Thinking Big

Progressive Ideas for a New Era

The Progressive Ideas Network (Author) | James Lardner (Author) | Nathaniel Loewentheil (Author)

Publication date: 01/15/2009

Thinking Big

The essays in this volume draw on that new store of progressive capital to sketch the outlines of a new agenda for 21st-century America. To navigate these troubled times, we need a rare combination of ideas, action, resolve, and leadership to meet the challenges that lie before us.

Features contributions from such leading organizations as Green for All, the Opportunity Agenda, the Commonweal Institute, Campaign for America’s Future, the Economic Policy Institute, Demos, and the Drum Major Institute

Offers innovative solutions to critical challenges such as implementing health-care reform, greening the economy, expanding the middle class, extending educational opportunities, and more

Concise, visionary, and pragmatic—a true blueprint for change

Times are changing. Instead of obsessing about what they’re against, progressives have begun to think about what they’re for—to prepare once again to play their role as agents of bold ideas and political and social transformation. Finding new confidence and imagination, they have begun to renew their political capital. The essays in this volume draw on that new store of capital to sketch the outlines of a progressive agenda for 21st-century America.

Authors such as Van Jones, Dean Baker, Andrea Batista Schlesinger and Miles Rapoport cover a wide array of topics and, in their policy recommendations, present a few contrasting ideas. But all these essays reflect a belief in the need for fundamental change. The problems discussed here cannot be solved, the authors agree, through charity, through volunteerism, or even by well-meaning local and state governments, though surely all have a role. The contributors make the case for the kind of concerted action that can only come through the agency of our national government. They argue that we need programs that serve our national and international needs and encourage faith in our public institutions, creating a positive cycle of political change and space for further reform.

There are many good reasons to be worried at this critical moment in history. To navigate these troubled times, we need a rare combination of ideas, action, resolve, and leadership to meet the challenges that lie before us. Thinking Big is an indispensable piece of that puzzle, arriving just when it’s most needed.

With a foreword by Robert Kuttner, author of Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency.

The Progressive Ideas Network is an alliance of multi-issue think tanks and activist organizations working together to amplify the power of ideas in advancing today’s progressive movement.



Read more and meet author below

Read An Excerpt


Other Available Formats and Editions

$9.95 (member price: $6.97)

9781609944612


$9.95 (member price: $6.97)


Bulk Discounts
Rights Information


Featured Books



Breaking Through Gridlock

Use the power of authentic conversations to get create a better world.

More About This Product

Overview

The essays in this volume draw on that new store of progressive capital to sketch the outlines of a new agenda for 21st-century America. To navigate these troubled times, we need a rare combination of ideas, action, resolve, and leadership to meet the challenges that lie before us.

Features contributions from such leading organizations as Green for All, the Opportunity Agenda, the Commonweal Institute, Campaign for America’s Future, the Economic Policy Institute, Demos, and the Drum Major Institute

Offers innovative solutions to critical challenges such as implementing health-care reform, greening the economy, expanding the middle class, extending educational opportunities, and more

Concise, visionary, and pragmatic—a true blueprint for change

Times are changing. Instead of obsessing about what they’re against, progressives have begun to think about what they’re for—to prepare once again to play their role as agents of bold ideas and political and social transformation. Finding new confidence and imagination, they have begun to renew their political capital. The essays in this volume draw on that new store of capital to sketch the outlines of a progressive agenda for 21st-century America.

Authors such as Van Jones, Dean Baker, Andrea Batista Schlesinger and Miles Rapoport cover a wide array of topics and, in their policy recommendations, present a few contrasting ideas. But all these essays reflect a belief in the need for fundamental change. The problems discussed here cannot be solved, the authors agree, through charity, through volunteerism, or even by well-meaning local and state governments, though surely all have a role. The contributors make the case for the kind of concerted action that can only come through the agency of our national government. They argue that we need programs that serve our national and international needs and encourage faith in our public institutions, creating a positive cycle of political change and space for further reform.

There are many good reasons to be worried at this critical moment in history. To navigate these troubled times, we need a rare combination of ideas, action, resolve, and leadership to meet the challenges that lie before us. Thinking Big is an indispensable piece of that puzzle, arriving just when it’s most needed.

With a foreword by Robert Kuttner, author of Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency.

The Progressive Ideas Network is an alliance of multi-issue think tanks and activist organizations working together to amplify the power of ideas in advancing today’s progressive movement.



Back to Top ↑

Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - The Progressive Ideas Network

The Progressive Ideas Network is an alliance of multi-issue think tanks and activist organizations working together to amplify the power of ideas in advancing today’s progressive movement. Its mission is to provide opportunities for collective action, offer services and training to its members, and create a forum for crafting long-term strategies and ideas. Together, we’re building a policy infrastructure to power a new era in progressive politics.

Member organizations include The Campaign for America’s Future, The Center for Community Change, The Center for Economic Policy Research, The Center on Wisconsin Strategy, The Commonweal Institute, Demos, The Drum Major Major Institute for Public Policy, The Economic Policy Institute, Grassroots Policy Project, Green For All, The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, The Institute for Policy Studies, The Jamestown Project, New Vision: An Institute for Policy and Progress, The Opportunity Agenda, The Progressive States Network, Redefining Progress, The Roosevelt Institution, and Sightline Institute.

They are proud to present Thinking Big: Progressive Ideas for a New Era.



Visit Author Page - James Lardner

James Lardner is a Senior Fellow at Demos. He is the coauthor of Up to Our Eyeballs: How Shady Lenders and Failed Economic Policies Are Drowning Americans in Debt and the coeditor of Inequality Matters: The Growing Economic Divide in America and Its Poisonous Consequences. His other books include NYPD: A City and Its Police. As a journalist, he has written for the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, and theWashington Post, among other publications.

