At last month’s CopyNight, Beth Noveck suggested that the copyright balance movement needs to move beyond a negative agenda (don’t pass more copyright extensions, don’t regulate technology, don’t create new criminal penalties) and toward a positive agenda. She elaborated on this idea yesterday in her blog.
Beth suggests that this need stretches beyond digital issues. I believe that in all areas, the progressive movement needs to develop a positive, inspirational vision for the future which a generation of voters can rally around. President Bush does this. During his acceptance speech at the RNC, or his State of the Union earlier this year, he was actually quite inspiring-sounding. He laid out a vision for a world people could get excited about living in. Of course, it was all a lie, a smokescreen to promulgate policies beneficial to the oligarchs at the expense of everyone - but at least he articulated a hopeful vision. Kerry only said “we can do better.” How?
Progressives of the Progressive Era could suggest that if only we let women vote, directly elected Senators, let children be children instead of factory slaves, and banned alcohol, the world would be a better place. Sometimes they were definitely right (women voting) and sometimes wrong (booze), but they had something to strive for, even when they were in the minority. Today it’s the “conservatives” who have big ideas for (bad) change and the progressives who only say no. We need a positive vision once more. 2020 Democrats made a start at this by developing a Declaration of Principles. Think tanks are starting to sprout up that will hopefully fill in the details.
Here in the Big Apple, the progressives are likewise occupied with obstructionism. While somewhat inevitable since the Mayor controls many of the mechanisms for proposing new projects, the City Council could be a more active voice. I’d like to see a grand vision for the great NYC of 25 or 50 years from now, one that progressives can rally around even if we don’t all agree on every detail.
The city contains armies of planners working for a myriad of nonprofits with many different plans addressing many different issues, some are much more accessible to the layperson than others. But as far as I can tell nobody has synthesized these into a broad vision or even catalogued them. By necessity born of limited resources and time, planners generally seem to operate within their narrow issue groups.
I’m going to try finding one interesting new plan each week, or more often as I can. These will be ideas for something we can do differently to make New York City even better, or to deal with the enormous demand for residential and commercial space that is pushing prices up higher and higher. I ask what New York City should look like 25 years from now, and I’ll post what I find on the Web that makes a beginning at answering this question.