Progressive policies (and politics)
October 29, 2018 6:14 AM   Subscribe

How Warren and Sanders approach empowering the working class - "In the simplest possible terms, Warren wants to organize markets to benefit workers and consumers, while Sanders wants to overhaul those markets, taking the private sector out of it."

Cory Booker's Big New Policy Idea Isn't Reparations, but It's the Closest a Presidential Candidate Is Going to Get - "Under the bill, every child born in the United States would receive a federal 'opportunity account' containing $1,000, which they could not touch until they turned 18. The money would be managed by the Treasury, with the aim of earning a small annual return. But depending on a family's income, children would receive up to an additional $2,000 each year from the government, with poorer kids getting relatively higher payments."

Kamala Harris Wants to Give Middle Class Families $500 Every Month. Her Plan Is Bold, Generous, and Maybe Ill-Conceived. - "It's not a universal basic income. But it's as close as we've seen to one from a serious 2020 prospect."

How to combine EITC with a (modest) basic income. - "My proposal would modify EITC to provide some benefits to those without any earnings, while continuing to reward work. #EBITC"

Maybe We Should Take Socialism Seriously - "A new White House reports points to the well-known failures, but it doesn't rebut demands for a better social safety net."

also btw...
How Asia Works - "When people ask me what I'm into these days, I say 'land reform.'"
posted by kliuless (46 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Let me just say that I am completely pumped about all the potential progressive presidential candidates for 2020. The first article had several sections like this:

Both Warren and Sanders support single-payer health care, an example of nationalizing a market. They both want a public option for financial services through simple bank transactions at the post office. Sanders’s Workplace Democracy Act changes the rules to make it easier to form unions, a classic market-restructuring move. His proposed bill to tax employers whose workers receive federal benefits influenced Amazon’s increase of its entry-level wages, and that was the intent: organizing private-sector labor markets without taking them over or imposing standards.

and this:

That’s why you see competitors to Warren and Sanders alternately picking up market-restructuring and market-overhaul policies. Senator Cory Booker wants to transfer wealth to young people through a social wealth fund, and also block mergers in food and agriculture markets. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wants a public option with postal banking and a financial transaction tax to nudge markets away from securities trading.


and I just feel like this:
https://i.makeagif.com/media/5-13-2016/6T2nVi.gif

All of these ideas seem wonderful. I'd be delighted to vote for any of them.
posted by Balna Watya at 6:57 AM on October 29 [4 favorites]


I would love to have an actual Debate of These Ideas as our next Democratic primary! I'm terrified, however, that we'll instead have a Rose-Emoji-Twitter-Style Purity Test Referendum in which Your Fave is Problematic and Rosa Luxemburg still isn't on the ballot so we opt for the circular firing squad instead.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:09 AM on October 29 [38 favorites]


Sigh, just like the very quiet absence of bragging in Boston last week, please please don't JINX the primaries.
posted by sammyo at 7:21 AM on October 29


All good, but without a solid strategy to convince the middle classes that it's in their interest to vote for these initiatives I don't hold out much hope. Most people don't vote based on higher principles like equity and altruism and helping their fellow man. They vote out of fear and naked self-interest.
How do you counter the "big government wants to take your hard-earned money and give it to lazy poor people" argument?
posted by rocket88 at 7:32 AM on October 29 [4 favorites]


It should actually be spectacularly easy to sell this stuff. Do you want a raise? How about never having to deal with your health insurance company or pay a premium ever again? Would you like it if the people loaning you money were looking out for you instead of their shareholders?

That the Democratic party has had a hard time selling this isn't because the ideas aren't attractive, it's because they suck.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:35 AM on October 29 [36 favorites]


It's very easy to sell stuff if no one is arguing against you, just like I could win a fight if the other guy wasn't going to throw any punches. But "never deal with your insurance company again" in the wild becomes "instead deal with government bureaucrats who will keep taking your money no matter what and can never be fired." The first one polls well, the second one not so much.
posted by mark k at 7:50 AM on October 29 [15 favorites]


That the Democratic party has had a hard time selling this isn't because the ideas aren't attractive, it's because they suck.

Well, also because the Republican party is happy to lie and cheat.
posted by witchen at 7:53 AM on October 29 [20 favorites]


I'm team socialist which means the best I got is to vote for whoever the dem candidate is.

And of course I will complain about it all the way to the ballot box because that is how I as a good little punkling do.
posted by nikaspark at 7:58 AM on October 29 [8 favorites]


...Rosa Luxemburg still isn't on the ballot

A candidate of this caliber would be killed before she ever had a chance to be elected.

