Our View/Our Plan
Richard Mauro, 3/21/17. www.GalvanizeAmerica.com.
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Working and non-wealthy Americans in our country have been under assault by negative economic and political factors for the last 20+ years. Wages have stagnated, cost of higher education has skyrocketed, quality of benefits including retirement and health have declined substantially for most workers, and our congress, especially when Republicans are in control, fight for the interests of big business rather than for the many. Though it has been bad for a while it has never been bleaker in recent decades than right now. Republicans of course control both houses of congress and the Presidency. Trump, as if it is any sort of surprise, has been a fraud in terms of his promises to the middle class. He starts his term by increasing the mortgage insurance rates that many working Americans pay on their home loans, and appoints a who’s who of Goldman Sachs bankers and other wealthy businessmen to fill his cabinet and run his government. Precisely the types, like Trump, who have spent the last 20 years pushing policies and acting in a manner that degrades our working and middle classes and enriches themselves. He continues his efforts by quietly finding a technicality so that foreign steel may be used in the Dakota access pipeline after practically screaming to world (and getting the full PR value of course) that only American steel would be used in this project. He now is immersed in promoting the health plan he directed the Republican congress to write that is a lie to virtually every promise he made (again screamed) while on the campaign trail. It will deny health insurance to millions now covered due to costs, provide poorer coverage in many cases, and in numerous ways is simply a tax cut for the well-to-do at the expense of medical care for those who are not. Of course our patriotic Republican congress now busies itself ignoring to the extent it can various glaring conflicts of interest, ethical violations, and unsavory associations with a menacing foreign power in the Trump administration. They likewise look forward to cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits for our future elderly, and giving many of themselves and their large corporate sponsors a huge tax cut that will balloon the deficit (and we will have to pay for it), and provide virtually no economic benefit to typical working Americans.
But what to can we do about it? More specifically what can a fledgling organization, such as Galvanize America (GA), do to make a fundamental change in the policies of our country in the near and longer term future to honestly benefit all Americans rather than simply the more privileged few? We are just beginning with limited resources and have no guarantees or special ability to see the future, but following are our ideas and approaches that we believe can create real change for the better in the lives of most Americans:
1. A grassroots information and education outreach. There is an old saying that knowledge is power and we believe that is true, especially in a democracy. We also believe that democrats/progressives in recent years have done a poor job in explaining their economic policies, and more specifically the overriding benefits of these policies, to rank and file Americans. By and large many Americans, often a majority, intuitively support progressive economic policies. But the level of their support for most is not great enough to be a deciding factor in determining which party they vote for. Take for instance raising the national minimum wage which most Americans do favor. The majority understand that this would give the lowest wage earners in our country a raise which would be nice for them. But many do not understand the suite of other tremendous benefits to our people and country that raising the minimum wage at this time would have. First, the level of the national minimum wage strongly influences the height of the wage scale above it. Therefore, in not too much time, a minimum raise increase will likely result in a raise for most all other American employees. Furthermore, low wages beget poverty and necessary reliance by many workers on many government safety net programs to feed their families and make ends meet. These are programs that other Americans, especially those in the middle class, must pay for. The issue is further compounded by the fact that low wage earners, rightfully and by necessity, pay fewer taxes, which means that the government’s ability to fund important programs including such things as the national defense and essential infrastructure improvement is strained. Poverty results in a myriad of related problems including increases in the drop-out rate, rates of depression, many physical ailments, and crime. Robust wages, of which a fair and reasonable minimum wage is a key to bringing about, places money in the hands of consumers whose spending drives the economy and in the long run creates greater prosperity for the middle class and wealthy alike. Lastly, most Americans are greatly perturbed to learn that the many low-wage workers that their tax dollars partially support are employed by companies that reap great profits annually and whose CEOs are often compensated outlandishly. In other words, middle class Americans are supporting a huge corporate welfare program because the companies are too selfish to pay their employees fairly and reasonably.
The picture we have just painted concerning the national minimum wage is much more compelling and complete than simply saying we should raise the minimum wage. Especially important is the emphasis on the great benefits this action would have for virtually all working Americans and to our country. This same type of more in depth and benefits based argument can be made for other progressive economic issues such as protecting and enhancing Social Security retirement benefits, affordable higher education, and affordable healthcare to all, to name a few. We’re not saying to get into the minutia of a specific bill or policy action. But what we are saying is that due to so much recent hardship Americans now have a hunger for honest, policy based solutions that make sense and that will improve their quality of life. Most progressive economic policies currently are far superior to conservative ones when it comes to helping middle class and other non-wealthy Americans. We need to make a real effort to explain why and recapture the moral high ground on these issues. Something Democrats have not done effectively in many recent elections.
