does service boost employment?

(Cross-posted from the CIRCLE site) Yesterday, Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation of National and Community Service (CNCS), announced $923,000 in research grants to increase the nation’s understanding and knowledge about the importance of volunteering, national service, and civic engagement in America.

CIRCLE was awarded one of the grants: $143,296 to explore whether including AmeriCorps service on resumes increases the employment prospects of AmeriCorps alumni.

Previous research suggests that participation in civic engagement activities, such as membership in AmeriCorps State and National programs, can have positive labor market outcomes for young people and that hiring managers see volunteering as relevant when making employment decisions. A study by CIRCLE director Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, University of Wisconsin Professor Chaeyoon Lim, and me found that rates of civic engagement were strong predicators of employment growth after a recession. A CIRCLE study by Andrea Finlay and Constance Flanagan found that service experiences were linked to academic success for young adults.

However, it is not known whether being able to list AmeriCorps service on a resume increases prospects of employment. CIRCLE will conduct a randomized experiment to investigate this question. We will create fictitious resumes for applicants and will vary the service experiences and how they are described to see which forms of service and which ways of presenting it are most attractive to hiring managers.

CIRCLE director Kawashima-Ginsberg said, “High-quality service is beneficial for the people who serve as well as the communities they serve in. Hiring managers should treat challenging service as valuable preparation for the workforce. We will find out whether they do.”

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excluding oral history from IRB is a win for the First Amendment, but doesn’t go far enough

Don Ritchie reports,

On 8 September 2015, a 20-year struggle culminated in a ruling from the US Department of Health and Human Services that specifically excludes the following from human subject regulation: “Oral history, journalism, biography, and historical scholarship activities that focus directly on the specific individuals about whom the information is collected.”

I see this ruling as a vindication of First Amendment rights, but I don’t think it should be limited to the four named forms of research. People have the right to talk to others and to communicate what they learn. People also have the right to be talked to. In almost any form of talk, it is possible to violate ethical principles or even laws. For instance, you can commit fraud, libel, conspiracy, or harassment by speaking. But a government requirement to seek prior approval for talk is highly problematic on constitutional grounds and violates liberal principles.

I want to emphasize that I have no personal problem with seeking Institutional Review Board approval for my own research or that of my team. We get IRB approval many times a year. Our own IRB is professional, efficient, and helpful. We have never been rejected or significantly delayed. We have the capacity to handle the paperwork without hardship. My objection is not to our IRB but to federal policies–and I worry about the practical impact on other people in less fortunate circumstances.

Imagine the editor of a newspaper in a police state whose local police authorities are unfailingly polite and helpful, actually trying to support her journalism. This editor must seek prior approval for all her reporting, but it is given cheerfully and quickly. Nevertheless, her freedom has been abridged, as have the rights of the people she might choose to interview. And there is a potential for more concrete harms if the local police are not so benign.

Some Q&A’s:

What about the Tuskegee experiments and other violations of basic human rights conducted under the name of “research”? These are horrifying cases but they do not centrally involve speech. They involve giving or withholding physical treatments. They should be strictly regulated. (By the way, I would also favor the regulation of talk therapies that are comparable to medical procedures, but I don’t think surveys or interviews constitute therapies.)

Can’t you do just as much damage with words as with physical interventions? First of all, yes, you can. But that is a problem with free speech in general, not particularly with research. Journalists and bloggers can do more harm than professors because their audiences are bigger. A thoughtful argument for free speech acknowledges the potential for harm but still defends the First Amendment. Second, the kinds of harms that researchers do with words tend not to be prevented by IRB approval. Social scientists do the most damage when they argue for terrible policies, like mass incarceration, invading Iraq, or slashing taxes in order to raise revenues. IRB have no relevance to those examples. And third, prior censorship is not the best way to handle harmful speech. It is better to criticize, punish or remediate speech after it occurs. Prior censorship puts the burden in the wrong place and gives too much power to the regulators. It prevents information from even being collected, thus precluding speech that might turn out to be highly valuable.

What about research on children and prisoners? When a research subject is vulnerable, the ethical demands rise. I am not unalterably opposed to IRB review of research involving minors and prisoners. However, I remain skeptical even in those cases. First, children and prisoners have the right to be studied and to be understood. Although they can be harmed by research that (for instance) violates their privacy, they can also be harmed by rules that discourage scholars from studying them. Our presumption should favor speech, not block it. Second, prior review is only one possible approach to protecting vulnerable populations. Another option is to publish rules that guide matters like obtaining permission from minors and prisoners and then subject scholars to sanctions when they violate those rules. Again, prior review is dangerous because it prevents information from being collected, and that power can be abused.

