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Additional planks for the platform

Cross posted from Pruning Shears.

On Monday lambert posted a call for a re-formulated 12-word platform; Tuesday I responded with what I tentatively called the Bumper Sticker Platform (BSP). These may be two slightly different things though. My goal is to create a campaign slogan – something that easily fits on a sign or bumper sticker, describing policies voters would immediately see the value of. That means a narrower scope, and in this case a focus on pocketbook issues since those are the ones of most immediate concern to the largest number.

Lambert, by contrast (correct me if I’m wrong!) wants something like that as a hook, but more items behind it as well: a few extra planks that outline a rough governing philosophy. Additional planks would work as a hedge against the bumper sticker parts being hijacked by opportunists.



While I understand his approach, I still think the BSP is the way to go. It’s not the hill I’m prepared to die on though. If in the end the consensus is for a 20 word platform or something like it, fine. Finalize it and preach it to the heavens. My BSP posts will still be there if anyone wants to refer back to them.

Should lambert’s approach prevail, here are some additional planks I’d like to offer, along with some explanations and references back to lambert’s post.

  • End corporate personhood
  • A job guarantee
  • National voter registration
  • Boring federal banking
  • Energy freedom


  • Live off the land

End corporate personhood
A Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

A job guarantee
Straight from Dr. William Darity’s proposal. He has developed the idea in several other papers as well. Here he argues why it makes macroeconomic sense:

The federal job guarantee would function as a classic automatic stabilizer. Its provision of employment would expand on the downswing and contract on the upswing of the business cycle.

Elsewhere he (along with Darrick Hamilton) explains how it harmonizes with contemporary racial discourse:

Despite these glaring and persistent racial disparities, the growing “post racial” rhetoric has led to a political environment that makes it increasingly difficult to use race-specific polices to address these inequities. The post-racial rhetoric is a narrative that our society has transcended the racial divide and that the remaining racial disparities are due primarily to self-sabotaging attitudes and behaviors on the part of blacks themselves. In sum, the post-racial ideology represents a shift from a public acknowledgement of a social responsibility for the condition of black America to a position where individual blacks need to “get over it” and “take personal responsibility” — and discrimination and other social barriers are deemed largely things of the past.

In such an environment, a jobs guarantee is one of several possible “race-neutral programs that could go a long way towards eliminating racial inequality while at the same time providing economic security, mobility and sustainability for all Americans.”

National voter registration
The dynamic he describes – holistic remedies that would also treat racial disparities where they exist – would apply to national voter registration. The voting restrictions being put into place in Republican-controlled states may not have a racial intent, yet in practice it disproportionately affects minorities.

Universal registration could be keyed to Social Security numbers, and ID could be mailed out to everyone based on that. Every citizen gets signed up with no hoops to jump through. Which is actually how government ought to treat a right, no? The state should bend over backwards to make sure rights are extended and protected. It’s very different from how Republicans treat voting, which is as a privilege. A debate on national voter registration would clarify the difference as Kay so nicely summarized it:

This is what happens when one hires people who don’t believe that voting is a right to run elections….When conservatives argue that voting is JUST LIKE cashing a check or any other commercial transaction, they believe it.

It would also give the federal government the chance to set election standards for national elections, which would short circuit state attempts to restrict voting. Over time it would also create pressure for states to adopt the federal standards for all elections in order to save money and avoid confusion. This ought to be a debate for fans of democracy to welcome.

Both the job guarantee and universal registration are in the “equal privilege in public space” territory lambert writes about, though neither specifically addresses race. I don’t think either casts as wide a net as he seems to be trying for, but taken together it ain’t peanuts either (said the white man).

Boring federal banking
Comes both from the Post Office bank idea and Elizabeth Warren’s “banks should be boring” line. Given how ferociously (and successfully) big banks have been at resisting all attempts to make them boring, I don’t know how much effort that is worth. On the other hand, a state bank that offered basic checking accounts, savings accounts, and 15/30 year fixed rate mortgages could be set up without requiring Big Finance to lift a finger. And it would give citizens a sanctuary from the systemic risk posed by too big to fail institutions.

Energy freedom
Prioritizing local generating capacity from wind and solar; less reliance on the grid, and a move away from resource extraction as our primary means of power generation. In a sense this is the polar opposite of the chimerical “energy independence” that really means protecting oil and gas industry profits. I wrote about it in January, so see there for more. Interestingly, this is not necessarily a right vs. left issue. The Green Tea coalition (Tea Party And Sierra Club) in Georgia shows how disparate interests can align on this issue.

Live off the land
One last plank, this one from a campaign perspective. A candidate who embraces a strong, definite, effective, popular and easily understood platform can expect a lot of enthusiastic support. Money is influential but not determinative in politics. Those who support this platform need to reach out to candidates (or potential ones) and let them know there are plenty of people willing to pound the pavement, staff the phone banks and otherwise volunteer. Candidates don’t need to think they’ll spend all their time dialing for dollars from fat cats. Run a campaign that resonates with people and the campaign will get what it needs from those it inspires. Do the right thing and you’ll be able to live off the land.

Photo from Liz Jones licensed under Creative Commons

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