Those of us on the left have won just about every fight there is. Americans are generally pro-choice, civil rights are spreading far and wide, gay marriage is more of a thing now than it was even just a few years ago, and we even have a black (more or less), president. So what’s left?
That’s what Slate asked earlier this week. With almost no effort on my part, I’ve come up with a list of ten things we on the left need to be working on. I’m sure it’s a fraction of what’s actually needed, but at least it’s a start.
1. Abolishing the death penalty nationwide. It’s useless, it’s expensive, and worse of all, there’s always the chance we might murder an innocent person. This almost certainly happened in Texas, and I’m willing to bet it’s a matter of when, rather than if, we have definitive proof someone innocent was murdered by the state. The more we learn about wrongful convictions, the more the idea of something as irrevocable as killing someone should be considered anathema.
2. Improving labor rights. Not just improving the lot of unions, though that, too, but the basic rights of the American worker. Do you know that in Australia, which has a standard of living very similar to our own, the minimum wage is nearly US $15 an hour? Imagine what it would be like in this country if we raised the minimum wage up to even just $12 an hour. Sure, businesses would scream and complain, and then they’d absorb the costs and move on. Meantime, the average worker would have more money to spend, thus helping to drive the economy.
It’s not just the minimum wage, of course. Most of the major industrialized nations have mandatory vacation time. We don’t. Most of them have mandatory sick time. We don’t. At the very least we should have mandatory sick days for any business that employees people who have to handle food. That’s just sense. Hell, it’s not even a matter of national law that employees receive break times, and oddly enough, in those states where breaks aren’t required, employees don’t usually get them. That’s not even going into the number of industries where people are specifically exempt from being paid overtime pay.
3. Gun control. Hard, heavy, gun control. It is absolutely fucking stupid that people in this country can have access to military-grade weapons. We don’t need them. As I’ve said before, I think everyone should be allowed to own one (1) each of the following: a shotgun, a pistol and a rifle. Exceptions can be made for people who work in certain fields, but for the most part, that should be all the guns you need, and that covers basically any use for a gun. I’d also want absolute mandatory background checks on all gun transfers.
4. Voting rights. Let’s secure them better than they are right now. The recent SCOTUS ruling on the Civil Rights Act was a tragedy. They said the states were basically ready to have the laws governing their behavior in elections removed, and several states instantly set out to prove them wrong. We need good, solid voting rights reform.
5. Education access and standards. Everyone should be entitled, merely by being a high school graduate, to have a full, post high school education paid for by the government, with living expenses included. This is something of a no-brainer except to those people who don’t want an educated populous. The left really needs to push this one hard.
6. Stronger separation between church and state. It’s very wrong, frankly, that any government document includes references to God. My money should not say “In God We Trust” and the Pledge of Allegiance, which shouldn’t even be a thing, shouldn’t say “…under God.” Nor should our money say, “In No God Do We Trust”, and the Pledge should not say, “…under no gods.” The state must and should be completely, 100%, neutral on all religious issues. Anything else is just stupid.
7. Put an end to the growing security state. The PATRIOT Act was a travesty and remains so. The government wields way too much power in the so-called “War on Terror” and that power needs to go away. 9/11 was an aberration that was caused, at least in part, by George W and company ignoring all the signs that an attack was about to happen. What has happened since has been just awful. We’ve damaged ourselves far more than the terrorists ever did, and that needs to stop. Speaking of…
8. Charges and trials for W, Cheney and others involved in war crimes. The use of torture violates both US and international law, didn’t get us any useful information and is completely immoral. We lost the moral high ground by using it, and those involved need to pay. If we can’t give them the trials they deserve, then at the very least we need some Truth and Reconciliation committees to force us, as a nation, to face up to what was done in our name.
9. Greater action on climate change. The GOP loves, loves, fighting this one. But we’ve seen time and again that the models are correct and that global climate change is a real thing. We need to stop it from getting worse and then push on improving things. That we aren’t already doing this is a major shame.
10. True universal health care. Everyone should have access to Medicare. There. Done. That fixes every problem with employer-based health care as well as the individual mandate. I’d even be happy to pay extra in taxes to make this happen. We remain the only major country that lacks universal health care and that needs to change.
So there we go. Ten wonderful, lovely things that we on the left need to get out there and fight for.