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What is a guy to do when he knows the ideas he wants to support and propose are still too much of a reach to find much support, but still wants to advocate for them anyways?

Universal health care, marriage equality, women's rights and marijuana legalization are examples of egalitarian policies that are recognizably partisan, have been established as legitimate causes to support, but are still not embraced by a large section of society. What if the ideas I want to push are even farther to the left than these?

I think about what our society is gonna look like in 100, 1000, maybe 10,000 years from now. I'd like to think things are going to be much better, like how it is portrayed in Star Trek (world peace is presumed). I have also read enough dystopian novels-1984, Brave New World-to accept that this is not a guarantee. Nevertheless, I'm convinced society will eventually be qualitatively better than it is now, and the question should be what large societal changes will lead to/be produced by a more utopian society? Even if society isn't ready for these changes, should we be working toward them right now anyways?

What kind of changes am I talking about?

Here are the ones I keep coming back to in my mind:

End incarceration for all but the most violent, unable to rehabilitate criminals. Make deciding how to punish criminals the responsibility of the community, the criminals' as well as the victims' friends and family, the people who are affected most by the crimes, and have the most to gain or lose by the criminal's actions and subsequent behavior.

Give people the power to directly vote on legislation. We have the technology already, it's called the internet. Keep some politicians for symbolic leadership/roles in crafting legislation/running government services. But no bill becomes law unless a majority of the American population votes in favor of it. I'm not gonna conjecture how all the implementation actually plays out, this is just a rough outline of the concept. One of the obstacles is that a large number of people still can't reliably access the internet. However, a lot of money goes towards the political machine now, that could instead go to making sure everyone has this access.

Subsidize all forms of insurance. When people drive without car insurance and cause fatalities, when extreme weather destroys whole communities and people can't collect from their insurance companies, when a family's breadwinner is injured or killed working and the family is left without a livable income, these all end up costing us taxpayers, don't they, while the insurance companies continue to collect profits. Wouldn't it serve society better if the government provided the protection more uniformly, paid for by taxes but serving all when they need it?

Guaranteed government work programs for anyone who wants one. One of the arguments people use to disparage people on welfare or unemployed is that they are lazy and that the jobs are there, it's just that these people would rather not work for a living. Well, why not put their money where their mouth is, and provide jobs to whoever comes to the government and asks? The programs we have now are mostly temporary, and far from guaranteed. What kind of unemployment rate would we have if anyone can be employed if they truly have the choice?

I am a pragmatist. I realize these concepts are about as likely to come to fruition in my lifetime as winning the next Powerball jackpot. I also realize that these ideas, much like all proposed ideas for improving society, are far from perfect and have cons as much as pros. Nevertheless, I have no doubt in my mind that the society in which these policies exist, imperfect though it may be, is still a better, more prosperous, more just society than the one we have now.

So I come back to the question of, what should I do? Is it wrong to be advocating for these huge, pie-in-the-sky goals when we can't even get people to agree on the much smaller societal ills? I don't think believing these things makes me crazy, but I do think some people would immediately dismiss these ideas as crazy before thinking about all the pros and cons. Valid or not, for some that alone is enough to poison the well, to close their minds to these ideas, or ideas like them. We still inexplicably live in a society where calling for universal health care draws accusations of fascism and communism simultaneously, so I can only imagine what response these ideas would get if/once they get more exposure. So, what's an individual, progressive-minded but perhaps too ambitious person supposed to do?

In writing this, one of the overwhelming thoughts I have is, Am I crazy? Or am I crazy for assuming people might think I am crazy?

Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 5:29 AM PT: Thank you so much to all the people who have commented. Not only am I grateful for all the encouragement, but the advice you all give is constructive, varied, and most importantly, sounds doable. I will do my best to apply the advice that you have given me.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A simple answer... (7+ / 0-)

    (yeah, right, but...) think about what has to change before each of these ideas could be implemented.

    And no, I don't think you're crazy, but that's just my opinion, right?

    Once you've identified the changes that need to be made, find one or two that seem most possible, and start figuring out how to make them. If, after identifying major changes for each item, you find one or two that apply to more than one item, go after them first, if they seem at all possible.

    Find ways to make the intermediate changes palatable/profitable to the people who would otherwise oppose them.  Social media has mushroomed because 1) it allows individuals greater access to information, and 2) because investors can make a profit on it.  Individual voting on state and federal legislation is probably one of the things that seems anathema to those currently in charge, but it may be that they are enabling the mechanisms that will eventually produce it.  In other words, take advantage of the shortsightedness that is only looking at this quarter's, or this year's, profit.

    For "a better, more prosperous, more just society", sell  "more prosperous" to the wealthy, and "more just" to the liberals - and make sure you keep them separate, to avoid both groups turning on you and rending you into your basic components.  It will be a tricky dance, but it's potentially at least possible.

