Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Tea Party”

The IRS “Scandal” – Tom Rossi

Bigger than the planet Jupiter! Heavier than the Sun! More important than World War II, the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, and Justin Bieber’s monkey problems, combined!

The “IRS scandal” is more in need of a cure than cancer. The Republicans and Tea Party types are pulling out their hair, running around in circles as if their hair were on fire, and screaming, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” Oh, how I’m enjoying the irony after years of hearing that environmentalists were “alarmists.”

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Not that this isn’t a serious issue, potentially. It would be pretty scary if the IRS could be used as a political tool. Just think of what that will mean the next time the pendulum swings back the Republican way. And, by the way, the same thing DID happen, in “reverse,” (and much worse) under the Bush administration. You can read all about it here.

But the key people at the IRS, at the time of the scandal, were either non-political appointments, or were appointed by President George W. Bush. For one thing, that tells me that they would be quite willing to tell us if they had been under pressure from President Obama to act in a certain way. But they aren’t saying that.

So then, one of two explanations must apply…

The first possibility is that these people at the IRS where doing their job. Who is more likely to cheat on their taxes than professed tax-haters? That’s one of the stated purposes of the Tea Party – activism against taxation. In addition, a tax-exempt entity must follow certain rules, among which being that any political activities undertaken must be in somewhat clear support of the group’s mission statement and, “We Hate Obama” is not an acceptable mission statement (nor is “We Hate Bush,” for that matter).

The second possibility is that this was the realization of a conspiracy against President Obama. The Republicans have been searching, waiting, and hoping for a “Monica Lewinsky” scandal that they could use to disable Obama’s presidency. People like Karl Rove don’t wait well. As one vulture said to the other, “Patience my ass. I’m going to kill something.”

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I actually think that the first possibility is more likely. The people who work for the IRS are very serious, boring, accounting-types. And the newer employees were essentially being tested on their ability to weed out those non-profit applicants that were pushing the rules a little too hard.

Some might raise a red flag, reminding us that big corporations and the super-wealthy get away with murder on their tax returns. This is true. But big corporations and the super-wealthy are powerful entities in this country. Powerful enough, in fact, that they don’t simply have to follow the law, they make laws. When they claim that they didn’t break any laws on their tax returns, they are mostly telling the truth. The corruption happened much further up the line. They have legalized their own tax cheating.

So, we have another hoax. And by “another,” I’m not referring to global warming which is, most unfortunately, real. I’m talking about things that supposedly prove a president is unfit to govern – things like the Lewinsky fiasco. This mainly happens because half of President Obama’s policies, like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (now known universally as Obamacare) are actually what most of the people want, while the policies that aggravate the left, like continuing the permanent war doctrine, are things the Republicans want. So there’s nothing real that they can complain about and get any traction.

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So it goes. We are evidently incapable of having real discussions, in politics or in the media, about real issues. So we scream about haircuts and drinks of water and birth certificates, instead. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to seek some more intelligent entertainment. I think “Teletubbies” might be on the cartoon channel.

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-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Our Real National Pastime – Tom Rossi

Here in the United States, whining about taxes is probably more popular than all of the major sports, combined. Forget about baseball – tax-whining is our true national pastime.

What’s amazing is that the distribution of whining, like so many things, is so illogical. In fact, tax-whining is positively correlated with a person’s or a corporation’s wealth. So, the more you have, the more you whine. It’s sort of like a team in Major League Baseball complaining that, in their run up to winning the World Series, too many strikes were called on their batters.

The favorite topic of tax-whiners is that the top income brackets pay all of the taxes while the bottom half of the so-called “middle class” (nobody want to be labelled “poor”) pays nothing. They love to go on about the 47% – the “takers.” That number was made up, by the way.

As justification, the tax-whiners always point to one statistic… the statistic that makes them look right. Here it is, in graph form:

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But this is only part of the tax story. People pay taxes on much more than income. They pay taxes on property, gasoline, and sales tax on purchases of goods. The truth is that, when you add all those taxes up, the bottom 20% of earners pay about 17% of their incomes in taxes, while the top 20% of earners pay about 29%. That’s a significant difference, and I’m sure it frustrates those who live inside a calculator.