Also my queendom to never hear "circular firing squad" ever again in 500 lifetimes.
posted by nikaspark at 8:01 AM on October 29 [21 favorites]


I can hope for a Sander and/or Warren ticket, but something tells me we're going to end up with dumb ol' Joe "Dignity of Work and Fuck Student Borrowers" Biden.
posted by FakeFreyja at 8:06 AM on October 29 [3 favorites]


One of the many tricky things about the means-tested opportunity account is how easily it would be killed by a change in governance— by the very definition of it the people it affects aren't able to vote.
posted by Static Vagabond at 8:19 AM on October 29 [1 favorite]


Under the bill, every child born in the United States would receive a federal 'opportunity account' containing $1,000, which they could not touch until they turned 18.

So...Make the Sovereign Citizens' claim that there's a secret government account of money for each individual, started at birth, closer to the truth?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:30 AM on October 29 [3 favorites]


Also my queendom to never hear "circular firing squad" ever again in 500 lifetimes.

I will stop saying it when Stein gets less votes than Clinton's loss margin in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in 2016.

Donald Trump is president because of many factors, EVERY ONE of which was necessary to make it happen. The circular firing squad is one of those factors. Purity politics in 2016 is as much to blame as Comey, disenfranchisement, and Russian meddling.

He has an excellent chance of winning again in 2020 unless we defeat every one of those factors. One of them is the circular firing squad. Hold your nose, and vote D in the general election because lives have already been lost because people couldn't get over themselves and see the greater threat.
posted by tclark at 8:31 AM on October 29 [27 favorites]


How do you counter the "big government wants to take your hard-earned money and give it to lazy poor people" argument?

You start challenging that framing while also accepting that there will indeed be lazy people who get some of the money. Not all poor people are lazy (which the MeFi audience knows); it needs to be framed to illustrate just how many people would benefit and how raising the income of the poorest, would jump-start the economy in so very many ways (yeah I know it's not just the economy, but this is about how to frame it for people who only think in terms of money): more people would have the safety net to take more risks, they'd give more to the economy, they and their families will be healthier, innovation will have a wider foundation to thrive...

And we really, really need to accept that there will indeed be lazy folk who get free money. That's humanity. You either accept that there will be freeloaders, and still help the vast majority of people who need a leg up to get going, or you go the extreme route and everybody is in deep shit because no one wants to share.
posted by fraula at 8:34 AM on October 29 [9 favorites]


Harris or GTFO. I love Senator Warren (I even voted for her last weekend!) but that DNA testing thing really makes me question her judgement, politically. It was as tone deaf and cringeworthy as the Idaho ACLU mural thing a few threads down. She's never had to campaign in a truly competitive environment, and now I really wonder if she has what it takes.

As for Sanders, frankly I think we can do better than Yet Another Old White Man.

Kamala Harris is who I want for my next president.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:35 AM on October 29 [15 favorites]


But "never deal with your insurance company again" in the wild becomes "instead deal with government bureaucrats who will keep taking your money no matter what and can never be fired." The first one polls well, the second one not so much.

It's basically a politician's job to make sure the debate focuses on the first one. If the current crop aren't up to the task replace them.
posted by edeezy at 8:36 AM on October 29


And we really, really need to accept that there will indeed be lazy folk who get free money.

There are a lot of people who will never, ever accept that.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:44 AM on October 29 [8 favorites]


How do you counter the "big government wants to take your hard-earned money and give it to lazy poor people" argument?

Eliminating means testing for existing and future benefits would be a great first start. Give the goodies to everyone and recapture through taxation at higher tax brackets.

Means-tested entitlements are poison pills that create resentment and can be used as wedges.
posted by FakeFreyja at 8:44 AM on October 29 [14 favorites]


I will stop saying it when Stein gets less votes than Clinton's loss margin in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in 2016.

Stein is not your problem, gerrymandering, the electoral college and white supremacy is your problem.
posted by nikaspark at 8:57 AM on October 29 [15 favorites]


And we really, really need to accept that there will indeed be lazy folk who get free money. That's humanity. You either accept that there will be freeloaders, and still help the vast majority of people who need a leg up to get going, or you go the extreme route and everybody is in deep shit because no one wants to share.

Personally, my policy is to frame the thought experiment in terms of asking: is it better for nine hardworking people and one lazy person to receive a little help from the government/free health care/subsidized child care/etc, or for nine hardworking people and one lazy person to suffer on their own while corporations get the money they would otherwise have received? Sometimes I use the "is it better for one innocent person to be convicted of a crime they did not commit or one guilty person to go free" analogy to highlight the relative costs of errors, but that's usually when I'm trying to walk people through a concept and they're listening to me rather than when I'm trying to spin rhetoric.

