Happy 2008! DMI’s Resolutions for the New Year
As 2007 rolls into 2008, Americans are making New Year's resolutions in record numbers. We resolve to eat less, drink less, and exercise more. We're promising to quit smoking, spend more time with our families, and volunteer. But what about progressive public policy? Where does that fit into all these well intentioned (but not necessarily long lasting) resolutions for the New Year?
Here at DMI we have a few New Year's Resolutions of our own. We are resolving to continue doing what we've been up to all last year: encouraging politicians to develop and implement progressive public policies and coming up with innovative policy solutions of our own that benefit the current and aspiring middle class.
So, in no particular order, here are some of DMI's resolutions for the New Year.
1. Challenge the Presidential candidates to talk about civil justice and discuss ways to make the courts accessible to all Americans. In our soon to be released report, Election ’08: A Pro-Civil Justice Presidential Platform, DMI Fellow Kia Franklin outlines policies that, if implemented, "would improve the lives of countless Americans." The civil justice system is important, she says, because it "allows ordinary citizens to advocate for their rights and protect themselves against undue harm from unsafe products, unscrupulous business practices, and abuses of government power, through the public courts."
2. Train the next generation of public policy makers. It isn't enough just to talk about change or write about change. Through our DMI Scholars program, we resolve to continue to educate diverse young people in what it means to make progressive public policy and to help them develop the connections they need to succeed in the field after college. In our intensive Summer Institute and internship programs, the 2008-2009 scholars will be equipped with the skills to succeed in politics and effect progressive social change in the future. Check out the 2007-2008 class of DMI Scholars in this quick video on why every progressive college student should consider this program.
3. Make cities a part of the political discussion. Over 80% of Americans live in cities, but Presidential candidates still manage to focus more on corn and county fair photo-ops than the subjects that urban Americans really care about -- issues like housing, transportation, infrastructure, crime, and education. This New Year, DMI resolves to make the urban agenda part of the public policy conversation. Our website MayorTV.com, which was produced in collaboration with the Nation, features a series of video interviews with ten mayors across the country, from cities big and small. Clyde Haberman noted the silence of the Presidential candidates on urban issues in the New York Times. "Sure, they have discussed terrorism, health care, the economy, immigration and other matters that affect cities as much as the rest of the country. But what about basic urban and suburban concerns like housing, transportation, crime, education, Medicaid costs, homelessness, crumbling infrastructure?...The silence has not gone unnoticed by the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, a nonpartisan, though decidedly liberal, New York think tank." We'll continue to update MayorTV in the New Year.
4. Continue hosting our Marketplace of Ideas events to bring real progressive policies to the forefront of the political discussion. In 2007, our Marketplace of Ideas series included topics ranging from Boston Mayor Tom Menino speaking about turning abandoned buildings into affordable housing to Dallas DA Craig Watkins on exonerating the innocent to London Mayor Nicky Gavron on combating global warming through congestion pricing. These Marketplace events not only create a platform for progressive policy makers to debate and discussion actual policy solutions, but are archived on our website in a series of videos, podcasts, liveblogs, and transcripts. In 2008, we resolve to continue to use the Marketplace series to show how government can make a real and demonstrable difference in people's lives through progressive public policy.
5. Hold members of Congress accountable for their votes on issues that effect the middle class. In 2007, we launched TheMiddleClass.org, a website that analyzes domestic legislation and assigns each member of Congress a percentage ranking based on how well their votes aligned with middle class interests. This site is updated whenever new legislation makes its way through Congress, and even allows users to build a widget for specific issue areas or Congressmembers. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a site that so compellingly presents such essential information about new and pending legislation,” wrote Josh Levy at TechPresident. In February of 2008, we will once again release letter grades for every member of Congress based on their voting records over the past year in an effort to further hold Congress accountable to current and aspiring middle class Americans. We will repeat our successful Google AdWords campaign and buy a Google ad in the name of every member of Congress so that anyone searching for their representative will see how he or she was graded on middle class issues.
So this New Year, don't just resolve to eat less chocolate or jump on the treadmill. Help DMI accomplish our New Year's resolutions by making progressive public policy a part of your daily life. Build a widget, download a podcast, make a donation, or just resolve to start your day with a cup of coffee and a daily dose of progressive policy from the DMI Blog.
Happy New Year from DMI!