A Poem and A Song

Today we wrap our celebration of National Poetry Month with two selections: a poem chosen by Alice Rydel and an original song by Joe Pickering, Jr.

Alice-pic-Florida

In selecting Before the Scales, Tomorrow, Alice shares:

Here’s to memories, friendships, audaciousness, love, activism, prickliness, differences, agreements, forward-thinkingness, organizing, fighting for a world of humanity in such an inhumane time.”


Before the Scales, Tomorrow

By: Otto Rene Castillo

And when the enthusiastic
story of our time
is told,
who are yet to be born
but announce themselves
with more generous face,
we will come out ahead
–those who have suffered most from it.

And that
being ahead of your time
means much suffering from it.
But it’s beautiful to love the world
with eyes
that have not yet
been born.

And splendid
to know yourself victorious
when all around you
it’s all still so cold,
so dark.

Alice Rydel is a builder of the All Stars Project’s Castillo Theatre and long-time activist with the independent political community.

***

Joe Pickering, Jr. shares his original Song, More American Then Plymouth Rock.

Give a listen, and the full lyrics are below.

MORE AMERICAN  THAN  PLYMOUTH ROCK

CHORUS

MORE AMERICAN  THAN  PLYMOUTH ROCK
THE STATUE OF LIBERTY CRIES  FOR NEW YORK
MILLIONS FIRST CAME ASHORE TO BE FREE
NOW NEW YORK’S JAILED IN A CLOSED PRIMARY 

VOTERS MUST CHOSE FROM THE PARTY SELECTION 
PARTY CANDIDATES FOR THE PARTYS PROTECTION
SAVE AMERICA SENATOR SCHUMER ONCE WROTE
SAVE NEW YORK FIRST ! LET INDEPENDENTS VOTE !

REPEAT CHORUS

END THE PARTISAN PRMARY SCHUMER PROPOSED
YEARS LATER, THEIR PRIMARY REMAINS CLOSED
POLITICIANS HEED THE STATUE OF LIBERTY
ALL YEARN TO BE FREE ! HELP VOTERS VOTE FREE

REPEAT CHORUS

INDEPENDENT VOTERS  STAND AND FIGHT 
HOUND THE LEGISLATURE ‘TIL THEY VOTE RIGHT
NEW YORKERS THE STATUE CRIES FOR THEE
DRY HER TEARS DEMAND THE OPEN PRIMARY

(repeat last line in last verse several times and fade.)

Joe Pickering Jr.. Songwriter  Harry King artist and producer  King of the Road Music BMI  C 2017

 Joe Pickering, Jr is the President of Mainers for Open Elections.

You can listen to More American Than Plymouth Rock here.
https://youtu.be/fCSQma7xz5c

 

***

OUR NEXT SELECTION:

 RATF**KED:

The True Story Behind The Secret Plan To Steal America’s Democracy 

By David Daley

Will kick off on Monday.

Our conference call with the author will be on Sunday, June 4th at 7 pm EST.

Beijing by Jan Wootten

 

 

 

I wrote this poem in Feb. 2008, after the NY Philharmonic’s historic concert at the newly opened Performing Arts Center in Beijing. The musician’s bus travelled through Tiananmen Square, past Mao’s tomb.

Tour bus hums through the empty square
shrouded in shadows
Mao’s crypt sits forlornly in the night.
Motionless among the delirious eruptions of Capital that criss-cross the skyline
he silently bears witness to a surreal mix of the forbidden city and equity markets.

(A sadness grips me knowing he lies alone.
I wonder if he turns over, shakes off his red cover,
if his rouged cheeks blush harder with the confusion and absurdity of the moment.)

By day, peasants from across the land wrap round and round his resting place
a simple people, hard working and humble
toiling for little, investing everything for a better future
they mingle in the mall with tourists from Omaha and Waco.

