My Policy Objectives
- A Guarantee of Employment, Self-employment, or Retraining for all who are able to work. A legally enforceable right to one of the three. This is the fundamental plank, more transformative, if we achieve it, than all else.
- The Right to a Childhood Without Fear: Restoring sanity in setting limits to private weapons ownership. Transforming our most crime-ridden cities, where America's least advantaged children are 24/7 in a shooting gallery. A Marshall Plan for Baltimore. Building a Wealth-Stake in Poor Neighborhoods through Home Ownership by Those at the Bottom. Rethinking Imprisonment. Using inner-city creativity and energy to bring beauty to the mean streets of America. Immediate: Two Months of Safety = Sleep-away camp for the kids in our worst cities.
- A Living Wage and a Livable Work-life: A $15/hour minimum wage, or retraining, supplemented by the earned income tax credit. Putting shorter hours back on the national agenda, after an 80 year hiatus. Expanding leisure. Slowing down. Transition from the Job System to Self-Employment.
- Free higher education in all public colleges (just as I had at City College of New York). Untying education spending from personal earnings. Free public childcare as well. Education for simple living. Learning how to be happy without being rich, without having to have more than the other guy. Accessing, through education, the wealth that we have by virtue of inheriting great works of literature. This means schools in which each and every student loves to read and learns how to be “value added” to the world.
- Medicare Option for All: To address, immediately, the needs of those who cannot access or afford decent health insurance from the private sector. Enhancing Medicare to cover long-term care, and gradual premium-elimination funded through tax reform, thus, untying health care from personal earnings. It also means Medicare that will be forward-looking as we transition into the health care revolution that is just beginning, one that will ultimately explode the life-span and transform the human condition.
- Take Back Your Time: Worker Liberation—The right of every person to determine how much time they will put up for sale to the so-called “job creators.” Paid time-off, paid sick leave, paid family leave, paid vacation time -- minimum total of 30 days a year. Returning to the traditional Labor Agenda of a Shorter Work Week and a Short Work Day. Lowering the need for money by making America a truly efficient society in which basic needs can be met with modest incomes. Education of all young people in start-up. Becoming your own non-profit, as we all become our own “job creators."
- And Beauty for All: Equal access to America’s natural and human-made beauty. Protecting the environment for the next generation. Urban Renaissance. A recognition of the unappreciated role of beauty and creativity, both in economic development and as an essential part of the good life. Creativity classes in our schools. Arts for the elderly. Funding the humanities. Not just bread, but good bread, and New York style bagels too.
- Foreign Affairs: De-escalation in Korea. De-escalation in our relations with Iran; letting the ink dry on the nuclear deal. An even-handed policy in pursuit of a just Israeli-Palestinian peace, and making full use of the US role on the UN Security Council to do so. Values-based foreign policy. Building international structures of law and robust mechanisms of humanitarian intervention under the United Nations. Recognition of a legal right to boycott. Increased economic development assistance directed at the poor majority through basic human needs development strategies. And really, really, meaning it when we say: Never Again -- Not To Anyone -- Not Anywhere.
What This Campaign Is About
There are two aspects to this challenge, one having to do with foreign affairs and the other with domestic policy.
1. Cardin is a vehicle of AIPAC, the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee, only second to the NRA in its influence over Congress. AIPAC carries the agenda of Bibi Netanyahu, for Israel and, unfortunately, too often for the United States as well. Twenty-nine years ago, I founded the Jewish Peace Lobby (www.jewishpeacelobby.org) as an alternative vision of what it means to be pro-Israeli. This campaign is the first time we, or anyone, has challenged AIPAC electorally, and challenged their tight grip on Congressional action on all things directly or indirectly related to Israel.
2. AIPAC/Cardin defends and shelters the aggressive settlement activity of the current Israeli government. This is destroying the possibility of the two-state solution, and thus, necessitates an Israeli choice between being a Jewish state or being a democracy. It is clear that democracy is losing in that contest. This is a heart breaking tragedy, and must be fought with all we have got.
3. Secondly, Cardin, again aligned with AIPAC, joined with all 54 Republican Senators in opposing the Iran Nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama Administration. President Obama told us that the choice was either between the nuclear deal or the use of force against Iran. Bibi wanted an American attack. John Kerry confirmed this publicly a month ago. In effect, Ben Cardin voted for war against Iran. Anything he says to the contrary is BS.
4. Cardin, in his blank-check support of any Israeli government policy introduced legislation that would felonize (up to 20 years in jail) any American who joined and supported a boycott of the Israeli settlements, if that boycott was called by the United Nations or any of our European allies. The ACLU has condemned this as un-Constitutional, as has my excellent Congressman, Jamie Raskin, formerly a Professor of Constitutional Law.
My campaign banner is Bread and Roses, the banner carried by women textile workers in their historic strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912.
Bread basically means A Decent Society, one in which basic human needs are met, even for the poor. Roughly speaking this is Bernie Sanders. I support the goals of Bernie's agenda, and most of his policy positions.
Roses means something else. Something not attained through higher pay. It speaks to the more complex needs of people, even beaten-down immigrant workers in 1912. It is about our deeper need for beauty and meaning, about having time for life itself, time for being with old friends, time for enjoying our children when they are very young, time for being with our parents as they age, or in a book club, or for playing racquetball with an old buddy, three times a week. It's what I call the Alternative American Dream. It is captured in the bumper sticker wisdom: Nobody ever died wishing they had spent more time at the office. My campaign offers something new to progressive politics. It offers a policy agenda for Roses, one I developed in my book: Graceful Simplicity: The Philosophy and Politics of the Alternative American Dream.
I raise the most basic question of public policy: What is an economy for, anyway? My answer is this: To give us all a material platform that satisfies core needs with enough time and energy left over to allow us to turn away from the economic realm and to do those things that are most important in life, each according to their own drummer.
Bread & Roses