Won’t universities be vulnerable to lawsuits unless they closely monitor their researchers’ interactions with subjects? I do not understand the relevant law well enough to know whether, if Prof. A harms a subject by interviewing her, Prof. A’s institution could be liable for damages. But even if that is the case, the solution is not to require prior permission for research that involves talk. I’d rather see the law put all the responsibility on Prof. A.

Free speech is under threat in universities today. One little part of the threat is political correctness of various sorts, which leads to short-sighted policies and decisions. But much larger threats are bureaucratic: the erosion of tenure, excessive IRB review, too much influence by funders, too much control by central administrations who are too risk-averse and too concerned about reputation. The HHS decision about oral history and journalism is a step in the right direction, but I fail to see the distinction between these forms of talk and many others that are still reviewed by IRBs.

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responsiveness as a virtue

(Milwaukee) I’m at a conference about responsiveness, which uses the following as the opening definition, for discussion:

Being responsive (primarily to others, but we might also think about being responsive to the non-human world) involves being open to being moved or transformed by what others convey and do, especially in the course of the shared activity of living together (which includes working out the terms by which we live together).

I wrestle with two questions: 1) Is responsiveness a virtue? (Could we say that someone was too responsive?) 2) Should we understand responsiveness in terms of change? For instance, do we need to see a change in a person’s opinions—or at least in her understanding of another person’s opinions—to infer that she was responsive?

Both questions arise in cases when someone fails to change her mind at all when exposed to another person’s views. Could that failure to change reflect a reasonable lack of responsiveness? Or could we say that she was responsive, yet the other person simply failed to be persuasive, so there was no change?

There are also circumstances when people genuinely change their opinions, yet they don’t quite seem “responsive.” For instance, perhaps a person is deeply insecure or subservient and comes to believe what others say just because they have said it. I am not sure that counts as responsiveness—or if it does, then responsiveness is not a virtue.

For what it’s worth, I am inclined to think that responsiveness is a virtue—meaning that it is intrinsically worthy, even though it can be trumped by other virtues. For one thing, we can be wrong; so being responsive means being open to correction. In that sense, responsiveness shouldn’t be measured by whether we change; we must simply be open to the possibility of changing. But second, responsiveness is a virtue because it means receptivity to the world and to other people, or mindfulness. It is a condition of having a rich inner life and of enjoying the world around us. For that reason, I am inclined to think that responsiveness is a virtue for all people; even those who suffer worst from injustice are better off being responsive, to the degree that is possible.

Finally, I suspect that whether a person is responsive is probably a function of some combination of:

  1. The circumstances of the discussion. (How many people, how much time they have to talk, why everyone is present, who is represented, etc.)
  2. A person’s tendency to be responsive or unresponsive, which is perhaps a trait we can teach.
  3. The person’s views–for instance, Stalinists are less responsive than liberals.
  4. The topic: some subjects are more amenable than others to being discussed in responsive ways.
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crowd-sourcing information as a form of civic work

(Milwaukee, WI) Beth Noveck has been a leader since the 1990s in connecting online, collaborative knowledge-production efforts (tools like Stack Exchange) to government, and vice-versa. She has pursued that cause both as a scholar and as an Obama Administration official. I have not yet read her latest book, Smart Citizens, Smarter State, but Andrew Mayersohn’s review lays out important issues. This is a quote that mentions me, but I recommend Mayersohn’s whole article:

The ultimate goal of Smart Citizens, Smarter State is not simply a more competent regulatory state, but a transformed relationship between government and the governed. To policymakers and bureaucrats, Noveck makes the case that soliciting citizen expertise can make governance more effective; to democratic theorists, Noveck argues that providing expertise is a genuine form of civic engagement, and that it can help remedy the “broken, staccato rhythm of citizen engagement today” with something more substantive and sustained.

Noveck is right to suggest that we should start to think of providing expertise as another form of engagement like protesting or voting. Tufts University’s Peter Levine estimates that at least one million Americans are members of organizations that practice “open-ended discussion, problem-solving, education, and collaboration with diverse peers” such as the Industrial Areas Foundation and the League of Women Voters. Levine argues that such people are an important constituency for a more participatory democracy, since they have already seen it work in practice and developed the skills involved. Noveck’s proposals would greatly increase their numbers and, perhaps, begin to accustom a portion of the public to the idea that governance can and should be collaborative.

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bottom-up struggles against corruption: a frontier of democracy

(En route to Storrs, CT) Corruption is no minor issue, nor is it mainly a concern for fastidious bourgeois reformers in rich countries. Consider, just for instance, that one quarter of India’s teachers are missing from school on any given day but are still being paid. Few investments in the world benefit human beings more than educating Indian children, yet a quarter of the available teacher/time is being lost because of that one form of corruption–not to mention  bribery in school construction, college admissions, and hiring, from primary schools to graduate programs.

