In an Ideal World...
I propose that we start a new political party called “The Truth & Action Party”. The TAP would seek to ‘tap’ into whatever sapience we can find out there in the US of A. I'll address this latter issue later.
Here is what I propose for the ideological basis for the party and a national platform.
Ideology: None. Rather the principles on which this party is founded are based on scientifically verifiable truths (not absolute mind you) and rational thinking for solving problems or devising and executing actions needed to adapt to a rapidly changing and challenging environment.
Take that conservative science doubters and progressive dreamers of the impossible!
- Plank 1: Candidates who run under this party's banner will always seek the most up-to-date scientific understanding of how the world works. And they will always convey what they know to the general electorate, even if it means they will not be elected. Candidates are obligated to always tell the truth as they understand it no matter the consequences.
- Plank 2: Science will always trump opinions in all matters. Opinions and beliefs are not discouraged, but they need to be backed up with the best evidence that supports them. Opinion holders are also obligated to seek, assess, and convey any counter-evidence so that others may judge for themselves when there is uncertainty. An excellent, if not unfortunate, model for this is the debate over global warming. Even if there is uncertainty in the models and empirical data with respect to intensity and timing, there is almost no uncertainty as to the primary driver in this phenomenon as per the scientific literature. Debate regarding the best mitigation strategy and when to take what action is warranted given the uncertainties mentioned. But these debates must be undertaken immediately given the evidence of already occurring impacts. Our candidates will push for opening these discussions and funding the scientific work needed to further inform the policy decisions. This policy applies to all issues that our nation needs to address. For example we will pursue alternative/renewable energy source development based on the science behind any such technologies. This is as opposed to purely opinion-based pursuit of so-called “green” technologies wherein the motive is based on potential profit of a nice-sounding solution to the energy problems. The science of energy production is well understood and will be the basis of judgments regarding the pursuit of technologies. Nevertheless, we will pursue those that are promising in a manner that ensures the highest possible energy return on energy invested (EROI).
- Plank 3: Our economic policies will be designed to respond to the declining availability of fossil fuels in the foreseeable future. We recognize that humanity, on a global scale, has reached a plateau of oil production and may be approaching a similar phenomenon with respect to coal. Also the uncertainty surrounding the future availability of natural gas is high owing to unanswered questions regarding the recovery of non-conventional reserves. The party will work to develop a new model of economic activity that will address the nature of declining energy supplies, which are the basis for economic production. It will develop an economic model that will seek to minimize the pain of transition from a growth-based, profit-motivated economy to one that allows people to find meaningful ways to make a living and shares the burden among all citizens. We will work toward a fair and realistic version of economics. Along with this, and in keeping with the intent of Plank 2, we will commission an intense scientific study of the role of population size and densities on economic issues such as energy consumption and pollution. The results of this study will inform policies we will develop to make sure that population stresses are reduced or mitigated in the future. We have no committment to any particular policy now, but will let the science shape any such policy in the future. Nevertheless we have the strong intent to pursue finding the right policies in light of adapting our society to the future demands.
- Plank 4: Our foreign policies will be based on retraction of our semi-imperialist behaviors while working to increase cooperation between all nations to prepare for the coming challenges of falling fuel resources and climate change. We recognize that the United States is just one country among all the nations of a single world and that we are all affected by what we will face in the future. Realizing that nothing is to be gained for the long-term by occupying foreign nations or maintaining military presence in other nations, we will begin and oversee an orderly closing of all foreign bases and a return of our troops to the home front. The excess labor that will be represented by returning troops will be reallocated to meaningful projects (see Plank 5). We will continue to try to help out nations suffering from internal stresses, such as hunger and poverty, as best we can, but only by working through recognized NGO agencies and only with governments that are sincerely attempting to help their people. We recognize that in nations ruled by ruthless dictators that the people will suffer. But that is happening now. We can only hope that rebellions against such dictatorships will ensue. Our announced policy will be to offer aid to rebellions as best we can, but we will not send troops or air support as has happened recently. We will avowedly NOT consider our relations with other countries based on our consideration of our supposed interest in their natural resources (See Plank 6).
- Plank 5: Our economic policies include restoring vital natural resources, soil, water, air, as the basis of all other wealth production. We will develop programs that will provide meaningful work (earning a living) for all able bodied people wherein they will provide the labor to accomplish this task. We recognize that the end of the fossil fuel era will also mean an end to the Green Revolution as we have known it, in particular the uses of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and diesel fuels in industrial-scale agriculture. We recognize that many of our agricultural soils have been poisoned and depleted of their fertility due to the over use of these substances. A major program that we will initiate immediately is a National Soils Remediation Program (NSRP) modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s. We will formulate a process whereby returning military personnel will be trained and deployed as the startup phase of this program. Later we will ramp it up to national scale. Our military will finally be used for something that matters a great deal to our future health and well being. In addition to the NSRP we will develop and deploy will be the National Energy Conservation Program (NECP) wherein we will hire and train unemployed workers to begin retrofitting our nation's buildings for energy conservation. We expect to hire over a hundred million workers for this program.
