This, We Believe
Governor Martin O’Malley
Table of Contents
OUR CHANGING WORLD, A THIRD INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION 3
PEOPLE FIRST 5
TO SAVE OUR DEMOCRACY 7
NATIONAL SECURITY AND WELL-BEING 10
A STRONGER COUNTRY MEANS OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL 11
QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL 13
THE FUTURE OF WORK 14
A NEW WAY OF GOVERNING 17
CLIMATE CHANGE, THE GREAT AMERICAN OPPORTUNITY 19
A NATION OF NATIONS 23
CONCLUSION: PROGRESS IS A CHOICE 25
“That all men [and women] are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
As I have travelled across our country over the last two years on behalf of good men and women running for elected office, concerned Americans constantly ask, “where is the statement of beliefs that lays out clearly what we stand for as a Party, and as a people?” Indeed, one senior statesman in exasperation told me, “if you stopped ten people on the street and asked them what the Democratic Party stands for, you would get ten different answers.”
And yet, Democratic challengers up and down the ballot are running and winning elections against Republican incumbents in greater numbers than ever. And in some places, young challengers are defeating longtime Democratic incumbents. So, there must be something to what these new candidates are saying. What’s more, the quality of our candidates running for state, local, and federal offices has never been higher. And the bench has never been deeper.
Why? What is the common thread in their winning messages? Is it simply that Donald Trump is bad? Not if you speak with these candidates and listen to the conversations they are having with voters.
From what I have seen, touched, and heard, their electoral success comes not merely from railing against the latest outrages of this aberrational, authoritarian Presidency — though our candidates are not shy about calling out the lies and the abuses. But, what
I have heard from our winning candidates is not a Trump-focused message; our winning candidates, in- stead, are speaking to timeless American values, they are speaking to the economic hopes of every American family to get ahead when we work hard, and they are calling forward the goodness within us as a people to make those kitchen table hopes a reality.
As Conor Lamb said on the night of his upset win in Pittsburgh, “we send people to Congress to attack our problems, not to attack one another.”
This is a call to action on behalf of a better America for all of our kids. A call to put country before party. To put people first. To make our country a place where there is, once again, opportunity for all.
It is a call to save our democracy — in our own home place — so we can save our country.
OUR CHANGING WORLD,
A THIRD INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”
Our entire world is quickly moving into a Third Industrial Revolution — a convergence of new technologies in energy, communications, and travel which, together, create whole new systems, new jobs, new opportunities, and new economies.
The First Industrial Revolution of the mid to late 1800’s saw the coming together of coal, the locomotive, and the telegraph. The second Industrial Revolution saw the rise of oil, the car, and the telephone. And now, in our own day, we see the coming together of renewable energy, the Internet of things, and autonomous travel. Total system change.
Other nations have figured this out. Other countries are rebuilding their national infrastructure and preparing their children for this new economic future. But the United States is not. Instead of anticipating change, our President denies science. Instead of strengthening our country with modern investments, he weakens it with extravagant tax cuts for the super-wealthy.
But no people ever gave their kids a better future by making their own country weaker. We can learn from the past without living in the past. Americans are naturally inclined to look forward. And this hopeful truth remains — the United States is better positioned than any nation on the planet to succeed in this Third Industrial Revolution.
We won the last two Industrial Revolutions not by building walls around our present, but by building bridges to new opportunities. We educated our children at higher and better levels for the new skills of those new economies. We made our country stronger, not weaker; we made our nation more competitive, not less. We made smart national investments to modernize our energy and transportation systems and to accelerate our innovation advantages. It was a winning combination of actions that built the largest and most prosperous middle class the world had ever known.
But today, in this season of political fear, many of our neighbors would rather apply the brakes to change
than make our children winners in a new economy. At a time of rising income inequality — brought about by our own poor policy choices — we have now elected a carnival barking strongman whose policies actually concentrate wealth, hold down household incomes, hurt farm incomes, and make income in- equality even worse. His behavior weakens America’s security alliances. His behavior isolates America morally and economically from our closest allies.
Great nations sometimes make bad mistakes; good nations correct them quickly.
There is a better way forward. And it begins by turning around to face and shape the future. As we won the last two Industrial Revolutions, we can win this one too. But our success will only be found when we align our strategic choices as a nation to the timeless values we hold as Americans:
Our belief in the freedom and dignity of every individual person.
Our belief in our own responsibility to advance the common good we share.
Our understanding that we are all in this together, and “we must help each other if we are to succeed.”
This, We Believe.
Our economy is not money, it’s people — all of our people.
“We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”
— Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis
Our economy is not money; it is people — all of our people. The American Dream has always been a fundamentally economic promise. In our country, if you work hard, you should be able to get ahead. This is the multi-generational promise of our nation. This is American capitalism when the rules of human dignity, decency, and fair play are enforced. It is the reason so many work so hard every day to give their children a better life. It is the reason so many people risk their lives to come here.
But a stronger American middle class is not the result of a good economy — it is the cause of a good economy. Eighty-three percent of economic growth comes from consumer spending. Every business is more successful and creates more jobs when every business has more customers. In other words, the more our people earn, the more our people can spend, and the more inclusively our entire economy grows.
Therefore, building a stronger middle class is not merely a matter of free markets, it is a matter of inten- tion, investment, and choice:
Equal pay for equal work.
A minimum wage that guarantees a living wage.
Freedom and support for collective bargaining and the right to join a union to bargain for better wages.
A basic winning education for all — because the more people learn, the more people earn.
This isn’t rocket science, it is American capitalism — when American capitalism is practiced with people at its center. But sometimes we forget.
