The Democrats are Actually Mild

Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics is ranting about an article by Thomas Friedman that compares Karl Rove to big tobacco executives, in that he sells a product that kills its customers. He says, “Silly. So silly, in fact, that if Tom Freidman’s [sic] name wasn’t attached to it I might easily have mistaken it for a post over at Daily Kos.”

Given that Friedman is hardly a radical leftist, what this suggests isn’t so much that he’s moving left as that Daily Kos isn’t that liberal. Shrill, sure. Partisan, definitely. But not really liberal; liberal websites don’t as a rule rant about how pro-choicers are all latte liberals or complain about single-issue groups, which form the core of progressive activism (Kos’s netroot swarm model and overall agenda are more in line with reformism).

On most issues important to voters, the Democratic Party is to the right of the average American. Don’t believe what WorldNetDaily tells you about Democrats and communism; the Democratic Party only takes a left-wing position on anything when it polls higher than 60-70%, and even then it underemphasizes it in its campaigns.

The progressive movement that Kos speaks of is marginally to the average American’s left, but that’s only because of its focus on domestic spying. On health care, education, and Iraq, it’s dead center. There has to be a really liberal alternative to slightly better health care, education, and civil liberties, and getting out of Iraq.

But even the emerging liberal alternative is fairly moderate. Unfortunately, a lot of liberals look too much at polling data and conclude that just because something doesn’t poll well in a center-shifted climate, it’s not a good cause to support. Bullshit, I say. Polls will almost always show that the people consider radical what the fringe of one party says. The really radical liberalism is poll-independent. Look at the following agenda items and tell me if the Democrats really are radicals:

– Abolition of all immigration restrictions, customs checks, and border controls. If you don’t need papers to move from Alabama to New York, you shouldn’t need papers to move from Mexico to the US.

– Increasing the minimum wage to $10.00/hour, indexed to inflation. Britain’s at $8.00 and has 80% the USA’s GDP per capita and an unemployment rate of 5.5%.
– A reduction in military spending to less than 2% of GDP; the US doesn’t use its military for peacekeeping anyway, and the last time a military force won an anti-terrorist campaign was in the Malayan emergency, when Britain was fighting an insurgent force most people hated.

– A universal single-payer health care system modeled after the US Veterans’ Affairs.

– Abolition of non-medical restrictions on abortion and birth control.

– Guaranteed funding to public schools of at least $7,000 per student, higher in areas where the cost of maintaining a school and paying its teachers is higher (New York City needs $15,000, for instance).

– Nationalized standards for education, school graduation, and certification of teachers.

– Unlimited scholarships for five years in public universities. If the University of Paris can have elite status without tuition, so can Berkeley.

– Abolition of state-sanctioned marriage. The state can instead recognize civil unions among up to 6 people, or co-parenting relationships.

– Removal of all state recognition of religion, including tax-exempt churches, military chaplains, and references to gods in national symbols; and all state-imposed patriotism, such as pledges of allegiance and laws against flag desecration.

– Gutting of all farm aid and other corporate welfare, including export subsidies and protectionism of local industry.

– Suspension of all CIA operations and NSA spying pending judicial and Congressional oversight, and restructuring the US intelligence community to focus on information gathering rather than toppling democratic regimes in Latin America.

– An absolute right to unionize, and punitive fines on corporations that fire workers for organizing.

When the Democrats support even one of these, wake me up.


4 Responses to The Democrats are Actually Mild

  1. SLC says:

    If I were a Republican, I would pay the Democrats to support such a platform as advocated by Mr. Levy. As my Syrian friend Ammar Kanaan says, this platform will be proposed by a major party when Mr. Levy sees the back of his own ear (old Arab saying). That is not to say that all of these proposals are nutty.

    1. Certainly an increase in the minimum wage is warrented..

    2. Open borders in the US is as crazy as open borders in Israel.

    3. Single payer health care systems are not a panacea; they usually lead to rationing of health care by bureaucrats as in Great Britain and Canada. Medicare is an example of a single payer system which is rapidly going broke.

