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March 07, 2004

What Should Our 'Great Goals' Be?

MoveOn.org has created an interesting new forum asking for participants' ideas on what ought to be our country's "Great Goals" in the coming years. The forum itself is a bit unwieldy, and posters are wandering off point more often than not, but the high level of participation points in a very positive direction: i.e., beginnning to talk about the goals progressives want to set for ourselves beyond the obvious -- getting rid of Bush -- as we look toward the future. Conservatives always have something of an advantage when it comes to talking about goals because, in a very fundamental way, they don't really have any goals beyond protecting the status quo, and they can couch their arguments against change in simplistic terms that are easy to transmit via Neanderthals like Rush at the same time that they frighten people away from new ideas with their vivid, apocalyptic language of anxiety, fear and hatred. The progressive list of great goals is often more complex and harder to communicate in our sound-bite society: it takes more time to explain to someone how incremental steps in energy conservation can reduce our dependence on foreign oil more quickly, efficiently, and permanently (and create jobs in the process) than putting up a few drilling rigs in the arctic. So it strikes me that talking about our "Great Goals" ought to include a discussion not just of what those goals are, but also of the kinds of arguments we need to make to the other half of America that will be compelling enough to make them listen. -- Dan Cabaniss

March 7, 2004 in Progressive Politics | Permalink


i think a great goal would be to have every congressional representative in america make at least one blog post for the people every day......we can start small by having doug haines set and example for them all......dk

Posted by: Doug Kenline at Mar 8, 2004 8:36:42 PM

How about having every Congressional candidate even have a blog? At least Doug is doing that, which sets him aside from virtually every candidate in the country.

Posted by: Josh B. at Mar 9, 2004 1:55:09 PM

Where to start?

Jobs, healthcare, education, the environment. Those are the big issues that we need real progress on. I want to talk about something a little broader than that, however. For a really great goal, I think we need to start focusing on building an inclusive electorate.

Right now, we are leaving a substantial part of our eligible voters behind. They cross ethnic and demographic lines. The one thing that they do have in common is the belief that their vote doesn't count, so why bother to vote? A lot of times, they are the people who would benefit the most from having a government who listens to their voices.

So what can we do? Step up our voter registration activities. We need to look at same-day registration, and the possibility of a national holiday for elections. All of these are legislative fixes, but there's more to be done than that.

Our politicians and our elected leaders need to start showing the disenfranchised among us that they care. (Before they can do that, some of them actually need to care, but that's a different topic entirely.) It takes more than a photo op right before election day, and it takes more than talking. We have to listen, too.

Here's my challenge. Go out and register one new voter this week. Then get one registered voter to commit to going to the polls on the next election day.

The future of this country is entirely too important to not have everybody who can involved in the discussion.


Posted by: Doug Haines at Mar 9, 2004 2:16:59 PM

In electoral politics, it all seems to come down to mobilization. How quickly can you light a fire under the right people at the right time? I wrote a letter to my state rep recently, asking him to reconsider his "Yes" on SR 565. His response was polite, but dismissive, saying that voting in favor of the gay marriage ban did nothing out right and simply placed the issue in the hands of the voters. "Let the people decide," sounds so noble, until you realize how powerful the conservative mobilization machine has become. And once "the people" have decided, politicians can wipe clean their hands and say it was just the will of the constituent. What is needed is a revival of one simple notion: doing that which is right is more important than doing that which is popular.

So Mr Haines, how would you propose overcoming this impending "tyranny of the majority" -- not just on issues like SR 565, but the other issues that are being ignored while we work our way through the distractions? Or is the secret in the disenfranchised? Can you show them that not only do you care, but that you are worth their time, worth their effort and worth their vote?

Posted by: Thomas at Mar 10, 2004 9:21:58 AM

There are a few different issues here that I want to address. First, having the courage of your convictions. Sometimes, we lose policy battles to "the will of the people" simply because the other side (I'm not necessarily talking about Republicans v Democrats here, either) does a better job of explaining their side than we do.

