Posted by CODEPINK Staff
REPOST from Starhawk's blog
The morning after the elections—I keep thinking of Captain Hans Solo signature line in Star Wars: “I have a bad feeling about this.” Actually, I have some profoundly mixed feelings: California, rather than falling into the sea as Edgar Cayce predicted, has been uplifted by our own tectonic forces to perch high and dry above the rising seas of Republican-fueled climatic shifts. We had a string of major victories (not even counting the Giants shutting out Bush’s Texas Rangers) for—if not exactly progressives, at least the Forces of Sanity:
We defeated a proposition funded by the oil companies that would have blocked our Climate Change legislation from taking effect—not just by a little, but by about 60% to 40%!
We reversed the policy that has kept our state government hamstrung and kept us locked in bitter budget battles every year. Previously, the state budget required a 2/3 majority to pass. Now we can do it with a simple majority.
Meg Whitman was soundly defeated in her bid for governor, in spite of spending 160 million dollars of her own money. Instead, we got Jerry Brown who has, in recent years, become a centrist Democrat but who did some really great things when he was governor back in the ‘70s. If the country had followed the environmental course he set then, we would not be in the grave climate change crisis we face today.
Carly Fiorina also failed to buy her way into the Senate. Barbara Boxer retains her Senate seat. Boxer is a good, solid liberal, and while I don’t always agree with her stands, I respect her. She’s far, far better than the alternative.
Granted, we didn’t quite legalize marijuana. Our state’s third largest industry will continue, for the present, as a semi-black-market economy. A whole lot of pot growers are privately breathing a sigh of relief. But we got the issue on the ballot as a serious debate, and legalization will eventually come.
On the national scene, of course, not so good. At best we can now hope for gridlock in Washington—but gridlock will be deadly if it continues for the next two crucial years when we face desperate issues environmentally, economically and socially. Worse would be the Republicans actually pushing forward their agenda with the collusion of Democrats who are likely to draw exactly the wrong conclusions from this election.
Already the pundits are trumpeting that the country has moved to the right. In fact, many of us believe the opposite is true—that the country does not really love big corporations, big banks, big weapons manufacturers and warmongers, but is simply disgusted with the lackluster efforts of Democrats and Obama to do anything about them. Given that the Supreme Court opened the floodgates of corporate cash, that the Tea Party has infinite funding by billionaires and huge megaphones like Fox News to amplify its message, it’s no surprise that people’s rightful anger gets channeled in exactly the wrong directions.
What is the right direction? Below is my own modest plan for fixing the economy, the country and the world.
Invest in life, not death:
Stop spending our money on war and death. Instead, spend it on things that improve peoples’ lives and address our grave environmental problems. Create those new, green technologies that will put more people to work. Fund education so young people don’t start their lives as debt slaves to college loans. Fund health care. Open up the prison gates and stop incarcerating people at one of the highest rates in the world.
Make the rich pay their fair share:
Raise taxes on those who can afford to pay them. It’s obscene that a Meg Whitman has $160 million dollars to spend on a campaign. The rich amass their money using the infrastructures we all pay for—they benefit inordinately and they are required to give very little back. Roll back the tax cuts for the wealthy. If California taxed the rich and the corporations at the rate we did under Reagan, we would not have a budget shortfall today. Is this going to hamper investments and prevent innovation? I don’t think so. California under Reagan still did pretty damn well, and people who invent things and start companies didn’t exactly wither away from starvation. Will this bring about ultimate social justice and world revolution? No, it’s just a modest start in leveling the playing field. But let’s start to turn the debate—instead of the mindless “No new taxes!” rhetoric, get those who benefit most from the system to bear their fair share of the burdens.
Hold the real criminals accountable:
Executives who sign off on shoddy safety systems that destroy the ecology of a region, companies that cut corners with cut-rate cement, officials who authorize torture, banks that foreclose on the unemployed with ‘sloppy paperwork’ read ‘fraud’, hedge fund managers that do the dirty deals that eat up the pensions of working people—shut them down. Prosecute them—with criminal, not just civil, lawsuits when they deserve it. Put a moratorium on foreclosures.
Get big money out of our elections: Until we do this, until we have true campaign finance reform, those that serve big money will always have a competitive edge over those that challenge the interests of the rich.
I’m sure there are many more points I could add to this agenda but starting with those four would go a long way to fixing things. I invite you to pass them on, agitate for them, rephrase them more eloquently, add your own. Repeat them, over and over again. Remember that the real work of change is always going on—if not in Washington, then in thousands of towns and neighborhoods and communities, if not in the halls of power, then in the streets. Don’t be complacent, but don’t despair. All around us are allies working for more justice, more freedom, more ecological balance, more peace. This is not a time to fall back, but to step up, to be bolder, braver, louder, funnier, more inventive, more outrageous, more committed. Political winds blow back and forth—hold to your deepest values, and we’ll stay the course.
Starhawk's website is www.starhawk.org, and more of her writings and information on her schedule and activities can be found there.__._,_.___