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How radical is it to give Americans what they want?

Date: 2018-Jul-26           Author: Rob Dennis

So I have a question: What makes a politician radical or extremist? Can you call them that if their policies actually are supported by a majority of Americans?

Case in point - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won the Democratic primary for New York's 14th Congressional District. Media from all sides of the political spectrum labeled her radical, extremist, and far-left.

It's an indication of how public policy debate is framed in America. Ideas that would benefit the vast majority of us are deemed "too radical" or "too costly" even for discussion, let alone congressional hearings. Ocasio-Cortez's actual proposals, therefore, are discarded in favor of breathless political horse-race analysis.

That's a real shame, because her platform consists nearly entirely of policies that have widespread and sometimes overwhelming support among ordinary Americans. Here are those policies, taken from her campaign flier:

o Medicare for AllFifty-nine percent support this, and 75 percent support a public option for anyone who wants it.

o Universal jobs guarantee. Fifty-two percent support this, even when it's polled in a way deliberately designed to increase opposition.

o Fully funded public schools and universities. Sixty-three percent support tuition-free college.

o Paid family and sick leave. More than four out of five support these benefits.

o Housing as a human right. Three-quarters of Americans believe adequate housing is a human right, and two-thirds believe the government should do more about it.

o Justice-system reform, including ending the War on Drugs, demilitarizing police, and abolishing for-profit incarceration. Overall, 91 percent of Americans support criminal-justice reform. Sixty-seven percent believe treatment is preferable to prosecution for users of illegal drugs. Fifty-one percent oppose police using military weapons and armored vehicles. Seventy-one percent support reducing prison populations.

o Immigration reform. Ocasio-Cortez supports abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which I've noted is political malpractice for Democrats at the national level. Still, 83 percent support her calls for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and 70 percent support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

o Infrastructural overhaul, investing in 100 percent renewable green energy. More than four-fifths of Americans support expanding wind and solar power.

o Clean campaign finance. Eighty-five percent for this one.

o An economy of peace that supports veterans and values all humanity. I haven't got numbers, but I'll go out on a limb and say peace, supporting veterans and valuing humanity polls pretty well.

This platform isn't radical. It's mainstream. And it's worthy of detailed analysis and policy debates by our elected representatives - because it's what the majority of Americans want. Not Democrats. Not Socialists. All Americans.

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