The pre-pre-Progressive Manifesto….updated

One of the top ten Bash Democrats Constructions is ….The Democrats don’t stand for anything.

THE top problem with being a progressive is…..Wtf is a Progressive.

So as the Mainstream Democrats sail off once again to Never Never get elected Land and leave their base behind…it has become obvious that We The People have to take it upon ourselves to bring about the changes we want to see.

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In order to do that, the first step is to define who WE are. Of course we cannot describe who we are, because Progressivism is an idea, a way of thinking that cuts across all demographic boundaries. There are progressives of every description….and that is around the world, as well, not just in America.

No, Progressivism is an idea, a world view, a philosophy. So Progressivism can only be described by what it stands for, by what it wants, by what WE want….this world and our nation to be.

In the comments to my recent essay The Big Picture Vol. 1 many folks pointed out that before we can move forward as Progressives we need a manifesto as an organizing principle to define us and to rally around. Go ahead and click that link and scroll down a bit for a list and links to notable manifestos of the past, and some present ones. The list starts with the Declaration of Independence. If I wanted to get grandiose I could say that a new Declaration of Independence is indeed what we need. I think it is safe to say that whatever we end up with as a Progressive Manifesto….enacting it would indeed be revolutionary.

I thought first of writing some poor effort myself and putting it up for criticism and wiki-ing and additions and modifications. But then I realized that the way to go about it was a method more true to the progressive ideal. To have ALL of us writing it from the get go. To have as much input as possible and then start a winnowing effort to get us down to a VERY basic statement….a true distillation. From there we can expand again and add detail as needed so non-Progressives can understand in a deeper fashion, and also add any neato flowery language we want, hahaha.

So here is the idea. We start out with as many folks as possible (This Means YOU!) submitting lists of THEIR top priorities, then through discussion and simple collation (taking the items that appear in the most list and moving them to the top of the discussion agenda) we start to distill. We take as many rounds of distillation as needed until we get down to something that we are reasonably agreed upon. Voila, a manifesto.

This is exactly the kind of long term worthwhile project that gets lost and forgotten at DK in the spray of the firehose. Here we can make it a blog wide long term project, and take our time and hone it well. And THEN submit it over there to get lots of eyeballs, MORE comments and suggestions….and go to the next round of refining. I’ll be putting up a short essay on DK and other sites letting them know what we are up to so no one is excluded and we get the maximum input possible.

Getting started: Since this is the pre-pre-manifeto, lol….this is the time and place to talk about the general idea, the general form (important!) and to discuss all the meta-implications etc. I would also urge everyone again to read kid oakland’s piece on where we are right now. We ARE truly at a crossroads and ready to enter a new era. We can help to shape that through this effort.

There are two general categories that very much intertwine and overlap, Principles…..and Issues. How to deal with these two categories is something we need to discuss too, as far as form especially. To get us all started here are some lists I have found, one dealing more with principles…one more with issues. And I will add some of my own as well.

Simplify made a list

Individual liberty – self-determination.

Equality before the law, and equality of opportunity.

The consent of the governed.
The rule of law under a social contract (the Constitution).
Better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man go to jail.
Innocent until proven guilty.
Separation of powers among legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
Freedom and independence of the press.
Government transparency, for a well-informed citizenry.
Open, fair elections for lawmakers.
Accountability to the citizens for political power and economic power alike.
Clear limits on the powers of government officials.

TheRef has one too, nicely tongue in cheek.
# Broad-based increase in taxes, equitable redistribution of the tax burden to all people / corporations.
# Defunding the troops in Iraq.
# Complete, immediate, unconditional withdrawal from Iraq.
# Abolishment of the current health care system and substitution of a single-payer, government provided health care system for everyone.
# Continuation of the current social security system.
# Registration / control of guns.
# Empathy for illegal aliens currently in the country.
# Discontinuance of spying on Americans without a court order.
# Truthfulness in government, political and corporate leaders.
# Rebuilding of our international relationships; political, economic, trade, cultural, etc.
# Public funding of elections.
# Non-ideological, secular judges for the Courts.
# Term limits for all elected offices.
# Shorter election cycles, primary seasons.
# Equal rights, under the Constitution, to all.
# A home for every individual.
# Freedom from hunger.
# An education (to the heights of one’s desires and ability) for everyone.
# Opportunity for each to attain his/her dreams.
# A livable environment for ourselves and all succeeding generations.
# A boy named Dick, a girl named Jane and a dog named Spot for every home.