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.

    by serendipityisabitch on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 10:45:54 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for the advice (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      serendipityisabitch, blueoasis

      It may be true that I've been dwelling more on what the end product should be, and have not taken the time to consider what has to happen to get to that point.

      I still have a lot to learn.

    •  Also, start small.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pierre9045, serendipityisabitch

      Figure out the smallest possible administrative unit which can institute these policies, and concentrate your efforts there.

      Voting procedures may be initiated at the county or state level.  Find out what your state demands.  San Francisco and other jurisdictions have been using Ranked Choice voting for years, and it is clearly exposing political structures that were hidden with First Past the Post primaries.  Sadly, many small county-level races are simply not competitive, and I don't think that RCV will change that.

      Colorado and Washington vote by mail.  Understand what the true requirements for Internet voting are, and be prepared to explain explicitly how they matter to Joe Sixpack.

      Self-insurance is a fairly well-known concept, extending that as a county level service to all residents might take some doing.  Look at what models are successful now.  Talk to people on the inside who are making it work, and see what their challenges are.  If possible, pass the same legislative language everywhere, so that bureaucratic border disruptions are minimized.

      Once you have a working local model, expand locally.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 08:14:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  To start, you have to tell people. (5+ / 0-)

    Post your ideas here and on facebook.

    Do searches on the internet to find other people who are advocating the same things and connect with them.

    Put petitions on the White House petition site. You won't get 100,000 signatures, but you'll get views.

    Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

    by JamieG from Md on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:22:58 PM PDT

  •  Hyde Park, Speakers Corner (5+ / 0-)

    might appeal to you.  Hones ones skills as a public policy advocate, since as you admit, your views aren't universal.

    The main task is advocacy without seeming unhinged, in which case you'll be the one-eyed man among the blind, and might garner some respect.

  •  Does it matter? Will you not speak because (3+ / 0-)

    what you say might be unpopular? Do you require validation of deeply held convictions? Do you genuinely believe it might be "wrong" to advocate what you consider huge, pie-in-the-sky goals?

    Only one person can answer these questions for you, p9.

    Peace out.

    YES WE DID -- AGAIN. FOUR MORE YEARS.

    by raincrow on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 01:15:16 AM PDT

  •  You're enthusiasm for doing good is wonderful. (6+ / 0-)

    I notice you already have a very successful recommended diary and many of your comments have been received and recommended nicely, so you're already doing better than most for just having been here for three months.

    Becoming disappointed, jaded, or burned out are real risks, especially in today's environment.  You of course can and should do what moves you, but I would suggest prioritizing your objectives and working through an approach to what you see as most urgent and achievable at present and focus with writing on that first, continuing your commentary on other ideas as you can contribute.

    Whatever you choose you will probably get pushback, rational or not, so you've just got to learn to deal with that, and not get sucked into any threadjacking or baiting, in discussion.  That's the downfall of too many otherwise good writers and thinkers on the internet.

    Keep up your spirits and good work.

    More: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it?

    by blueoasis on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 02:12:49 AM PDT

    •  Subject line should read your, not you're.nt (0+ / 0-)

      More: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it?

      by blueoasis on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 02:37:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you for the advice (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      One of the hurdles is always that there seems to always be more pushback than reception. Feeling that the ideals I wish for are worth the immediate negativity, but still, it can be tough.

    •  Never forget, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      unfangus, pierre9045

      Rebels Stand Alone. As Chris Hedges says:

      those...who [make] a moral choice to physically defy evil teach us something extremely important about rebellion. It is, when it begins, not safe, comfortable or popular. Those rare individuals who have the moral and physical courage to resist must accept that they will be pariahs. They must live outside the law. And they must be prepared to be condemned.
      Physical doesn't need to mean violent. Hedges is not a fan of the Black Bloc. It simply means living your values. Voicing them, acting on them IRL, not just surreptitiously in private conversation or anonymously online. And if your values are unpopular -- which many of yours actually aren't, at least not outside legislation our representatives would actually pass, beltway media, or the pure red zones -- then you will be lonely, at best, attacked, at times, even arrested, depending on your persistence, passion, and resolve to bear witness using uncompromising, confrontational, subversive, non-conforming ways.  

      Even the moderates will abandon you should you take your message to the public square. Those who sympathize will stay away because they dare not stand and be counted in the public eye on any but the safest positions. Others because they are viscerally opposed to direct conflict and dissent. They, like "our representatives," accept, often prefer "serious", deferential, procedural, glacial change to established ways. They are too heavily invested in the status quo and too attached to their investments to do anything else.