Faced with the extreme concentration of wealth and economic power at the expense of the many in the early 1900s, Teddy Roosevelt said, “Our republic has
no justification unless it is a genuine democracy — a democracy economically as well as politically — a democracy in which there is a real, sincere effort to realize the ideal of equal opportunity for all [women and] men.”
Whether Independents, Democrats, or Republicans, the vast majority of us still believe the same.
So how can we make our economy work for all of us again?
Throughout much of the 20th Century, America balanced its growing economic might with stronger rules of the road to prohibit bad behavior, and to guarantee safe work conditions and a basic minimum wage. These economic rules of the road were intentional. Our purpose was to make sure American workers benefitted from the increased productivity and profits. Some of these rules safe-guarded the rights of workers to join unions and bargain for better wages. Some rules were designed to prevent or break-up the concentration of economic wealth into monopoly power.
We made investments in the infrastructure of our nation — roads, railways, ports, electric grids — that everyone citizen and business could use. We invest- ed every generation to educate our children and our workers with the skills they needed to compete and win.
Taken together, these intentional economic policy choices put people first, and they led to the rise of the strongest middle class the world had ever known.
But beginning in late-1980s, we lost our way.
We undermined the ability of unions to organize and push for better wages. We stopped investing in our country’s infrastructure and the skills of our people. We let the minimum wage sink below the poverty line. We stopped enforcing rules against monopolies or risky behavior by big banks. College increasingly became a luxury that only the wealthy could afford. We stopped investing in our country’s infrastructure in order to give huge tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest 1% of our people.
With wages flatlining or declining for most Americans by 2004, consumer spending could no longer drive economic growth. Concentrated wealth had to find other ways to make money on money. So, in the absence of regulation, our banking system expanded rapidly into high-risk speculation on the stock-market. And when this reckless misbehavior crashed our entire economy in 2007, the rest of us had to bail it out.
Ten hard years after the crash — thanks largely to President Obama’s tough choices — we are told our economy has recovered. But wage growth and better opportunities for our kids have not.
We need a new compact for economic prosperity in the 21st Century: a new Bill of Rights for American Workers that enshrines equal pay for equal work, fair scheduling, collective bargaining, and other essential rights like health care and education into law. We need to restore a public purpose to the enforcement of our nation’s anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws. We need to repeal tax cuts for the super wealthy in order to make the investments necessary for a stronger country — transportation and high-speed information infrastructure, renewable energy, the talents and skills of our people. These are the ways we make our children winners in a fast-changing economy.
Growing our middle class is the cause of economic growth. It is both the way and the goal. It is the simple, honest formula by which Americans create an economy that works for all of us. An American economy where there exists the very real promise of opportunity for all — an economy where everyone who works hard can get ahead.
This, We Believe.
TO SAVE OUR DEMOCRACY
“This much I think I do know — that a society so riven that the spirit of moderation is gone, no court can save; that a society where that spirit flourishes, no court need save; that in a society which evades its responsibility by thrusting upon the courts the nurture of that spirit, that spirit in the end will perish.”
— Judge Learned Hand
A Republic must protect its democracy in every new day from the corrupting in uences of concentrated money, power, and greed.
Concentrating wealth into the hands of the few inevitably leads to the concentration of political power into the hands of those same few.
Given what we have all seen and experienced in recent years — a deep recession, record home foreclosures, declining wages, rising corporate profits, secret trade deals, bail-outs of banks too big to fail, tax cuts on top of tax cuts for the already super-wealthy — people aren’t wrong to conclude the policy choices of our nation are controlled by money for money rather than by us.
One of the more telling interviews of this 2016 presidential election was not an interview of a candidate, but of a citizen.
A fifty-year-old, blue collar, life-long Democratic man in Michigan was asked how he could rationalize voting for Donald Trump — a candidate opposed to raising the minimum or any other wage, opposed to unions, opposed to collective bargaining, opposed
to pensions, opposed to paying his own billionaire income taxes, opposed to making any of his own company’s products in America…
The man answered:
“ The way I see it, our country’s got cancer, and Donald Trump is just the chemotherapy we need…”
When the diagnosis is cancer, and the prescription is chemotherapy, calling the chemo “poison,” over and over again, doesn’t change the heart or mind of the voter.
But what exactly is the cancer he diagnosed? It is the self-dealing greed of those in power; elites in government, elites on government, elites who have the big money it takes to buy in influence and nance campaigns. It is the cancer that has rigged the national economic game against better pay and greater opportunity for him and his family.
When people feel their country no longer works for them and their family, voting becomes merely an act of protest.
Not long ago, it seemed America’s electoral system was one of the important unifying rituals of democracy we all shared. But twice now — in the span of just four national elections — we have inaugurated to the Presidency the candidate who lost the popular vote.
This is not how democracy in a functional Republic is supposed to work.
Therefore, we must reform our democratic institutions even as we retool and retrain for a changing economic future. In fact, we cannot make our children winners in this Third Industrial Revolution unless we take action to save our democracy. Together, we must save our democracy from the corrupting influences of concentrated money, concentrated power, and concentrated greed. It is not too late. The time for reform is now.
We must not only guarantee the right and worth of every American vote, but we must also restore our trust in one another which is the heart of any Republic.
Some of these needed reforms have long been discussed. Most are well-understood and many enjoy growing popular support:
- Making the Right to Vote a Constitutional Right
- Overturning “Citizens United” — the Supreme Court decision which allowed corporations and concentrated wealth to buy elections with unlimited cash.
- Public Financing of election campaigns for Congress and other offices
- An end to politically gerrymandered Congressional Districts
- An openness to ranked choice voting
- Replacing the antiquated Electoral College with a National popular vote.But there is one more reform that has not been much discussed.