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But it’s nowhere near the claims that are made, usually by Republicans and Tea Party types. And we should pay close attention to the effect that these percentages have on people. For someone who makes $250,000 per year (for example) paying 29% in taxes means that they are left with $177,500 to live on.

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For someone earning 13,000 per year, paying 17% in taxes means that they are left with $10,790 to live on. That’s less per year than what the $250,000 earner has left per month. And, as I’ve argued before, the more money a person has, the more benefits he or she gets from taxes.

To the whiners, I say this: I realized that the prospect of paying an extra $500, or so, in taxes for a year might mean you have to put off buying a house for another month. Or it might mean that your kids actually have to go to public school. Or it might mean you have to buy the Lexus GS instead of the LS. But a difference of even $100 to a family on the receiving end of this shotgun economy might mean that their kids get “new” shoes (maybe from the Salvation Army) when their toes poke out through a hole. Or it might mean that they can afford to heat the house to above 55° in the winter. Or it might mean that they can pay the electric bill for another month or two.

These are two different worlds. What I’m talking about is called “Marginal Utility Theory,” and it’s a part of standard, old-fashioned, neo-classical economic theory. It just gets ignored because it is essentially an “inconvenient truth.” Without putting you to sleep, what this boils down to is that $1000 means nothing to the well-being of a millionaire, but it could mean the world to a poor person, or a poor person’s children.

President Obama and others are in the process of attempting to re-balance the tax code which has, in recent decades, come to favor the rich and the corporations. And now, we have an influx of veterans that often have an incredibly hard time finding a good job – or sometimes any job, for that matter. This is happening while government programs are being cut left and right.

If you really want to “support our troops,” if you are really “pro-life,” then realize that your tax dollars are helping people who really need it. And their health and well-being will come back to benefit you in ways you may not be able to imagine.

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-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Occupy Movement Endorsed by Washington – Roger Ingalls

After listening to President Obama’s State of the Union address, I couldn’t stop smiling. Similarly, I grinned during the last few months of the presidential election. The Occupy Movement is routinely portrayed by mainstream media and conservatives as a failure; however, reviewing the political chatter during the recent elections and the President’s speech on Tuesday, the Occupy influence is front and center.

Prior to the Occupy Movement, there was no media or political focus on the destruction of the middleclass, tax breaks for the wealthy, tax loopholes for corporations or the disparity between the 1%ers and 99%ers. The movement brought attention to all these topics and they were the main sound bites throughout the entire election season. Fast forward to Tuesday and a significant portion of the President’s time was dedicated to Occupy topics: 1) rebuilding the middleclass, 2) increasing wages for many Americans, 3) returning a fair tax burden to the wealthy and big business, 4) closing tax loopholes for corporations and 5) stopping corporate off-shore cash hoarding.

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When comparing the Tea Party and Occupy Movements, the latter has been much more beneficial to Middle America. The Tea Party has done nothing but create gridlock in Washington, slowing economic recovery. They’ve also placed political handcuffs on Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner. He’s ineffective because the fanatical right is holding the larger conservative party hostage. Even though the Occupy Movement hasn’t received due credit, its original talking points are on the tongues of politicians today. In addition, a fairer tax burden was realized in January when taxes were increased on the wealthy; an original Occupy demand.

The media is no longer discussing the Occupy Movement but Washington’s politicians are endorsing it through action and sound bites.

Obama – Socialist? Or Conservative? – Tom Rossi

By my estimation, Barrack Obama is the second most conservative American president, at least since WWII. You could say he’s tied for second with Bill Clinton, both following George W. Bush, but leading the conservative icon, Ronald Reagan, by a longshot.

Republicans have seized on President Obama’s three-legged horse of a health program and the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” to label him as a liberal or even a “socialist.” And the idea that Americans actually deserve access to decent health care even if they aren’t too well off, financially, is certainly a radical one. I can easily see why Tea partiers compare Obama to Hitler (why isn’t there a text treatment, along the lines of underlining or italicizing, to denote sarcasm?).

