I think most of us have come to realize that something has gone terribly wrong. The rampant cronyism, corporatism, demagoguery and sheer irrationality of our politics is almost impossible to wrap our minds around and I worry that we are losing our ability to see clearly. These are confusing, frustrating times with pressures from major social change and global transition bearing down and leaving us disoriented and off-kilter.
But all is not lost. The world has seen big changes before and this country has faced greater challenges. It does require, however, that we seek out and support new political leadership. The system is no longer functioning on behalf of the people and it's going to take smart, creative, energetic people with fresh ideas and a different perspective to turn it around.
We at Blue America believe that Nicholas Ruiz III is one of those leaders. Howie introduced him to his readers like this:
Over the course of the next few months, Blue America plans to help you get to know another courageous, fighting progressive from central Florida, Nicholas Ruiz III. A young father and university professor, Nicholas ran for Congress on the Green Party platform in 2010 and has since re-registered as a Democrat. He's already challenging extreme right-wing Republican freshman Sandy Adams for the right to represent FL-24, folks in Orange, Seminole, Volusia and Brevard counties who dumped one-term conservative Democrat Suzanne Kosmas in November. Kosmas was one of 39 Democrats to join with the Republicans voting against the historic Affordable Health Care for America Act on November 7, 2009. She and Sandy Adams saw eye to eye on that one-- tax-payer subsidized health care for them and their families-- but no health care reform for the people of Central Florida...Last November Democrats didn't have much of a choice. Kosmas was against health care reform and Adams was even more against it!
Here's Ruiz, the progressive alternative:
We must decide, once and for all, what sort of society defines America. We have already decided that law enforcement (i.e. the police department) is a guaranteed service for all, regardless of social or economic status. We have also decided that the fire department is a guaranteed service. Our society, rightfully so, honors both of these public features. They are freely available to all, regardless of the size of one's wallet.
Why should healthcare be any different?
I don't know about you, but I haven't heard anyone making that sort of argument on the stump. They talk about "cost curves" and issue ten point plans and explain about how the most important part of anything is free markets and "consumer choice." They are making their arguments almost entirely on conservative terms and in the process they fail to give people a way to understand why government makes sense. Voters are adrift, knowing that their lives are insecure and that they pay taxes and that government plays a role but they don't have a way of thinking about it anymore outside of rightwing cant and some vague moral notions that aren't well articulated.
We need politicians who can make the progressive case for political action and empower the people to make reasoned decisions and Nicholas Ruiz is one of them He is a dynamic, creative thinker who isn't bound by the artificial parameters of the stale political debate. He's pressing against them, offering up ideas that should be part of the dialog if only our leadership were willing to build a rationale for real progressivism.
Like this, for instance:
That's not something you hear every day, but it should be. This is how we widen the terms of the debate and begin to get progressive ideas back into American politics.
It is my great pleasure to welcome Nicholas Ruiz III to our first Blue America chat of 2011.