I try to save big ideas for January 1, every year.
Hard things to write, things that take a while to think about, both as ideas, and how I want to approach it in writing.
On January 1, 2011, I wrote a piece called The world is socialist.
It was intended as a rebuttal to the idea that was going around that our President is a socialist, somehow more radical than all his predecessors, and that was somehow a threat to people who live in the United States.
It was said a lot during the campaign (I'm looking at you Peterffy) and now in the aftermath, they're still trotting it out. We're going off the cliff because the President is socialist. It's so sad to see people so adrift, for a couple of big reasons.
1. The President is no more socialist than any other President.
2. The world is socialist (as I said in the piece I wrote).
Even the wild west, the supposed ideal of individuality, was highly socialist. The government gave people free land. The government moved the Native Americans out of the way when the Europeans wanted to harvest the buffalo or steal their land. Or is "liberty" something that only applies to white folk?
Snowstorms are socialist as are hurricanes. When the city gets dumped on we have the roads cleared by the Department of Sanitation, government workers. You don't get a specific bill for this, it's covered under your taxes.
And taxes. Rich folk pay more, because they get more. The companies they own use more roads, water, education, police. We have to pay for these services. If you don't want to contribute, then you shouldn't take the services. That is, you should move somewhere else. Because just by living you're using the protective services of the government, the police, the military, etc.
And health care. Should your life be ruined because you get a curable disease? We've decided no. Is that socialist? Perhaps. But then disease, like snow and hurricanes, is socialist too.
Well, read the piece. In the follow-up to the election this would be a nice one to get out of the way. We, who voted Democratic this year, are no more or less socialist than you are. If you think otherwise, then tell me how. Do you not drive on roads? Do need to breathe clean air? Do you go to public events that are kept peaceful by the police? Do you like to have clean water running into your house? Do you want your neigbors to flush their toilets into the street? Etc.
My old business partner, a hardened Democrat, once said the Republicans were the party of wealth creation and the Democrats the party of wealth distribution, and that we needed a symbiosis between the two. One understood business and markets better, while the other understood governance and society better. But the combination of both is what keeps a country sane, growing and prosperous.
Since Reagan, however, the Right has gradually become the party not just of wealth creation, but of government destruction. They have been been remarkably successful at this, aided by an amen-chorus of talk radio, Fox News and plutocrats.
We would do well to look at countries where the right and the left fight, but there is no argument about the need for, say, high speed trains and wind power. Nor are any saying they need to have the biggest military on Earth. Nor do they rationalize gargantuan spendings on defense Ñ even to the extent that national debt is run to the sky Ñ while defense-mongers also strangle spending on infrastructure and other public goods, which the "market" will supposedly do better.
The wake-up call for the right, however, is not the need for reasonableness, but demographics. They had some Hispanic support in the Bush years. But they've lost that by now. They're behind with African-Americans, women, young people and urban folk in general. The percentages of all are increasing. The right needs to make a new and better case. I don't have much hope for that, but it's what they need to do.
Also, they have no leadership now, except maybe Chris Christie. None of the rest speak to anybody in need, such as those today in coastal New York and New Jersey, who look correctely to the federal government Ñ and smooth un-politicized cooperation with the states Ñ for help when disaster strikes.
Interesting to note that the heroes of the last week have been public servants, fixing and restoring subway service, opening tunnels. The villians have been price-gougers at gas pumps.
I could go on, but you get the points.