An agenda for the majority

Eric Wiesenthal is a longtime Sacramento political activist who works for the state of California

With few exceptions, we have seen politics and policy-making at all levels of government descend into a cycle of cynicism and division over the last six years. Name any issue and it is instantly spun in the 24-hour news cycle into “red” or “blue,” black or white, and shellacked with a healthy coating of crass morality.

What folks in Sacramento and voters across the country said on Election Day was, “Enough! Shame on both major political parties for not demonstrating the courage or integrity to reverse this trend before now.”

In the election’s aftermath, Democrats in Congress and the statehouses must provide a vision forged by a clearly defined, fiscally responsible agenda. Party leaders should begin with: a timely, bipartisan plan to extricate American troops from Iraq while working with all concerned parties in the region to prevent an all-out civil war; a sustained effort to address economic-justice issues (the tax system, balancing the needs of big business versus small business, and enacting a living wage for the working poor and the lower middle class); a focus on achieving educational success for all children; and a long-term commitment to solving the inequities and treatment issues in health care—affordable and reliable medicine.

Establishment of a progressive and practical energy strategy that frees us from foreign oil while creating a multibillion-dollar alternative-energy industry is another critical objective. Further, we must make a long-term commitment to addressing the issues that contribute to the divide of “haves” and “have-nots” plaguing the nation.

Demagoguery and polemics are cheap and easy. Looking the American people square in the eye, explaining alternatives and having the guts to take a stand are the stuff of leadership.

My fellow Californians and I look to the newly elected Democrats, as well as incumbent Democrats and Republicans, to work together to get the country moving forward again—and back in the direction of a civil and just society.