On Politics – What Should Be Done?

Lately, there has been an explosion of outrage from both left and center who mostly voted for Obama, and from the Tea Party on the right over the issues that confront our country and over our inability to resolve them effectively.

I see many good ideas across the political spectrum – from far left to far right, and at many points in between. I would like to see this energy be harnessed to drive forward the improvements that are needed in this country. 

In our country, there are many different viewpoints and interests that come together into our 2 party system to attempt to get good laws passed. In my lifetime, this system seems to be gradually failing to achieve successes. This is not for a lack of good ideas.

THE BEST OF AMERICAN POLITICS

The Left raises many fair and good points:

  1. Companies have unprecedented and unfair power over consumers and shareholders and misuse it regularly and sometimes egregiously.
  2. Income is unfairly and unwisely concentrated in too few hands to the disadvantage of most people and the detriment of our economy. Companies can’t sell to people who can’t afford.
  3. Minorities require protection from abuse by the majority, and should receive the same treatment, rights and privileges as the majority. Everyone should enjoy have a reasonable opportunity for success and a level playing field to compete upon.
  4. Our power in the world is declining because we are overstretched relative to our resources (especially economic ones). We must strengthen our position through smart diplomacy, development of our strengths (especially economic) and those of our allies. We should not unnecessarily make enemies.

The Right raises many fair and good points too:

  1. The economy does not produce enough for us to spread much wealth around. We need to grow our economy. Companies have unprecedented and unfair competitive disadvantages that weaken our economy our country, including many taxes, regulations, etc.. This hinders the creation of goods and services
  2. Large government programs of the past have not been as effective or as efficient as they should be, and led to sub-optimal outcomes and behaviors; we need a better approach than just setting up a bureaucracy and giving it rules and money. Furthermore such programs attract hardened interests who make it nearly impossible to end poor-performing programs and/or replace them with something better.
  3. The majority should not allow minorities any special treatment, rights and privileges that are not given to the majority. Everyone should enjoy have a reasonable opportunity for success and a level playing field to compete upon.
  4. Our power in the world is declining because we have allowed other states and terrorist groups to shape the world in ways that are detrimental to our interests. We need to take smart and assertive action to keep things in our favor.

Libertarians, who increasingly feel unwelcome in either the left or the right, make some of the best points of all and their ideas should also be welcomed:

  1. The state has unprecedented and unfair power over individuals and misuses it regularly.
  2. The government, acting partly on behalf of progressive ideals, has gotten so involved in so many aspects of individual life that it is smothering. Certain government entities have fallen in love with assessing fines and penalties for the sake of raising revenue rather than providing any positive effect to society.
  3. The state should obey its own laws, such as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, etc…(remember our country was founded by a bunch of gun-toting, liberty-loving, tax-hating people who just might be considered ‘fringe elements’ today).
  4. Sometimes, we seek more power than we really need, including over things that are of marginal, temporary or convenience interest. We should consider the costs to our society, liberty and culture before we take actions.

These groups all want the best for the country and the citizens. They differ only in methods. And, after listening to some people from differing perspectives, it seems like they have some common ground. For example, to hear left and right tell it, giving minorities exactly the same treatment, rights and privileges as the majority would satisfy both left and right. And if we make those treatment, rights and privileges very fair and extensively shielded from government meddling, it would satisfy our libertarian impulses too. Likewise, everyone seems to want a strong country that can defend itself from foreign states and terrorists – the only real questions is ‘how is the best way to do this?’

I realize this is a simplistic view. I realize that in reality, ‘Left’, ‘Right’, etc are coalitions of interests, each seeking to grab the biggest possible piece of pie for themselves. Why can’t we make a coalition based on pragmatism and love?

BACK IN THE DAY

A century ago, our country was facing many problems and many opportunities – not unlike we are today. There was a generation between the 1890s and 1920 of muckraking journalists and progressive activists and politicians who exposed and eliminated many of the problems and seized many of the opportunities. Together, they laid the foundation for the American century: that is the 20th Century.

The Progressives were not just a clique of liberal elitists (although they shared many of their goals). The Progressives were also not just a group of populist tea-party rabble-rousers (although they shared many of their goals too). It was a center-left coalition of many reformers, but it also included businessmen such as economist Irving Fischer, auto baron Henry Ford, and steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie.

Progressives pushed reforms that were beneficial to everyone. This is why the movement lasted 3 decades and accomplished many of the main tasks it set for itself.

WHAT WE SHOULD LEARN AND DO NOW

What we need in this country is for those of us who are open-minded, motivated, and want to make this country better to come together and figure out what is the most effective way to solve our problems. New Progressivism should take the best of all ideas and back which ever politicians and parties will most effectively support these good ideas.

So, once again, I see many good ideas across the political spectrum. Why can’t we package them together in a series of reforms so that we can all be better off? Why can’t we package these ideas’ supporters into a coalition that can last a few decades to get most of these good ideas done?

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