(for the record, I would go with Fido)

My List, partial, of course.

Climate Change needs to be the paradigm for all planning.

Which leads to, the immediate need for a program akin to the Space Program of JFK to develop Alternative Energy and severely reduce dependence on foreign oil and oil in general.

Which leads to ending the war in Iraq so we have money to spend on that program. (just think what we could have done with the Trillion dollars spent to get control of Iraqi oil!)

Which leads to Alternative Energy as a National Defense issue.

Public Financing of Elections…….an absolute , imo.

Voting and election reform; paper trails etc.

Transparency in government ….and transparency in the transparency process. A citizen oversight committee? Combined with/started as….

A Truth and Justice-like commission to investigate the excesses of the Bush Administration, and government in general.

Lobbyist reform.

Health Care reform.

Education reform. Including reforming financing for college education.

As I say, a partial list. All of us I think see the need for the Netroots to do a better job organizing using the tools we have. Armando is talking about what the Netroots can and should be, aek has just put up a VERY worthy essay on the overall process, ANKOSS is talking about fighting corporatism. I think we all feel it, I think we all are realizing the need for a deep and fundamental change in the way things are done….and I think we all see the Net as a HUGE tool in STARTING to accomplish the changes we all want to see, the changes we all know we need.

Use whatever form or format is comfortable for you, and remember we also need to talk about HOW to do this and the process itself, etc.

It is a long journey!

Let’s get started!


In a couple of days I will publish again on this….get YOUR list together for that essay!!!


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  1. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

  2. she lays out a process very nicely.

    The relevant section to this part of the project:

    This is the most critical piece of the whole shebang.  Get the mission right, and the movement, well – MOVES!  Make the mission and vision overly complicated, obtuse and tortuous, and the progress will be halting, if it happens at all. This is the one time to get as many influentials and grassroots members to the table and hash out and distill the essence of just what the progressive movement/netroots movement IS!  Yes, you must know what the meaning of the word is, IS!*g*

    Qualities of strong mission statements are clarity, brevity and uniqueness. A mission statement answers the question of WHY this entity exists.

    Next comes the all powerful vision statement. It answers the question of the future WHAT?  What is the ultimate iteration or goal of the progressive netroots?  What does it look like?  What does it do?  Who does it include? Where is it?

    Then the statement of values.  Again, this is the time for brutal honesty.  What are the most important and relevant elements for the progressive netroots?

    That’s the foundational and preliminary work which must be done in some form before any of the actual process can occur.

    • Alma on September 25, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    I’m an old school type girl.

  3. That’s the kind of freedom I want to spread.  Freedom from violence via mankind also for all men, women, children, and others…..and I still don’t understand how we can spread peace and democracy aka freedom from violence by using guns and bombs.  I know, I’m simple and shallow and that’s why I can’t seem to understand how that works.

  4. Don’t be discouraged by temporary defeats.  Every day we keep fighting is a victory in itself.

    We are a flood that cannot be stopped so long as we all continue to contribute our voices drop by drop to the struggle.

    And if it keeps on raining….

  5. Forgot the cat name PUFF
    and SALLY is crying

  6. the common good, which Ive been thinking about all morning. Self determination with out taking the common good into consideration seems to be part of our problem. I also think this common good should be global as our problem are beyond just our boarders.

  7. about not fucking children?  i mean, it seems so obvious….and yet….
    actually, personal protections/’ownership’ rights for every ‘body’ for his/her own body.  inside and out. 

    and besides that, i have one of them thar wild hairs about privacy these days.  and net neutrality. 

    and if it ends up being an undeniable iron-clad manifesto that nobody in his/her right mind would dare to disagree with, can we throw in mandatory 3-day weekends as ‘pork’?

    • Armando on September 25, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    None of you would define me as a Progressive.

    I do not know what the word means really anyway, other than it is very attractive politically so folks want it for themselves.

    I am a Centrist.

    I think what would be interesting is to tick off the list of issues that mean the most to you.

    For me #1 RIGHT NOW is Iraq. Thus a national security policy that is the opposite of what Bush has done is imperative. But what are my views? I have written tons on it. I am far to the right of most of you. General Clark is my model on this.