One critical reform necessary to address the corporate greed which elevated, promoted, and direc ly contributed to the election of Donald Trump and the sidelining of voices that might have stopped him.We must restore the Fairness Doctrine to network and cable news coverage of our election contests — especially, our presidential election contests and the primaries which determine our final nominees. Sure, a lot of Americans now bemoan the general election result; but, along the way, it seemed most of us really didn’t care. We tuned in and we tuned out. Facts themselves didn’t matter. It didn’t seem to matter when the Russian government hacked the emails of the Democratic Party. e fact that our political journalism had turned itself into tabloid entertainment didn’t matter. Whether our primary debates were conducted by the League of Women Voters or the wonderful world of Disney, didn’t matter. Whether the Democratic Party even had a prime-time primary debate before the people of Iowa and New Hampshire voted, didn’t seem to matter — even to the Democratic National Committee.And in this perfect storm of fascist appeal and popular
passivity, Donald Trump was lied, promoted, and ultimately elected President of the United States.
So, did our media create Trump? No.
But the network executives saw how he entertained us. They saw how he grabbed us. They saw that we liked it. And they gave us more. They ran 24/7 images of his rallies without fact checkers. e awaiting stage backed by a line of crucified American flags. The plane on the runway taxiing up to the cheering crowd in the hangar… they placed him at the center of every prime time primary debate — like some bizarre product placement of a new brand of dishwashing soap. They fanned the ames of his fascist popularity all through the summer of 2015.
There is one thing in the last election about which our infotainment industry and the Russian government both agreed — agitational and divisive voices needed to be promoted and li ed up. It’s good for Russia and it’s good for ratings.
Under the Fairness Doctrine — which was repealed by Ronald Reagan and a compliant Congress in the late eighties — such grossly imbalanced coverage and promotion of one candidate over another would have been illegal — a federal crime.
But as CBS network executive, Les Moonves said while his own network showered Donald Trump with golden coverage: “I’ve never seen anything like this, and this is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going…It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”
Meanwhile, the establishment of the Democratic Party laughed from afar at the new Republican entertainment and refused to even allow a single debate in their own Party until late October. And when they did, the entertainment industry divided up the minutes allocated to the candidates based on entertainment value. e ratings were in and the script was set. There would
be only one challenger for this season of Madame Secretary and he, too, would entertain.
is is what has become of political journalism made for television. Missing planes and titillating tweets. Extreme voices who shout at us to drain the swamp, build the wall, and feel the burn. Talking heads with- out constituencies, without responsibilities, and without editors. Presidential primary debates that are looking a lot more like Hollywood Squares or the Jerry Springer show than a contest of ideas. is is the nature of our political news today. at nature has corrupted our presidential selection process. But this reality tv show will not x itself.
We must fix it. We must return and enforce the Fairness Doctrine to the political news coverage broadcast across our public airwaves and publicly franchised cables.
The dissolution of the objective truth from our political news coverage today is a dangerous threat to the life of our country. Truth is being “drowned in a sea of irrelevance.” is is not a question of balance, it is a question of integrity. “Alternative Facts” are not facts. “Fake News” is not news. They are lies, told in self-service or — sometimes — in the service of the objectives of foreign powers who wish us ill.
Publicly promoted lies — whatever their source — are contrary to the best interests of our Republic. For our democracy to have integrity, our media needs to have the integrity to report and promote objective truths. They need to be required to cover electoral contests fairly and objectively, or they should be prohibited from calling themselves “news”. Non-partisan com- missions should control the timing and format of de- bates, not rating agencies and infotainment executives. And when necessary, editorial powers must balance dishonesty with an over-abundance and an overrepetition of the objective truth — lest the big lie carry the day and our country away with it.
It is time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine — the future of our Republic depends on it.
NATIONAL SECURITY AND WELL-BEING
Improving the safety, health, and well-being of our people is the first order of free society. It is also the first order and purpose of our representative democratic government.
For a free people, security or safety, — whether public safety, social security, or national security — is rarely a matter of “more makes better”; it is a question of balance. Beyond a certain point, more weapons do not make us more secure, any more than more calories make us more healthy.
But, in a free society, the balance required for maintaining security or improving safety also requires constant adaptation.In other words, as nature achieves stability through diversity and constant adaptation, so do civil societies.
Within the clear plain language of the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution is found the powerful idea of an ever more inclusive and expansive nation. It is a succinct and venerated mis- sion statement. The striving for balance, security, and generational well-being are its essence. But the journey is not without its pitfalls and perils.
Slavery, genocide, and violence have been intertwined with our story from its start; their legacy afflicts all of us still. The false stories of imperialism, materialism, and white-nationalism have plagued us to some degree in every generation. And yet, in every generation, we have overcome. We have put down the insurrections of division. We have risen above moments of fear and hate. We have returned the balance beam of creating a more perfect Union.
The true and lasting story of our country is the pursuit of greater safety, health and well-being for all.
Universal healthcare. International Defense Alliances. Treaties to protect our global commons — the air, land, and waters of this planet; and cyberspace of our collective intelligence. Human Rights. Rule of Law. Debt free college. Building an economy that works for all people, not just a few. Fair elections. Maintain- ing a strong, modern, and resilient military. Adapting our weapons and defense systems for the new security challenges of our times like Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity and Information Warfare. Combating climate change and the collapse of nation-states.
These endeavors are not pursued in isolation. They are each a vital and necessary part of the larger mission. They are connect- ed, not separate. But their formulations require constant adaptation and change in the face of new challenges, threats, and realities in every new day.
