The Big Ideas Project and how to get everything on our Christmas policy list

December 16, 2014 at 11:04 am

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee recently launched The Big Ideas project.

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At this site, people like you and me can submit ideas we have for a better country. It’s a great idea.

Some ideas from the current front page include:

  • Debt-free college
  • A law to regulate out-of-district money in elections
  • Full employment
  • A basic income guarantee
  • Reversing Citizens’ United
  • Expanding social security
  • Etc.

The trouble I have is that I want all of these things. I don’t just want to focus on one or two.

I want major change. So I asked myself the question: What’s holding us back from major change?

I believe the biggest thing that’s holding us back from doing these things is a corporate special interest group idea. It’s the idea that government should serve the interests of corporations and this will, in turn, be good for everyone.

I know, crazy right? But a lot of people have bought into this notion because it has been sold to us as “freedom” in the form of smaller government.

The corporate special interest marketing and educational campaign has been so successful, in fact, that it dominates public discussion and opinion to the point where I don’t think we’re going to get anything on the PCCC’s wonderful big ideas list until we can convince more people that there’s a better way.

That is, the proposals on the big idea list make sense to us because we believe in a different definition of our country. We believe our country is a democracy that should start with people and we believe freedom is about opportunity and shared prosperity.

All the policies at the big ideas site make sense to us because of these beliefs. The problem is they don’t and won’t make sense to many, many people unless we first revive ideas about democracy.

This is why my big idea is about how to revive democracy and make possible more of the policy ideas on the big ideas list.

Top tip for talking about the economy: Use the active voice

October 8, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Do you need to be an economist to talk about the economy?

Sometimes I think we think that. “We” being people and “that” being “a Ph.D. in economics is needed.”

If we cede the economic conversation to corporate special interests, however, we lose on issue after issue to the laissez-faire economic story: “Let the markets work.”

At the “Pope is Dope” messaging session this year at Netroots, the panel was asked: What is the biggest mistake people make in conversations?

Without hesitation, Anat Shenker-Osorio responded: “Overuse of the passive voice.”

“People do things,” she said, “If you don’t make it sound like it’s people caused, it is cognitively impossible for it to be people fixed.”

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#Rally4Equality: If we care about equality, we should care about democracy

September 4, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Some friends of mine are helping to put together the #Rally4Equality next week in Washington, D.C.

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They asked me if I’d ever written anything about equality. I’ve written about economic equality, I said.

To be quite honest, the idea scared the crap out of me.

Why? I typically write about economics and framing. What could I say about women’s rights that hasn’t been said by several generations of women activists and suffragist leaders?

Of course I was also intrigued. What could I say?

So I told them I’d think about it.

One question that kept coming up: How would I explain women’s rights and equality to my conservative friends? Could I even talk about this issue with conservatives? Could I convince conservatives that equality was an issue worth fighting for?

Below are my early attempts and what I learned.

Because I’m tired of explaining a conservative health care law to conservatives

December 6, 2013 at 11:30 am

If you haven’t noticed yet, the conservative wedge issue for 2014 is going to be health care.

Democratic Senators like Mary Landrieu have noticed.

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They simply don’t appear to have much of a strategy to date: 1) apologize for the horrible website, 2) focus on the economy, and 3) keep explaining to conservatives why a conservative solution is not such a bad thing.

If we can’t do better, well before November, expect to lose the Senate.

Don’t forget to win the moral high ground and kill this lie that ‘Democrats won’t negotiate’

October 17, 2013 at 9:11 pm

In the aftermath of the shutdown publicity stunt, I’d like to take a moment for a friendly public service announcement.

This morning, I’ve seen several examples online where we’re inadvertently reinforcing the conservative idea that Democrats “won’t negotiate”.

Two of the most prominent are a) The New York Times “The Republican Surrender”, and b) the Rachel Maddow chart shown.

I’m posting this PSA because I want to win people over, not “beat” them or force them to surrender. This feeds right in to the idiocy about Democrats not being willing to negotiate.

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Remember, the negotiation is still going to happen. Just like it was in April.

If you want to perform a public service and help get rid of this lie, it’s easy.

Senator Warren on the shutdown and why government matters

October 4, 2013 at 9:59 am

Perhaps the most important speech of the year: Elizabeth Warren on why government matters.

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The Food Stamp Response: What Dems Said and What They Should Have Said

February 8, 2012 at 12:04 am

By now, you’ve heard the Gingrich line about Obama being the “food stamp” President.

Tuesday in Cincinnati, he repeated the claim:

That’s why I’ve said over and over again that this is the best food stamp President in American history.

Here’s how Democrats responded and here’s how they should have responded.

The Argument Against Voter ID That You Won’t See in the Media

December 12, 2011 at 10:54 pm

When it comes to voter ID programs, what’s the typical mainstream media article look like? One side says that the programs prevent voter fraud, the other says that they are “designed to stifle turnout among students, poor people and minorities, who are more likely to vote for Democrats.” The media […]

Occupy Thanksgiving: How to Talk a Little Turkey with Your Relatives

November 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm

A great post by spocko over at FDL got me thinking about Thanksgiving … … and the inevitable comments from my conservative Uncle. What’s he going to bring up this year? I’ll lay odds that somewhere between the turkey and dressing and the pumpkin pie my Uncle is going to […]

A Better Way to Frame “Maximalist”

July 1, 2011 at 11:58 am

In the recent debate over increasing the debt ceiling, the White House has coined a new term to describe the GOP’s position: maximalist. What the White House means is that the GOP wants 100% of what they want and doesn’t want to give anything in return. For example, the GOP […]