If you have "no place to go," come here!

Time to add some new planks to the 12-word platform?

Here's the current version, devised and crafted* with a lot of care:

1. Medicare for All
2. End the Wars
3. Tax the Rich
4. A Jobs Guarantee

I could vote for anybody who supported this platform, but so far nobody has! Who knew? So maybe we need to propagate the platform more, and a candidate -- or an emergent party, or a whole new parallel alpolical structure -- will pick it up. Why add new planks?

5. I think climate is a big missing piece, but I'm not sure how to even think about that from a policy perspective. What I do know is that program advocacy -- like "stop Keystone XL" or "carbon tax" -- isn't nearly enough. We need -- and in two or three words -- a perspective that's, er, global. The Climate of Man, by Elizabeth Colbert, is an impressive starting point. It's also 60 pages long. However, it's a hopeful piece in that it does take a reasonable approach to what has to be done.

6. There's nothing on the surveillance state, the restoration of Constitutional government, or the rule of law (and not secret law), or anything like that. The deterioration of the State has been marked since 2010, and we have to address it. "Secure in our effects" might be a starting point, except most people probably don't know what "effects" means. However the plank ends up being worded, I think it should have a constitutional flavor.

7. ... I don't know how to formulate this at all; it grew out of a conversation with commenter Jane Doe at NC on the Trayvon Martin case. Her point -- and please, I don't want to relitigate that case on this thread -- was that the jury in essence bought into the idea that Martin was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" ("walking while black," you might say) and that this justified Zimmerman's actions. There are some nice things about this perspective.

First, it gives a very concrete, non-game-able litmus test for privilege in public space. I mean, as a white guy, there really isn't a wrong place at a wrong time for me. (Yes, as a WASP who can still pass for professional, I get class privilege too, but I think most of those privileges operate in private space, like I can walk into the Harvard Club and the assumption will be that there's somebody there I'm going to meet.) However, for black people, and non-whites (even honorary whites) there are plenty of wrong places and wrong times. And -- this is the beauty part for me, strategically -- this is true of women as well. ("She shouldn't have been there.")

And so "equal privilege in public space" (horrible phrasing, and if we can't phrase it, it doesn't become part of the platform) could become reasonably easy to operationalize, and also unifying, unlike identity politics, which are neither, and moreover are very easy for the powers that be to use to distract and divide. I do think it's important to introduce terrain into these ideas; that's what Occupy was all about, after all. I'm groping toward "equality" rather than "safey" or "security" because those concepts are so easily militarized. ("Yes, of course we can have equal access to public spaces, except for evil-doers of course (who happen to be _____ ).")

8. A Post-Office Bank. Obvious, no?

Finally, I'm not so sure about Jobs Guarantee. I think it's a fine policy, and the benefits are clear, but it hasn't gotten traction, and I'm thinking upping the ante with a guaranteed annual income or GDP sharing might work, too.

* * *

Some comments on how the 12-Word platform hangs together and why it works (though not as well as we could hope for). Readers who helped devise the existing platform please chime in.

A plank should be:

Brief. The X-word format forces us to state planks concisely. No excess!

Clear. Everybody knows what "Medicare for All" means, for example.

Provide concrete material benefits. I learned this from Anglachel (now silent). The concrete material benefits of "Medicare for All" are immediately apparent to most people, and can be expanded on, as in people are more free to leave their jobs, move around the country, start their own businesses, etc. Ditto "Jobs Guarantee."

Evocative. By this I mean that a plank can be deeper than it appears at first glance. For example, "End the Wars" means not just our imperial wars, but the so-called "War on Drugs" and in general calls for a demilitarization of our political economy, so it's also about abolishing mass incarceration.

Systemic. Think big and for the long haul. For example, a 2010 suggestion was for legalizing gay marriage. This is good and important, now and then, but markedly more on the road to success than it was in 2010. So, not "long haul." And not really thinking big in the way that "End the wars" does, eh?

So with that I throw this post open for discussion.

NOTE * A big hat tip to danps for inventing the concept. Here's the original post at Corrente -- in 2010! -- from which the current 12-word platform evolved.

NOTE I know that taxes do not fund spending, and so I don't suppport them to [cough] "Fix the debt" or anything like that. However, I think taxing the rich is important to:

  • Prevent the development of an aristocracy of inherited weath
  • Prevent the rich from buying up the government with their loose cash
  • Increase happiness by decreasing the Gini co-efficient
Average: 5 (1 vote)


nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

5. A sustainable economy

I'm trying to imply the climate issue as well as social and economic institutions. The problem is, of course, that Pete Petersen and his flunkies will claim that economic sustainability requires gutting all programs except those funneling money to the top. I've considered phrasings like "Require sustainability" and "Sustainable policies and institutions." It would sure help if somebody could suggest some one syllable words.

