1. A strong defense that focuses on intelligence, targeted strikes, and reduction of ground troop levels. A vigorous reliance on diplomacy, sanctions, and support for grassroots democracies.
2. Reform of regulations so that we keep important controls and accountability in place, but get rid of useless and silly ones. (eg, spilled milk)
3. Principled capitalism. By now conservatives should know/admit that we aren't looking for economic socialism. There are millions of successful liberal business people, investors, entrepreneurs, wealthy folks, and just middle class Americans who love living in an upwardly mobile country with a marketplace. We just want an ethical marketplace; fair trade, regulated banking and lending, investors that have to take on legitimate risks or pay the consequences out of their profits, freedom for workers to organize, and companies that recognize the value of providing high wages and good benefits. And of course, an equitable tax code.
By definition, capitalism drives people or commercial entities to maximize profits at every turn. This drive is a good thing - it leads to innovation, industry, and success. There are two ways to ensure that this drive doesn't create an environment in which bad business practices flourish - practices like deceit and obfuscation, cutting corners with safety and quality, or hiding assets and illegally protecting against risk. One way to counteract that is for the entrepreneur or business to operate in an ethical way, and be creative about how to both make money and exemplify American values. This business model is used all over the country by many, many successful companies, which have proven it can be done. Conservatives should join progressives who promote these businesses, as they are our best hope for reducing government oversight and intervention, which, surprise surprise, even liberals would be happy to see. But in the absence of this kind of self-control, we have to use the second tool: government oversight. Some businesses will always put profit above any principle, and their excesses and pillaging damage the economy and ruin lives.
4. A commitment to robust government support and intervention in challenged areas, like education, infrastructure, science, health care, and clean energy. Conservatives refuse to see the long-term value of investing generously to achieve excellence in these areas.
5. Job creation. The government can play a crucial role in this area, especially in tough times. The so-called private job creators are sitting on their money right now, and justifying that with the circular logic that when the economy improves, they will start investing in the economy again. Meanwhile, a country with our resources is lucky enough to be in a position to use tax dollars to put people to work. It's absurd not to do that when it would improve our situation so quickly, thus providing away for private enterprise to take back over. Another area in which, surprise surprise, liberals would LOVE to see the need for government intervention to disappear.
6. A strong safety net. Conservatives confuse the commitment to a sturdy system of life-support for the poor with an economic policy. We don't want government benefits instead of more jobs! What an interesting argument the country is having about this right now. We are seen as wanting to coddle the poor and instill dependency. Of course not, that isn't a goal, it is a provision of sustenance. This food stamp discussion... If it were up to me, we would expand the food stamp program. Everyone is not fed right now. Charities, churches, food banks, Meals on Wheels, etc., are trying their best to supplement food stamps, but they cannot be expected to solve a problem on this scale. There is no excuse for a country this wealthy to let people go hungry - it is shameful. It isn't a solution - no one is saying that. We must simultaneously work on improving the economy. Whether you agree or disagree with any current President's approach to economic recovery, you don't just leave hungry people in the lurch? Many, MANY kids eat their best two meals of the day at school. When you work with troubled kids from poor families in schools, you know that one thing that keeps them coming to school everyday, for better or worse, is that they get to eat two hot meals that day. You shudder knowing that on weekends, holidays, and summer vacation, they aren't getting as much. Painting any President's support of a substantial food stamp program, pretending it is a substitute, in his mind, for economic recovery, is a false narrative designed to elicit a cheap, uninformed, emotional response.
It's interesting to hear the reactions to the State of the Union speech today. You have to translate sometimes - let me offer a cheat sheet. Republicans can't say they liked an idea put forth by Obama. To ferret out their approval, note when they say:
- He says that, but he doesn't mean it. It's all just pretty talk.
- He should have said that a long time ago.
- He's only saying that to get reelected.