Intro | Service | Activist | Advocacy | Books | Essays | Quotes | Events | Internships | Opinion-Makers | History
Included in the Select Catalog/Government section are top resources that concerned Americans can use to advance progressive social change in relation to general governmental functions on the national level. Additional resources related to political action in specific areas are included throughout the Catalog. Resources related to racism and sexism, for example, are included in the Community section.
Creating a New America will require that we:
- Reform our governmental structures to strengthen democracy.
- Clearly establish that the government is a valuable partner in community-based solutions.
- And build a grassroots force capable of holding elected representatives accountable to the popular will.
As a nation that emerged from a rebellion against colonial domination, we resist the notion that America should be an Empire that controls other nations. As we want peace in our neighborhood, we want peace in the world. As we want to give needy Americans a helping hand so that they can stand on their own two feet, we want to assist the economic development of other countries. Consequently, our new purpose needs to incorporate not only a commitment to Americans. We also need to accept our responsibility to help improve quality of life for all people.
We need to implement electoral and lobbying reforms to make elections more competitive, give greater voice to a wider range of opinion, elect representatives who will be more responsive to the public interest, and insulate elected officials from the corrupting influence of well-heeled special interests. These reforms include public financing of campaigns, instant runoff voting, a national holiday on Election Day, assuring all ex-felons the right to vote, requiring that television networks broadcast full debates on the public’s airwaves, requiring full disclosure of all lobbyists’ contributions, and preventing elected officials from taking lobbying jobs for at least two years after they leave public office.
These principles especially apply to the federal government. Only the federal government controls movement across its borders (state governments do not), which means that the federal government can generate more tax revenues than states can. Only the federal government prints money. Only the federal government can set national standards that minimize states competing with one another by cutting taxes and reducing social services with deadly “races to the bottom.” These unique powers of the federal government give it a special responsibility for the general welfare.
Doctrinaire conservatives believe that the business of America is business. They argue that we should shrink the government and let corporations and financial institutions do whatever they want -- so that they can make as much money as possible as quickly as possible. With this “supply-side economics,” they say that if we first enable the super-rich to increase their wealth, eventually the benefits will trickle down to ordinary Americans. With this approach, they make primary that which is secondary. But the common good should come first, immediately. As Jim Hightower has said, we need “percolate-up economics.”
Conservative orthodoxy makes the means into the end. Money is a tool, not the be-all and end-all. The economy is a mechanism, not the purpose. Rather than making money for the sake of money, or in order to establish status or enhance personal power, the economy should serve to help us improve the quality of our lives, enrich our inner experience, and form relationships that are more fulfilling than is the case when people are struggling to make ends meet.
If given a voice to translate their highest ideals into public policy, the American people would hold the government responsible for regulating and managing the economy. We believe that businesses have moral responsibilities beyond the bottom line, including obligations to their workers, their communities, the environment, and future generations. We expect the government to hold businesses accountable to these obligations. We expect the government to act on our behalf to meet pressing needs that would otherwise be unmet (partly because there’s no way to make a profit in meeting many personal and social needs). And we consider it only fair that wealthy people who have relied so much on society’s support give back to society in the form of taxation based on the ability to pay.
But the government has not lived up to its obligations. Rather, the government has facilitated the corruption of our society and culture by the drive for power and money.
If public policy reflected public opinion, this country would be much different and greatly improved. Yet our elected representatives routinely ignore the opinions of their constituents. We must correct this lack of accountability by building a new national organization, or coalition of existing organizations, powerful enough to persuade our elected officials to honor the public’s will. Doing so will change the horizon of what seems possible and enable the growth of support for needed changes not yet endorsed by a majority of the American people.
For these reasons, we need to build a national popular movement powerful enough to insist that the federal government uphold its responsibilities, including assuring that all Americans can earn a living wage, managing the economy for the common good, and safeguarding the environment.
Comments: To give feedback or make a suggestion concerning this page, click here.