He is an editor of Thinking Big: Progressive Ideas For A New Era.



Visit Author Page - Nathaniel Loewentheil

Nathaniel Loewentheil hails proudly from Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated cum laude from Yale University in 2007, majoring in the Program in Ethics, Politics, and Economics with distinction. In early 2005, while in his sophomore year, he helped found the Roosevelt Institution and now serves as its executive director. He serves on the advisory board of the New Leaders Council and the Drum Major Institute's Young Scholars Program.

He is an editor of Thinking Big: Progressive Ideas For A New Era.

Back to Top ↑


Table of Contents



Preface by Stephanie Robinson and Barry Kendall

Foreword by Robert Kuttner

Introduction by Deepak Bhargava and Nathaniel Loewentheil

Part One: Looking Ahead

Chapter 1:
Building Shared Prosperity
Chapter 2: Investing in Our Future

Part Two: Realizing Our Values

Chapter 3: Capturing Democracy’s Surge
Chapter 4: Upholding Community Values
Chapter 5: Rejoining the World

Part Three: Taking Action

Chapter 6: From Financial Crisis to Opportunity
Chapter 7: Health Care for America
Chapter 8: An Inclusive Green Economy
Chapter 9: The Promise of Opportunity
Chapter 10: A Strengthened Middle Class

About the Editors
About the Progressive Ideas Network

Back to Top ↑

Excerpt

 Thinking Big: Progressive Ideas for a New Era

1

Introduction

Deepak Bhargava and Nathaniel Loewentheil

AMERICA stands at a pivotal moment. A long and painful episode in our national story has ended, and a new and more promising chapter has begun.

Conservative politicians and ideologues, and their financial backers, commanded the stage for decades. Through action and inaction, they propelled our country toward crises on multiple fronts. From energy and climate, to poverty and inequality, to race and immigration and the role of the United States in the world, we inherit huge, interrelated problems, problems that call for a collective response on an unprecedented scale. At such a critical moment, there are at last promising signs that the political tide is shifting. But no election—not even the most sharply defined presidential contest in memory—can be more than a first step. Neither the weakening grip of conservative ideology nor a new regime in Washington will produce the kind of wholesale change that our country so badly needs.

At critical times in the past, progressives have stepped forward with bold visions and policies that transformed American politics, culture, and society. The Progressive Era, the New Deal, the civil rights revolution, and the Great Society all came about through a combination of grassroots activism, visionary thinking, and political leadership. In each case, the impetus for change and many of the big transformative ideas originated with progressive organizations and leaders operating outside the channels of mainstream politics.

2

In recent decades, progressivism faltered. It was conservatives who developed and moved the big ideas, while progressives triangulated, tweaked, and tinkered. Since the 1960s, progressives have been running on the fumes of the New Deal and Great Society, confining themselves largely to narrow issues silos and poll-tested phrases and positions. Content to play defense in many of the major political battles of the day, they were all too often cowed into submission by the vitality and confidence of the other side.

Now that scenario is changing. Instead of obsessing about what we are against, progressives have begun to think about what we’re for—to prepare once again to play our role as agents of bold ideas and political and social transformation. Finding new confidence and imagination, we have begun to renew our intellectual capital. The essays in this volume draw on that new store of capital to sketch the outlines of a progressive agenda for twenty-first-century America. The authors cover a wide array of topics and, in their policy recommendations, present a few conflicting ideas. But all these essays reflect a belief in the need for fundamental change. The problems discussed here cannot be solved, the authors agree, through charity, volunteerism, or even well-meaning local and state governments, though surely all have a role. Individually and cumulatively, the essays make the case for the kind of concerted action that can come only through the agency of our national government. People have lost sight of the power of good government; we need programs that serve our national needs and encourage faith in our public institutions, creating a positive cycle of political change and space for further reform.

Yet the authors are also united in their recognition that profound change cannot be ordered from on high. It won’t happen without courageous and farsighted political leadership; but that kind of leadership won’t happen without political pressure—and creative thinking— from below and outside Washington. And both, history tells us, are more likely to come from the margins than from the center of established political discourse. It is no coincidence that a good many of the authors here are women or people of color, and many are relatively young. In that respect, they represent the future of the progressive movement, which will be bolstered by the coming of age of the millennial generation and find its strength in the growing diversity of our nation. Many of the organizations represented here are young themselves—part of a burgeoning set of progressive institutions founded in reaction to the center-right politics of recent years.

3

The essays follow a parallel structure. Each begins with broad principles and proceeds to more specific proposals. That format, too, reflects a belief shared by all the authors: our policy ideas must be linked to a picture of the nation and the world we hope to achieve, a vision that energizes our ideas and builds the political will for meaningful change.

Optimism is another recurring theme. In our greatest challenges, these authors see the greatest of opportunities. Climate change brings with it a renewed focus on our connection to the earth and underscores the unmistakable fact of humankind’s shared fate. Technological progress promises increased interconnection and potentially paradigm-shifting innovations. Poverty and inequality are social realities, not inevitable outcomes of globalization. A new social contract is possible. We can make enormous progress in the short term—by empowering workers, creating green jobs, and fostering opportunity, for example—while rebuilding public confidence in a role for government and collective action.

Our optimism is central to our vision. We have many good reasons to be worried at this critical moment in human history. We’ll need a rare combination of ideas, action, resolve, and leadership to meet the challenges that lie before us. These essays provide very good reasons to be hopeful.

Back to Top ↑

Endorsements



“This hopeful book spells out the things that America should have been doing for the past three decades—initiatives that now become imperative...The best thing about this collection of essays is that it anchors the entire program in broadly shared values.”

—from the foreword by Robert Kuttner

Back to Top ↑