GA hopes to play and important role in this effort. Initially, while our resources and money remain small, we hope to spread the word primarily through factual, compelling essays posted on this site and spread through other media and social outlets to the greatest degree possible. But though this is important, and always will be a crucial component and starting point, we likely will need to do more to create a real grassroots change that translates into more elections won and a transformation in the government power structure to actually place those who really care about working Americans in the majority. Democrats have learned twice now that unfortunately, to simply have more people vote for your candidate does not necessarily translate into a winning presidential race. Likewise to have most Americans support many of your policy positions does not necessarily mean you will win enough regions of the country to gain majorities in congress. One of the great travesties of the last decade or more is that many of the people that have lost the most, and continue to lose by Republican economic policies, are the ones that often strongly support these same politicians. Of course many of these voters live in rural areas and the deep south. We do not believe that it is too strong a statement to say that Republicans in these regions often steal votes based on their positions on social issues and gun control, and then proceed to do all they can to turn the voters there into economic peons. As our resources grow, GA will work to reverse this trend by implementing a grassroots educational initiative. GA hopes to produce a learning module covering justification for and pathways to achieve our organization’s six major economic objectives (refer to “Goals” section of GA website). The program will be available in different medians and those who complete it will have the opportunity to be certified as a GA “Spokesperson”. Though it will be nonbinding, Spokespersons will be informed individuals who agree to make the case for economic policies designed to benefit middle class and other non-wealthy people among their friends, various groups they may belong to, and their political representatives. A second more vetted, highly trained and involved level of Spokesperson may also be established. These individuals may make commitments (again, nonbinding) to actually plan and host events of various sizes to discuss and advance progressive economic solutions that help the majority of Americans. Though most of these individuals will likely be volunteers, GA will make an effort to support them with ongoing information and materials and by offsetting related expenses to the extent money and resources allow. It is hoped these efforts will ignite a spreading knowledge and support for economic policies that benefit all Americans throughout all regions of the country.
2. Targeted protests and actions. As all are aware the election of Donald Trump spawned deep feelings of discontent and apprehension among a tremendous number of Americans. These passions have manifest themselves in a mammoth post inauguration protest, numerous other protests many of which have been coordinated and structured by social media and the Indivisible Guide, and much political heat being brought to bear on elected officials by progressives at town hall meetings, through various contact your congressman campaigns, and petitions. These efforts are outstanding and indicate a renewed vigor for political action by progressives that will hopefully translate into victories in future elections. GA is supportive of this movement in general, and especially in relation to issues that impact the well-being of working Americans. In the future GA may organize or encourage protests or other peaceful actions in support of worthwhile policy changes. In doing so GA will favor protests or other initiatives that target specific policy actions such as wage increases or tuition relief rather than more general expressions of discontent. It is believed that more focused efforts are more likely to bring about specific improvements that benefit deserving Americans.
3. Ballot initiatives/referendums. It is no secret that the U.S. congress, especially on the Republican side, is out of sync with the attitude of the majority of Americans concerning many issues. This is true in regard to raising the minimum wage, reasonable limits and transparency in campaign contributions, and many other policies. They consistently stifle any changes at the federal level to favor their special interests groups (who are usually big money) at the expense of the American people. Ballot initiatives at the state level are less desirable for most issues than federal action because they are limited in their scope to an individual state. Likewise, the degree to which they can be used as an effective policy changing tool varies considerably from state to state as rules regarding them are quite variable from one state to another. However, in jurisdictions where they do provide an effective means for change they are desired actions that can circumvent selfish inertia and obstruction by elected officials. They in fact have been used in several states to raise the minimum wage and bring about worthwhile change on other issues. GA will lend support to ballot initiatives that provide fair, economic benefit to working and non-wealthy Americans, and may in fact initiate referendums in states where they can be effective in bringing about progress in attaining GA’s six primary economic goals (refer to “Goals” section of GA website).
Throughout the history of our country during times of crisis we have always had a great leader of moral strength, and sound judgement and vision to emerge to guide us through the turmoil into a much better place. George Washington’s remarkable restraint in exercising his own power laid the groundwork for an effective democracy with a prudent system of checks and balances. Abraham Lincoln’s incredible grasp of the nature and importance of the crisis he faced, great moral character, and generous heart allowed our nation to persevere through a time of unimaginable divisiveness and violence. Dr. Martin Luther King’s unrelenting courage, clear vision, and poetic, truthful words inspired a movement that granted equal rights under the law to all of our citizens. Even Ronald Reagan with his optimistic vision of America, engaging personality, and resolute defense of democracy helped us shake off an economic malaise, and hastened the end of cold war which allowed freedom to spread to many countries formerly under the Soviet boot. But the crisis we face today is of a completely opposite nature. In fact it has been spawned by ineptitude, selfishness, and moral deficiency in leadership. President Trump’s overriding personal characteristics are chronic lies and hypocrisy, and his behavior and actions lower the moral standard of the presidency and the ethical standards of our government. The Republican controlled congress to this point has failed to hold the president to worthy account, and congress in general for quite some time now has consistently placed politics over country. GA believes that the factor that will pull our country through the current difficulties to a much better place is a groundswell of action from grassroots citizens. This newly energized populace has the potential to swing elections and insist on policies that “promote the general welfare” rather than pander to the interests of the entitled few. GA intends to encourage this political action and provide a vision and pathway to solutions that will restore and benefit our country’s working and middle classes, and ultimately be in the best interests of all Americans. We ask and hope that you will join us in these efforts. Please visit www.GalvanizeAmerica.com .