In a “what’s next for liberalism” piece, Michael Lind wants the abolition of the death penalty and a criminal justice system reform next. After that, he says, we should take a look at voting rights.
Is this the cliodynamics of liberal reform in this country? We enact bread and butter reforms like Social Security, Medicare, and Obamacare and then we turn the corner to pie in the sky pony plans? After Vietnam, all liberalism had was a series of identity political bromides. While I actually agree with most of those goals, the political prioritization of things like this is only going to trigger further and deeper setbacks. We cannot afford another Reagan.
The first three things we must consider are labor, labor, and labor. Only when the middle class is secure and dynamic are anyone else’s rights secure in our democracy. Lind writes about the “populist” and “nativist” tendencies that sometimes foil liberals. Does he think this people are simply evil—or does he think they have some political instinct?
Almost in passing Lind calls for paid parental leave. This, of course, should be among the top priorities because it is a real benefit to working Americans where organized labor inly represents about 9% of all workers. If unions can’t get it done, then what should be the labor party should get it done for us through the political system.
The simple reason that the criminal justice system will not be reformed is because crime continues to decline. Absent a conscience shocking event like the beating of Rodney King, there will not be much appetite for this idea right now. Leading with it will set everything else back, whereas, on the contrary, leading with labor, labor, and labor, will only ease Americans’ other anxieties and, hopefully, thereby expand their openness. There’s no guarantee, but at least it’s a plan with historical precedent actually favoring it (instead of disfavoring it).
As for abolishing the death penalty, this is something I have always been powerfully agnostic about. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that I don’t buy the substantive argument that no death penalty pacifies us even while I know that the process is deeply flawed on literally dozens of levels. I certainly support a moratorium.
But that’s me. Politically unless the Catholic Church wants to chew gum and walk at the same time and put some firepower behind this instead of abobos and teh gay, I don’t see much hope of this not resulting in a limousine liberal backlash as well.
Paid family leave. More tax credits for the working class. Living wages for heads of households. Student loan reform/amnesty. Public works.
Blue first. Then white and green.