    4. Reducing crop supports may be a good idea, except one should be carefull. At least the current system has the advantage of providing large surplusses which can be sold overseas.

    5. Removing all charges for State Universities only provides a subsidy for the wealthy. When I was a student at Berkeley, the charge was $50/semester, regardless of ability to pay or the number of units taken. It would be much better to provide subsidies based on need, which Mr. Levys’ proposal would not do.

    6. Reducing the military budget to less then 2% would be dangereously naive. A much better proposal would entail a reallocation of current funding to deemphasize strategic offence and increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps. Part of the reason that Rumsfeld ignored Shinsekis’ figure of 300,000 or more troops required for the Iraq operation was that a force that size could not be supplied without withdrawing all troops from Europe and the Korean Peninsula or reinstituting conscription.

    7. As to unionization rules, clearly the current rules lean too far in favor of management. However, Mr. Levy’ praises the per capitia GDP in Great Britain but fails to mention that it was achieved at the cost of Ms. Thatchers’ war on the British unions, which have had their power greatly reduced since the 1970s.

    8. Suspension of CIA and NSA operations would be dangereous in the extreme. Almost everybody from the far right to the far left has lambased the CIAs’ failure to anticipate the 9/11 attacks.

    9. Removal of all religious subsidies, etc. By this, I take it to mean that church/synagogue/mosque properties would become subject to property taxes, among other things. Although I think this would be a good idea, not only will Mr. Levy see the back of his own ear but the shrimps will learn to whistle before this happens.

  2. Alon Levy says:

    The only points of that program I think are practicable as a major party’s policy issues are your 3, 4, 5, and 7.

    3. Single-payer health care leads to better results for everyone when it’s done right; France and Sweden do better even than the insured population of the US, and so do the Canadian provinces that fund health care enough (I don’t think Katie ever had a problem with Canadian health care when she lived in Ontario).

    4. Selling crops overseas only destabilizes third world regions by dumping subsidized goods on them. Economies grow by promoting import replacement. Government-subsidized exports to developing economies only wreck them.

    5. City College was a tremendous place for the lower and middle classes back when it had free tuition. It only lost its prestige when it was forced to implement an open door policy as a form of affirmative action.

    7. I don’t speak highly of Britain’s GDP, only of its unemployment level and minimum wage. But Norway has about the same GDP per capita as the US and a 4.3% unemployment level, and a unionization rate of 53% (the US and Britain are at 12-13%). In high-unionization countries, like Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, the unions determine the minimum wages instead of the government.

  3. SLC says:

    1. The free tuition at City College, as the nominal charge (it was not called tuition back then) at UC Berkeley, was, as I have previously stated a subsidy for the wealthy. Why should lower and middle income tax payers subsidise the higher education of the upper middle class and the wealthy who can well afford to pay a reasonable tuition (I would not advocate IVY league or Stanford rates). Charge a reasonable tuition with students from a lower or middle income background getting a subsidy or having the tuition waived for them.

    2. Mr. Levy makes the assumption that a reduction in farm production in the US, Canada, Argentina and Australia will somehow be made up by production in the rest of the world. Unfortunately, given that there is currently a food shortage in parts of Asia, the Middle East, and especially in Africa, this is pie in the sky. In fact, given the rapid rise in world population, we may arrive at peak food production before we arrive at peak oil. Now of course, Mr. Levy will argue that plenty of grains gould be available if only much of it were not used to feed cattle, sheep, etc. In other words, let ’em eat cake.

    3. The European Union imposes high tariffs on imports from the Far East in order to preserve their homegrown industries and frowns on off-shoring. This allows them to support 35 hour work weeks and long paid vacations. The USA on the other hand allows almost unlimited imports and actively encourages off-shoring (re. Mr. Packards hero Haris Miller).

    4. Mr. Levy failed to indicate how we are supposed to prevent Medicare from going bankrupt, without raising taxes, increasing co-payments, or rationing services.

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