      Mindfulness is the first necessity of sanity and survival and the first casualty of Consumer Culture.

      by Words In Action on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 09:06:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, you may have to prioritize a little (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pierre9045, Odysseus, blueoasis

    Getting traction with just ONE "too radical" idea is a huge undertaking.  FOUR would be practically impossible...unless you're just talking about injecting them into discourse and getting them out there, then you can certainly advocate for several.  I guess the other exception is if you want to try starting a full blown third party with an completely different platform than we've seen from other parties.  I guess I'd suggest figuring out which one or two you are MOST passionate about or MOST likely to be successful at moving the needle on.  

    Also, be ready for pushback.  If you're putting very new ideas out there, many, many people will not like them or will at least see them as very impractical, so you will need the patience to explain them repeatedly, listen to criticism, and find real answers to those criticisms.  You won't persuade very many people--at least at first.  

    For what it's worth--and obviously I've only read your short explanations of each--I'm personally not so enthusiastic about the practicality or need for your first 3 proposals, but would really like to see a diary with a fully thought out argument for the last one (guaranteed government work), which I think could be a really good idea....one that has been implemented in limited ways by past generations.  Should you choose to do that, my biggest concern is making sure that the work is actually beneficial to society--i.e., if we had another oil man like Bush elected, what would prevent the administration from redirecting the people employed by this to building infrastructure on federal lands to help enable exploitation by fossil fuel industries or something like that?  

    Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

    by Mark Mywurtz on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 03:58:53 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for the comment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      Not that I don't agree with most everything you wrote, but I still like the first 3 proposals the most, perhaps ironically, because I also realize they are probably the least likely to ever be implemented.

      But yes, I think you are right about the need to write a diary about the guaranteed gov't work one, and will do some research into the topic. Analyzing the Bush example you give would definitely be a good way to put that idea to the test, and I will be sure to include it.

  •  I agree with bluoasis, especially about the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pierre9045, blueoasis

    importance of prioritizing goals.

    For me it seems like a good idea to also follow the kind of advice an investment adviser may offer: diversify.

    Otherwise I'd feel as if I was putting all of my eggs in one basket, and that a basket which may not "pay off" until decades, centuries, or even millennia after my death.

    I think you share goals with many, goals which are achievable in the much more near term. Don't miss out on the feelings of satisfaction less "radical" improvements may offer!

    If it feels as if this dilutes your efforts, I suppose you may have to accept that sometimes the price of idealism is frustration. Most of us have to find a balance between reaching far enough and too often coming up empty.

    Maybe this just means breaking "tasks" up into smaller, more readily achievable chunks?  

    It matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever. Henry David Thoreau, in Civil Disobedience

    by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 04:08:19 AM PDT

    •  Thank you for the advice (2+ / 0-)

      I'm never going to be one of those activists who says, "We shouldn't be fighting for A because B is the more important issue." The fight for marriage equality and the fight for universal health care both have the same goal in mind, a more prosperous society, and to try to detract from one to bolster the other is destructive at best. So I will take the time to consider what breaking these up into smaller, more winnable battles will take.

  •  Internet voting would be a disaster (0+ / 0-)

    There is no way to secure it, and no way to verify and audit the vote afterwards.

    I worked in computer and network security for VeriSign, and I am a founding member of the Open Voting Consortium, which designed an Open Source voting system that would be secure, verifiable, and auditable. You don't have to take my word for it, though. I can supply analyses from the best voting experts and Computer Scientists.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 10:59:03 AM PDT

    •  I feel like one day the technology will be there (0+ / 0-)

      Obviously, it should not be tried until the technology to do it securely is there. But as far as the technology goes, personally I feel like it's not a matter of if but when.

  •  Your question goes to the heart of our mission (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pierre9045, blueoasis

    at dKos, to create better and more Democrats, or even Progressives, and to elect more of them to Congress and state legislatures.

    The basic fact is that the American public is already far more Progressive than politicians and pundits allow. Pew Research is a good source of polls on the issues, and provides reports showing the historical trends broken down by region, religious affiliation, age, gender, and more. Furthermore, the public is moving in our direction by about 1% annually on the issues as more old angry White guys die off. We are moving faster on LGBT rights lately, slower on abortion, but all in our direction.

    What are the most important obstacles?

    • The Right wing noise machine
    • The filibuster in the Senate
    • The gerrymander of seats in the House and in state legislatures
    • Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court
    • GOTV

    We know how to counter each one over time, except that we have to just wait for Scalia to retire or die. Even there, the plan is to have a Democratic President, even if not a Progressive, to nominate his successor.

    When we get all of these, the Republicans will sink into irrelevancy, and the debate will largely be between the Democratic and Progressive platforms.

    I plan to Diary all of these issues for the Better Democrats group. First I would point to the Battleground Texas plan to turn Texas Blue and then undo its gerrymander. That alone would take us most of the way to a Democratic House with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker again, and there is more. Y'all come!

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 11:27:32 AM PDT

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