The “2020 Vision” of the Democracy Alliance focuses on three “key issue areas that form the core of our 2020 Vision – an inclusive economy, a fair democracy, and strong action on climate change.”
Participatory Politics, Occupying the Next 4 Years
Noting that only about a third of eligible adults voted in this year’s primaries, Youth & Participatory Politics (YPP), defines participatory politics as “interactive, peer-based acts through which individuals and groups seek to exert both voice and influence on issues of public concern.” See how young people are reaching out and getting involved. http://ypp.dmlcentral.net/sites/default/files/publications/Participatory_Politics_Report.pdf
Build the Sharing Economy (with Actual Sharing)
Our jobs are disappearing. Not just the positions of factory workers and customer service employees, but those of professionals like surgeons, accountants, architects, lawyers, and even the clergy. Robot “teachers” are interacting with students in Japan and the UK. Those of us who like to write are being replaced by robot “journalists.” Computers excel at adult tasks that can be reduced to algorithms. And that means, according to a comprehensive study by Citi and Oxford University, that nearly half of American jobs are susceptible to automation.
What remains is the service economy, especially in the low-paying field of health care, in which the number of jobs increased by 23% in just one year. And the “sharing economy,” which so far has robbed many of its contract workers of employee benefits and retirement funds. Yet sharing will work after all, if a ‘co-op’ element is built into it. “Crowd-based capitalism” may actually help empower workers rather than disenfranchise them, even in the ride-sharing business, where, for example, an Uber challenger called Swift is owned and managed by the drivers themselves, and a worker-owned and unionized co-op called Green Taxi is being formed by over 600 drivers.
Cooperatives represent a form of social democracy that is 100 percent American. Gar Alperovitz describes the process of “decentralizing power, changing the flow of power to localities rather than to the center.” The Evergreen Cooperative in Cleveland, the public Bank of North Dakota, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Chattanooga Internet service are all examples of the distributed popular control of essential services. The approach works.
Foment a Revolution…of Jobs
The other future employment area heralded by the Citi/Oxford study is alternative energy, with red states like Texas and Arizona and Wyoming leading the way. Wind power is now the cheapest source of energy in the U.S., with solar right behind, and together they account for over two-thirds of new U.S. generating capacity.
Our future is paved, literally, with solar roads. The U.S. is covered with over 30,000 square miles of sun-beaten asphalt that could be powering electric cars as they use the roads, while at the same time providing temperature-controlled “smart” technology to assist drivers, including built-in guidance systems for driverless cars. Missouri’s Department of Transportation has announced plans to use Solar Roadways panels to build the first public solar powered sidewalk along Route 66.
Many of these alternative energy jobs would be labor-intensive, requiring at most a high school education.
Look Up Jurgis Rudkus and Tom Joad
Our 2020 Vision requires an educated, well-informed young adult population. No better way than for high school and colleges students to visit Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, to experience the misery of early-twentieth century immigrants in the meatpacking area of Chicago, as the forces of capitalism cheat Jurgis and his family out of job and home and savings, not unlike today.
Then they should read John Steinbeck’s story of the Depression, Grapes of Wrath, to understand how Americans from the heart of our nation were disparaged as unwanted “Okies,” much like blacks and immigrants today. The Depression families journeyed to the promised land of California only to find dozens of workers for every available job, and a fleet of police and company guards ordering them to move on, from one desperate and life-draining failed opportunity to the next.
The progressive vision for 2020 is focused on the needs of average working people, on the strength of society rather than on winner-take-all individualism, on the cooperative efforts of underpaid people who have been forced out of the middle class.
Ma Joad said: “I’m learnin’ one thing good. Learnin’ it all a time, ever’ day. If you’re in trouble or hurt or need – go to poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones.”