November 2012 is over a year away, but the media is already focusing attention on the roar of a minor political wing, the Tea Party, on its Republican party, via the horn of Michele Bachmann. It's a page that liberal progressives are ready to rip out of the marketing book for themselves. And progressive community leader Van Jones has started, by announcing a Rebuild the American Dream movement. Permeating our society, he said, are unpatriotic lies that are causing both an economic and environmental crisis. These lies are: we're broke; taxing the super rich is bad for our economy; government is bad, so don't support it (that one began in the Reagan era); we're helpless against Wall Street. To counter these lies, Jones has called on Americans to bring forth ideas on how to Rebuild the American Dream, and the progressive organization Moveon.org is organizing thousands of house parties across our country to collect and discuss these ideas.
As we sit in a log cabin deep in green aspen woods below the purple mountain majesties of the Colorado Rockies, we are far from those house parties, but our ideas grow as fast as the alpine wildflowers. Here's our take.
We propose the formation of the Green Patriots as a progressive wing of the Democratic Party, supported by the following planks of beliefs for Rebuilding the American Dream:
- If you want a good democracy and economy, you need a good government. We're all for cutting unnecessary expenditures, but government and economy work in tandem. Government provides and supports the infrastructure -- civil, educational, health, and physical -- under which the economy operates. Just as business owners must invest to expand their businesses, if the economy is to grow, so must we invest to grow the government.
- The rich must pay their fair share of taxes. If you want a good government, you gotta pay for it. This means restoring a reasonable tax structure for the very wealthy, who now pay far less than most Americans, proportionately, in taxes -- in many cases their tax load is as low as 15%. As Van Jones pointed out, "If you do well in America, you should do well by America." A reasonable balance must be struck in the allocation of economic resources within our society. Sequestering too much wealth among the rich and starving the rest results in the economic crisis we're seeing today, as Robert Reich so eloquently explained. Besides repealing the tax breaks for the wealthy, we support a tax on Wall Street stock transactions, as so wisely proposed by Van Jones recently, as a means of raising needed revenues from those who profit from the US economy.
- Use the revenues to promote a healthy, safe, economic and social future. This can be accomplished best by switching to an economy powered by clean renewable energy and energy efficiency. Fossil fuels are ultimately more costly than clean renewable energy and energy efficiency, because of the huge costs they create by poisoning human health, damaging our environmental resources, protecting foreign sources of oil, and harming our climate. So, it pays for our economy to switch to cheaper and clean sources of energy. To do so, tax breaks on fossil fuel industries should be shifted, and government revenues used to support tax breaks on clean renewable energy and energy efficiency in the market place, as we have long advocated in our free downloadable book. To ensure the unemployed and our returning soldiers a source of employment that truly protects our country economically and environmentally, we also propose using revenues to train a national work corps to install solar panels on 50 million US rooftops, including buildings at all levels of government, and on private and commercial rooftops at a price that will be an incentive.
- Support candidates that support these values and visions. We will support those candidates who pledge to uphold our values and visions, and who take the economic pledge of allegiance, upheld by all Green Patriots: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to uphold my economic obligations to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty, environmental quality, and economic justice for all.
Recent travels to Turkey and Bhutan reminded us that the climate crisis is global. In Turkey we personally witnessed torrential downpours that caused flooding, extreme weather of the type predicted to increase under climate change. In Bhutan, we learned that the largest part of the government workforce is devoted to maintaining the national road, which is seasonally damaged from flooding, expected by the Bhutanese to worsen under continued climate change. It only takes 3 minutes to explain the hot story of how global warming causes climate change, and why it pays to switch to clean renewable energy and energy efficiency, even if one chooses to deny that burning fossil fuels causes climate change. And it is time for the US to lead again, by re-inventing ourselves. Investing in a secure future by voting for leaders and a government that execute a fast switch to clean renewable energy and energy efficiency should be a top priority of all American voters, and the Green Patriots can be a banner under which to rally.