Obama went along with the bank bailout. He has nixed any prosecution of the corporate criminals in the banking and finance industries whose fraudulent con-artistry landed us in this economy. He has pushed “NAFTA on Steroids,” also know as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He’s increased the secrecy of the government. He’s visciously persecuted “whistle-blowers.” He’s deported many thousands of immigrants. He has renewed the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy. His economic policies are clearly designed to put the train back on the tracks that lead over a cliff – the same tracks George W. Bush and Bill Clinton had us on.

And when it comes to war… where do I start? He “ended” (sort of) the war in Iraq, while greatly stepping up the war in Afghanistan. He has employed the use of drone aircraft, basically to assassinate our enemies, along with anyone who happened to be standing around in the vicinity. All while curtailing attempts to get our war on the environment under control. He’s also allowed more oil drilling than ever in our history, allowed the insane patent-mania to continue and get worse, and allowed completely reckless genetic engineering to go even further. 

Liberal? Socialist??? Ha! This is why (and I’ve said this before) I’m voting for Dennis Kucinich. Or maybe Elizabeth Warren. Or maybe Bernie Sanders. Someone who actually wants to bring about some sense of balance to this country and not simply to let money determine our fate – as a nation and for every individual.

When I tell people of my little scheme, the reaction is often uproar, indignation, or disdain. “Think of what will happen if Mitt Romney is elected!” They say. “Think of how much worse things will be – for economics, for the environment, for women, for minorities…” To all of you who say these things to me, you… are right. The next four years would be even worse if Romney becomes president. And the effects could go on much longer.

Obama is clearly the lesser of two evils. It’s really a matter of how fast do you want to drive to hell? So am I giving up and saying, “Let’s just hurry up and get there?” No.

The time has come for drastic action. No, I’m not talking about any kind of violence. I’m saying that we need to convince the Democratic party that, if they keep just towing the corporate line (just a little less that the Republicans) then they will lose. If they continue to leave those of us who see a little further into the future, who actually care about the health and well-being of our grandchildren (or other people’s grandchildren), and who can actually imagine a world where war doesn’t take so many lives and take up so many resources completely unrepresented, they will lose.

There is little or no hope for a third party that will change things. The democrats need to know, beyond any doubt, that they lost by neglecting a huge part of their base. The Republicans and thinly-disguised Republicans, who go by various code names, will always stop their whining and unite. We’ve heard, over and over, about how disatisfied some Republicans and all Tea partiers are with Mitt Romney. But every single one of these people will still vote for him.

We need to stop voting for second-worst. We need for the Democrats to have the guts to say, “We want less war, more human well-being, and more justice. And if that makes us “liberals,” then we will live with it.”

These are the principles that liberals stand for. Not equal outcomes. Not rewarding laziness. Not government takeover. Those are all idiotic labels that the other side finds useful.

I want President Obama to come very close to losing because people voted for true progressives. If he actually loses, that’s fine. We must be willing to sacrifice four years for our long term future.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Paul Ryan a “Bold” Choice for Romney Running Mate? – Tom Rossi

In several TV news reports right after Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate for he 2012 presidential election, the reporter delivering the story used the words, “Bold choice,” several times. Was this choice “bold?” Really?

Not even close. This was a timid, cautious choice – a hedge intended to make it OK for Tea Party extremists to vote for the wet dishrag that is Mitt Romney. Mitt was afraid that Tea Partiers would just stay home… a ridiculous fear as the one thing that unites them is their visceral, misguided and misdirected hatred of President Obama.

This was a strategic calculation and a poor one. Not one Tea Party member would have failed to vote for Mitt. But now he’s put himself in jeopardy with that all-important voting demographic – those with more gray hair than Romney.

Paul Ryan is a cutter. He wants, above all, to keep taxes low for the very wealthy. The way to do that is to cut. So he wants to cut medicare, social security, education, and lots of other things. Some of these programs are the life blood (in some cases literally) of America’s vast army of retired persons. I won’t even call them “the elderly” because this group is far larger and includes many more people than that.