There is no Constitutional right which frees us from the responsibility of facing a changing future, a changing economy, a changing threat landscape. So, if what we want are greater safety and greater well-being, then together we must take a balanced array of new actions to achieve the “blessings of liberty — for ourselves and our posterity.”
A STRONGER COUNTRY MEANS OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL
The stronger we make our country, the more she gives back to our children and grandchildren.
“Our republic has no justification unless it is a genuine democracy — a democracy economically as well as politically — a democracy in which there is a real, sincere effort to realize the ideal of equal opportunity for all [women and] men.”
— President Theodore Roosevelt
States and nations do not build wealth by storing cash in a bank vault. They build wealth by making human solutions to human challenges more widely available to more of its people. Whether the challenge is safety, health, transportation, education, or the basic needs of living, the measure of a nation’s wealth is not merely GDP, it is quality of life.
It is what the Founding Fathers called, “the pursuit of happiness” — the Revolutionary idea that the well-being of people should be the central objective any government.
The United States is the greatest job creating and opportunity-generating engine ever created. But we must put fuel in our country’s tank if we expect her to carry our kids to a better, safer, healthier future. Today, the pace of economic change in our world is faster than it has ever been; but, discretionary spending — investments in our country’s infrastructure, innovation capacity, and the skills of our people — is half of what it was 20 years ago.
This isn’t a natural phenomenon, it is the result of short-sighted choices and the free of a powerful
few. It is the result of putting tax cuts for the already wealthy ahead of investments which make our country stronger and our people more successful in a time of rapid change.
Trickle-down economics is un-American. Its lead- ing features — the concentration of wealth, deficit spending, and the holding down of wages — all run contrary to traditional American capitalism. Trickle down economic does not work, and it never has. In fact, even with solid strides in job creation, average weekly wages and consumer spending have been declining ever since the last round of tax cuts for millionaires and corporations. Those tax cuts increased our de cit, but they did not increase take-home pay, and they did not make our country stronger.
There is, however, a formula that works. It is a formula that enforces rules of fair play in our business dealings with one another, and it punishes those who violate them. It is a formula that guarantees a living
wage that keeps pace with inflation for even the least skilled and hardest of jobs. It is a formula that edu- cates our children at higher and better levels for the skills required in today’s workplaces. It is a formula that pushes back on the excesses of greed and the exploitations of monopoly power.
This formula is called, Traditional American capital- ism. And it actually works when it’s not corrupted and watered down by the self-interest of concentrated wealth.
When we couple this formula with smart national in- vestments, we make ourselves “the land of opportunity” in truth, and not just in memory. It is the formula that made us winners in the last two Industrial revolutions and it is the formula that will make our children winners in this Third Industrial Revolution. It is the common sense, people-focused capitalism that drove the greatest eras of American economic expansion and inclusive prosperity in the history of the world. This is the “pursuit of happiness” which has made our country great. But no generation of Americans ever gave their children a better future by making their country weaker.
Just as a bridge requires maintenance to stand strong, our country requires investments in every generation to carry our children to a better future. China can
make a lot of cheap stuff for Wal-Mart to sell us, but only we can make our country stronger. This means long-term investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure. It means investing in affordable housing at a time when home costs are outpacing wage growth. And this means an innovation agenda that fosters new business starts and pushes the new frontiers of technological possibility.
Adam Smith — author of the Wealth of Nations — once wrote: “It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”
A nation that seeks wealth at the expense of its children’s well-being will lend itself poor in every way.
There is a better way forward — we must invest again in our country’s ability to make our children winners in this changing economy.
This, We Believe — the stronger we make our country, the more she gives back to our children and grandchildren.
A QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL
An inclusive economy – and an inclusive society – is built on the skills of its people. For this reason, education is the best public investment we can make in the future success of our children.
For generations, the United States showed the world that education is one of the surest paths by which individuals achieve greater opportunity for themselves and for their children. It one of the pillars upon which a growing, inclusive and more upwardly mobile middle class is built.
In fact, no generation of Americans ever gave their kids a better future by giving them a lesser education.
But even as developing nations around the world are adopting our formula for success, we seem to have forgotten it. (see Tom Friedman’s book, “That Used to Be Us”…)
We know what works to improve public education. Among the goods we purchase with these investments are: universal pre-kindergarten; raising teacher pay and improving professional development; adopting a new, higher, and better core curriculum so that our children will have the skills they need to compete and win in a global economy; equipping our children with career and technical skills for today’s economy — by the time they graduate from high school; and, making college a debt-free option for every family. (See Ted Dintersmith’s new book, “What School Could Be”…)
But these things won’t happen by themselves. They require public investments we are capable of making. And they are public investments we are more than capable of making.
In the midst of the Great Recession, my own state
— Maryland — invested more in education, not less. While most states cut back on education funding, we increased education funding by 37%.
For the first time, Maryland’s Public Schools were ranked the best in the nation for five years in a row; Maryland students also led the nation in AP success for seven years in a row. And did a better job than any state in holding down the cost of college tuition — not by wishing or hoping it so, but by making it so.
What’s more, all of these investments — and the better results they achieved — were good for our economy in the here and now.
We recovered 100% of the jobs that were lost during the Recession — and we did so with a faster rate of job creation than our neighboring states. Not only did we defend the highest median household income in the country, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce named us the number-one state for innovation and entrepreneurship for three years in a row.
Progress is a choice. Whether our children are loser or winners in this changing economy is up to us.
This, We Believe.
The greatness of our country is built by the labors of many, not by the fortunes of a few.
