Neither of the two major political parties offer the country what it needs. The Republican party imagines that if only government became less costly and restrictive with lower taxes and fewer regulations, economic growth would make up for inequality. If this party had its way, inequality would become even greater than it is now and threaten freedom and prosperity even more than it now does.
The Democratic Party proposes no new direction. Its idea is to put a human face on the program of its adversaries, to implement their program with a humanizing discount. Give the bond markets what they want. Bail out the reckless so long as they are also rich. Use fiscal and monetary stimulus to make up for the absence of any consequential broadening of economic and educational opportunity. Sweeten the pill of disempowerment with a touch of tax fairness even though the effect of any such tax reform is sure to be modest. This is less a project then it is an abdication.
America seethes with vitality. Nowhere in the world is there more energy and ingenuity defused through the whole population. Much of this talent goes wasted. The deepest cause of the financial and economic crisis that the United States has recently undergone is that the country stopped producing at competitive prices enough goods and services that the rest of the world wants. It then tries to escape the consequences of this failure by living as if the failure had not occurred. It put a fake credit democracy in place of the property owning democracy that it turned into an ever more distant ideal. The government bribed, placated, and finally abandoned the people instead of equipping them.
What then should the program be, and this finance in the service of the real economy rather than allowing it to serve itself?
Broaden the gateways of access to the vanguards of innovative knowledge base production and disseminate advanced experimental productive practices among the small and medium-sized businesses that form the heart of the American economy.
Make available to all Americans a type of education that accords priority to capability both conceptual and practical of analysis, synthesis, and recombination of ideas and of things.
And to this end reconcile the local management of the schools with national standards of investment and quality.
Engage society in the competitive provision of public services as the best way of enhancing their quality while using the powers of government to ensure a universal minimum of provision.
Insist on the high level of taxation required for the financing of such alternatives. What matters in the short term is the overall level of the tax take and how it is spent. Later on it can be made more progressive through a steeply progressive tax on individual consumption.
And above all, take politics out of the shadow of money.
This program fails to fit within the limits of the two major progressive traditions in American history. One tradition defends small-scale property and small business. Another tradition seeks to regulate big business so that it not damage the public interest. It is no longer enough to protect small business or to regulate big business or to attenuate economic inequalities through compensatory redistribution by taxation and transfer payments.
We need to democratize the market, to renew its institutional arrangements, so that more people can have more access to more markets in more ways so that they can stand on their own feet and make something of themselves. We cannot democratize the market economy unless we also deepen democracy.
President Obama must be defeated in the coming election. He has failed to advance the progressive cause in the United States. He has spent trillions of dollars to rescue the moneyed interests and left workers and homeowners to their own devices. He has subordinated the broadening of economic and educational opportunity to the important but secondary issue of access to healthcare in the mistaken belief that he would be spared the fight. He has disguised his surrender with an empty appeal to tax justice. He has delivered the politics of democracy to the rule of money. He has reduced justice to charity. His policy is financial confidence and food stamps. He has evoked a politics of handholding; but no one changes the world without a struggle. Unless he is defeated, there cannot be a contest for the reorientation of the Democratic Party as the vehicle of a progressive alternative in the country.
There will be a cost for his defeat in judicial and administrative appointments. The risk of military adventurism, however, under the rule of his opponents will be no greater than it would be under him.
Only a political reversal can allow the voice of Democratic prophecy to speak once again in American life. Its speech is always dangerous. Its silence is always fatal.
Transcribed by The Barefoot Accountant