- Plank 6: The question of how we will finance Plank 5 is answered by this Plank. We will demand that the people who have benefited most from the past economic system will have to pay for the conversion to a new economic system. They will do this by raising the taxes on the wealthy AND the upper middle class through a progressive rate system. The revenues from this tax will first and foremost be channeled toward the retraction of troops and funding the Plank 5 programs. There will be NO loopholes in the tax code. Those who have profited most from the essential pillage of our natural resources and from the labor of others and from the illusion of money-making-money in the speculative markets will now be called upon to pay their excesses back to society in the interest of maintaining a harmonious transition to a reality-based economy. We will seek legislation that will define flight from this country by any of these people in order to protect their wealth as a crime that will be enforced through extradition agreements and confiscation of USA-based holdings. It is well past the time when we need to cooperate and share with one another, lest we all go down in flames, poor and rich alike.
- Plank 7: We will immediately begin to work toward a reinstatement of a publicly funded political process (e.g. campaigns funded only from public monies allocated on some sound and fair basis). We will abolish private funding of all political campaigns so that the process of achieving office in the future will be based on merits rather than advertising and sound bites. We will require all media outlets, as a condition of their licensing, for example, to provide all qualified candidates some amount of announcement time or print on an equal basis. Lobbying will once again be restricted to just supplying officials with information to help them formulate policies as needed. No official, elected or appointed, will be allowed to accept any kind of politically-motivated remuneration. Period.
- Plank 8: We will call for a new Constitutional Convention, but one that will have broad participation and complete transparency. This convention will begin with the question of what kind of nation (if any) we (the people of the United States of today) want. In light of the coming shortages of fossil fuels and the subsequent diminishment of long-distance transportation and travel, as well as diminishing wealth to support that high a tier governance body, it may be that we may want to seek a less tightly integrated model of the federal government. We might even find we want to go to a regionally-based model of loosely affiliated sub-nations such as the former Soviet Union countries have opted for. No options should be off the table. If and when a national consensus as to 'kind' of nation emerges, the convention will be charged with drawing up the formal plan and circulating it for confirmation/affirmation/ratification as appropriate. The convention will be organized by this party, but participation will be inclusive and broad. Conversations and participation in consensus building will be through open Internet-based forums. The convention process should continue until a consensus emerges or in the event that there is, sadly, a total breakdown of society due to our inability to adapt to the future challenges.
This list of planks isn't meant to be exhaustive. They are mainly the ones that have occurred to me in the course of thinking about these ideas. In an ideal world, candidates from this party would get elected and start working on adapting our nation and people to the coming challenges. In an ideal world.
But the World Isn't Ideal, Is It?
Naturally the likelihood of anything remotely like this happening is nil. I propose this only to show the extreme degree to which our abilities to think rationally about the state of the world and what we need to do to come to grips with the challenges (even just admit that we face them) are separated from our true condition. People, the vast majority of them, do not think rationally, not even a little bit. The Republicans/conservatives rightly recognize the problem with continuing to wrack up increasing debt, but their reasons are irrational given that they also want a strong military and global interventions in regions where we get our resources. And they think it is fine that there are many rich people who keep getting richer (trickle down will simply never die no matter how much evidence there is against it). Progressives are no better. They believe in a growth economy and an opportunity for everyone to get rich. They have no conception at all about what the consequences of that sentiment would be if realized. Ironically they tend to be the more environmentally-supportive group even while they believe in processes that will destroy (are doing so now) that environment. Talk about double-think.
No, TAP hasn't a snowball's chance in hell of ever coming into existence let alone getting candidates elected. The average person, no matter what their political leanings might be, is just too mired in beliefs that are counterfactual to reality. And they are unable to examine those beliefs in light of the evidence to date. They will likely only respond to truly catastrophic, frequent horrific events and deep loss of income or living costs exceeding some threshold. But then it will be too late. I expect the response from most people, when TSHTF big time, will be to appeal to a strongman, a dictator, who will promise them safety and relief from stress. But of course, that story always ends up with the people becoming more oppressed than free of fear. So it always seems to go with Homo sapiens.
On the other hand, even in a non-ideal world, the attempt to organize such a party and putting this kind of platform out in the public (if you could succeed in doing so) would at least stir up some discussion. Mostly it would be good to alert higher-sapients out there that they are not alone! It might provide a focal point for higher-sapients to coalesce around and help them start to think about what they should be doing to get ready for the future, given that the average-sapient, vast majority, will do nothing positive and bring it all crashing down. If any of you are up for forming a party and trying to get some attention (at least for the purpose I suggest if not to actually advance a serious political agenda) feel free to use any of the above. You might start by adding or amending planks in the comments to this post.