So, It’s Progressives Who Are Too Extreme? Let’s Discuss…

Extremists are those who disagree with the following positions. We can beat them.

Some of the faces of American progressives.

Progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are just too far to the political left, too extreme, to win in most of America, say establishment leaders. Really? To borrow words from your boss’s email: let’s discuss.

I’m a fan of progressives like Ocasio-Cortez, as well as Bernie Sanders, Cynthia Nixon and Elizabeth Warren. I believe I can establish that progressives are extreme in no way. Then you tell me why progressives can’t win.

I think public education is the most important and most distinctively American institution in the country. I think we should support and reform schools that need help, not defund them. People should be encouraged to learn, not punished with crippling debt for going to college.

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I believe in the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. I do not think organized business should run all the affairs of the nation. When did this belief of progressives become extreme? I think people who work full time should be compensated sufficiently to make a living without public assistance. I think when they’re not, the assistance is, in fact, to their employers.

The president governs like he thinks wages are too high. Progressives think corporate profits are out of control. Especially when those profits come by reducing workers to penury — workers without whom no profit is possible. Food on the working man’s table — yet another “radically progressive” concept.

It seems to me that endless war is not a very good idea. It seems, in fact, that spending more troops, more money and more international prestige on unwinnable Middle Eastern wars is stupid. It seems that the way not to be terrorized is not to be terrified.

I think when the internal culture of a government agency turns from service to outright oppression, it’s time to disband the agency and try again. I think that goes for Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE), the agency that has carried out the Trump administration’s family-separation policy with such a vengeance that they fail to so much as maintain records that would allow families someday to be reunited. I think ICE’s parent, the Department of Homeland Security, has a fascist name, a mission that is too broad, a collection of too many disparate internal cultures and a size that is unmanageable.

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When banks are too big to fail, progressives believe they are simply too big. When mergers and acquisitions (rather than production) fuel profits, it seems to progressives that we ought to look at when and whether that kind of corporate behavior promotes any public good at all. When mergers in the tech, telecommunications and the media world reduce our choices, and when writers are reduced to “content providers,” I think maybe we’ve gone too far with this thing.

I’m happy to report that a substantial majority of Americans agree with me that the Second Amendment was correctly interpreted by the Supreme Court for 200 years. However, the radical right-wing bunch now on the bench then decided, despite its clear language to the contrary, that the amendment applied to an individual’s rights. A gun owner myself, I think we need a more responsible Court, and I think we need to control the absurd proliferation of firearms in this country.

I believe in free trade. “Free” is a relative term, of course, and I recognize that agreements have to be reached to govern international trade. I think those agreements should include protections for workers and for the natural environment, and I think the US should exercise leadership in seeing that those agreements work to the benefit of its people, and not just the corporations registered as “American.”

America is built mostly on an immigrant population. I think immigrants, such as my own grandparents, are good for this country. Anybody fleeing a lethal environment is welcome in my house. Why not my country? What, by the way, is so extreme about that attitude?

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Here’s another “extreme” idea of progressives: I think everyone who wants to work should have a job. I believe we have the resources to support people who want to work at things that are not immediately profitable — art, for example.

In my experience and observation, when institutions need to operate in secret, they’re usually doing something they ought not to be doing. The same goes for individuals, but they have a right to privacy. I think, therefore, that I’d like to know more about my government, and for the government to know less about me.

I believe it is unwholesome for people to despise their own government. We rely — all of us, every day — on government services, from highway construction to food safety, and we ought to support and honor the people who do those things for us. The idea that private business is, ipso facto, superior to government is a falsehood. The two have different missions, different motivations and different ways of working. That’s not a bad thing.

When massive wildfires are the norm in California, and August monsoons hit Pennsylvania, I think maybe we’ve messed with the climate. I think we should admit that and see what we should do about it.

When “religious freedom” is used to discriminate against anyone because of his or her religious beliefs, or lack thereof, or ethnic or sexual identity, then I think something fundamental to American society has been turned quite on its head.

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The free press, from bloggers to book publishers, is indispensable to an open society. It is not the enemy, but the best and dearest friend of the people.

To address most of these problems, we need first to address the catastrophic control that money exerts over our politics. I believe in public funding of elections.

I realize that there are very public disagreements on all of these points, even among the constituencies of liberals and progressives. However, I don’t think any of these positions are extreme, and anywhere in the country I can find very substantial support for each of them. Instead, I think the extremists are the people who disagree with these positions. They are a minority, but they are in charge right now. Good news is, I think we can beat them.