The difference between understanding oneself as a "citizen" and understanding oneself as a "taxpayer" is not merely wide; it is antagonistic. A citizen thinks primarily about his or her community. A taxpayer thinks mostly about himself or herself. The Progressive Agenda seeks to return us to the adult responsibility of being citizens to each other.
What is Elizabeth Warren up to? Elizabeth Warren's offhand remark in an interview with People magazine strongly suggested that the Massachusetts senator has revised her previous firm declarations of non-candidacy for president and is now deliberately leaving the door open a crack. Asked whether she was considering a run in 2016, Warren said disarmingly, "I don't think so," but added, "If there's any lesson I've learned in the last five years, it's don't be so sure about what lies ahead. There are amazing doors that could open." That sure opened one door. Is Warren really thinking about challenging frontrunner Hillary Clinton? I'd be surprised if Warren has made any decision on that question, but her remark immediately set off two kinds of political waves.
Lost in all the online coverage of President Obama's speech at the DNC LGBT Gala this week in New York -- with his powerful words on the AIDS crisis and his announcement that he would sign an executive order barring federal contractors from firing us -- was a challenge to our community that few noticed.
No politician these days gets any traction from the exploitation of bad news, unless he/she is currently out of power and, like the GOP, trying to work their way back in. Democratic presidents concerned with their legacy are not in that position; which is why all we can legitimately expect of any State of the Union Address these days is some sort of claim for progress in the immediate past, plus an equivalent case for more progress in the year to come. That, in truth, is most of what we heard from President Obama on Tuesday evening. Fine rhetoric well delivered, mildly progressive goals modestly pursued, and a strong statement of the continuing importance of American exceptionalism and American power. But just because a president cannot do a full and honest stock-taking of our overall condition, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't.
Activists trying to help the uninsured should also bring to the public arena a conversation about the lousy care that's offered to people with insurance -- not simply the costs or deductibles but also the ways we're diminished in so many of our everyday interactions with a system that too often treats us with indifference.