Submitted by lambert on

The Austerians, for example, regard certain Debt-to-GDP ratios as "sustainable," as if the real economy was driven by numbers instead of the other way round.

"Carbon neutral" I can kind of understand, but I'm not sure it's the same as what you want. With neutral there's a metric.

Submitted by hipparchia on

1. Medicare for All
2. End the Wars
3. Tax the Rich
4. A Jobs Guarantee WPA/CCC/HOLC 2.0
5. Restore the Bill of Rights
6. Demilitarize the Police
7. Decriminalize Drug Possession
8. Green Energy
9. Restore Public Government
10. Equality for All
11. Save the Environment


4. I've never liked either the jobs guarantee or the basic income guarantee. I think a version 2.0 of the WPA and CCC could get traction, since they can be sold as "temporary" (even if long-term) fixes. Same for HOLC, which was another New Deal program so I included it here, but it could be its own line item.

5,6,7. I was originally going to go with Restore The Fourth (amendment) but basically all the bill of rights is getting shredded. also, for a shorter list, 6 and 7 could perhaps be included as sub-parts of 5.

8. Should include "energy conservation" ($ave$ money!) and "development of alternative energy sources (jobs!)." There's more to fixing the climate than this, but the original idea of the nine-word platform was to "keep it simple, stupid" so this would be a nice start.

9. Needs better phrasing, but I'm going for "Deprivatize Everything" with this one.... I really like "Take Back the Government" but the tea party has poisoned that phrase.

10. I really like "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" but you know, cheese-eating surrender monkeys! zomg! and surely there's a non-gendered replacement for "brotherhood."

11. Just my pet issue, and it's my list. :)

Submitted by lambert on

I'm not seeing a fundamental difference between the alphabet soup and the JG in terms of policy. There's a tension between advocating for what's possible and advocating for what should be possible (see single payer) and I'm more on the side of what should be possible assuming that the idea can be expressed well in the constraint of a few words. JG does all this. I'd also say that, by definition, we shouldn't be advocating for anything temporary (e.g a gay marriage plank).

That said, for me, leaving all the wonkery aside, the JG boils down to money in my pocket. So I'm not sure I see the difference between it and an income guarantee or "GNP sharing."

Submitted by hipparchia on

jg and big, as I see them discussed in the blogosphere anyway, are implied as permanent. wpa/ccc/holc were all originally devised as temporary, if very long-term, programs.

if temporary programs turn out to be popular and work well and morph into permanent, that would be fine, but there's a lot that needs fixing in a hurry, so reviving past programs without reinventing the wheel for at least part of the fix seems like a doable thing. kind of like just opening up medicare for all, we didn't, and still don't, have to invent obamacare, for instance.

Notorious P.A.T.'s picture
Submitted by Notorious P.A.T. on

We have to start somewhere. Let's not do the typical liberal thing of outsmarting ourselves to death--turning a short and sweet 12-word platform to a behemoth 576-word opus that's impossible to propagate and never reaches anyone.

"No one's run on this yet." Well heck, how long has it been in existence?

Submitted by lambert on

is no behemoth. Incidentally, the whole thing is 93 characters now, so we have 47 characters to go if we want to stay in the bounds of a single tweet.

And see the criteria, like 'Brief." We are a long way from having a typical liberal grab bag.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

short, snappy, evocative, everything a political slogan should be.

Submitted by lambert on

I think that:

  • Jail the Banksters!
  • Restore the Constitution!

Fall generally under the rubric of "Restore Constitutional Government" which implies restoring the rule of law (and at some point is going to require a conversation about immigration that is, after all, illegal).

These two:

  • Politics without Money!
  • End Plutocracy; restore Democracy!

Are the same. But a wish is not a plank. It's like saying "Health Care for All" instead of "Medicare for All." The latter is better because everybody knows what it means, and can see concrete material benefits.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

Indulge me while I riff. Being I'm a contrarian, the constitution was written by elites and sucks for the restand as Morris Berman points out, America was founded by hustlers and con men. Dimitry Orlov also criticizes "representative" government. Stop the machine! But how without addressing the biggest elephant, private property? And how can we have direct democracy rather than being represented by a small group of mediocre aging satraps when this country is too big? Break up the state! Have you read the "Declaration" by Hardt and Negri?
Good stuff. Not an easy read though. I'm on my second read through.
Restoring the commons, practicing commoning of our water, banks, education (self-education and not the prisons we call schools).
There's the French three word platform:
Liberty - Free Access to the Common - Basic Income Guarantee - Old Age Pension - a money system for the public good
Equality - Medicare for all, distribution of wealth,
Fraternity - democratic decisions, no supreme anything.
And what about ours?
Life -
Liberty - basic living wage and old age pensions
Pursuit of Happiness - Less work more time
or MLKJr:
End the triple evils of racism, militarism and economic injustice.
Graeber said recently the number one demand should be a debt jubilee followed by trying to stop the machine and trying to live sustainably. That would be done with reducing the work week. I think we need to start with that. Planetary debt cancellation followed by a mass reduction in work hours. More jobs! Less work!
He wants us to address the morality of debt and work.