Therefore, as Americans, we believe our economy should serve the needs of our people — not the other way around. And as Americans, we believe that all of our children deserve a fair shot at achieving the American Dream — and not just the children of the wealthy few.
It is time to remember so that we might return to our true selves.
The first Labor Day Parade in The United States was held on September 5, 1882 in New York City.
On their signs, the workers called for “Less Work and More Pay,” an eight-hour workday, and a prohibition on the use of convict labor.
In the late 1800s, many Americans toiled 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Their hands were hard, and dirty, and worn from tough, physical work at low-paying jobs. In those days, our children worked too, on farms and in factories and mines. Conditions were harsh and dangerous. The loss of fingers and limbs was common. Many men, women, and children routinely lost their lives at workplaces.
But every economy is the product of political choices.
And our laws — the laws which govern fair play and decent wages, the laws which make for an inclusive economy — were about to be changed by the demands of a growing American middle class.
In those days, America had the largest labor movement in the world. And as a result, America was soon to achieve the largest and fastest-growing middle class in the world.
The two are causally connected.
In fact, the genius of our American experiment — the genius that has earned us the global nickname of, “The Land of Opportunity” — is our historic understanding that a stronger middle class is the cause of economic growth not merely its by-product. A stronger middle class is also the cause of greater economic opportunity for all. And a stronger middle class should be the goal, the reference, and the fruit of every political decision we make about the rules governing fair play in our economy.
Today in America, after a prolonged and deep recession, we have achieved 94 consecutive months of steady job creation as a nation. But after all of the hard work begun under the leadership of Barack Obama to speed our nation’s economic recovery, these stubborn truths remain.
THE FUTURE OF WORK
“Labor is prior to, and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
— Abraham Lincoln
The super-rich have never been richer.
The stock market has never been higher.
Corporations have never been more pro table.
And yet, average real wages for American workers continue to flatline or decline?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, aver- age real wages declined 0.4% in July. at’s a decline from $10.78/hr last July to $10.76/hr this July.
It’s not what other nations are doing to us, it’s what we are not doing for ourselves. As a country, we have stopped raising the minimum wage to keep pace with in inflation. We suspended the rules which for decades required employers to pay overtime pay for overtime work. In state a er state, we have made it harder for people to join labor unions to bargain for better wag- es. We continue to subsidize low wages with public benefits like Medicaid and Food Stamps.
What good is it for our nation to see its stock market rise but the livings of its people decline?
Truth is truth. And the truth is trickle-down economics doesn’t work. It never has, and it never will.
Have you ever seen a stalk of corn grow from the tassel down???
An inclusive economy is grown from the middle out and from the middle up. A truly American economy — an economy where everyone who works hard can get ahead — is governed by rules of fair play; and it is fueled by the hard work and spending of individual moms and dads all across this land.
Donald Trump has said, and his policies reflect his belief, that “American wages are too high.” Most Americans would strongly disagree. His tax cuts designed to grossly bene t large corporations and the super-wealthy are making income inequality worse.
They are making our nation weaker. And by foreclosing our ability to make national investments in the well-being of our people, they are making healthcare and college education more expensive.
What Americans need is not a return to the era of child labor, seven day work weeks, and lower pay for all — far from it.
What Americans need is a new Bill of Rights for American Workers in the 21st Century.
Among these rights:
- Right To Earn A Living Wage.
- Right To Join A Labor Union and Bargain Collectively For Better Wages.
- Right To Balance Work And Family — which means paid sick leave, paid family leave, and the right to a predictable weekly schedule.
- Right To Full-Time Work.
- Right To Overtime Pay For Overtime Work.
- Right To Retire In Dignity, Not Poverty.
- Right To Equal Pay For Equal Work — because when women succeed, America succeeds.
- Right To Affordable Health Care.
- Right To A Quality Public Education And Debt-Free College.
10. Right To Read Trade Deals Before Our Congress Votes On em.
America is the greatest job-generating and opportunity-expanding nation ever brought forth on this planet. It is time to return to our true selves.
We have the ability to re-imagine the future of work in this Third Industrial Revolution. We have the ability to strike a healthier balance between family and work. But if rising standards of living is what we all want, then we must restore the proper practice of American capitalism. We must restore a more holistic system of checks, balances, and economic fair play which allows everyone in our country who works hard to get ahead. A system that safe-guards against poverty wages. A system that levels the playing eld so pay and wages go up over time, and not down.
The more our workers earn, the more our workers spend and the more inclusively our entire economy grows. In fact, our Republic has no justification for being unless we are making strides in every generation to become a more genuine democracy — socially, politically, and economically.
This, We Believe.
A NEW WAY OF GOVERNING
“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”
— Abraham Lincoln
There is a symmetry between how well we are governed and how much we are capable of trusting one another. The two are connected, not separate.
In truth, the life of our democracy depends, first and finally, on the ability of our government to deliver better results for the people it serves. If a government cannot effectively defend and advance the common good we share as a people, it cannot maintain the trust of the people. And if trust dies, so too, does democracy.
On the other hand, when our government is capable of solving problems, protecting our common good, and expanding the host of opportunities which make life worth living, then our trust in one another also grows. And our democracy breathes and lives.
Public education, public, the health of our people, our environment, our economy — these things do not improve merely by wishing or hoping it so. We must make it so. Progress is a choice.
George Washington, the first public administrator of the United States, understood well the living reality — and the constant vulnerability — of this dynamic relationship. From the first days of the new American Presidency, he was consumed by an urgent drive to make the new federal government work in the eyes of his countrymen.