When challenged on the relative proportions of freeloaders to hardworking people in terms of beneficiaries of public benefits, that is when I pull on the actual documented numbers and reveal that the actual numbers of folks who aren't trying to do their level best in the system is way lower than 10%.

Personally, I find this kind of discussion much more fucking helpful than litigating primaries for a race two years in the future while we're in the middle of a fucking election already. Seriously, I am so furious about the relative effort expended in selling people years in advance of a race versus selling platform and policy ideas, which are so much less vulnerable than individuals to scandals and yet still require just as much effort to encourage buy-in from the electorate.

I swear to god if people start waving primaries at me before late 2019 I'm going to start screaming. After 2016, I am just about allergic to giving too much of a shit about my primaries, and once they are done, I am done. Run the race in front of you, and spend the rest of the time convincing people that a better way of life is realistic to expect.
posted by sciatrix at 9:28 AM on October 29 [28 favorites]


Also, fuck the presidency. I don't care about the presidency right now. We had our eight years of a good Democratic president trying to rule over a fractious and increasingly radicalized right-wing Congress and I am fucking done with it. I want to spend my time talking about a) winning the legislative branch and more generally b) policy platforms whose popularity can be generalized nationwide to support party principles no matter what specific person is running.

There's no magical hero who is going to save us, guys. And the belief on the left that there is some perfect, ideal Presidential candidate who will magically sort this out is one of the major things hampering actual progressive policy from being enacted. So how do we spin this in the hearts and minds of folks who don't understand, for example, what was lost with the erosion of the New Deal?
posted by sciatrix at 9:31 AM on October 29 [24 favorites]


[If this is a topic people actually want to discuss, feel free to discuss it. If you want to discuss politics not policy, that thread is over here. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:46 AM on October 29 [3 favorites]


And we really, really need to accept that there will indeed be lazy folk who get free money.

There are a lot of people who will never, ever accept that.


And yet they already do. I always reply to these arguments about poor/lazy/undeserving/welfare queens/etc by pointing out that the red state/blue state map is identical to the one of 'states who GIVE money to the fed. govt'/'states who TAKE money from the fed. govt."
The ENTIRE republican party is a bunch of undeserving lazy lying cheating welfare queens full stop.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:51 AM on October 29 [11 favorites]


(cooled down, I'm back)

One of the wins I think progressives could discuss is how General Motors was nationalized and when they emerged they have been...surprisingly not shit since then.
posted by nikaspark at 10:32 AM on October 29 [1 favorite]


The way I see it, supporting people you may not like, and may not be "worthy" (who are lazy, moochers, etc.) is just part of living in society. Not everyone is going to be a wonderful person who agrees with me on everything. Besides: 1) there really aren't that many moochers - "deadbeat welfare cheats!" is as overblown as "voter fraud!" and as much a dogwhistle for "Ew, THEM." 2) Corporate deadbeats and moochers are a much, MUCH MUCH bigger problem. Screwing the state out of $50 in food stamps is small potatoes compared to $50 billion in bank fraud. I wish there was a way to get us (collective "us") mad at the right targets.

I think people need to distinguish between drawing boundaries in one's personal life and as a society, and I think people often get them mixed up - you, as an individual, have every right to not give money to someone who asks you. You have every right to say "no" to your deadbeat brother-in-law, your ex, your adult kids. As a person, with limited funds, you get to say "No moochers!" or for that matter, "I'm going to spend all my money on subscription boxes and cat charities!" That's your prerogative. But as a society, we just have to suck it up and grit our teeth and accept that not all our taxes will go to stuff we want to spend money on.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:53 AM on October 29 [7 favorites]


Launching off that point, I often face a lot of pushback from folks who argue that charities should be responsible for taking care of poor people, feeding the hungry, et cetera--particularly church charities. Usually I point out examples of charities who do not actually extend their services to everyone equally, for example the Salvation Army and its tendency to discriminate against queer folks.

Thinking about this counterargument, I wind up thinking to myself "How would you feel if the only place in town that offered you the help you needed to get by was an emissary of a different religion, and they would only offer help if you at least pretended to take up their creed?" I find a lot of people who say "Well, charities/the church should do/already do that!" are really only thinking about their own religious organizations and their own specific communities, and not thinking about the blunt reality that devout people who do not adhere to a religion that provides significant social services also exist.

