(Our guest blogger, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), is a member of the Finance Committee and author of Positively American: Winning Back the Middle-Class Majority One Family at a Time)
In his speech last night we heard the President talking the bipartisan talk, but the substance of the speech shows he has yet to walk the bipartisan walk. Just about every one of the President’s proposals falls within the narrow ideological contours that the voters rejected in 2006. He has learned very little.
There’s certainly a lot to criticize in the President’s speech and in his record, but I don’t think that’s the only thing we should be focusing on. We must get beyond the President’s disingenuousness and failures. In 2008, we must have our own sharp, clear and progressive plan if we are going to prevail.
That’s what I hope my new book Positively American: Winning Back the Middle-Class Majority One Family at a Time will do. The first part of the book describes some war stories — my improbable Senate election in 1998 and the next to impossible take-over of the Senate this past fall — and includes colorful anecdotes to describe where, as a country, our political process stands. A lot of it boils down a to large group of American voters who are too often ignored by too many of us: the middle-class.
President Bush won the 2004 election with eight words that spoke to this group: War in Iraq. Cut Taxes. No gay marriage. Each was connected to a larger, deeply held value that the conservative movement had been developing — and advocating — for a generation.
In the lead-up to 2008, progressives must develop our own eight words.
That’s the point of the second part of the book — “The 50% Solution” — which presents eleven concrete goals, to be achieved within ten years, that are a promise to the middle class. For each goal, there are novel and detailed solutions and a discussion of why I am convinced they are critical to our country’s future. You can look at the 50% Solution HERE.
While the eleven goals are by no means a complete platform, I hope they serve as the beginning of a new discussion. Ambitious but practical ideas like these, designed to help regular people, have the power to push the conservative agenda — which wants to take us back to the 1930’s or even the 1880’s — away from the center of discourse. They can replace it with progressive ideals, built around the knowledge that in a world unsettlingly changed by technology, people are more and more looking to the government for security, stability and support.
As we think about these ideas and respond to the President’s speech, let’s try to move past our frustration at the disingenuousness and ineffectiveness of what he has presented. Instead, let’s focus on furthering our own positive agenda and platform; because that, more than anything, is what our country so desperately needs.