Wanted: a party that works for 'We, the People'
Most of us agree that things aren't right in our world and that change is desperately needed. What's lacking is the political party willing and able to stand up to the power elite. In both Iowa and Washington, D.C., Democrats have taken small steps forward (and plenty of steps backward, too).
Yet at this pathetic pace, the rich will continue to get richer while the rest of us struggle harder and fall further behind.
We need a political party that stands up to the corrupt culture permeating America's corporate and government leadership. We need a political party that will do what's right for our people, our land, and our planet.
Existing third parties are anemic and seem incapable of doing the tough grass-roots organizing needed to truly challenge one of the two major political parties. The Republican Party — the unofficial mouthpiece for the evangelical thought police — is pretty much beyond hope.
The pressing question in my mind is this: Can the Democratic Party be reclaimed from corporate interests, or does it need to be replaced?
Each week through the Fallon Forum, around 25,000 Iowans join the discussion about this pressing question and related issues. In a sea of far-right jabber, the Fallon Forum is one of the few local, independent talk shows in Iowa. In 2011, one of my goals for the show is to lay the groundwork for a political force that puts people before big corporations and big government. Through focused, civil dialogue, I'm convinced a majority of us can agree how best to do that.
Here's what I want from the political party that represents and fights for the people's goals and values. It's a work in progress, and I'm eager to know how others would refine and revise it:
1. Rein in the abuse of money in politics.
2. Eliminate runaway government debts, the federal deficit, and the practice of hiding the full cost of government spending.
3. Cut government spending, especially the bloated military budget, entitlements for the very rich and big businesses, and excessive bureaucracy, paperwork, and regulation.
4. Prioritize the environment — address climate change, floodplain management, dependence on nonrenewable fuels, and corporate domination of our food supply.
5. Establish a more equitable tax structure that lowers taxes on the average person while assuring that the wealthiest Americans again pay their fair share.
6. Stop government meddling in people's personal choices and private lives.
7. End insurance, drug company, and mega-hospital control over our health-care system.
8. Re-establish effective antitrust laws that are critical to a free-market system.
9. Ensure access to fair and impartial courts.
10. Re-establish a minimal but fair regulatory system that puts checks and balances on large businesses, while helping small entrepreneurs live their dream.
11. Reform America's failed immigration laws, while providing global leadership to address the present unsustainable level of world population growth.
12. Inspire people to greater levels of personal responsibility.
The bottom line is, if our political leadership doesn't get to work on this agenda soon, if they instead continue to battle over hot-button social issues and let lobbyists call the shots, America's problems are going to go from bad to worse. I believe Americans can muster the will to do the right thing. And it starts with civil dialogue and individual and collective soul searching.
This is a national undertaking, of course, but it might as well begin here in Iowa.
Ed Fallon hosts the Fallon Forum, weekdays from 7 to 8 p.m. on 98.3 WOW-FM in central Iowa and live stream at fallonforum.com. Fallon served in the Iowa House for 14 years and ran for governor in 2006 and Congress in 2008.
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