Debates. From first principles.

Samain and the Moon of the New Year (2021!)

Tuesday gratefuls: VRCC. Doggy care at a high level. Dr. Timian, Rigel’s doc when she was hospitalized. Rigel. Amber. And, Amber’s special bandages. Ruby and her heated seats. A now gone, happily, feeling of illness. Diane, from her sanctuary in San Francisco. The hermitage here on Shadow Mountain. Fresh Snow. A plowed driveway. Feelings, low, lower. Comfort in the loft. Games Kate and Charlie play. A raw version of life, hard and relentless. A joyful version: committed, cheerful, resilient. Fluctuating between them. 36 days.


When conservative columnists like George Will and Michael Gerson write provocative columns skewering Republicans and fellow conservatives (see this by Gerson, The moral hypocrisy of conservative leaders is stunning, as an example) and a politician like George Romney condemns the administration, next year’s trajectory becomes clearer. At its optimum liberals, radicals (I don’t like progressive. It hides.), and conservatives will all examine themselves beginning with first principles.

The conservatives, right now anyhow, seem to have the most honest dialogue started. May it continue. Liberals will have to admit that their “desire to govern” will gut meaningful change in at least three important areas: racial justice, radical police reform, and addressing economic inequities. Radicals will have to admit that their insistence in all or nothing too often, usually, results in nothing.

Of course, Covid must get our full attention until it abates, but that shouldn’t stop us from going into our respective camps and chewing the fat over a miserable four years of the American Experience. What about liberal leadership, policies, general stances, left the door open for a Trump? What needs refocusing? Especially following a decidedly liberal, world hailed Presidency, like Barack Obama’s.

I have three areas where liberalism has failed. The lackluster and Republican conceived medical system fix, Obamacare, or the ACA, did not fix or even mend a broken system. Yes, it delivered health insurance to some folks who needed it, but that’s a very low bar when you consider the mess of the public/private chaos we insist on calling a system. If you’ve had any frequent dealings with it, you’ll know the financial, bureaucratic, and logical hurdles required to get care. Not smart enough to know if Medicare for All is the solution, but I know that whatever we do must look more like a National Health Service than a cafeteria of options whose costs and efficacy we can’t determine.

How do we keep the public safe? The whole public, not just middle and upper middle class white neighborhoods. (The upper classes build walls and hire their own private security.) This is a debate that must be radical in its starting point. Bracket police. What do complex urban societies need to investigate and prosecute crime? To stop criminal activity while it’s happening? To attend well to mental health crises and in-home medical emergencies? To keep buildings safe from fire? To manage traffic, large events, disasters? Let’s put all solutions on the table from crazy dreamy to harsh and pragmatic ones. We need to rethink community safety and how to achieve it.

Economic inequities. A Green New Deal? OK, by me. Job retraining. Earned income tax credits? Guaranteed annual income? Reparations. A truly progressive tax code. Tax the wealthy at a level closer to the 1950’s and 1960’s. Put in place a reasonable inheritance tax to ensure against aristocratic pretensions. Rethink the value of work and workers. Shore up the union movement. Give employers incentive to hire under and inexperienced workers. Perhaps their first year or half year of salary could be subsidized.

We must have these debates. Conservatives, liberals, and radicals must gather among themselves and debate them. There must be a public dialogue. I use the word must. Why? Because these are core issues which speak to the safety and security of all Americans.

Are there other important issues? Oh, yes. Climate change. Foreign policy. Infrastructure development. To name three. And, yes, debates about these must go forward, and quickly, too.

There is much democratic work to be done. And much tin-pot dictator work to be undone. I see Trump’s time in office as a cry for help from a country in which certain bedrock matters like health, safety, and work have all been damaged by years of neglect and false promises. Let’s pay attention. Let’s insure neglect and false promises are not part of agenda. Beginning now.

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