Tonight the people crowd into the tiny concert hall
a titanium space ship landed on Tiananmen
a beautiful, alien cultural machine settling in, beckoning with free tickets for all

Quiet men in sweaters and zippered jackets clap politely, then warming to the music, smile broadly;
small children wave at the stage,
the timpani’s energetic wands signal back a western hello.

later, bundled onto their tour bus, oboists, strings and percussion wind through cavernous, empty streets;
a young thin man in uniform presses against his epaulets, standing watch under a red star

And Mr. Mao, I imagine,
strains to the sounds of Ravel and Brahms
tapping out the syncopated rhythms of this strange leap forward.

Photo on 11-19-16 at 2.39 PM
Janet Wootten, a proud independent since 1972 — and a Fulani foot soldier since 1988, helping to advance the independent cause.

National Poetry Month At P4P

Our celebration of National Poetry Month kicks off April 1st.

We will be sharing poems submitted by P4P members across the country.

Do you have a favorite political poem or poet? Do you have an original political poem that you have written that you would like to share?  Send me a note at Cathy.stewart5@gmail.com to have your selection considered.

This is the official poster for National Poetry Month. This year’s artist is Maira Kalman.

Image result for high resolution image of national poetry month poster

 

Click here to visit the poster where each image links to a poem.

***

OUR NEXT SELECTION:

 RATF**KED:

The True Story Behind The Secret Plan To Steal America’s Democracy 

By David Daley

We will be kicking off this selection toward the end of the month.

Our conference call with the author will be on Sunday, June 4th at 7 pm EST.

 

 

 

Readers’ Forum—Lou Hinman

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We all know things that we can’t “prove”.  I know, for example, that the killings and beatings of unarmed black men by the police and prison guards are not “the appearance” of racism, nor are they exceptions, mistakes, or isolated incidents.  They are part of a racist culture, and they terrorize entire communities.  Furthermore, they are meant to do this, and the bi-partisan political establishment — the ultimate enablers of the police — want us to be afraid.

I was part way through Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond when I came across the op-ed “Why Don’t You Just Call the Cops?” that Desmond co-wrote with Andrew Papachristos in the New York Times.

They showed, by a statistical analysis of 911 calls, that there was a drastic reduction of such calls to the police from the black community in Milwaukee in the period following a front-page story covering the savage and unprovoked beating of a black man by on- and off-duty Milwaukee policemen in 2004.  The police chief of Milwaukee, Edward Flynn, dismissed their findings — attributing the decline to a glitch in the 911 system.  But Desmond and Papachristos showed that it was not all 911 calls that declined — only 911 calls to the police!

Desmond and Papachristos are in the tradition of courageous activist intellectuals and writers like Franz Fanon and Jean-Paul Sartre (The Wretched of the Earth), Rosa Luxemburg (The Accumulation of Capital), Otto René Castillo (Apolitical Intellectuals), Émile Zola (J’Accuse), and Fred Newman (philosopher and independent political activist), who have used their scientific training, their analytic skills, and their literary gifts (always at some personal risk) to expose the fallacies, obfuscations, and outright lies of the political establishment and their official apologists and “explainers”.

As for Evicted, it exposes how slum housing (whose value should have long since been depreciated to zero in any reasonable system of accounting) is a source of large profits for the banks that hold the mortgages, and how the poorest Americans are kept in a state of poverty, dependence, and insecurity by paying most of whatever income they have to keep a decaying roof over their heads.

It also shows how some of the more  privileged and enterprising members of poor communities are coopted into this exploitative system, becoming small-time landlords themselves, while they fulfill a larger purpose as enforcers for the banks.

Evicted also suggests how, in lieu of decent affordable housing and jobs at living wages, government subsidies for the poor (the “safety net”) keep the poor marginal and powerless, and simultaneously subsidize the landlords and banks that profit from their misery.  (If you want to learn more about this in horrifying detail, be sure to see Daniel Hatcher’s important new study, The Poverty Industry.) 

But probably the most important thing to say about Evicted is that for those of us who have never been without a place to sleep at night, it paints a vivid picture of what such a life is like for the human beings who live it.

