The Tea Party, like Lucifer in Milton's Paradise Lost, made the choice, "That it is better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." Destroyed by its own glaring contradictions, almost bringing down America economically with it, the Conservative political ideology no longer provides useful ideas or any real solutions. All that is left is extremism and insanity, there isn't even a coherent plan.
As we see today, the Government has been shutdown and we approached the edge of the debt ceiling cliff essentially over nothing. The deal the Senate has crafted funds government until January and the debt ceiling has been extended until February 7, 2013. This deal could have been done without all the phony hype and drama and was available two weeks ago, but instead America was treated to street theatre of the absurd.
What we know today is that Milton Friedman's extreme Free Market Capitalism does not work. Far from promoting freedom, Friedman's ideas have only created gross income inequality and economic hardship on most Americans. Tax cuts for the wealthy is capable of redistributing just as much wealth to the rich as state communism ever did to the working class and poor. We have also begun to learn that employment not deficits is the most important deficit that needs reducing right now.
The reality after today is that there is a huge empty vacuum of ideas politically. The Democratic Party hasn't had an independent idea since Ronald Reagan first began this thirty year experiment with corporate fascism. Here are some ideas that have been kicking around for awhile but with all the Right Wing sound and fury that we now know truly does signify absolutely nothing, were once relegated to the ideological dust bin during the Democratic Party's period of intellectual irrelevance. (1968-2013).
We need to begin our national rebirth by asserting once and for all that Corporations are not people and are not entitled to free speech, particularly when that speech drowns out the needs of real people.
We need to confess and repudiate all forms of torture. Our foreign policy from now on should be based on advancing the cause of human rights not corporate rights. Free trade is here to stay so we will lower protective tariffs and trade freely with any nation that respects women's rights, work place rights including the right to organize, and the peoples civil rights expressed in free and fair democratic elections, including our own.
We need to recognize that neither supply side nor demand side economics by themselves will enable us to live sustainably and in harmony with our earth. It is a delicate question of balance. That means it is time to stop pretending that global climate change is a hoax and start addressing the creation of sustainable energy sources. It is also time to stop treating working people as a resource of production. That said, we must not leave the workers in fossil fuels behind or any worker as we bring America into manufacturing in the 21st century. You cannot create wealth if you make nothing.
We must have a sort of GI Bill for fossil fuel employees such as coal miners, and oil field, and fracking workers, so that we can retrain them for new green energy jobs. That will involve training, education, retooling and rebuilding our infrastructure, and redesigning new factories to make the products to power the switch to green energy.
The lesson we should have taken out of the last twenty years particularly, is that sometimes it is necessary to increase debt with the analogy being the home owner who must do significant maintenance and home improvement or he/she will lose their investment in the house. Our infrastructure is crumbling with 1 out of every four bridges in the United States sub-standard from an engineering stand point. Our water and sewer systems as well as roads are crumbling from neglect caused by a misguided belief that deficits not jobs and structural competitiveness in a global economy was the most important consideration.
We must go back to being a nation of laws where everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law. We must begin by breaking up the banks with a new modern version of Glass-Steagle and we need to place a tax on stock transactions. The Wall Street bubble casino where CEO's get to keep the profits but working Americans must repay the losses is over.
The whole deregulation agenda is misguided and mistaken. Business has proven themselves incapable of self regulation and the whole concept makes about as much sense as making the criminal code voluntary. Criminals and CEO's will try to get by with as much as they can. we have seen plenty of that here recently.
We need a simplified and progressive tax structure. The lessons of the last thirty years have proven that taxation redistributes wealth either up or down the scale. Tax increases on the wealthy are needed to redistribute wealth back to the demand side of the economy if we are ever to really begin to create an adequate number of jobs and provide for fair and just wages. Thirty years of tax cutting for the wealthy has redistributed the most wealth in history up the scale from the middle class to the wealthy and now there is little demand to stimulate economic growth.
We need to honestly confront poverty because this is what creates the unfair disparity in our children's education, not teachers, and neither privatization, or Charter Schools and standardized testing, addresses educational inequality. All have actually been implicated in creating it.
These rough ideas, from where I am standing, would be a good start in restoring the promise of this nation to all Americans not just the most well connected. It is time to can Milton Friedman's Free Market Ideology. It brought us very close to the end of our democratic experiment but today we survived and like the Ancient Mariner in the Coleridge poem we need to tell the tale so that we don't repeat these mistakes again.