Un-Spinning the Spin: Progressives, We Are Mainstream After All

Greener Times
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

The co-founder of the After Downing Street Coalition, David Swanson, has just written a book, Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, which I will review for next week’s column. Swanson uses a reference to a Yes! Magazine article, “Our Own Agenda to Policies for a Better America” by Sarah van Gelder (August 2008), and, for this week’s column, I thought it would be encouraging to report on the compilation of several polls as reported in Gelder’s article.

Below is a list of progressive policies favored by the majority of Americans:

  • 67% favor public works projects to create jobs.
  • 73% say corporations don’t pay a fair share of taxes.
  • 76% support tax cuts for lower- and middle-income people.
  • 80% support increasing the federal minimum wage.
  • 70% support habeas corpus rights for detainees at Guantanamo.
  • 58% believe a court warrant should be required to listen to telephone calls.
  • 68% believe a president should not act alone to fight terrorism without checks and balances of courts and Congress
  • 79% favor mandatory controls on greenhouse gas emissions.
  • 90%  favor higher auto fuel efficiency standards.
  • 75%  favor clean electricity, even with higher rates.
  • 72% support more funding for mass transit.
  • 64% believe the government should provide national health insurance coverage for all, even if it would raise taxes.
  • 73% favor abolishing nuclear weapons, with verification.
  • 80% favor banning weapons in space.
  • 81% oppose torture and support following the Geneva conventions.
  • 85% say the United States should not initiate military action without support from allies.
  • 79% say the United Nations should be strengthened.
  • 63% wanted US forces home from Iraq within a year.
  • 7% [not a typo, just 7%] favor military action against Iran
  • 69%  favor using diplomatic and economic means to fight terrorism, not the military.
  • 86% say big companies have too much power.
  • 74% favor voluntary public financing of campaigns.
  • 66% believe intentional acts are likely to cause significant voting machine errors.
  • 80% say ex-felons should have their voting rights restored.
  • 65% believe attacking social problems is a better cure for crime than more law enforcement.
  • 87% support rehabilitation rather than a “punishment-only” system.
  • 80% favor allowing undocumented immigrants living in the United States to stay and apply for citizenship if they have a job and pay back taxes.

Clearly, the President and Congress are out of touch with what Americans want.

However, this raises the question as to why the Progressive Movement cannot get more Americans involved in confronting current government policies which clearly are in opposition to the policies the majority of Americans would like to see implemented.

Part of the answer may lie in the fact that the media paints a picture of a very conservative America. In addition, this era of political “bipartisanship” is also a ploy used by the corporate political parties as a way to convince Americans that only “centrist” or what we know to be “right-of-centrist” policies have any possibility of getting enough votes to pass.

Although many in the Progressive Movement feel the fight is an uphill battle, with no significant “wins” of late, the data above should give hope that left-of-center policies are alive and well.

The challenge for the Progressives Movement is to find a way to connect to the majority of Americans and bridge the differences in order to demand a change, a real change, in the way our country is being run and who is running it.

Our Own Agenda: An Economy Policy for a Better America

Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, by David Swanson, Seven Stories Press, NY, 2009.

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