    What about other issues? Civil liberties and civil rights are my top non-Iraq issues. they are litmus test for me.

    What about free trade? I am for it.

    What about immigration? For it.

    What about universal health care? For it.

    What about environmental issues? I am for doing something about them?

    Taxes? Raise them on the wealthy. Reinstate the estate tax permanently. Reinstate fair capital gains. Lower taxes for the poorest.

    Just for starter.

    • snud on September 25, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    …if not make a mild adjustment:

    The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of human decency for all.

    (It’s hard to experience “happiness” if you or the people you care about aren’t experiencing basic human rights, decency and dignity)

    When we define pursuing “human decency for all” we get into the particulars of rights (or what should be) like healthcare, education, food, shelter, freedom of speech, religion, etc. and these are the things that, hopefully, lead to a decent shot at happiness for all.

    Woah… I shouldn’t fuck with TJ, should I?

  8. for global and a list for national.

    Global:  Concentration on reducing global

      End the War in Iraq!

      Reduce world hunger


      Alternative energies geared toward
    producing JOBS, sorely needed in this country (which is in bankrupty via China).

      Restoration of former laws, particulary, habeas corpus


      Health care and shelter

    The list is endless, but I think focussing on the most important efforts first is essential — if that were done, some of the issues might just fall into place as a result.  Creating good, truth-based slogans to be repeated over and over to drive home the crucial issues.

    • robodd on September 25, 2007 at 9:09 pm

  9. i prefer the term progressive to liberal; i self identify with the l-word, but recognize the baggage issue noted here by others.


    corporate welfare needs to be on the table. i’m all for public investment (in r&d), but giveaways to entities whose output does not accrue to some sense of a common good is some stale bullshit.

    ditto a lot of corporate tax breaks. looking at you, oil companies.

    real campaign finance reform.

    making environmental protection / restoration / preservation a core value at home, as well as a much more significant aspect to our diplomatic efforts.

    corporate accountability. let’s start yanking charters of bad actors who no longer merit the citizenship status that a charter of incorporation bestows.

    to hell with the pre-emptive war bush doctine, natch.

    health care for all.

    access to education for all (and more amply-funded grant and loan programs needed to make it happen)

    i’ll start smacking myself on the forehead about three seconds after i post at the sheer breadth of critical stuff i’m overlooking…

  10. It didn’t take long because there’s only 5 words in it:

    President Gore and Vice President Kucinich.

    These 5 words encapsulate everything I believe in and want to achieve as a member of the Progressive Movement and the Netroots.

  11. and what you have done with this site. I think that Self-change is a key element to any successful movement for a new paradigm. Since the root causes of our problems are people then when people make the choice to change themselves i.e. cultivate the higher qualities that humans can display, the system will reflect that change. I think perhaps that instead of thinking what kind of system do we need the question should be what kind of people do we need to become.

  12. to use, i.e., Liberal, Progressive, Centrist, etc. — how about Homosapiens? Who could argue with that?  Or how about Humanists?

    O.K., just kidding — I think we’ll get there with the RIGHT word!

    • TheRef on September 25, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Care must be exercised to not end with a ton of words that net down to: “Whatever them guys are for, we ain’t.”

    Each time an idea is brought forward, it should be exercised using an old trick of marketing: The S.W.O.T. test. Once you can determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of any proposed idea, you can better deal with the strategy and tactics of embedding that idea into the nation’s culture and life-stream. Too often, we weigh-down the magnificence of a work with too much detail, too many amendments …a philosophy becomes dogma and much of the citizenry run the other way.

    I don’t think it wise to provide a how-to, step-by-step document …not a paint-by-numbers piece. Whatever the work product, it must be living and breathing, simple in structure but intellectually deep…. sort of a flexible platform on which to anchor this side of the aisle.

  13. The limits of blogs which include group essaying and free commenting are evident here.

    That is, there is no ability to remained on topic and disciplined in the thinking and in the work to be accomplished.  When it’s always a free-for-all in allowing and encouraging comments and expression, there is a concomitant lack of organization, consensus and movement.

    I would refer you to the essay I wrote about the boring, but essential tools of project management.  Take a look at the planning pieces necessary and see if there is some utility in referring to them when responding in this essay or in Armando’s essay about his perceived leadership failure.

