On Sunday, December 12th, Voices for New Democracy hosted our latest monthly political forum exploring the climate crisis and what it means for today’s left.
Moderated by our very own José Z. Calderón, the discussion was led by Voices for New Democracy friends Bob Eng and Harrison Carpenter-Neuhaus, starting with a presentation highlighting the scope of the climate crisis and the path toward a decarbonized world. The discussion touched on important and challenging issues raised by the specter of climate change: the disruption of extreme weather events, demobilization due to “climate grief,” a new era of geopolitics driven by demand for clean energy commodities like lithium, and the threat of exploitative business models driving the global energy transition. Conversation with the audience also raised important questions about how the left should orient itself politically amid these headwinds: whether we must embrace the movement for “degrowth,” prioritize indigenous liberation and anti-colonialism in our efforts (as advocated in The Red Deal), and how to engage with more mainstream labor-climate proposals like the Green New Deal.
Given the scope of the climate crisis, our presenters believe that climate politics represents the political terrain of the 21st century. But big questions remain about how the left can rise to the moment, and we need your analysis.
With that in mind, we encourage our readers to write to us to share their thoughts and analysis around these questions. If you’re interested in responding to any points raised by this discussion, please email email@example.com.
For understandable reasons, many of us could barely look past the November election, given that our nation’s democratic future seemed to ride up on it. But, we did our job well — with Georgia still to decide how well — and our anti-fascist, progressive movement will find itself in a dual power situation with neoliberalism when the new Congress and Biden Administration are installed in January.
We have to be ready for that, too. We want to hit the ground running and know which way we want to go.
First 100 Days
When FDR took office in 1933 — three years into the depths of the Great Depression — he wasted no time. Immediately, he ordered a bank “holiday” (shut-down); then, in the next 100 days, he collaborated with the new Congress to enact sweeping, structural reform of America’s languishing, Gilded Age class relations, starting with the banks and empowering working people at every turn.
Every four years since the New Deal’s launch, pundits speculate about what each President’s first 100 days will mean, but it’s been a very, very long time since a President’s first days carried the import of FDR’s. This year — in the midst of a crisis at least as grave as the Great Depression — the first 100 days will matter.
Or, they won’t. Although Joe Biden is positioned just about like FDR was in 1933, it’s fair to doubt whether he has the vision, personal energy or political capital to make his first 100 days count. It’s also important to note that, despite the New Deal’s many important advances, it did not reverse finance capital’s domination of America’s economy and its government.
Thus, as everyone on the left has noted, it is crucial that our movement provide both direction and backbone for whatever can and will be mustered in Biden’s first days and through his first term.
Come January, the real struggle for social justice, economic power and ecological regeneration begins in our country. It will be a fight over executive orders, regulatory action, new agencies, legislation, civic commissions and constitutional amendments, all propelled by the nationwide, grassroots urgency that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
And, because the US is the world’s military hegemon and our dollar is civilization’s global reserve currency, come January, the real struggle for democratic control of the world’s financial system also kicks in.
We’ve come to the brink. As currently constituted, the corporate system is the antithesis of social, economic and ecological justice. If the present social uprising is going to be a real revolution, finance capital must be checked, remanded, taxed, and institutionally constrained.
Here in rough-draft is a revolutionary plan of attack for Biden’s first 100 days. A combination of immediate actions and starting points, it targets financial (class) justice as well as wider struggles for racial, social and environmental justice. I thank my friends who’ve contributed so far, and I look forward to incorporating additions and feedback from readers in a second draft (some aligned co-advocates are noted or linked in parentheses).
First 100 Days Agenda
For Presidential Edict and/or Congressional Action
Temporary Emergency Aid for Pandemic Relief
Extend unemployment benefits, augmented with $600/week supplemental benefits, to eligible Americans; establish immediate, federal income support payments for all others, including gig economy workers
Open immediate registration for those eligible for Obamacare and Medicare; for all others, guarantee coverage for all testing, treatment and sick leave for Covid-related illness; extend Family Medical Leave Act benefits
Direct federal payments, as necessary, to redeem all pandemic-provoked, revenue shortfalls of state, municipal and tribal governments
Establish federal Pandemic Service Thank You! Stipends for essential healthcare workers, food production/service workers and teachers
Enforce a moratorium on housing evictions and mortgage defaults imposed by corporate owners
Enforce a moratorium on student, consumer and personal debt payments (principal and interest) to corporate lenders
Defund police and end the war on black people
Pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (HR 7120)
End the 1033 Program and other federal transfers of military equipment to local police departments
Direct the Department of Justice to establish and administer a program of national block grant funding for state-coordinated, municipally-administered, community-based, alternatives-to-police, social programs
Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act
Defund US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); support the human right of political asylum; cease deportation of status (non-criminal) offenders; correct US policy that fosters emigration from Latin America; restore Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); provide a path to citizenship for immigrant residents
Expand grants to public colleges and universities to enable free tuition and expand research to advance social and ecological problem-solving
Extend statehood to the District of Columbia and the option of statehood or independence to Puerto Rico
Advance a Constitutional Amendment to abolish the Electoral College
Advance a Constitutional Amendment to establish an annual federal Election Holiday, specifically for voting and civic affairs
Drop the filibuster and return to majority rule in the Senate
Ban sale of US-made, military-grade weapons to private citizens and non-government organizations; enact “common sense” gun control
Appoint a blue-ribbon Civic, Culture and Sports Commission to promote diversity appreciation, tolerance and equal rights under law:
Legacy education, community-based truth & reconciliation programs; reparations for African-American slavery and Native People expropriation
A welcome hand to the world’s destitute and downtrodden
Respect for each individual’s unique gender and sexual identity
A reappraisal of American Exceptionalism as the US joins the community of nations confronting global climate crisis
Declare a “market holiday” to suspend stock market operations and install protections for the American retirement system
Suspend Federal Reserve infusions to US corporations that sustain the stock market bubble
Convene a Market Bubble Deflation Task Force of bank, market, Fed, Treasury and monetary policy experts to de-escalate the bubble and protect American retirement accounts (pension funds, IRAs, etc.)
