Media pundits keep asking for clarity. What do the people want? What do the occupiers want? The progressive political agenda for 2012 has never been clearer: Empty the Tea Pot. Remove the Tea Party ideologues from office and those who cater to their whims. If they are not in your district or even your state, target some that you find the most infuriating and donate what you can to their opposition. Tea Partiers do not believe in democracy. They don’t practice it. Democracy is about compromise and solving problems, not rigid ideology. Democracy requires a willingness to embrace the better argument, regardless of its source.
Tea Party zealots have consistently demonstrated that they expect something for nothing. They want extremely low taxes in spite of the fact that our debt is spiraling out of control, our infrastructure is crumbling under out feet, and we require a sentinel level of nation security. They hate government, so let’s get them out of it. It’s the humane thing to do.
Tea Partiers obsess about the size of government, wanting to reduce its size across the board right up until the time they need government assistance and then they demand instant relief. The policies they support send jobs overseas, while they blame the unemployed for being jobless. They slash money for education and complain about ignorance. They want cheap food, but have little but contempt for the immigrants whose labor makes it possible. They support legislation to starve government services like the post office, and then use the agency’s inability to flourish as proof that their services are not feasible.
Disappointment on the part of progressive citizens because of President Obama’s inability to get equitable legislation enacted needs to be tempered with the stark reality of what is sure to happen if the Republicans regain the White House in 2012. We know their playbook agenda. They appeal to the aspiration of values and then demonstrate that they don’t have the ethical standards to back them up.
Right-wingers put foxes in the henhouse. They let the financial industry and major corporations write the legislation that governs their conduct. From 2001 to 2008, this behavior was writ large. The only plan we hear from the Republican candidates for president is to double-down on the ideas that have already brought us to the brink of economic collapse. Simply put, if we think things are bad now, imagine what will happen if their candidate wins in 2012. There are many roads to serfdom, and the Republican agenda currently on the horizon is an American autobahn, where Wal-Mart wages are dead ahead for America’s middle class and benefits will be roadkill.
The solution for progressives in 2012 is clear:
- Empty the Tea Pot.
- Retake the House of Representatives.
- Deliver a filibuster-proof majority to the Senate.
- Campaign reform with publically financed elections.
- End the war in Afghanistan.
- Cut spending where it is needed.
- Raise taxes as needed.
- Repair America’s infrastructure.
- Protect the environment.
- Make universal healthcare a reality.
- Overturn Citizens United with legislation.
If any of these goals seems impossible, like unseating enough key Republican senators to achieve a filibuster-proof majority, just think about how dramatically the political climate has already changed from a year ago, with the Occupy Wall Street movement now underway, the recent vote in Ohio to overturn the anti-union legislation, or the efforts to recall the governor of Wisconsin.
The above list of objectives is nowhere near complete, but it’s a good start toward turning what remains of the New Deal into a Better Deal. In fact, that’s not a bad motto—2012: A Better Deal.
Charles D. Hayes