So, I have some renewed hope that our so-so president will be re-elected in November. So-so beats narcissistic classist any day of the week.

Representative Barney Frank said that Mitt Romney has no actual values, other than faith in himself. In other words – narcissism. This timid choice makes that clear. He doesn’t care if his running mate shares his views (after all, they change every day and in front of every audience), but only if that person will help him win.

This word, “bold,” seems to be the plant word of choice for Republican press releases (that are often disguised as news stories). Just replace it with “expected,” or “mundane,” or “slimy,” the next time you hear it and it will all make much more sense.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Is the Tea Party Taking Over… Again???? – Tom Rossi

Here we go again. The press is all excited about the Tea Party because they ousted Richard Lugar as the Republican candidate for the Senatorial race in one of America’s reddest states, Indiana.

The Tea Party has garnered support from plenty of everyday Americans. These are mostly the people who look at their paychecks and see the amounts subtracted for various taxes and get extremely upset. All they can see is money being taken away from them and this is their primary concern.

What if, just for the sake of argument, we were to grant the idea that taxes are good for nothing and simply represent a “taking” by a government that is totally detached from the people? Then, what if taxes suddenly disappeared, with no measurable effects on daily life (somehow). Would people keep that money that had once gone to taxes?

The answer is no. Labor (whether it be skilled, unskilled, blue-collar, white-collar, or whatever) is a rare example of a principle of conventional economics that actually describes the truth. Labor works on supply and demand.

To keep the numbers simple, let’s just say that Joe the software engineer gets a salary of $100,000 per year. Under the “old” way, he paid $25,000 in taxes, after taking a few deductions, and so takes home $75,000. But now, after taxes have been done away with, he gets to keep the whole $100,000, right?

Wrong. Why would Joe’s company, Frustrating User Interface Incorporated, continue to pay him $100,000 when he used to be willing to work for $75,000 in take-home pay? They wouldn’t because they wouldn’t have to.

Companies pay the minimum that they can to get the labor that they need. It would be incredibly foolish to do otherwise. Workers determine the level at which they will accept a job by their calculated take-home pay – the net, not the gross. That’s the “supply” price for a worker’s labor.

Because of this, if taxes were eliminated, corporations would use the usual tricks, eliminating (then re-creating) positions, claiming hardship, etc., to knock their workers salaries down to the same old, “willing to work” levels. Joe used to take home $75,000, and now, without taxes, it’s the same.

Of course, the real story would be much worse than this. If taxes are significantly decreased, lots of people who work in the kinds of services that would be poorly provided by purely private enterprise would lose their jobs. This would flood the market with available labor (the REAL plan of the corporate masters) and salary levels would be pushed down even further than in the previous example.

And we would have no libraries, a lot fewer schools, little fire protection, and so many other deficits in our way of life.

If you’re proud to be an American, proudly pay your taxes. You are contributing to something imperfect but great.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Creating Coalitions Pt. 2

Following on from Monday’s post, I have been summarizing Mark Bittman’s excellent article in the NYT. Mr. Bittman stresses the realization of “an oligarchy in this country, one that uses financial strength to gain political power, one that fights and bullies for its “right” to make money regardless of the consequences to the earth or anything on it.

Exxon will do all it can to prevent meaningful climate change legislation; Cargill and Pepsi will fight any improvement in agriculture or diet that threatens their profits; Bank of America would rather see homeowners go under than discuss changes in financial structures. And so on.”

Mass movements have begun to emerge as one method to break this ring of influence and the Occupy Bank Transfer Day is an outstanding example. To organize at both the personal and local level can have a resounding effect. 

The second focuses on voting. Very few Presidents, our present one might be an exception, initiate change. Again, Mr. Bittman: “Does anyone believe that Lyndon Johnson wanted to combat racism, or that Richard Nixon cared about American troops or Vietnamese citizens? No: they were forced, respectively, to support civil rights legislation and to begin ending the Vietnam War. Forced by masses of Americans marching, yelling, demonstrating, sitting in and more — Americans driven by their conscience, not by profits.”

