just be moved overseas.
There's another way to fix the situation too and it involves abandoning globalization, going out of our way to buy union-made products, and challenging the members of our own party who voted for NAFTA and GATT and who continue to support "free" trade. Primary challenges would be nice.
NCLB has a lot of problems, not just that it isn't being fully funded.
I could name several off the top of my head...giving info about students to military recruiters, openly promoting and giving grants to charter schools, funding and requirements for more 1984-style "Big Brother" intrusions into schools (background checks, metal detectors, "zero tolerance" drug policies, a federal hotline to snitch on fellow students, etc.), some questionable pilot programs such as using television in classrooms in place of instruction by a teacher (I thought that bad idea was already tried and failed in the early 1970s...), and an offensive "sense of Congress" provision in support of prayer and bible readings in public schools. I'd just as soon NLCB were repealed, instead of fully funded.
Just want to point out something here. No Child Left Behind was Joe Lieberman's and Charles Schumer's bill - or at least that's what Lieberman claimed in the 2004 primary debates when he actually took credit for that monstrosity. Of the 8 no votes NCLB got in the Senate, only two (Feingold and Hollings) were Democrats.
Far from being solely Bush's fault, NCLB was a bipartisan bill, as was the Patriot Act. It's yet another reason why we need a grassroots insurgency to take back the Democratic Party, and why I'm 100% in support of Russ Feingold for the 2008 nomination.
I won't take sides here in the debate over Nader except to say that I think third parties are, in general, a waste of time and the place to be working is in the Democratic Party - warts and all.
I would guess that mavericks in Congress make a lot more use of amendments than others do. In that respect I'm glad to see Russ Feingold on this list. It means he's effective. Feingold has the best voting record in the Senate right now and is the only person there that I can say I agree with his positions across the board. As this shows, it doesn't mean that being a maverick means being ineffective. We could use about 90 more Senators like him.
Even though he's in the wrong party and would probably want to completely abolish taxation, Social Security etc if he had his way, I'm glad to see Ron Paul there too. He's quite possibly the only voice of conscience in the Repub. party right now. I'm not so enamored of McCain, who despite whatever good he's done on a few issues is still a hot-headed warmonger and enemy of civil liberties.
I suspect if he was still in Congress, Jim Traficant would be on that list too...
I do think that we need much stronger programs to treat sex offenders, both during and after incarceration. I'm not completely knowledgeable about the psychology aspects but the goal should be to cure them - if it's possible. But rape and child molestation could be compared to many other crimes, arson for example, in that those who have done those things need psychological help.
I have opposed Megan's Law from the beginning. It's taking a post-incarceration rights restriction approach to what should be treated, once the criminal justice matter has finished and the person has paid their debt, as a mental illness problem. Plus, what kind of precedent does Megan's Law set - will drug offenders have to eventually register too? (They already do have to in Nevada and maybe one or two other states.)
I don't really think that somebody who has done their time and paid their debt to society should have to go through the rest of their lives registering with the state, being barred from voting in some states, being barred from juries, facing lifelong employment discrimination etc. They should be able to completely re-integrate into society and get on with their lives.
Actually some of the followers of the Strauss and Howe theory believe that 9/11 was in fact the catalyst that ushered in the crisis and was supposed to end the culture wars (discussed heavily on the forums at www.fourthturning.com) I disagree.
The culture wars are going stronger than ever (witness the current ridiculousness in Florida) and the religious right's organizing was a major factor in the 2004 election. I still think the Strauss and Howe theory has merit. I don't take everything they wrote as gospel though. If their theory is correct, the most important thing for progressives to be doing right now is to fight back - hard - against the religious right so they don't do too much damage in these final years of the culture wars, while preparing and building the base for a sweeping new New Deal type program (might include: single payer health care, major revitalization of union labor and unionizing big box stores etc.) so we're ready when the time comes that the public will overwhelmingly welcome these programs.
I don't entirely disagree that Iraq has been a big distraction, in fact I believe it was drummed up by the Bush regime in part to enforce the "you're either with us or against us" line. That line is a rallying cry of the domestic culture warriors of the right.
I second that recommendation, and add "The Fourth Turning" by the same authors, which is more up to date.
I'm not sure about the political leanings of William Strauss and Neil Howe. If anything they seem fiscally centrist (Concord Coalition, "radical centrist" reformer types) with slightly socially conservative leanings. But whatever their own views, their tracking of generational trends is fascinating.
If I read them correctly they were predicting policies in the 1990s would swing in a libertarian direction (socially liberal/economically conservative), and the culture wars between evangelical Baby Boomers and countercultural Baby Boomers would escalate in the early 00s and come to a head. After the start of a crisis sometime this decade, a new era of fiscal liberalism akin to the New Deal will result as a response to the crisis, although society will simultaneously swing socially more conservative. Their generational tracking would suggest that the conservative movement as it exists today is headed for a breakup and fall from power sometime in the next decade, but also that the Democratic/liberal coalition of the 1980s and 1990s (read: DLC, New Democrats) is rapidly becoming obsolescent.
1976 was the first election year I remember. Wasn't old enough to pay attention or care in '72. '76 probably set me on the path to being a lifelong political junkie. I remember rooting for Udall to win the primary and Carter to win the general, and asking my parents who this Eugene McCarthy was who was running as an independent. They told me who he was and I decided I liked McCarthy even better than Carter even though his race was a lost cause.
A much better time in American politics back then. Democrats could still sweep the south, Republicans were discredited because of Watergate, Reaganism was still considered too fringe to be viable, Carter could actually get away with making his first act an amnesty for Vietnam era draft resisters (could you imagine any Democrat trying that today?), the Bicentennial was an inclusive, bipartisan affair without the mindless jingoism we see accompanying expressions of patriotism today, and liberals were being liberals and passing progressive legislation, instead of trying to outdo Republicans from the right on issues like crime. Meanwhile the right wing was quietly organizing behind the scenes and preparing for their post-1978 takeover. I don't think we knew what hit us until it was too late.