Washington believed that self-governance was a science; a longitudinal experiment based upon the empirical evidence of what works. In order to sustain the life of our Republic, every generation of Americans has a responsibility to improve, refine, and perfect this experiment with what works better.
Today we can now see and measure what works on a scale – and with a timeliness – never before possible. Powerful new technologies allow us to model and see the dynamics of our physical, natural, and social environments with real-time accuracy and a greater probabilistic certainly like never before. Whether the goal is improving public education, reducing violent crime, or restoring the health of our waters and air, our ability to manage moving things has never been greater.
Like the convergence of new technologies that are bringing about a Third Industrial Revolution in our
global economy, there is a convergence of new technologies that are also bringing about a new way of Governing. Broadly speaking, these new technologies include Geographic Information Systems and the Internet of Things. It is the combination of these technologies allows us to turn big data into actionable pictures. And this, in turn, allows us to make better and more timely decisions to achieve better and more timely results for people.
Feedback loops, cause and effect, more timely actions and results — why are these new capacities so import- ant? Because lives depend upon our ability to see, to understand, and to act. The great crisis facing western democracy is democracy itself — its efficacy in the eyes of its own citizens. In truth, saving our own democracy depends upon our ability to better meet the challenges we face as a people. It depends on our ability to solve complex problems and to protect and advance the common good we share.
Smart cities in the United States, and around the globe, are leading the way. It is a movement away from the days of information tightly held by those at the top to information shared by all. It is a rapid progression from the ability to make nice-looking maps, to the ability to anticipate problems with predictive analytics. It’s method and its legitimacy is based on our ability to see, to measure, and to understand what works. It is based on our ability never to lose sight of the individual person. But this shift in governing is still new. Political habits die hard. And the expectations of the Uber Generation are high.
This shift in new technology requires a new shift from the traditional mindset of democratic leaders. And it requires a broader understanding in the minds of the electorate. It requires a letting go of the old political habits of holding information tightly. Instead, it requires a radical commitment to openness and transparency. A commitment that the politics of the past deems “too politically risky.” Therefore, new leadership is essential.
Effective leaders in the Information Age create common platforms for collaborative action. They are fundamentally entrepreneurial and evidence-based in their approach to public action and public policy. They focus the problem-solving dialogue on the emerging reality displayed on dynamic maps that every citizen can see. They develop routines for convening leaders around this platform to measure effectiveness, to lift up successful techniques, and to understand better ways of getting things done. They use geospatial intelligence to drive innovation and accountability into the center of the collaborative enterprise we call “governing.”
It’s all about better choices for better results. And it requires a broader and deeper public understanding of what works and what does not.
With all of the new information technologies available in the world today, our government should actually work — this, We Believe.
CLIMATE CHANGE, THE GREAT AMERICAN OPPORTUNITY
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Climate Change is the greatest economic opportunity to come to the United States in a hundred years. But, turning this planetary threat into our children’s great opportunity, will not happen by itself. We must make it happen.
There is no single public work more important to the security and well-being of our children’s future than moving our nation forward to a 100% Renewable Energy Grid by 2050.
We are Americans. We are the masters of history,
not its victims. We make our own events, not time or chance. As earlier generations of Americans faced and defeated the Nazi threat of fascism, so too must we face and defeat the threat of Climate Change. As earlier generations built the national transportation and energy grids necessary to win prior industrial revolutions, we must build the national grids necessary to win this Third Industrial Revolution.
IEA: By 2030, Renewables will be the World’s Primary Power Source
And the good news is, seizing this opportunity no longer requires dreaming or hoping for magic solu- tions, it merely requires doing. The technology and know-how already exist. No other country on the planet has a greater abundance of natural renewable resources — sun, wind, and water — than does the continental United States. And the cost for our nation to move to a 100% Renewable Energy Grid is far, far less than the cost of just the most recent tax cuts for the super-wealthy among us.
With the possible exception of Communist China, no nation has the ability to move forward to a renewable energy future as quickly as we do. Chinese Policy dictators understand clearly the competitive economic advantage of lifting the costs of fossil fuel extraction and fossil fuel burning from its national shoulders.
Here in the United States, the barrier to our own progress-at-scale is not a lack of money or too much political freedom. Nor is it a lack of technical know-how or ability. It is the lack of political will. A lack of political will perpetuated by a lack of understanding. It is fear itself. For in the absence of a will to move forward, the inertia of old money blocks our path with the fear of loss.
As Sinclair Lewis once wrote, “it’s hard to convince a man of the truth when his job depends on not believing it.”
Our domestic fossil-fuel industry — oil, gas, and coal — take our tax-payer subsidies and use a big chunk of it to convince us and our elected representatives that any switch to renewable energy will cost all of us dearly in terms of money and jobs. The truth, however, tells a different story.
It is cheaper today to build new solar or wind-powered electricity generation than it is to maintain existing coal or nuclear-powered plants. And unlike those who extract and burn fossil fuels to generate our electricity, the sun and the wind will never send us a bill.
There are more jobs in a Renewable Energy future, not less. More jobs, less pollution.
Already today, there are more people employed in solar energy than there are in oil and gas extraction.
There are more people employed today in solar energy than there are in coal extraction.
In fact, in the United States today, there are more people employed at Arby’s than there are in coal ex- traction. Nostalgia’s not what it used to be and neither are the jobs in fossil-fuel extraction.
Add wind power jobs and other advanced energy jobs into the mix and the evidence is irrefutable.
Make no mistake about it — as coal and oil were the new fuels of prior industrial revolutions, Renewable Energy is the new fuel of this Third Industrial Revolution.
