Dan Kildee – Aligning government with the values of the people

Note: This is part of an ongoing series on my interview with Dan Kildee. To view the series in its entirety, click here.

It’s funny that Chris blogged this yesterday,

Every once in a while you have to rise above principle and do the right thing.

because that ties right in with the topic for today.

One of the first things I asked Dan was how he planned to work with people who had such an extreme and rigid ideology. Let’s face it; it doesn’t matter what your values are if you can’t get anything accomplished. If we don’t take back the House and expand our hold on the Senate, Dan’s going to be boxed into a corner by the Republicans.

Dan’s answer:

“It’s not an ideology. It’s a narrow interest dressed up as an ideology. … Corporate profits do not make an equitable society. Profit doesn’t balance the budget and it doesn’t create jobs. We’ve been delivering profit for years. Where are the jobs? … to give our society to the wealthy, to the 1%, is just plain wrong.”

I’m sure Dan would be thrilled to see that Brian Calley agrees that right-wing “principles” are not right. :)

Dan spent a lot of time talking to me about how to align our tax policy and other national works with values such as education, equal opportunity, and fairness for everyone. Citizens United was a particular sticking point for Dan.

“To say that corporations are people is a sad statement. We have an unusually high number of people who feel disconnected from their government. It’s no coincidence that the right has been demonizing government and labor unions for so long. These are the institutions that give normal people the same opportunity as the wealthy.”

Without these institutions in a strong and healthy state, the nation has “fallen to the wealthy.”

You can’t spend your life working for community renewal, and not come to understand the damage that has been done by the Republican policies that siphon wealth and production away from our lower and middle classes. Progressives generally understand this, but I think that Dan’s work with the public has brought him to a place where equal opportunity is the driving factor behind his entire legislative agenda. There are subtle nuances between progressives, in terms of what makes us get up each day and do whatever it is that we do to advance our cause. It might be protecting the environment or fixing foreign policy or working toward lgbt equality or something else. But with Dan it really seems to be equal opportunity for all.

In fact when I decided to make this interview a series instead of one long post, I wasn’t sure what to do with this subject, because it really strikes me as Dan’s foundation for everything else.

“When Clinton was in office, we had a marginally higher tax rate on the wealthy. We had a balanced budget. As a result, we had a more equitable society. The middle class grew, more people were able to buy homes, more people were working. We have empirical data from that era to show that our tax policies work better than theirs.”

I like this focus on “equal opportunity” because that language has more potential to cut across party and ideological lines, and perhaps he will find a way to deliver on his vision even if the Republicans retain control of the house. (Though I say we make it easy on him and just take control of the House :) )

So carrying on this theme a bit further, tomorrow I’d like to talk about Dan’s approach to state and local responsibilities vs national interests.

As always, you can learn more about Dan by visiting his website, www.dankildee.com. There you can sign up to volunteer or make a donation. You can also make a donation through our actblue widget on the right side of the site.

The next part will be up tomorrow morning. Hope you are enjoying the series. :)

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