America’s Goals and Politics of the Common Interest
As featured on LinkedIn | October 12, 2017
According to Aristotle, politics should be about the common interest. Yet everywhere we look, narrow corporate interests have pushed aside what’s best for most Americans. By adopting America’s Goals for 2030, we can restore the politics of the common interest and push corporate lobbyists to where they belong, the sidelines of politics.
Think of it. Healthcare could be available and affordable for all, but healthcare monopolies jack up prices far above their true costs. Clean, safe, low-carbon energy could inexpensively replace dirty, dangerous, high-carbon energy, but the coal, oil, and gas lobbies use dishonest tactics to resist the transformation. Every worker in America could have the assurance of paid sick leave, family leave, and vacation time, but rich and powerful companies lobby against basic benefits for the common good.
How do we know that better outcomes are really within reach? Because many other countries have implemented high-quality and low-cost health care; are transitioning to renewable energy; and offer guaranteed job benefits for all workers. America is falling further and further behind. Within America, some U.S. states are moving forward while others lag behind.
America’s Goals for 2030 include seven Goals, each with three Targets, to be implemented state by state—no need to wait for Washington! The Goals and Targets are summarized in the accompanying Table. The Goals call for good jobs, affordable healthcare, quality education, equal opportunity, strengthened governance, sustainable infrastructure, and safe environment. They are to be achieved by 2030, though the states could reach many of them well before then.
The goals are not easy to achieve. They indeed recall what President John F. Kennedy said when the moonshot was just getting underway in 1962. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
So too, we are unwilling to postpone the goals of good jobs, quality education, and a safe environment. JFK’s generation went to the moon. Our generation can restore America’s dreams for shared prosperity, social justice, and harmony with nature.
A core purpose of the Goals is to measure, track, and hold politicians accountable for progress. Future Now and Future Now Action are new partner organizations to promote America’s Goals at the state level. SDG USA conducts research on the measurement and status of America’s Goals across the 50 states, and on the best state practices and policy options to achieve them.
Initial research on baseline conditions across the 50 states shows wide disparities between states, even within the same region. Readily available data also demonstrates that overall, the US is lagging behind other high-income countries. See the early findings here. The United States has a lot of room to catch up; by using America’s Goals as a blueprint for success, the common interest can be reclaimed.
What can America’s Goals offer us? A new seriousness of American politics, beyond a White House described by Senator Bob Corker as an “adult day care center.” A breakthrough away from polarization, since the survey data show that Americans across the political spectrum support America’s Goals. And a triumph over corporate special interests, as politicians across the nation, and especially at the state level, hold themselves accountable to bold objectives with specific metrics over time.
America’s Goals have been launched, and state legislature candidates are starting to sign on to the goals and to win campaign backing for their commitments. Americans across the political spectrum can — and should! – take the pledge to support America’s Goals and re-take our politics from the corporate lobbies.