While there are some things that
liberals and conservatives will never agree about, there are many things
that we already all agree on. Knowing the many things we agree to
empowers us, because it helps get us away from the distractions so that
we can realize that there is much common ground among all Americans, and
that if we work together, we hold a very strong position. If we shelve
our irreconcilable differences for a little while and join our voices
together on the issues we agree on, the sound will be so loud that it
will shake down the walls which are holding us back. While the mainstream political parties try to sell us on their brand, the truth is that "poll
after poll shows that both national parties are deeply unpopular with
an electorate looking for something new and different". This essay focuses on what people want.
Knowing the many things we agree to empowers us, because it helps get us away from the distractions so that we can realize that there is much common ground among all Americans, and that if we work together, we hold a very strong position. If we shelve our irreconcilable differences for a little while and join our voices together on the issues we agree on, the sound will be so loud that it will shake down the walls which are holding us back.
While the mainstream political parties try to sell us on their brand, the truth is that "poll after poll shows that both national parties are deeply unpopular with an electorate looking for something new and different". This essay focuses on what people want.
Break Up the Unholy Alliance Between Big Government and Big Banks
Conservatives tend to view big government with suspicion, and think that government should be held accountable and reined in.
Liberals tend to view big corporations with suspicion, and think that they should be held accountable and reined in.
Specifically, a Rassmussen poll conducted in February found:
70% [of all voters] believe that the government and big business typically work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors.
(and see this).
Remember that the government helped and encouraged the giant banks to get even bigger, and then has hidden their insolvency and shielded them from the free market, and helped them grow even during the severe downturn.
In return, the big banks and giant corporations have literally bought and paid for the politicians.
Conservatives might call it "socialism" and liberals might call it "fascism" - they are the same thing economically.
But all Americans - conservatives and liberals alike - can agree that it is not capitalism, and it is not American.
As just one example, the list of prominent economists and financial experts calling for the too big to fails to be broken up is wholly bipartisan:
- Nobel prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz
- Nobel prize-winning economist, Ed Prescott
- Nobel prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman
- Former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan
- Former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker
- Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich
- Dean and professor of finance and economics at Columbia Business School, and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, R. Glenn Hubbard
- President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Thomas Bullard
- Deputy Treasury Secretary, Neal S. Wolin
- The President of the Independent Community Bankers of America, a Washington-based trade group with about 5,000 members, Camden R. Fine
- The head of the FDIC, Sheila Bair
- The head of the Bank of England, Mervyn King
- The leading monetary economist and co-author with Milton Friedman of the leading treatise on the Great Depression, Anna Schwartz
- Economics professor and senior regulator during the S & L crisis, William K. Black
- Economics professor, Nouriel Roubini
- Economist, Marc Faber
- Professor of entrepreneurship and finance at the Chicago Booth School of Business, Luigi Zingales
- Economics professor, Thomas F. Cooley
- Economist Dean Baker
- Economist Arnold Kling
- Former investment banker, Philip Augar
- Chairman of the Commons Treasury, John McFall
Throw the Criminals In Jail
Liberals tend to believe that the public should be protected against harm, while conservatives tend to believe that people should be left free to buy what they want.
Too far apart to ever agree?
No. Conservatives believe that people must be held responsible for their actions and punished for their transgressions. Indeed, some 82% of the American public wants tougher regulation of Wall Street.
Moreover, even for those who don't like the government sticking its nose in our business, liberals and conservatives agree that if a company chooses to make a representation about something, it can be sued if it is a lie. In other words, all Americans agree that fraud laws should be enforced against everyone from the homeowner who fills out a mortgage application on a small house to the head of a giant bank who makes false statements about the bank's balance sheets and the quality of it's investments.
Everyone agrees that financial scammers must be tried and put in prison.
(And whether people believe in liberal Keynesianism or conservative Austrian economics, we should all be able to agree that a free market without bubbles is not possible without strong laws allowing prosecution of criminal fraud).
Audit the Fed
Both liberals and conservatives agree that the Federal Reserve should be audited. The bill to audit the Fed passed in a bipartisan landslide, and the overwhelming majority of Americans favor a full and complete audit. Given that the Fed has such a powerful influence on the economy, credit, unemployment, and which sectors and even which individual companies win or lose, the audit - and indeed whether or not the Fed should continue to exist - is a very important issue.
Safe and Healthy Food and Water
Americans want to be free to live our lives without being poisoned. We agree on safe food, clean water and a healthy environment.
For example, polls show:
- A large majority of Americans want strong food safety rules, and want genetically modified foods to be labeled
- Most Americans are worried about water pollution
- Americans don't want to be exposed to toxic pollutants
Freedom and Fair Elections
All Americans agree that personal liberty and freedoms are vital.
We all agree that our own government should not murder us and then falsely blame others for it.
And we all agree that there should be free and fair elections. That is why - according to ABC News and the Washington Post - 80 percent of all Americans oppose the Supreme Court's recent decision allowing unlimited campaign contributions. Americans understand that - unless we take the flood of money out of elections - Washington will represent special interests, and not us.
And we all agree on publicly verifiable, automatically audited paper ballot elections with reasonable ID requirements, so that we assured that no party can manipulate electronic voting results.
Whether the above list of common positions seems modest or ambitious, the fact that we can all - liberals and conservatives - agree on them is very powerful.
Because once we realize that we agree on them, and decide to rally behind them to restore prosperity to America, we will have a much better chance of turning our country around.
You still might think that the people across the aisle are fanatics, nutjobs, flakes, sinners or scoundrels on some issues. But remember that - to the extent that they are working for the same goals you are on the issues mentioned above - they are your valuable allies.
Big hat tip to Moneymutt for his help on thinking through areas of common ground.