Lou Hinman is an independent activist living in New York City.

***

Politics for the People Conference Call

With Matthew Desmond

Sunday, October 23rd at 7 pm EST

Call In Number: 641 715-3605

Access code 767775#

EVICTED–an overview

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Matthew Desmond in his office in Cambridge, MA. Sept. 10, 2015. 

 

EVICTED

Poverty and Profit in the American City

By Matthew Desmond

 Below is an overview of the book, prepared by the publisher that I thought would be of interest as you are reading the book, or reviewing the book as you think about our conversation with Matthew Desmond on October 23rd.

From Harvard sociologist and 2015 MacArthur “Genius” award winner Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America.

Today, poor families are facing one of the worst affordable housing crises in generations. Many are spending almost all they have to live in decrepit housing in our cities’ worst neighborhoods. What it means to be poor in America today is to be crushed by the high cost of housing and evicted when you inevitably fall behind.

In this groundbreaking book, Harvard sociologist and 2015 MacArthur “Genius” award winner Matthew Desmond takes us into Milwaukee to introduce us to eight families on the edge of eviction. 

  • Arleen is a single mother trying to raise two boys on $628 a month. After falling behind on rent, Arleen receives eviction papers and sets off into the coldest Milwaukee winter on record to find her family a new home. Eighty-nine calls later, she’s still looking.
  • Crystal, eighteen and fresh out of foster care, lets Arleen and her children stay with her even though she doesn’t “know them from Adam and Eve.” After repeatedly calling the police on behalf of a neighbor being abused by a boyfriend, Crystal and Arleen are both evicted. Crystal turns to prostitution to survive before turning back to her church family.
  • Vanetta, a devoted mother of three with no criminal record, participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut, sending her children into homelessness and Vanetta to prison.
  • A gregarious single father who serves as taskmaster and confidant to adolescent neighborhood boys, Lamar tries to work off his rent by performing odd jobs for his landlord.  A wheelchair bound double-amputee, he crawls through empty apartments, painting cracked walls and praying for strength. His story ends in tragedy.
  • Doreen Hinkston and her desperately poor but tight-knit family prepare to welcome a new baby into a home so rundown and dirty they refer to it as the “rat hole.”
  • Scott, a gentle night-shift nurse turned heroin addict, loses his license and middle-class lifestyle.  He moves into one of Milwaukee’s worst trailer park, where getting drugs is as easy as asking for a cup of sugar. Scott hits rock bottom before trying to get clean.
  • A grandmother who falls behind in rent after paying her gas bill because she wanted to take a hot shower, Larraine is evicted by sheriff deputies and her things confiscated by movers.
  • Pam and Ned are evicted from their trailer when Ned is on the run from the law and Pam is eight months pregnant.

The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords.

  • Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, evangelizes to her fellow landlords about the money that can be made on Milwaukee’s decaying North Side, saying “the ’hood is good.” She shows occasional kindnesses to her tenants, but says, “Love don’t pay the bills.”
  • In his twelve years at College Mobile Home Park, Tobin Charney has learned how to pull profit out of 131 dilapidated trailers. He takes home more than $400,000 a year running one of the poorest trailer parks in Milwaukee.

As Desmond lived alongside Arleen, Scott, and Lamar, he was also conducting a groundbreaking study that collected and analyzed years of novel statistical data about poverty, housing, and displacement. And what he found is that for the poorest families in America, eviction has become routine, and its effects are devastating.

  • Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, millions of Americans are evicted every year because they can’t make rent. In 2013, 1 in 8 poor renting families nationwide was unable to pay all of their rent, and a similar number thought it was likely they would be evicted soon.
  • Poor people’s incomes have slumped, housing costs have risen, and federal policy has failed to bridge the gap. As a result, today the majority of poor renting families in America spend over half of their income on housing, and at least one in four dedicates more than 70 percent to paying the rent and keeping the lights on. Housing assistance does not come close to meeting the need. Three in four families who qualify for assistance receive nothing.
  • Eviction affects the old and the young, the sick and able-bodied. But for poor women of color and their children, it has become ordinary. Among Milwaukee renters, more than 1 in 5 black women report having been evicted in their adult life, compared to 1 in 12 Hispanic women and 1 in 15 white women.  In poor black neighborhoods, what incarceration is to men, eviction is to women: a common yet consequential event that pushes families deeper into poverty.  Poor black men are locked up; poor black women are locked out.
  • Eviction is a cause, not just a condition, of poverty.  It can cause workers to lose their jobs, prevent tenants from benefitting from public housing, and push families into substandard housing in undesirable parts of the city. It can also drive people to depression—even two years after the event, evicted mothers experience significantly higher rates of depression than their peers—and, in extreme cases, even suicide.
  • Many landlords won’t rent to families with children, and children themselves can provoke eviction.
  • The poor risk eviction if they report housing problems to the city or even if they call 911, especially when reporting domestic violence.
  • Eviction affects the communities that displaced families leave behind. For example, Milwaukee neighborhoods with high eviction rates have higher violent crime rates the following year, even after controlling for past crime rates and other relevant factors. 

Fixing this problem won’t be easy, but it is well within our nation’s capacity. 

Decent, affordable housing should be a basic right for everybody in this country. The ability to work, get an education, provide for one’s children, stay sober and healthy: it all requires stable shelter. We’ve affirmed provision in old age, twelve years of an education, and basic nutrition to be the right of every citizen. Housing should also be seen as a fundamental human need because without stable shelter, everything else falls apart.

Low-income families on the edge of eviction have no right to counsel. But when tenants have lawyers, their chances of keeping their home increase dramatically. Establishing publicly funded legal services for low-income families in housing court would be a cost-effective measure that would prevent homelessness, decrease evictions, and give poor families a fair shake.

Extending the right to counsel in housing court would not address the underlying source of America’s eviction epidemic: the rapidly shrinking supply of affordable housing. A universal housing voucher program would carve a middle path between the landlord’s desire to make a living and the tenant’s desire, simply, to live. Every family below a certain income level would be eligible for a housing voucher.

A universal voucher program would change the face of poverty in this country. Evictions would plummet and become rare occurrences. Homelessness would almost disappear. We have the money to fund such a program; we just choose not to. Each year, we spend three times what a universal housing voucher program would cost on homeowner tax breaks, which mainly benefit families with six-figure incomes.

Eviction encapsulates in a single, hard moment the depths of our nation’s poverty, the brokenness of our housing policy, and the human costs of a crisis caused by low incomes and high rents. This moment, when the ramifications of the crisis are felt most acutely, also offers a window into extreme poverty, economic exploitation, and human perseverance. Look at eviction and you arrive at a bigger truth: the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

Matthew Desmond is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and Co-Director of the Justice and Poverty Project. A former member of the Harvard Society of Fellows, he is the author of the award-winning book, On the Fireline, coauthor of two books on race, and editor of a collection of studies on severe deprivation in America. His work has been supported by the Ford, Russell Sage, and National Science Foundations, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune. In 2015, Desmond was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” grant.

Politics for the People Conference Call

With Matthew Desmond

Sunday, October 23rd at 7 pm EST

Call In Number: 641 715-3605

Access code 767775#

Reader’s Forum–Mary Fridley talks EVICTED

 

mf-picture

In a conversation with Fred Newman some years ago, I asked him how he decided what books to read. He basically said, “If you enjoy the conversation, read it; if you don’t, don’t.” After reading Evicted, I immediately recommended it to Cathy Stewart because I believed that she and other independents would appreciate the conversational journey the book and its author Matthew Desmond take us on. While it is not an easy journey, I found it to be an extraordinarily compassionate and thought-provoking one. Since Desmond is perhaps the quintessential “outsider” – a white, Harvard-trained academic – I appreciate that he took the time to build relationships with people who we get to know, not as “subjects,” but as a delightfully human group of Black and white women and men (whose stories remain with me) trying to fight/manipulate a system that refuses to relate to them, regardless of color, with any humanity at all.

