hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Sunday, February 05, 2006
Some Thoughts On The Big Picture

A while ago I jotted down my list of all the political things that I'd like to work for, & came up with a framework of 6 broad categories of the things that I think need to be accomplished, one way or another. I re-read it recently, and thought it might be worth posting, in case anyone finds it worthwhile:

1. Comprehensive National Security: 1) Maintain & develop a war-fighting capability second to none 2) Effective diplomacy that promotes & protects our interests, with due respect for the interests of others 3) Managing land, water, energy and natural resources for the long-term 4) Winning the WOT 5) winning the fight against *all* violent death, not just terrorism: domestic violence, drug & gang related violence, automobile fatalities, suicide. A framing device which includes the above + health care & foreign aid: “Silent September 11ths".

2. Shared Prosperity: A private-sector economy that government tilts toward delivering jobs, rising incomes, fair dealing, & opportunities for advancement for all Americans.

3 . Equal Dignity & Opportunity: (health care, education, and access to the tools of production). Health care includes mental and dental.

4. Foreign Aid & Environmental Protection.

5. Fiscal Responsibility: (balanced budget, secure funding for Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid, infrastructure investments for the future, & programs for individual & household fiscal responsibility: i.e. asset-building programs) .

6. Ending The Culture War: freedom & civil rights, tolerance, mutual respect & solidarity.

I think that one principle that unites everything for Democrats is "saving & improving lives". I think every Democratic policy proposal should be able to answer three questions: 1) How many lives will it save? 2)How many lives will it improve, and how? 3) What'll it cost? If you can't develop persuasive answers to all three questions for a given policy, you can't really expect it to be a big, winning issue for Democrats.

Lastly, I think just as important as big ideas is building a better organization. I think Dean's and others' plans to get a volunteer for every precinct in the country is pretty interesting.

Needless to say, I'd be interested in other people's take on all this framework stuff, and any of these quick & obviously unoriginal, commonplace ideas should be used freely without need for any attribution whatsoever.