    Please pay particular attention to considering which type of venue best allows the foundational work to be accomplished.

    Right now we’re smack dab in the middle of herding chickens!  Lots of noise – much of it valuable, but indiscernible from the overall busy-ness of the crowd of participants.

    • Pluto on September 25, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    1. I have no skin in the game (I’m expatriating out of this failed nation); and

    2. I have more in common, as a political strategist, with Karl Rove than Howard Dean.

    But, what the hell. Here’s what I see:

    Your Manifesto approach is upside down. You’re trying to move a mountain from the bottom up — instead of the top down.

    Inspiring and organizing the “netroots” is like grinding over and over again that which is already powder, budhy. And it doesn’t get you any closer to the people you need to reach.

    So, who are these people you need? They are the American sheeple — or as I call them — “The Manchurian Voters.” You can’t control America without them.

    Now, here’s how we Plutocrats program the Manchurian Voters: They are too stupid to talk to; they just want to watch TV. So we terrify them with Orwellian memes. By the time we’re done, they will vote FOR our corporations and AGAINST their own self-interest every single time. And it’s so easy to do!

    We keep our manifesto secret and instead we introduce memes and use them over and over again until they stick. We have a subversive army that inserts them into every blog, and calls every hate radio talk show, until the meme trickles up to become the common “truth” on everyone’s lips.

    So, I suggest you start with a list of the Memes and work back from there.

    What makes a Meme work? It’s gotta be both scary and sloganish. (We’re fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here.) For example:

    Are we pro-choice? Yawn. Do we demand reproductive rights? ZZzzzz….

    No! You say “The Republicans want Forced Human Pregnancy!” Yeah — the Republicans want to strap ’em to a prison bed and force them squeeze out another human being from between their legs.

    Are our opponents pro-life?

    No! Republicans are supporting The Dealth Penalty for Women who Abort. Because Republicans support State Sanctioned Murder (capital punishment) and they think women who abort are murderers!

    Here’s the best one in recent history — and it worked!

    Betrayus Politics — When the president forces the military to shill foreign policy. (I heard this one on the newstalk today. Horray. It’s going to be around for the rest of our lives, thank god. Maybe it will even save our lives.)

    Now, maybe only Karl and I have the stomach for this kind of winner-take-all political strategy.

    But that’s how it’s done — and that’s how we Plutocrats will continue doing it.

    • plf515 on September 25, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    combining the comments will be a fascinating job.  Is anyone here an expert on textual analysis?  There are programs that can help do this, although I’ve never used them.

  14. There’s a lot of meat in terms of reference essays.  Is anyone minding the tags and systemetizing them here?  Wonder if a tag of reference or some other term would be useful to be able to call these up on demand.  PLF515’s essays come to mind, as do your essays, some of Armando’s reference essays, and those of mine that deal with project management and leadership principles.

  15. everybody already drank the booze and smoked the good stuff.. This is what you get for coming late.

    My ideas are boring:
    Universal health care and universal access to some form of post secondary education.

    Out of Iraq

    Federally mandated and protected: vacation time, sick leave, pregnancy leave, scrap FMLA and give it teeth so workers can take paid leave for family needs, for all part time and full time workers.

    Publically financed elections and ban television advertising.

    Tax fast food heavily and give food subsidies to all working families regardless of whether they are employed or not with some sort of means test which is very very tricky. End subsidies to agri-corp farms and transfer the subsidies to family/small farms engaged in organic or sustainable agriculture.

    Legalize some drugs ( I haven’t worked out which ones) and prostitution.

    Allow gay marriage with the same privileges straight people have.

    Put a cap on drug prices, and executive compensation.

    A bunch of other really cool things that I thought about when this question wasn’t asked. This is all off the cuff.

  16. “I’m thinkin’ I’m thinkin'”

    And so I am. Reading and thinking and I’m thinking this is a most excellent endeavor and will do what I can to help out.

    Thanks for starting this Buhdy and to aek for her great outlines offered today.

    Some immediate thoughts about where to consider getting more input:

    DFA Coalition groups page see National Grassroots Groups listed there and consider DFA site in general

    Progressive Democrats of America site

    I recommend you check out their priorities under issues and their strategies under “about pda” Check out who their board members are too!