I have spent much of my adult life doing all I can to end poverty, but reading Evicted showed me how easy it still is to relate to it as an abstraction rather than as an endlessly complex and interconnected industry out of which it is becoming more and more impossible to escape. Thus, I appreciate that, while Desmond does not shy away from sharing the foibles and failings of Scott, Patrice, Arleen and the others we meet in Evicted, he does so without blaming or shaming them.  As he says in a Huffington Post article I recently read, “Eviction is fundamentally changing the face of poverty. One way we can interpret eviction is like, ‘Oh, it’s a result of irresponsibility, it’s bad spending habits.’ But if you’re spending 80 percent of your income on rent, eviction is much more of an inevitability than an irresponsibility.”

He is also sensitive to the fact that the housing/eviction crisis is not impacting everyone the same way. I was touched/haunted by his observation that, “If incarceration has come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, evictionwas shaping the lives of women. Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.” As a woman and an independent determined to transform a political system that is locking out growing numbers of Americans regardless of race, class or gender, I am glad we have an ally in Matthew Desmond and look forward to continuing – and growing – this much needed conversation.

Mary Fridley is the Director of Special Projects at the East Side Institute and a longtime independent activist from Brooklyn, NY.

***

Politics for the People Conference Call

 With Matthew Desmond

Sunday, October 23rd at 7 pm EST

Call In Number: 641 715-3605

Access code 767775#

***

 

Can the States Save American Democracy?

In yesterday’s New York Times, Hedrick Smith writes about the growing state based reform movement.  Hedrick, the author of Who Stole The American Dream, was a guest on Politics for the People in June.

In his opinion piece, which you can read below, Hedrick comments…

Groups like Independentvoting.org, which has grass-roots organizations in 40 states, are mobilizing against the de facto disenfranchisement of independent voters (who now outnumber both Democrats and Republicans) through the gerrymandering of nearly 90 percent of the nation’s congressional districts into one-party monopolies. In states with closed primaries, this denies independents any vote in the primaries, which makes them favorable turf for extremist candidates in the only seriously contested voting.”

12710918_10153893746657290_1289370713155256536_o

Jackie Salit, President of IndependentVoting.org and Hedrick Smith, NH, February 2016

The Opinion Pages | OPINION

Can the States Save American Democracy?

WASHINGTON — In this tumultuous election year, little attention has focused on the groundswell of support for political reform across grass-roots America. Beyond Bernie Sanders’s call for a political revolution, a broad array of state-level citizen movements are pressing for reforms against Citizens United, gerrymandering and campaign megadonors to give average voters more voice, make elections more competitive, and ease gridlock in Congress.

This populist backlash is in reaction to two monumental developments in 2010: the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling authorizing unlimited corporate campaign donations, and a Republican strategy to rig congressional districts. Together, they have changed the dynamics of American politics.

That January, Justice John Paul Stevens warned in his dissent that Citizens United would “unleash the floodgates” of corporate money into political campaigns, and so it has. The overall funding flood this year is expected to surpass the record of $7 billion spent in 2012.

Later in 2010, the Republican Party’s “Redmap” strategy won the party control of enough state governments to gerrymander congressional districts across the nation the following year. One result: In the 2014 elections, Republicans won 50.7 percent of the popular vote and reaped a 59-seat majority.

Now, with Congress often gridlocked by Republicans from those safe districts, the initiative on reform has shifted to the states. Insurgency has spread beyond California and New York to unlikely Republican bastions like Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska and South Dakota.