Bonus if you can think of an example of a group of poor folks the speaker might actually identify with as an illustration--I think souperism might go over well for Irish-American white folks, for example.
posted by sciatrix at 11:14 AM on October 29 [8 favorites]


for example the Salvation Army and its tendency to discriminate against queer folks.

Oh hey I’m crying at lunch thinking about Jennifer Gale.
posted by nikaspark at 11:36 AM on October 29 [1 favorite]


How do you counter the "big government wants to take your hard-earned money and give it to lazy poor people" argument?

"Do you make more than a quarter-million dollars a year? No? Well, then it's not your money the government wants to take. What do you care if some lazy rich people are less rich for a while?" (And as noted: it helps a lot more hard-working poor people than lazy ones.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:45 AM on October 29 [7 favorites]


...there will indeed be lazy folk who get free money.

There are a lot of people who will never, ever accept that.


Beyond sexyrobot's Red-states-on welfare observation, that lot of people also already accepts those like the guy whose father gave him a million dollars a year from birth, and who managed to lose lots of it in crappy business deals. He currently claims to be a business genius and to be worth much, much more than he actually is. Boy, do they accept him.

If anyone tells me how hard CEOs work, I know they're pissing on my leg.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:46 AM on October 29 [3 favorites]


Bonus if you can think of an example of a group of poor folks the speaker might actually identify with as an illustration--I think souperism might go over well for Irish-American white folks, for example.

TIL what souperism is. Thank you sciatrix. Some of my ancestors were Irish and fled the famine (though I’ve no idea if they were Catholic or Protestant) and as an atheist I’ve always been twitchy about aid that comes inextricably bundled with religion.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 12:06 PM on October 29 [5 favorites]


"Do you make more than a quarter-million dollars a year? No? Well, then it's not your money the government wants to take."

Most of these people would still be against it out of principle. And even still, that's not enough of an argument to sway votes. The right is pushing hard with the message that governments take your hard-earned money and unfairly give it to moochers. The left is just not countering that argument with anything forceful enough. Working-class people are being turned against socialism and unions and welfare and wealth redistribution and everything that could help them and we're doing almost nothing to win back their votes. Logic and statistics won't work against Margaret Thatcher "...other people's money" quotes.
posted by rocket88 at 12:06 PM on October 29 [2 favorites]


We need to start relabeling tax breaks for businesses as mooching, as corporate welfare. (I know this is being done; we need more of it.) Need to point out, "hey, it's a business - if it can't survive by selling its products and services, why should the government help it out?"
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:21 PM on October 29 [3 favorites]


People who fancy themselves meritocrats aren't going to be like "oh gee, never thought of it that way" if you attempt to blow their minds with the concept of corporate welfare. They're going to see it as the government investing in something that is going to pay actual returns.

Almost all of our "messaging" brainstorming in here is liberals making arguments that sound good to other liberals.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:49 PM on October 29 [5 favorites]


Wow. I just got a mailer from the Michigan Republican Party accusing the Democratic candidate for Governor of supporting tax breaks for businesses. She's a very mainstream Democrat (who convincingly beat a leftward challenger in the primary), so I guess maybe this is the GOP trying to convince farther-left voters not to come out?
posted by Etrigan at 12:55 PM on October 29 [1 favorite]


Almost all of our "messaging" brainstorming in here is liberals making arguments that sound good to other liberals.

Because the way to win is not convincing the assholes to switch sides, it's convincing everyone on our side to turn out.
posted by edeezy at 12:57 PM on October 29 [7 favorites]


Sure; I'm thinking about the kinds of arguments that have worked for me in the past when arguing with folks who lean towards meritocracy, and which arguments appear to be fairly hard to counter. Mostly that is with certain kinds of independent folks who once (now?) leaned Republican.

Honestly, the biggest problem I see is countering the strange post-Reagan belief in the essential munificence and benevolence of corporations. You would not believe the resistance, anxiety, and outright fear or rage I see when I point out that a corporation is not a moral entity and has one goal: to yield profits as efficiently as possible. The essential interests of a corporation versus a government versus a nonprofit seem to have been strangely blurred together.
posted by sciatrix at 1:00 PM on October 29 [9 favorites]


The people who support meritocracy believe that they can imagine perfect equality into existence just by believing hard enough in themselves as the heroes and good guys "giving everyone a fair shot" to go compete against each other. Meritocracy is looked at like a sport and the workplace is the playing field.

The ways that is decidedly not supportive at all of any notion of actually supporting any kind of starting equality is easy to recognize by anyone not in a dominant power group.

