On behalf of NPI’s staff, board, and contributors, I’d like to wish every reader of The Advocate — and every supporter of NPI — a happy and blessed New Year 2012. I hope you’re enjoying the occasion, no matter where in the world you are.
As evidenced by the photo below, I was on Queen Anne when the clock struck twelve, and watched the 2012 edition of the New Year’s at the Needle fireworks show from what I think you’ll agree was a pretty good vantage point.
The show ran for about eight minutes and there were no hiccups or computer problems, unlike a few years ago. It wasn’t the most spectacular fireworks show I’ve seen, but it was still fun to watch. The transitions in between the different sets were pretty smooth, and the colors frequently alternated. At times there were a lot of blues; at other times, reds lit up the Space Needle’s Observation Deck.
2011 was not the best of years. Legislatively, it was dominated by gridlock, bickering, and counterproductive austerity measures at the state and federal level that are hindering recovery. Abroad, untold numbers of people died as a consequence of the iron grip of ruthless, destructive regimes like Syria’s.
As a team, we have many wishes for 2012. Foremost among them is that we will learn to do a better job as a movement telling our story and communicating our values. We can’t expect or rely on Democratic officeholders to do it. Many of them are neoliberals (rather than true liberals) anyway. We need to be able to speak for ourselves. And our countrymen and countrywomen need to hear from us.
We are committed to doing all we can to helping progressives learn how to communicate better in this high-stakes presidential election year. Our values (freedom, opportunity, broad prosperity, fairness, protection) are America’s finest traditional values. All of our policy directions are built on those values. When we talk about our policy directions, we have to connect them to our values. For instance, Disability Lifeline is not some abstract “government program” — it’s a vital service that gives disadvantaged Washingtonians a hand up rather than a handout. Disability Lifeline embodies opportunity.
Midway through 2012, the people of Washington may be asked to approve a revenue package to keep vital public services like Disability Lifeline from being eviscerated. That revenue package won’t have a chance if conservatives are able to frame the debate around it. We must reframe the debate so Washingtonians get what common wealth means — and how, through pooling our resources, we can accomplish more than we could alone.
We must help our fellow citizens understand that taxes are public investments.
And right now, investment is what our economy needs more than anything else. We won’t become more prosperous by tearing apart our social safety net, deferring infrastructure improvements, or making college unaffordable for all but a wealthy few. Let’s work to make 2012 a turning point: the point when we turn back the dangerous, toxic red tide of austerity that has been threatening our well-being.