At this point, 17 states have become reform battlegrounds. In six, lawsuits are challenging racial or partisan gerrymandering, and in five more, that goal is being pursued by popular movements, state governors or legislative bodies. This summer, federal courts have ruled in favor of suits seeking to strike down strict photo-identification requirements in Texas, North Carolina and North Dakota. The courts found that the requirements discriminated against minorities, and often seniors and students. Other citizen lawsuits have won restoration of early voting days in Ohio and straight-ticket voting for Michigan.

South Dakota and Washington State are holding referendums on proposals for more transparent elections; similar petition drives fell just short of success in Arizona and Idaho. This year, reformers in California, New York and Washington State have been mustering votes to press Congress to control campaign funding and ban corporate campaign contributions.

In the pushback against Citizens United, 17 states and more than 680 local governments have appealed to Congress for a constitutional amendment, either through a letter to Congress, referendums, legislative resolutions, city council votes or collective letters from state lawmakers. In the most prominent case, California’s 18 million registered voters get to vote in November on whether to instruct their 55-member congressional delegation to “use all of their constitutional authority” to overturn Citizens United. Washington State is holding a similar referendum.

In 2014, a Democratic amendment proposal to allow regulation and limits on electoral spending won a 54-42 majority in the Senate, strictly along party lines, but fell short of the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster. Now bills calling for a 6-to-1 match of public funds for small campaign donations up to $150, or requiring disclosure of funders for campaign ads, have wide Democratic support, but are blocked by Republican opposition.

Yet out in the country, even in some reliably red states, reform movements have sprouted. South Dakota is one, thanks to three petition drives. One seeks to make primaries nonpartisan and another calls for an independent redistricting commission. A third is for a ballot measure, similar to one in Washington State, that would create a $50 tax credit for each voter to donate to a political candidate; ban campaign contributions exceeding $100 from lobbyists and state contractors; and mandate that independent groups speedily disclose the top five contributors to political ads and electioneering communications made within 60 days of an election.

In April, Nebraska’s Republican-dominated Legislature voted 29-15 to set up an independent redistricting commission. Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, vetoed the bill, but reformist legislators promise a revised proposal in the next session.

Groups like Independentvoting.org, which has grass-roots organizations in 40 states, are mobilizing against the de facto disenfranchisement of independent voters (who now outnumber both Democrats and Republicans) through the gerrymandering of nearly 90 percent of the nation’s congressional districts into one-party monopolies. In states with closed primaries, this denies independents any vote in the primaries, which makes them favorable turf for extremist candidates in the only seriously contested voting.

In addition, nonpartisan local-election primaries, in which all voters can choose any candidate without regard for party, are being pushed by a citizens movement in South Dakota. Louisiana, California and Washington State already use them.

Two dozen states have attacked gerrymandering head-on. Eleven have set up independent redistricting commissions or other politically neutral mechanisms. Legal challenges have been mounted in half a dozen others. In seven more, including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, popular movements, state legislatures and even the Republican governors Larry Hogan of Maryland, John Kasich of Ohio and Mike Pence of Indiana, who is now Donald J. Trump’s running mate, have said it’s time to outlaw gerrymandering.

In April, Governor Kasich won resounding applause from the Ohio Legislature when he called for an end to gerrymandering: “When pure politics is what drives these kinds of decisions, the result is polarization and division. I think we’ve had enough of that.”

EVICTION-Book Club Selection

P4P_bookclub_flyer_Desmond (1)

Reader’s Forum–Al Bell

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Al Bell (R) with activists from Open Primaries and Independent Voters for Arizona, May 2016

A Marshall Plan for America:  a review by Al Bell of Part Six of Who Stole the American Dream? By Hedrick Smith: Challenge and Response

Hedrick Smith tells the story—quite tellingly—of how and why the American Dream is in trouble. He ends by suggesting ten steps—a Marshall Plan for America—for turning that around. This review focuses on those steps.

Now, four years after its writing, is this still worth reading? Absolutely. Are the action steps still relevant? Same answer. The reason: force and counterforce have reached fever pitch in the current political attack on historic governance institutions. Anger at everything, trust of nothing, and mountains of money seem to drive our politics. Limited progress on a few fronts leave the situation still grim.