People with social capital don't like being told they can't just imagine equality into existence inside their workplace and magically have it. These same people, based on my experiences, also don't like having the reality of interconnectedness pointed out to them. They want things to remain simplified. Complexity scares them.
posted by nikaspark at 1:40 PM on October 29 [2 favorites]


The Right has done a stunningly amazing job convincing people that no one involved in government could possibly be looking out for any interests but their own immediate ones. People who have benefited enormously from government investment in their educations, infrastructure, communities, finances, and safety scoff that anyone else "expects the government to be able to solve your problems." They have well and truly accepted that corruption doesn't matter because the government is de facto corrupt, and people who rip off the government for private profit aren't stealing form them, they're brave Omars getting back was had been unjustly gotten through dirty deeds. That's why the corruption of private profit never matters, because they see the government as so hopelessly compromised that they cheer anyone who gets one over on it, even if they end up paying the costs.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 2:33 PM on October 29 [5 favorites]


You would not believe the resistance, anxiety, and outright fear or rage I see when I point out that a corporation is not a moral entity and has one goal: to yield profits as efficiently as possible. The essential interests of a corporation versus a government versus a nonprofit seem to have been strangely blurred together.

These are also people for whom the government performs the most unobtrusive functions, eliding its presence in their daily lives to the point that they come to believe their lives of stability and privilege occur despite the existence of a strong state, not because of it. They believe the capitalist dictum that a maleficent corporation won't last long because people will stop patronizing such an entity, or that "corporate responsibility" is actually a functional economic principle rather than a form of marketing. They fully accepted the reframing of themselves as "customers" rather than "citizens." Yeah, the weird reverence people give corporations is like some kind of predatory brain worm that makes you crawl high enough on a blade of grass to get eaten.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 2:44 PM on October 29 [6 favorites]


I think souperism might go over well for Irish-American white folks, for example.

TIL what souperism is.



RE souperism, see also Rice Christian, a closely related term applied pejoratively originally to Asians who converted to Christianity because of the material benefits (esp. food) that came from being friends and co-religionists with missionaries.
posted by darkstar at 4:05 PM on October 29


Some other links:

Will Wilkinson on the need on "socialism," uncertainty and rigged capitalism. I loved this bit:
If rough seas keep tossing folks overboard, and people are barely keeping their heads above water (“Just keep paddling, Aunt Andrea!”), it’s not enough to be told that there’s usually a boat to swim to. We’re more willing to risk storm-tossed seas when the ship of state is bristling with lifeboats and manned by a competent crew.

[ . . . ]

A Republican Party that remains doggedly devoted to Grover Norquist’s goal of shrinking government until it’s small enough to drown in a bathtub isn’t pro-lifeboat. It’s pro-drowning.
Sheri Berman in the Washington Post on social democracy vs. democratic socialism. (I'm currently reading her book Primacy of Politics which includes details on the history she refers to in this piece.)
posted by mark k at 9:15 PM on October 29


re: progressive narratives (and bargaining power), worker ownership isn't a bad way to go! like there isn't too much dividing worker-owned coops and anarchist collectives :P

then maybe marry that with some 'atomic age' optimism?
What Problem Is Universal Basic Income Really Trying to Solve?

and like to overcome 'tribal' oppositional thinking (and those who fan it)
-Voting in the Midterms: Rebuking Trump's Tribalism and Hate
-Tribalism Isn't Our Democracy’s Main Problem. The Conservative Movement Is.

maybe it helps understanding how motivated reasoning biases our views towards confirming what we already believe?
-Why Humans Are Bad At Spotting Lies
-The Needs of a Nationalist-Populist Ideology
-Forget Details, Politics Today Are All About Big Ideas
-Americans Are Shifting The Rest Of Their Identity To Match Their Politics
-This Border Patrol Agent Resigned After Changing His Mind About Immigration

also btw...
The belief in ethnic bloc voting becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy
posted by kliuless at 6:19 AM on October 30 [4 favorites]




Kamala Harris' Big Policy Idea Is Even Worse Than I Thought
  • It's complicated.
  • It's extremely expensive.
  • It doesn't help the poorest of the poor.
  • It doesn't help the upper-middle class.
  • And it penalizes married couples, which means it violates social policy making 101.
posted by kliuless at 6:24 AM on November 6




"In 1942 FDR proposed a maximum income of $25,000 a year. 100% of income over $25,000 (approximately $387,000 today) would be taxed. Congress, corporations, and the rich lost their minds. But, amazingly, they compromised on 94%. FDR knew how to negotiate."
posted by kliuless at 2:34 PM on November 11


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