Now I am going to talk about Republicans for a minute, or actually about conservatives. The conservatives do a very good job of boiling their side of any particular issue down to a really powerful, although usually misleading, sound bite. Examples, the Clear Skies Initiative, the Healthy Forests Act, etc. We're not as good at that, and I don't necessarily think we should be. What we have to do is do a better job of getting our side of the issue out to the voters before the other side has a chance to frame the debate. To me, that means playing more offense and less defense. Its a case of not saying, "No, they're wrong about us!" and instead saying, "We think about this issue differently and here's why. And most importantly, here's how it affects YOU." Let's stop letting the Republicans label us.

Partisanship aside, I want to talk about the second part of your question. The key is in the disenfranchised, not just politically but morally too. We've got millions of Americans out there (you probably know a few) who think that democracy is not worth their time. It's not their fault, it's the politicians' fault. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to talk, and more importantly I'm going to listen. We're going to get our message out to the people from the people, not from a 30 second TV ad. The secret is interaction. It's why I'm taking questions here, and why we're dedicated to having the best grassroots campaign in the 12th District.
Whether I'm worth their time, their effort, and their vote is ultimately up to the voters. We've got to start speaking truth to power, and the power in this country should be with the people.


Posted by: Doug Haines at Mar 10, 2004 2:15:41 PM

I so appreciate Mr. Haines remarks on making democracy more inclusive. One thing that could help right here on this blog is adding a BabelFish translator to the sidebar. It's free and I have absolutely no link to the service (except for having a translator on my sidebar, too!)I just think it's exciting that, with a simple click, political bloggers can even expand the conversation across language barriers

Posted by: cs at Mar 11, 2004 11:03:47 AM

Thank you, Mr Haines. Your answer was better than I could have expected. And I believe you're absolutely right. So keep talking. Keep listening. And if there is any way I can help from over here in the 6th District, let me know.

Posted by: Thomas at Mar 11, 2004 12:09:17 PM

How to help out...

First, thank you for making our blog more contributory. This discussion is something that is very important to me, and I hope that it is just as important to all of you out there. I look at it this way. No matter what district you live in, a progressive vote in Congress is a progressive vote in Congress. Perhaps you live in a pretty solidly Republican area, and your voice isn't being represented.

Here's what you can do to help us out. First and foremost, keep contributing on the blog. This is not just my forum, it is for all of us. Second, get on our email list, if you haven't yet. Third, tell everyone else that you know about what we're doing here in GA-12. Finally, please consider signing up to volunteer for us, if you live close by. If not, please think about a small contribution.

Above all, keep talking about what you believe in, and why it is important to you.



Posted by: Doug Haines at Mar 12, 2004 8:41:38 AM

If I had to pick a number one top goal among all the national problems to work on in America today, to send Doug a message as my Priority One, I say make health care access priority one. That is why I campaigned for Howard Dean - the health care plan. I work in health care and it is a duty of my job to send uninsured people away and to give insured people different levels of care depending on what kind of insurance they have. This American system is a HUMAN RIGHTS DISGRACE. Fix it Doug Haines!!!!!!!

Posted by: Don't forget Health Care at Mar 16, 2004 6:43:50 PM

Access to affordable healthcare is not a political issue, it is a moral obligation. You're right, with 43 million Americans going without coverage, it is time our elected leaders did something about the problem.

I'm excited to announce that in the next week, we'll be putting the complete version of the Better Deal online. Health care is a major part of my legislative agenda.

Here is what I will propose in Congress.

First, a nationwide network of clinics providing care in a number of critical areas - ob-gyn, preventative care, mental health, pediatrics, gerontology, etc. - in our communities. These clinics will provide a local, accessable option to expensive emergency room and private care.

Second, we must make sure that business is motivated to maintain coverage for its employees, not drop coverage. One step in that direction is for the federal government to only award contracts to companies that provide benefits for its workforce.

Third, we have to take care of our children's health needs. I propose universal screening to catch health conditions early, and expanding the scope and funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Here in Georgia, we call it Peachcare. In addition to that, we need to extend CHIP benefits to the children of government employees.

That's just a start. Please do check the website soon for the complete, updated policy.


Posted by: Doug Haines at Mar 17, 2004 12:34:41 PM