Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rescue democracy first

By Libby

Truthout posts a good interview with Robert Reich, who offers some sage advice to progressives.

Stop trying to get corporations to be socially responsible. Stop trying to achieve any particular social objective like global warming or a national healthcare system ... Put all of our efforts into a citizen's movement for democracy. That would include the public financing of campaigns and would require any network, any broadcaster using the public airwaves to provide advertising for all candidates.

It's a long piece that arises out of Reich's new book on supercapitalism. He floats a lot of ideas including setting up blind trusts for political donations so the candidates don't know where the money comes from, eliminating the quid pro quo factor and analyzes where we went off track.

Yes, but look again at what I talk about as the not quite golden age, the period 1945 to 1975, when 35 percent of Americans were unionized in the work force - you had industrywide bargaining, you had pluralist interest groups and regulatory agencies. You had political parties that were not just sump pumps for campaign financing but were political organizations that reached down to the community level. In those days corporate investors were not kings, consumers were not kings. The power was divided in a way that gave us much more say as citizens.

However, the most valuable exchange for progressive activists was this:

TM: I've been saying since the 2004 election that we need a Restore Democracy Trifecta: media reform for a more informed democracy - stop (and reverse if possible) media consolidation, offer less false balance (i.e., global warming skeptics are equal to global warming scientists) and more statements of fact. Campaign reform - public financing, free TV time. Election reform - transparent, accurate, inclusive and verifiable.

RR: Absolutely. I keep telling progressives who have particular issues they want to advance [that] nothing is going to happen on your issue or any other progressive issue unless you get together with everybody else who wants change and rescue democracy first.

I've often thought that was the problem with the big tent progressive movement. We're in the majority but we tend to be fractured in where we spend our energies and overwhelm the public dialogue with such a multitude of views that in a way, it impedes our progress. Maybe we could learn something from the message discipline of the GOP.

I'm not saying we should agree on everything, but I wonder if we wouldn't be more effective in changing the system if we could band together around a couple of core issues at a time and thus move our agenda forward incrementally. Media and elections reform seem like a good place to start to me.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous lester said...

oh brother. the 50's were great because Ike kept us out of war, therefore not destorying the economy. the rest of reichs analysis is marxist piffle

10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I love Reich. You'll never convince me he's not a really smart guy and I'm willing to listen to him at least.

11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous lester said...

pinochet knew what to do with troublemakers like him

3:59:00 PM  

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