This book joins many others in proposing approaches to long-festering American issues. This is beyond the focus of the Independent Movement specifically, which seeks to enfranchise independent voters, enabling them to participate in and influence our governance. Yet, I believe these excursions are essential. After all, a major purpose for seeking a better electoral process is to achieve a better governance outcome. Strengthening voting is both an end and a means.

I have clustered the steps in a somewhat different order and add only one step from a different source (the author’s sequence appears in parentheses). This is, in part, my attempt to consider circumstances now compared to 2012. You are perfectly welcome to shoot holes in my sequence; just don’t shoot the messenger!

  1. (5) Fix the Corporate Tax Code to Promote Job Creation at Home.
  2. (4) Make the U.S. Tax Code Fairer

Like it or not, politics follows the money. I view these as an indivisible couplet. A sliver of bipartisan light seems to be shining on improving our bizarre taxation system. Congress needs to demonstrate—for itself and for Americans generally—that it can actually solve real problems. Maybe these will break the logjam.

  1. (10) Mobilize the Middle Class
  2. (9) Rebuild the Political Center

This is the terrain of IndependentVoting.org and others focused on voting equity for the largest segment of American voters. I note that: 1) the independent voting movement is already well started and will continue to mature, 2) these initiatives currently operate despite congressional, presidential and party nonfeasance, and 3) success on steps one and two could potentially help steps three and four along.

  1. (2) Push Innovation, Science and High-Tech Research
  2. (1) [Substantially Expand] Infrastructure Jobs to Compete Better

I combine these two because they are central to essential job growth and promote a desirably wide range of employment opportunities. Strong intergovernmental and public/private partnerships—many already in place—will be essential because these are such interrelated initiatives. Return on investment is immense.

  1. (3) Generate a Manufacturing Renaissance
  2. (7) Save on War and Weapons

These two steps are a natural pairing because they will need to be phased in over an extended period. Jobs lost to defense related work will need to be picked up in broader manufacturing categories. We have done this before; those memories need to be refreshed and recalibrated.

  1. (6) Push China to Live up to Fair Trade
  2. (8) Fix Housing and Protect the Safety Net

I am inclined to pull the safety net component out for specific attention and tie it to steps one and two. China relationships and the housing market are so long-term in nature that we might think of them, respectively, as ongoing foreign policy and domestic programs. Attention must be relentless and collaborative.

I suggest an added step proposed by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein in their recently updated book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks Was. It could be entitled “Restore Workable Procedures to the Senate.” It should appear near the top of the list. They argue that partisan tinkering with Senate rules has weakened the governance capability the Constitution expects of the Senate (this book should be high on our reading list, too).

It is often said that we are a nation of laws. That is an incomplete sentence. We are a nation of imperfect laws, written by imperfect people, through an imperfect process. Counterculture though it may be, we have to keep paying attention. Mr. Smith provides clues on where to direct that attention. We are not big on attention span, especially given the toxic war the political parties have declared on America.

It has been argued that Americans do best when confronted by a powerful and imminent threat. It’s here. It’s us, just as Pogo once observed. Nobody said that keeping a republic alive and well would be easy and they were surely right. Hedrick Smith offers ample evidence. He also presents a coherent strategy for rebuilding confidence in ourselves.

This Mr. Smith brought Washington to us. Bravo!

***

Reminder: Politics for the People

Conference Call With Hedrick Smith

Sunday, June 19th @ 7 pm EST

(641) 715-3605   Code 767775#

 

Why Independent Voters Matter

Below is an excellent article by Frank Fear published a couple of days ago in the LA Progressive.  A refreshing take on who independents are and how critical opening up the primaries is.  As Frank puts it,

Why Independent Voters Matter

 

***

Reminder: Politics for the People

Conference Call With Hedrick Smith

Sunday, June 19th @ 7 pm EST

(641) 715-3605   Code 767775#

 

 

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