Submitted by Hugh on

I think more in terms of what kind of a society we would like to build for ourselves and each other, one where we provide the fundamentals for a good life and then get out of the way and let people pursue the lives they wish to with respect and privacy: good jobs, housing, food, healthcare, education, and secure retirements.

Submitted by lambert on

... as a complete, interlocking system. I think what you and we all want can be expressed more powerfully in the X word form, however. Honing the points down is always a good exercise.

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

The platform is a list of actions. The 12-word platform is good because it calls for actions without getting into detailed programs that can be easily gutted. I like letsgetitdone's list for the reasons DCblogger says. I tend to come up with wimpy stuff like "Prosecute corporate crime"; what "Jail the banksters" loses in range, it more than makes up for in clarity and zip, and implies holding all corporate executives accountable.

I'm thinking slowly. This is as far as I've gotten.

4. Guaranteed minimum income.
5. Restore the Bill of Rights. Yeah, "Constitution" evokes our civic religion emotions, but much of the constitution is problematic, and prone to interpretations that we really don't consider valid (like the current militarization of government power). "Bill of Rights" evokes "rights" and focuses more clearly on citizens' freedoms.

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

Well, if you’re going to go for guaranteed minimum income, how about a universal basic income? You get a check whether you work or not. (I wouldn’t buy the conservative arguments for ending wholesale existing government programs, however—so maybe the politics aren’t there.)

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

Ha, not too clear. A universal basic income has the most minimal requirements (e.g., citizenship) n the guaranteed minimum income has a few more requirements, apparently.

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

Bingo! Short, snappy, comprehensible, addresses the whole set of finance problems.

Submitted by lambert on

I'm not sure, either, that the revolving door isn't a symptom of something greater. We tried term limits, which turned out to be dumb, since only the lobbyists had institutional memory.

Notorious P.A.T.'s picture
Submitted by Notorious P.A.T. on

It's a long way now, but once we start adding everyone's pet project it will look like a political Winchester House.

The platform should be a short, pithy way to get our side in office, not a complete list of anything and everything we would do once in office.

Not everyone tweets, by the way.

Submitted by lambert on

My goal is a sketch of a complete system (a "seamless garment") that would mean a livable situation for ourselves and the next generations (for those of us who don't have children).

That can't be done in 3 planks, I don't think. Perhaps there should be a maximum of 10. That seemed to work rather well for the Commandments. Or 12, as in 12 Steps, 12 Traditions (hmm).

However, politics is about values and interests, and very often immediate interests come first. We've all got to eat -- and take care of our hostages to fortune, if any.

Dan points out, in conversation, that End the Wars just doesn't resonate with people he's talked to. It does resonate with, dare I say it, systems thinkers, who see the rental extraction machinery of the National security class for the parasitism that it is, never mind all the deaths of faraway brown people.

However, both sorts of people need to be appealed to. The platform will never propagate through the left leaning factions of the political class if it comes across as a Gompers-like piece of reformist tripe. Further, it will be indistinguishable from whatever kayfabe the Democrats have going ("defend the middle class!"). And yet the platform will never propagate to voters (OK, assuming electoral politics has a shot, here) if it's seen as airy-fairy NPR-listening twaddle that doesn't take account of the desperate and immediate needs of ordinary working class people, which is how "End the Wars" comes across.

So I propose that the the planks be ordered and subsetted. If the first 3 are "grabbers," fine. If "Carbon negative economy" (say) is #12, that is also fine.

I am VERY reluctant, and I think everyone should be reluctant, so "fork a new version" of the platform, when (for a tiny little blog in the far corners somewhere) we have a considerable amount of social capital invested already.

Submitted by lambert on

Upton Sinclair quote:

“The American People will take Socialism, but they won’t take the label. I certainly proved it in the case of EPIC. Running on the Socialist ticket I got 60,000 votes, and running on the slogan to ‘End Poverty in California’ I got 879,000. I think we simply have to recognize the fact that our enemies have succeeded in spreading the Big Lie. There is no use attacking it by a front attack, it is much better to out-flank them”

Exactement. What a great plank.

Submitted by lambert on

Usury impacts across the board -- houses, student loans. It's the or at least a rent that enables everything else we oppose. I'd like some sort of frontal assault on it --

Debt jubilee is one

Max __ % interest on all _____ is another approach

Jailing the banksters is good from the rule of law aspect, but doesn't help at all with the interest charged. "As usual, the crime is what's legal."