Reinstate Glass-Steagall; forge a nationwide, community-based banking system for people and non-profits as well as small and family-owned businesses
Advance a Constitutional Amendment to establish a Job Guarantee as the right of all American citizens
Direct the Secretary of Labor to restructure the Department of Labor (DOL) to make achieving and maintaining genuine full employment its core mission
Administer federal grants to states to permanently convert unemployment offices to Employment Offices
Administer funding to guarantee on-demand, dignified, public service jobs (life-sustaining wages plus benefits) to every adult in every community
Collaborate with state, municipal and tribal governments to source and fund jobs with community-based, non-profit, service organizations (NGOs)
Raise the minimum wage to $15/hour; set and periodically update national labor standards to ensure life-sustaining wages, childcare and vacation benefits for all workers
Ensure healthcare for all US residents
Direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to refortify and reorient the US Public Health Service to ensure effective access to care in all American communities, including the capacity to test and trace during pandemics and the provision of full health services for women and transpersons; establish a national stockpile of vital health equipment and supplies
Enact Medicare for All
Empower the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to establish behavioral guidelines and standards during national health crises
Advance a Constitutional Amendment to bar corporations from funding, advertising, fundraising, and otherwise participating in US elections
Proclaim a global, climate change emergency
Appoint a Green New DealJoint Task Force to include the Vice President; the secretaries of Labor, Treasury, State and the EPA; Congressional leaders (Sanders/AOC); an NGO advisory council; and public citizens to:
Design and implement a federal program to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025
Design and administer state and local GND programs via NGO-public partnerships at various levels
Design industrial policy and implement state and local, public-private partnerships to expand jobs while revitalizing infrastructure, recycling & waste management, electrification, transportation, communication, and civic participation (voting) systems nationwide
Make the Federal Emergency Management Agency a cabinet level department and augment it with an Emergency Service Corps to provide permanent, entry-level and career employment in disaster response, crisis management, emergency relief, containment and mitigation, and community re-construction services
Enact federal legislation to permanently cancel existing consumer, student, tenant and personal debt to corporations
Enact a permanent federal bank tax on all corporate electronic funds transfers (EFTs) to hold the corporate sector to account for the social and ecological crises government now must mitigate
Target socially and ecologically retrograde corporations (i.e., oil, guns) with higher EFT tax rates
End debt ceiling resolutions and the practice of issuing US Treasury bonds to the Federal Reserve in the amount of any federal deficit
Enact a permanent federal franchise fee on credit extended by corporate lenders to private sector borrowers
Global Solidarity and Multilateralism
Revoke restrictions on US family-planning assistance under the Mexico City Accords
Rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and the World Health Organization
Support creation of a Global Citizens Assembly to design and implement a Global Green New Deal and Job Guarantee (GGND&JG)
Build an alliance of nation-states for the GGND&JG at the United Nations
Deploy US power at International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Bank of International Settlements (BIS) to mobilize central banks to implement a GGND&JG for people and nations, everywhere
Create a GGND&JG special drawing right (SDR) currency and a SDR-denominated bank tax (on corporate EFTs) to establish a GGND&JG world market
Cancel foreign-denominated debts of nation-states, worldwide, to the World Bank and other corporate lenders
Expand World Health Organization programs to ensure access to healthcare for everyone, worldwide
Direct the Secretary of the Treasury to discontinue all US-imposed financial sanctions programs including those against Cuba, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Nicaragua, Iraq, North Korea, Yemen, Libya and Hong Kong
Direct the Secretary of Defense to reduce department spending by 10 percent per year for the first term
Direct the Secretary of State to increase department spending by 10 percent per year for the first term
Restrict international trade of US-made, military-grade weapons and systems
Support multilateral programs of civic administration, special reparations, conflict resolution, and truth & reconciliation for regions of enduring culturally- and religiously-rooted conflict (such as Jerusalem)