This makes the organization and coordination of huge numbers of citizens absolutely critical. We need to identify politicians who are willing to shun corporate money and pressure in favor of reflecting the needs of their constituents. This is so much more difficult than taking several million dollars to support your campaign.

We can sit around and complain of the blatant undemocratic process of corporate sponsorship of politicians or we can focus on establishing a list of candidates that are true to their principles and will rely on mass support from the street. The alternative is to create our own big interest PACs, and this has its own scary elements to it.

A few weeks ago, I bemoaned the idea of ‘playing their game,’ but now I am not so sure that we can create a sustainable framework whereby politicians are elected and held accountable by their voters.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Creating Coalitions Pt. 1

An excellent article by Mark Bittman recently caught my attention.  While the Presidential elections and the circus that precedes it, captivates the media and offers us a measure of entertainment, the danger is that it is becoming more of a distraction.

 2011 was a pivotal year, whichever side of the fence you dwell. The Arab Spring, Tea Party and Occupy movements sent a clear message that the people have had enough and want change. Moreover, there is a wide understanding that coordinated, mass movements can effect change.

What is imperative now is to band together and organize so that the President and Congress take our claims seriously. The Republicans are tied up with their desperate attempts to find a candidate who is…well remotely Presidential.

The left, whether it be the green movement, the occupy movement, or the mainstay democratic party and trade union activists need to coordinate a clear rallying cry around those issues most critical tothe 99 percentand be ready in Mr. Bittman’s words “to garner enough political will and power to pressure the president and Congress to move resolutely on the issues that matter.”

This coalition will certainly include the environmental movement, the Occupy movement, the foreclosed homeowners movement, the indebted students movement, the food and health movement, or the unemployment movement, and I am sure there are others that I have missed.

Somehow, the plethora of movements worries me. Once you get individual leaders and proud movements there is inevitable competition for the microphone and the ear of the media. There needs to be a clear channel recognized by the President and government as a respected pulse of the people.

As Mr. Bittman says: “It doesn’t matter what you call the movements, or the people behind them. What matters is forcing the government to act in the interests of the sometimes-silent majority rather than its corporate paymasters.”

He also points to a recent Pew poll that found just about half of all young people now have a more positive view of “socialism” (whatever that is) than “capitalism” (we know what that is), as do nearly a third of all Americans.

How do we take this momentum and turn it into clear, measurable changes in policy? Mark Bittman lays out a course that I will present on Wednesday.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Water or Tea Party

Allow me to assert my credentials as an Englishman: there is no tea without water.  It has always been thus, since the Earl of Grey accidentally dropped the rind of his bergamot orange into a cup of hot water he was sipping (I’ve no idea…don’t bother the Wiki Goddess).

Though it is the silly season of Republican debates and strange voting habits of the primaries (Ohio – yes I’m talking about you), there emerges a call for sanity, not to balance the Tea Party and Occupy Movement, but to create a framework that might actually work.

And so, with much aplomb, I wish to introduce The Water Party (here on Facebook if this is your preferred medium). Percentages seem to be the defining element these days, so the Water Party claim to represent the 70%, slightly less ambitious than Occupy (99%) or Tea Party (103%). This is not based upon some empirical equation, rather inspired by Mother Nature herself.

“70% of the earth is covered by water, but you don’t think of it, because the land is right in front of you most of the time. Likewise, 70% of Americans favor accuracy, fairness, civility and helping others, but it doesn’t seem that way with angry opinionated people dominating the news and airwaves spouting falsehoods to further their agendas and vendettas. The Water Party represents the 70% of Americans from all political spectrums who are the true majority in America. It’s time for us to stand up and be counted.”

What I like about The Water Party is that they welcome people of any political persuasion, from any party, as long as there is a commitment to “support truth and accuracy, reasonableness, kindness and sanity.”

Friends – this is a political landscape game changer right here. Close your eyes and try to imagine a Republican Presidential debate based on these principles. Admit it, you would be forced to channel surf to try and find those insipid, hate ads that the candidates are absolutely not putting out there against each other.