This is not to say that we can be uncaring about the challenges of job-shifting that come about with every Industrial Revolution. Nor can we be cavalier about managing the significant financial challenge of strand- ed costs on the ledger sheets of big American corporations and pension funds.
These are political problems. These are tax and debt-restructuring problems. But these are not reasons to pretend the Polar ice caps are not melting or that change isn’t happening. The world only spins for- ward. There are far greater opportunities ahead of us than behind us.
Every job is important, but no job is permanent. Therefore, we must anticipate the need for job-changing so we can target the right places for new investment. We must anticipate displacement before it becomes unemployment, so we can target new job creation accordingly. We are all in this together. And there is plenty of work to go around.
With commodity fuel costs (coal, gas, oil) removed from the electricity production equation, there will be more jobs at better pay in the renewable energy jobs of the future than there are to be saved in the fossil fuel jobs of our past. Indeed, there already are.
distributed to every home as electric cars replace cars powered by combustion engines, and car companies will soon begin to o er “electric battery storage as service” in every home in America.
The future we seek for our children is not a future of less, it is a future of more. More security, greater health, greater opportunity, and greater well-being.
But if responsibility is truly the greatest of freedom’s privileges, together we must choose.
As Americans, it is not too much to believe we can make our own children winners in a changing economy. It is not too much to believe we can shape, and change, and save the world.
We have before — many times. We must again. is, We Believe.
So, let us stop subsidizing what we know to be obsolete, expensive, and damaging to our well-being. And let us instead encourage — and where necessary — subsidize the switch to renewable energy until it fulfills 100% of America’s electricity demands by 2050.
This is not something we do for polar bears or even the rest of the world, this is something we can and must do “for ourselves and our posterity” as Americans.
Our own U.S. Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado has run the computer simulation models. A 100% Renewable Energy Grid is possible, and what’s more, it is less expensive than burning fossil fuels or maintaining old nuclear plants. Challenges of cost have already been addressed by advances in solar and wind technology. Challenges of storage and intermittency are being addressed by rapid advances in battery technology. e capacity for storage will soon be distributed to every home as electric cars replace cars powered by combustion engines, and car companies will soon begin to offer “electric battery storage as service” in every home in America.
The future we seek for our children is not a future of less, it is a future of more. More security, greater health, greater opportunity, and greater well-being.
But if responsibility is truly the greatest of freedom’s privileges, together we must choose.
As Americans, it is not too much to believe we can make our own children winners in a changing economy. It is not too much to believe we can shape, and change, and save the world.
We have before — many times. We must again. is, We Believe.
A NATION OF NATIONS
“We are one, our cause is one, and we must help each other if we are to succeed.”
— Frederick Douglass
Ripping refugee children from their parents arms at the border and locking them in cages isn’t American. It isn’t Christian. In fact, it runs counter to the most basic standards of humanity and decency espoused by every major and minor religion the world over.
Even the shameful and ultimately unconstitutional WWII policy of interning Japanese Americans at least kept their families together when our government locked them behind barbed wire.
But this is something we have not seen before.
Our own government’s systematic abuse of refugee children on our border is a new low. Sadly though,
it is just the latest in the test-marketing of Donald Trump’s brand of immigrant scapegoating. Put cry- ing kids in cages and see how it plays with the base… Call them an “infestation,” and see how the crowd responds… See if anyone really cares… Get away with it, and you are one step closer to treating them as vermin.
The degeneration from our traditional American values of justice, fairness, and compassion for strangers — continues step by step. And for many of us, it merely washes across our consciousness along with sports shows, talking heads, MTV, and the other 871 cable entertainment channels on our television sets.
The biggest threat to our American freedom is not dictatorship; it is our own public passivity — an acceptance of cruelty and institutional violence practiced with our permission.
As Fintan O’Toole recently wrote in the Irish Times, “Fascism doesn’t arise suddenly in an existing democracy. It is not easy to get people to give up their ideas of freedom and civility. You have to do trial runs that, if they are done well, serve two purposes. They get people used to something they may initially recoil from; and they allow you to refine and calibrate. This is what is happening now and we would be fools not to see it.”
The American Dream has attracted millions to our shores since our founding. Without immigration, there would be no American Dream and there would be no American future — only an American past.
We can live in fear, or we can act in hope.
Contrary to the falsehood that immigrants take our jobs, the truth is immigration makes our country and our economy stronger. In every generation, America has been strengthened by the arrival to our shores of New Americans — new workers, new consumers, new thinkers, new business starters, and new innovators. Leading economists conclude – ironically – that one of the only ways President Trump could deliver the 3% economic growth he has promised would be to liberalize our immigration system.
Instead, he stuffs for-profit internment camps with as many Spanish-speaking, brown-skinned people as his national dragnet can capture — notwithstanding the fact that net immigration from Mexico last year was less than zero.
The truth is, New American Immigrants have founded 40% of today’s Fortune 500 companies —creating millions of jobs. Those who have escaped death gangs and collapsing nation-states understand (more than most) that public safety and Rule of Law are two of the most fundamental goods of our free society. New American immigrants work hard, love their families, and believe passionately in the good- ness and potential of our country. In fact, if you ever want your faith in America restored, talk to someone who has risked her life to come here. You will find no greater love of country.
So, are these really the families we want to lock up in prison camps? Does any family — or any child, anywhere — ever deserve to be put in an internment camp? What does any of this have to do with making America great, or good? When did we become so mastered by fear that we could be convinced a starving refugee child is a threat to our national security?
Yes, this is an ugly chapter in our American story, but it is not the last chapter.
Another day is fast approaching.