  17. But I take Armando’s framing seriously, so I am also a centrist.

  18. *mandatory public service, because shared rights come with shared responsibilities, 
    *an end to “corporate personhood,” because equal rights need to be equal.

    1. But but you should forgive my insanity

  19. Issues are not the equivalent of values.

    This is what we did as part of the Minnesota Values Project.  We whittled our core values down to six.  This way, the values are memorable and can be consistently enumerated by everyone.  Central to this strategy is that people can agree with your values even if they don’t necessarily agree on every issue.  Values can unite in ways that issues can’t.

    Anyhow, more can be found at the Minnesota Values Project website.

  20. I start with:

    1) The flow of information

    – Net neturality
    – Fairness doctrine
    – Prohibiting government ownership or manipulation of media
    – Requiring news media organization to be independent

    2) Restoring the Common Good

    – Universal health care
    – Universal retirement
    – Workers rights and rebuilding unions
    – Requiring all young people to do a 2 year civil service program following primary education
    – Making national security a common good:  draft vs. volunteer forces, public vs. private forces.

    3) Fiscal discipline

    – Raising taxes to pay for services that demonstrate clear value to tax payers
    – Restoring a progressive tax code that more evenly balances income inequities in line with what is good for the country and not for  an elite.
    – Creating a transparent tax collection system

    4) Government Ethics

    – Legislate a means to allow Congress to police itself without locking down an Ethic Committee.
    – End private financing for elections.  Elections should be paid for out of a common pot and advertising for elections should be free.
    – Reestablish Congress as the only power capable of declaring war.
    – Prohibit recess appointments by the Executive
    – Require that any elected offical can be removed  through a recall process.

    5) Civil liberties

    – Prohibit domestic surveillance of citizenry
    – Restore habeas corpus
    – Restore posse comitatus
    – Repeal the DMCA
    – Repeal the MCA

    6) Ponies

    – Ensure that every citizen receive a pony on their birthday.

    • lezlie on September 26, 2007 at 3:17 am

    would be:

    1. an end to corporate personhood…there is no existential reality where a corportation is equal to a living, breathing person.

    2. Clear Separation of Church (temple, cathedral, synagogue,mosque, tent, etc.) and State spelled out in the manifesto in NO uncertain terms!

    3. Equality across the board.

    4. Public financing of elections… NO extra cash for anyone! Free equal time for candidates on the public airways.

    5. Absolutely fair and transparent verifiable elections.

    6. Fair taxation on all to finance necessary running of the country (education, healthcare, infrastructure, administrative costs including elections, reasonable defense).

  21. …be helpful as a jumping-off point is the Port Huron Statement.

    • dkmich on September 26, 2007 at 4:43 am

    seperation of church and state; jobs/trade/the race to the bottom; and the right to form unions.  The middle class of tax payers in this country are the most under represented class of people in this country.  We pay the bills, and we get nothing in return and no say so.  As witnessed by the last 40 – 50 years, the middle class has been caught between George Wallace, the Great Society, Evangelicals, neocons,the DLC,and corporate crooks.

    In the midst of a crisis, Roosevelt and Churchill laid out the underpinnings of our current daily lives even though the immediate short-term challenges they faced were by no means certain.

      There are no more Roosevelts or Churchills.  All we have are sports heroes, movie stars, and corporate crooks. 

  22. …a big portion of it, although I think mixing immediate stuff – like Iraq – with longer-range stuff is problematic in a manifesto.

    Let me disagree with one item from that long list: term limits, at least narrow ones, are a bad idea.

    Term limits in California have been highly damaging to good government. They mean that you’ll never get a legislator like Henry Waxman with deep and broad knowledge of government who can dig into misfeasance, corruption and stupidty.

    In California, legislators must depend on their staffs to get a sense of proposed laws. And because staffs have been condensed because of budget cuts, the legislator finds herself beholden to ideology and outside experts. You know who those are: lobbyists.


    • xenic on September 26, 2007 at 5:19 am

    Belief in the ideals of Equality and Liberty – as applied to daily civic life: Every human is entitled to being held as Equal to any other;  Every human is Free, and it it the goal of the state to support that freedom.


    • fotyc on September 26, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    The US will be a committed citizen of the world community instead of seeking to dominate it.

    The US will promote democracy in the world by first sustaining it at home through the US Constitution.  We will not subvert democracy elsewhere if we don’t like who gets freely elected.

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