Back to The Water Party and I want to focus on their three principles. The first suggests that we all commit to being truthful in our political debates – I can go for that.  The third suggests that we emulate the founding fathers – I am really not sure about this but maybe I’ve been reading the wrong books and articles about them.

But the second principle really got my attention because it has very concrete actions that can impact the world.

“Justice: Nobody should have to “try to live” on less than $1 a day, as one billion people are. 8 million children a year (one every 4 seconds) should not die from lack of food and clean water. I will take less so children can have the basics to live. One option is the water pledge to drink more water, and less alchohol, coffee and soda, and give some or all the money to the poorest. If 100,000 people drink $5 less a month, that will create $6.7 million a year that will save tens of thousands of lives. We’ll also live longer, and save time and money not having to work out and diet as much.”

If you click on the water pledge you get to a page where you can actually translate the pledge into an individualized and measurable commitment.

Joking aside, I love the concept that the Water Party represents, that we could actually sit people from all political directions for a nice cup of te–water, and work on a way together to fix what ails this country. It would require a commitment to rational debate, to listening to the other side and being willing to compromise.

Perhaps we might even be surprised and discover that behind all the slogans we shout at each other, there just might be more consensus than we care to admit. Maybe the 70% can make a difference.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Occupy a Political Party

Last Wednesday, I shared my concerns for the sustainability of the Occupy movement as we see it now – without an agenda, a strategic plan, or a leadership structure. I suggested that an agenda be built around the demands suggested by Roger Ingalls.

This past weekend, I suggested to a friend of mine that the biggest challenge should possibly be bringing the Occupy moment, with its agenda and values, into the Democratic Party.

A Leadership Is Needed

He strongly protested. “Barack Obama has failed us,” he said. “The democratic leadership is part of the 1%,” he declared. “Once we join the system, we will be compromised and become a part of it.”

I tried to take him to task. I don’t believe Barack Obama failed us, I think we failed him. We created a mass grassroots movement to sweep him into office. We cried with pride at his inauguration, and then we went out for sushi and two years later, the Republicans were in a position to block everything the President had talked about during the heady campaign days.

Why did we let up? What on earth made us think that one man could change Washington? Where did we find the arrogance to think that the Republican machine would simply roll over and lick its wounds in silence?

As we celebrated the amazing Change We Can Believe In, and told ourselves that Yes We Did, the Republicans were plotting how to fight back. I don’t blame them; we would have done the same, no?

Whatever you might think of the Tea Party, they have galvanized the Republican Party. Whether this is good or bad, might be highlighted by who becomes the Republican presidential candidate. Actually it might be bad no matter who is voted in, depending on your political perspective. But for the Republican masses, they want the Tea Party behind the candidate, because these are engaged and empowered people.

So where do we take the Occupy movement? We take it into the Democratic Party and we decide not to hand over the keys. We become empowered partners who work not only for four more years of the most visionary and intelligent President that most of us can remember, but we fight on to give him a Congress that will work with him and not against him.

Occupy. Obama, Tea Party - somethings gotta happen!

There are those in the Occupy movement who will have trouble with this. They have worked hard to create a momentum based upon commitment and values, rather than power and ego. But their biggest test will be to continue to deny their own power aspirations and ego without getting disillusioned by entering mainstream politics.

This is a win: win for everyone who believes in a left or liberal agenda. For the Democratic Party to do this, they need an army of grassroots activists who are feeling empowered despite the blows rained down on us from Wall Street and big banks. They need the energy of the Occupy movement and the Occupy Movement needs a political party to let our President do what he set out to achieve.

Most of all, this is what America needs. It is what a sinking Europe and a poverty-stricken Africa needs. It is what those seeking to throw off the chains of autocracy and fanaticism need.

A strong, democratic, and moral democracy must emerge for the world. And it can begin with the next step that the Occupy movement takes. I hope they are willing to take that first step. And I hope the Democratic Party has a strategic understanding that they must welcome a new generation into their hallowed halls.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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