Tom the Cop back east still thinks New Mexico is a foreign suburb of Arizona. He'd be surprised to learn that significant stuff sometimes happens here.
Take, for example, the action this week by the state house of representatives. It passed a municipal funds bill that would move between two and five billion dollars of state assets out of big banks (think TARP and massive bonuses) and into small local banks and credit unions (think accountability).
The bill, which must pass the senate to become law, probably caught the big banks by surprise. Already, without a doubt, the guys in the aluminum suits with freshly-tanned alligator on their feet are on their way to Santa Fe with bags of cash. Even if the lobbyists buy a sufficient number of senators to prevent the bill from becoming law, its passage by the house is a sign of grass-roots awakening out here among the cacti.
Is the awakening broad enough and deep enough to represent the beginnings of a third political party with progressive goals? A pipe dream? Why? If there are Americans who will shell out $550 to hear a kook like Sarah Palin read her hand, surely there are exponentially more who will rally to support the restoration of progressive ideals in our governance.
One of those ideals is to rebuild the constitutional wall of separation between church and state.
The latest manifestation of the urgency of that particular goal is the push for signatures on a document called the "Manhattan Declaration," a right-wing religious manifesto that equates pro-choice advocates with Nazi eugenicists whose signers vow to defy any law that does not conform to their religious beliefs. Its originators claim to have garnered more than 400,000 signatures already, including those of the Roman Catholic bishops of Philadelphia, Washington, D.C ., New York and Louisville. Surely "Bishop Ramirez," who campaigns by robo-call against pro-choice candidates here in the southwest, will soon join them.
Churches whose leaders so blatantly engage in political activity should simply lose their tax exemption. It's the law. Enforce it. It'll only happen if we create a strong third party dedicated to progressive values.
If there is sufficient outrage "out there" to rally gun-toting rednecks to shout vilification at political rallies, should there not also be sufficient outrage to rally intelligent Americans to elect candidates who will actually do something to rectify the wrongs that madden them?
We need a third party. Democrats for the most part have either been bought or intimidated by the same forces that sent our jobs overseas, our economy to its knees and our foreign policy into the toilet.
We need a party whose candidates will provide health care for every American, jobs for everyone who is capable of working, training for those who need it, quality education for all, fair elections absent the vile influence of corporate money, separation of church and state as the Jeffersonians who wrote the constitution intended, and, for the sake of Tom the Cop and his fellows in law enforcement, sane gun laws to prevent their having to deal with far better-armed criminals.
And that, folks, is just for their first week in office.
In the second week they can take on clean energy, environmental protection, re-regulation of business and finance, torture, civil rights (even for gays!), prosecution of office-holders who violated the Geneva Conventions, gender discrimination, rights of workers to unionize (an old fight that needs to be fought and won again). . . . .
It's a long, long road a-windin'. Let's get started.