Post office bank takes away a lot, destroys payday loans, etc., but isn't a direct assault...

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

This one is tough. The problem with debt jubilee is that the very next day, the problem starts over. Besides, if you've read Graeber's book, you know how moralistic people are about debt, and there would be immediate demand to distinguish between good, deserving debt and bad greedy debt. A maximum usury rate is better, with usury equaling interest plus all fees. However, there's a big difference between 12% usury when inflation is running 2% and when it's running nearly 20% as it was in the late 70s. There's a way to address this, but more like 3 pages than 3 words.

I like post office bank. It's simple. If the post office issued debit cards, the rents taken by the major banks and finance companies would disappear, and that's another big advantage.

Submitted by lambert on

... which I like a lot. Unfortunately, that's not the same as "Post Office Bank" which is also needed, but "bank.... bank" is not only awkward but confusing.

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

Readers of Corrente and Naked Capitalism know what boring banking is. To most people, I suspect that it either means nothing or it raises visions of all the boring things you used to do with your banking -- balance your checkbook, write checks to pay bills, and so on.

Besides, the Post Office bank encourages good government services directly provided.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

look at the "statistics" for the numbers of Americans who have at least a Bachelors--only "30 percent" according to a US Census Bureau report, or brief, from March 2011 data, some would argue that a student debt "jubilee" would be another transference of wealth from lower to higher income Americans (or their children).

That is, unless you institute a tax that "largely excludes" working class Americans. And that would be an administrative nightmare, since more than a few folks bounce up and down the economic scale.

So, if "fairness" is the major concern, why not enact a law that would implement "usury laws."

Then, you could have interest "relief" for mortgage, car, student, credit card, pay day loans, and hopefully all types of loans, which would benefit very large swaths of Americans.

And, to help out with the costs of college education, start a brand new program based upon a targeted tax (progressive, of course, but everyone would be taxed) that would heavily subsidize a college education at a public university--to be effective immediately.

And it would apply to absolutely EVERYONE, without exception.

What's not to like, LOL?

Submitted by lambert on

I can imagine there are a lot of implementation details though....

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

Our debt and interest based economies did not arise organically from a natural law. We know how debt and interest based economies allocate the commons. Why not, then, demand (in a plank) the abolition of interest in any debtor-creditor transactions?

The charging of interest on money lent shall be illegal.

This dovetails with the Post Office Bank plank, which could be the US Treasury's conduit for issuing interest-free debt to individual Americans.

(As with the Medicare for All plank, which eliminates insurance companies, this plank would eliminate the analogous destructive intermediaries (private commercial banks).

Submitted by lambert on

It's going to be a PITA when 40% of Florida is underwater, not to mention Bangladesh and world cities like Bangkok (or London? (Manhattan?)) And for some of us alive today, by the time of their grandchildren, if nothing is done.

Working on the idea of grabbers first, a climate change plank shouldn't be in the first 3 and might even the the last, since people have to eat in order to worry about their grandchlildren (see Maslow's hierarchy) but I do think it ought to be in there.

It also interlock with End the Wars (another important non-grabber) because so many of our wars are about oil/carbon.

wanderindiana's picture
Submitted by wanderindiana on

Decentralize the power grid through renewable electric generation, for starters. Make electric vehicles even more affordable through even greater subsidies and tax incentives. We need to stop the greatest sources of emissions, tout suite.

scoff's picture
Submitted by scoff on

Lambert, numbers 5 and 7 can be covered in one three-word plank - a song title from the Guess Who - Share the Land. (Air and Water, too.)

Because these resources belong to all of us, the Commons should be jealously guarded from those who would abuse them or prevent all Americans from being able to enjoy them.

That means we should have equal access to them (no more toll roads on the interstate, no more "places" some of us shouldn't be) and we all deserve an unspoiled environment to live and breathe in (extremely limited logging, drilling and mining on federal lands; stringent regulations and stiff taxes on economic activities that negatively affect the Commons.)

Submitted by lambert on

... but I don't think "Share the land" communicates the concept (and I'm not familiar with the song). I think that word, "common" needs to be in there....

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

I like the specifics -- "environment" has become a political tribe word. Better to try to convert the other tribe than simply disdain them.

I'm torn between the more accurate "Pure food, air, water" (restrict GMOs and end patenting of living things, but then purity is a little fastidious) and the more persuasive "Clean food, air, water" (nobody likes dirt).

Submitted by lambert on

... which covers a lot when you think about it.

I think you're right on "pure," though.

"Clean food, water, air, soil."

Soil is important!

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on


Tax Rents Not Wages


Tax Rentiers Not Workers


No Speculation on Human Necessities


End Speculation on Human Necessities


No Speculation on land, food and energy