A Petition to Democratic Leaders

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Written by Tom Cantlon   
Monday, 04 December 2017 17:25

I have started a petition on Change.org that I encourage any progressive person to sign. It's addressed to the leadership of the Democratic party. Even if you're independent or have given up on the party, it is in part a message of, "Do these things, or understand why some third party will steal this thunder and leave the old party behind."

It is the necessary and obvious plan Democrats need in order to regain control of Congress in 2018. The necessary, truly progressive, people-oriented steps to get maximum Democratic turnout, and the votes of some independent progressives and discouraged progressives, and regain some of the Obama-then-Trump voters:

 

1. A national plan.

2. That plan is to reform government to be the ally of working people.

3. Help working people by government support programs only where needed. Help them mostly by making work pay more, and by policies that favor working people.

4. All hands on deck. Democratic elected office holders and Democratic candidates all-in on a massive, unified, vocal insistence on big change.

5. Keep pushing social justice issues too, even more so.

 

Consider this in three parts: The plan, the PR, and the "don't dare drop the rest" piece.

The plan: The system is broken. We keep getting caught up in battles for patches on it. The patches aren't good enough. We need real repair. A broken system leads to too many who work but don't make enough to get by, so we push for an expansion of who qualifies for food stamps. The broken system leads to state colleges drastically underfunded so that huge tuition, and huge debt is the cost, so we push for a new program to pay down student debts. Those are just patches. A truly working economy would not have jobs that pay so little you need help to eat. A truly working economy would have state colleges that are still a great deal. We need to stop fighting for patches and fight for something better, a fully working economy.

How does that happen? What has to be fixed? Over the last half century thousands of laws, regulations, and standards have been tilted in favor of the top. I list some examples further down. What could change it is a majority in Congress who are progressive and dedicated to not just changing a few of those, or offering a few patches, but scouring throughout government to find all of those thousands of tilts toward the top, and change them to tilt toward working people. Not radical fundamental change of how our economy basically works, but just one essential radical change. Change the existing bias toward the owners and investors, to a bias toward workers. A long term project. An economy much like the 1950s and '60s were for white men, only this time for everyone.

Why focus on working people? Because that includes almost everyone. We know from times when unemployment has been very low that when there are plenty of jobs, almost everyone wants to work. And "working people" includes the broad circles of people connected with them; the work-at-home parents who don't get a paycheck, the children and students and seniors and disabled family members who they support and care for.

The PR: When there is no presidential campaign going, as there won't be during the 2018 Congressional elections, Democrats are terrible at conveying any general, national message. Each Congressional candidate runs on local issues, and that's good, but we also need a national message. A clear, "here's what you'll get if Democrats regain the majority" message. As a small step in that direction they have announced a "Better Deal" agenda, but with pathetically little spreading of that message to the average voter. They need to do whatever it takes to cut through the news cycle and get a message of commitment to radical support of working people clear in the minds of every voter. They need to announce a much bigger agenda and have every Democratic member of Congress on the Congressional steps to show a unified army of commitment to this change. There should be a new announcement every other week of a big new push on the latest assault on working people. The long list of major rules that tilt against people and which need to be changed gives plenty of issues to cite, and Republicans give an almost weekly new outrage in their actions which can be called out.

If leadership does not get across such a bold and national message, then their silence sends a different message. That Democratic control would mean no real change. That there is little reason to vote for them. If they send no believable, powerful, national message, then the silence is the message.

The rest: This push for change for working people cannot eclipse all the other issues that progressives have made progress on, and which the reactionaries are pushing back against. A commitment to advancing equal treatment for minorities, LGBTQ rights, equality and respect for women, care of the environment, and more, needs to be continued. In the current environment, more than ever.

 

The petition is to call on the party to meet this challenge, because it is entirely possible to do if they chose to, and would lead to real change starting soon, right after the 2018 elections. If the party doesn't meet this challenge, then at some later, but not far off, date, some third party or some progressive leader will lead this change, and an enormous army of progressives and discouraged Democrats will rush to help them into offices.

 

Please sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/democratic-elected-leaders-party-leaders-to-leaders-of-the-democratic-party-democratic-and-progressive-voters-want

 

 

 

See my core piece, The Plan for the Win

 

 

 

 

As food for thought, here is just a short list of policies that could be pushed or changed:

* Helping the number of unemployed workers go lower so workers have more leverage on wages.

* A war on wage theft.

* Prosecute executives of companies who abuse employees or customers.

* Pay employees for jerking around their schedules.

* Track which companies have bad track records on employee treatment and don't give them government contracts.

* Allow employees to band together in suits against a bad employer, rather than forcing each to negotiate an arbitrated settlement.

* When an employee wins a case against an employer for wage theft or abuse, investigate to see if the employer does that to others.

* Make it harder for companies to shed pension obligations via bankruptcy court.

* Hold big corporations responsible for their franchise and employment-agency workers.

* Official policy is that when unemployment reaches 4.4% the brakes are put on the economy, supposedly in fear of inflation. Bull. Japan has 2.8% unemployment and almost no inflation. Let unemployment go lower so workers have more leverage.

* Corporations that repeatedly prove they can't be trusted to treat their employees or their customers within the law should be forced to sell to new owners, with any personal profit subject to restitution.

* Allow suing financial advisers who lead retirees into wasting more money on fees than they needed to.

* End nursing homes requiring contracts that prevent seniors and their families from suing for mistreatment.

* End non-compete clauses that make it illegal to go to work for a competitor. Should only apply to very high level positions.

* Dig into the details of any agency affecting work or consumers and you'll find a thousand more.

* Even while the thousand changes take time, a serious commitment to do so sets a new direction. That is the most important first step.

 

 

 

Tom Cantlon has the interesting challenge of being a left-leaning writer for the paper in a small, right-leaning Western town, in a right-leaning state. He can be reached at comments at TomCantlon dot com.

 

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