For if you want to know where our nation is headed, talk to her young people under 25. You won’t find many immigrant-bashers among them. In fact, young Americans overwhelmingly believe our diversity
is one of our greatest strengths. Our compassion is another. They believe we should be more connected to the larger world, not less. They believe in building bridges, not walls. And, most importantly, young Americans believe that we should practice kindness toward refugee people — Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish alike.
So, fear not America. ere is a goodness within us that cannot be eclipsed for long. Withstand the temporary delusion. And hold tight to the values which make us both a good and a great nation.
For this, We Believe — the enduring symbol of our nation is not the barbed-wire fence; it is the Statue of Liberty.
CONCLUSION: PROGRESS IS A CHOICE
A few months after the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, the College Democrats of Suffolk University in Boston kindly asked me to come to speak with them. They were awesome: They embody and give voice to so many things that make one optimistic about our country’s future. They embrace our diversity as our greatest strength. They are fearless and undaunted by the challenges we face —as a country, and as one human family on this nite planet.
When I opened up the floor to questions, a young man in the front row asked me, “What do you believe is the single biggest issue facing our nation?” Good question. In fact, it is the sort of question media consultants are paid lots of money to train their candidates never to answer.
Because in our trivial, zero-sum politics where fear of loss has (temporarily) replaced “future preference” as a national ethic, saying any issue is “number one” means all other issues are number two, and therefore not a priority for you. But I was never very good at taking advice from political consultants. And, besides, I was no longer a candidate.
“The single biggest issue facing our nation?” I repeat- ed. An uncomfortable silence passed. Then the truth came out: “Trust, or rather — a lack of trust — is the single biggest issue we face as a people right now.”
I didn’t elaborate. Didn’t have to. They knew. It will be up to this generation to help the rest of us unpack all the distrust we’ve built up as a nation. Against the media, against science, against our national government; against political parties, public institutions, banks, phone companies, “the elites,” millionaires and billionaires, this ethnic group or that religious group. And — most troubling of all — against each other.
Today, according to recent polling, one out of four Americans would be “open” to their own state’s secession from the Union. These modern-day secessionists live not only in the states of the former Confederacy. They live in Minneapolis, Boston and Palo Alto. It has grown nearly impossible for an American whose primary news source is Fox or MSNBC to have a meaningful conversation about our shared political life with another American whose primary channel is the other.
Separation, disintegration, building walls. Expectations can become behavior. When we expect our neighbors are so lacking in basic goodness that they cannot be trusted, then we act in accordance with that belief.
The reality is — our jobs recovery has been uneven both across the map of the United States and across the skills and education levels of our people. There was no “recovery” for those of us with a high school diploma or less. Take-home pay for too many Americans continues to flatline or decline. And these things will not change much until we face — and claim for ourselves — the better possibilities of the changing world around us.
We are stumbling backwards into a rapidly changing economy that we should be facing. Our leaders are acting like victims in a competition we should be winning.
No wonder so many Americans fear their family is doomed to receive the bitter and not the better part of this change. Or that so many Americans fear their own country doesn’t see them, hear them, or care about them.
We, Americans, are exceptional, but we are not super-human. And when people feel their country no longer works for them, voting becomes merely an act of protest.
Bruce Springsteen, the great poet laureate of the American Dream, once asked: “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?”
Sometimes great nations can make bad mistakes. But in our country, we have the opportunity to correct those mistakes quickly. It’s called, “voting.”
You see, you and I are part of a living, self-creating mystery known as, “The United States of America.”
But the promise at the heart of that mystery is actu- ally a very real and concrete thing. It is the promise, the guarantee — the social contract between us and among us — that if we work hard and play by the rules, we will be able to give our children a better life.
However, this better life — this better future for our children — will not happen by itself. We must make it happen. And we can.
We do this by returning to our rst principles as a nation. We do this by listening for and calling forward the goodness in our neighbors. We do this by taking actions consistent with our mostly deeply held beliefs as a people. We do this by squaring our shoulders
to the rapid change of this new economy. We do this — as a country — by taking the actions necessary to make our children winners in this changing economy.
We have all that we need to harness the winds of change and win this Third Industrial Revolution “for ourselves and our posterity.”
“We hold these truths to be self-evident.”
Our economy is not money, it is people — all of our people. Our country is built by the labors of many, not by the wealth of a few. The more our people learn, the more our people earn.
Our democracy has been hacked and corrupted, but it can be reformed. Its integrity can be restored. And the same technologies that make us smarter consumers can also provide us with smarter and more effective governance.
Climate change is real, and it also the greatest business opportunity to come to the United States in a hundred years. No single public work will better enable us to win this Third Industrial Revolution than the move to a 100% Renewable Energy Grid.
The truth is, whatever continent our families might have come from, we are all in this together now. And the stronger we make our country, the more she will give back to our children and grandchildren.
Yes, we have been through our fair share of trials and challenges as a young nation. We are going through
a big Constitutional crisis now. But one constant has remained. And it is the goodness within us as a people — a goodness that cannot be eclipsed for long.
Demagogues may have their day, but they cannot have our country.
We are a compassionate, caring and generous people. Our goodness is our common bond. It is not only
the cure to what ails our Republic, but it is also the essence of who we are as a people.
We can look at recent events in the political life of our nation as things that are happening to us, or we can choose to see them as things that are happening for us. If we see them as happening to us, then we become victims. If we see them as happening for us, then we can become masters and creators of the next chapter of our story.
We have work to do. There is a brighter picture to paint — and darkness makes a great canvass.
I believe we have another 240 years of life-giving service ahead of us as a nation.
I believe The United States of America is large enough to carry the hopes and dreams we have for all of our children.
We are not victims. We are Americans. We make our own events. This, We Believe.