Mahatma Gandhi said, "A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members."
The visions of "greatness" coming from America's political and business and military leaders are quite the opposite, with an emphasis on the 'exceptional' people who would prefer to have nothing to do with the weaker members of society.
1. Let Government and the Media Ignore 90% of Us
Based on a study of 1,779 policy issues, Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page concluded that "the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."
Government doesn't listen to us, and the mainstream media fails to inform us about matters that might offend their corporate bosses. As Bernie Sanders explained, "The corporate media does everything they can to keep us entertained without addressing the real issues...[Young people] don’t even know that we are the only major country without healthcare for all. They don’t know that in Germany or in Scandinavia college is free...Media is not telling them that...If you talk about the real issues and people get educated on the real issues, you know what happens next? They actually may want to bring about change."
2. Sell Arms to 96 Countries
As we continue to spend half our discretionary budget on the military, one of five U.S. children live in food insecure households. President Obama said, "They are not very good at feeding their people, but they invest a huge amount in their weapons." He was talking about North Korea.
It would seem unthinkable, with fears of terrorism and new Middle East wars, to keep shipping arms to half the world, to countries where failed insurgencies leave weapons in the hands of the people who hate us. But according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the USA has sold or donated major arms to at least 96 nations in the past five years. Here again our political leaders ignore us. Most voters favor defense cuts, but most politicians don’t.
The weapons we sell to Saudi Arabia are destroying villages in Yemen, killing entire families and leveling their homes. As Glenn Greenwald summarizes, "You’ll almost never hear any of those victims’ names on CNN, NPR, or most other large U.S. media outlets...You’ll never know anything about them – not even their names, let alone hear about their extinguished life aspirations or hear from their grieving survivors.."
3. Be a Pro-Lifer BEFORE Birth, But Not After
In a great society, women would have individual rights, and children would have the support of all adults. But for every THREE homeless children in 2006 there are now FIVE, and for every THREE children on food stamps in 2007, there are now FIVE. Yet spending on children's programs recently declined for the first time in nearly 20 years.
The people who claim to love human life seem to stop caring when they can no longer control women's bodies.
4. Let Market-Oriented Education Skip the Most Important Areas of Learning
Free-market champion Milton Friedman said this about education: "In order to have satisfactory performance, you have to have a customer who needs to be served."
Thus the need for standardized methods of instruction and testing that enrich companies like Pearson and McGraw-Hill. But a great nation would understand, as shown by a study at Michigan State University, that "success in science is accompanied by developed ability in other fields such as the fine arts."
Along with the fine arts, our kids need to know:
- Nutrition -- Americans get 60% of their calories from "ultraprocessed" food (flavorings, colors, sweeteners, other additives), and just 1% from vegetables
- Money Management -- Instead of investing $20/week in lottery tickets, a stock market annual return of 7% will accumulate to over $100,000 in thirty years;
- Public speaking, the greatest fear of most people. A speech every month for 12 years would go a long way toward building confidence in our young people.
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5. Believe that 'Social' is a Dirty Word
Numerous studies have shown that SOCIAL skills acquired in the early years of school lead to enhanced adult outcomes in education, employment, and mental health. Yet in 2013 Head Start was hit with the worst cutbacks in its history.
A sign of a NON-GREAT nation is to cut the programs that improve the lives of its children.
2020 Vision: A 4-Year Progressive Surge
Robert Reich projects into the future: "How did the People’s Party win the U.S. presidency and a majority of both houses of Congress in 2020? It started four years before, with the election of 2016."
Matt Yglesias adds an insight into the political revolution that Bernie Sanders has begun: "The smarter play for Sanders would be to start looking past his presidential campaign to an idea that's always been integral to his political revolution but that never genuinely required him to win a presidential election: mobilizing young liberals to vote every two years rather than skipping midterms."
No matter who is elected president in 2016, the progressive message must be continued for the next four years, with Bernie Sanders and/or Elizabeth Warren leading the way, through social networking and word-of-mouth in a unified, single-minded campaign for our future. It starts with rallies for democracy, such as Democracy Awakening and Democracy Spring, both in and around Washington, DC in April.
When minorities and displaced workers and low-income elderly are at last made aware of the purpose of a progressive revolution, the American people will begin to care about each other again. That is the real measure of greatness.