In countries like Ukraine, which I visited briefly this summer, corruption is a primary obstacle not only to economic development but also to fairness, good government, and reconciliation. And here in the United States, perfectly legal transactions–ones that politicians even brag about, such as collecting private money for judicial elections–easily meet my definition of “corrupt.”

It seems surprisingly hard to find trends in levels of corruption over time, so that we would be able to see which anti-corruption strategies are effective. Experimental programs are often evaluated, but even when they work, they are typically too small to make a difference at the scale of a nation. It is not clear that a true victory over corruption would come from assembling lots of specific programs, such as websites that disclose government contracts or increased pay for bureaucrats. By the way, a major reason for the lack of trendlines is the difficulty of measuring corruption even at a given moment–in part because corrupt acts are typically secret.

I start with the assumption that there are two basic categories of human problems: sometimes we want or value the wrong things; and sometimes, even though we want good things, we can’t get them because of the ways we interact. Corruption may involve both  categories.

Corruption is a problem of what we want or value to the extent that people do not distinguish properly between legitimate transactions and illegitimate ones, or between public and private interests. Following Zephyr Teachout, I think that the US Supreme Court’s decisions regarding lobbying reveal the degeneration of fundamental republican virtues in this country. In 1870, confronted with a situation involving a paid lobbyist for an economic interest, the Court assumed that his job must be “steeped in corruption” and “infamous” and proposed that if such “instances were numerous, open, and tolerated, they would be regarded as measuring the decay of the public morals and the degeneracy of the times.” The Court voided the lobbyist’s contract. By Citizens United v. FEC (2010), the Court was no longer able to detect any difference between a citizen speaking up in a republic and a donor pursuing an economic interest for money.

On the other hand, it has been possible to forge such distinctions. In 1621, Sir Francis Bacon was impeached for acts that had been widespread and unchallenged a few years earlier. Elizabethan judges had openly accepted payments from litigants, and ambassadors had received huge cash gifts from the monarchs of their host countries. Bacon was made a scapegoat and brought down by his political enemies. But it was also true that a new concept of public offices and of public versus private goods was emerging, and it ultimately served Britain well. That is an example of a positive shift in values.

More generally, corruption is a failure to value the commons: that which we own collectively or which is not owned at all. The commons is not an idea for leftists alone, for even radical libertarians view the government and the law as public property and the atmosphere and oceans as un-owned. Attitudes toward the commons vary, and I suspect that a valuable way to reduce corruption is to raise people’s sense of concern for the various commons around them.

But corruption also exemplifies a collective-action problem. If everyone else is paying bribes, you won’t make the system any better by refraining, but you may hurt yourself (or your children, or your employees). So even when everyone thinks that bribery is bad and the commons is precious, almost everyone may still pay bribes.

One type of solution to collective action problems is an external monitor/enforcer that protects the common interest. Singapore has “gone from being one of the more corrupt countries on the planet to one of the least.” Its success depends upon an authoritarian state that happens to be genuinely opposed to financial corruption. I wouldn’t want to generalize the Singapore example, for two reasons: an authoritarian solution denies people the right to govern themselves, and benign authoritarians are strikingly scarce. Most dictators who jail or shoot people for taking bribes are perfectly happy to accept bribes themselves. In fact, by investigating corruption, a state learns who is corrupt and can use selective prosecution or the threat of it to extract additional benefits. That temptation dooms almost all top-down solutions.

A different type of response to collective action problems is a movement from the bottom up. For instance, people can make mutual pledges not to give bribes and can hold each other accountable. They can also vote en masse for anti-corruption candidates. I am convinced that making government information transparent is valuable just to the degree that people organize themselves to use the data effectively and constructively; on its own, transparency accomplishes nothing.

Bottom-up efforts are difficult: it is always easy to cheat, to lose momentum, or to encounter disabling divisions within a popular movement. But I think that if popular movements are worth anything in the 21st century, they must take on corruption. And unless corruption is addressed from the bottom-up, it will continue to block social justice around the world.

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The House of Atreus: A Play

Agamemnon is like: I can’t believe we’re still stuck in this place. I am totally tired of waiting around for wind. I’m going to sacrifice my youngest kid to Artemis. Tell her it’s her wedding, she can marry that musclehead Achilles.

Cassandra to Iphigenia: Um, I wouldn’t go to your dad’s if I were you.

Agamemnon is all set to slaughter Iphigenia. But Artemis is like: JK, you can kill this deer instead and I’ll teleport Iphigenia to hang with the Taurians for a while. Just don’t tell anyone.

Electra: Orestes, did you hear what Dad did? He killed Iphigenia and now he’s like blatantly hooking up with Cassandra, who’s the most annoying prophetess ever and like half his age. Mom is having a fit!

Orestes is like: Dad, WTF? You sacrificed Iphigenia just so you could go on a trip?

Enter Clytemnestra, who is is like: Kids, chill, I’ll take care of it. Agamemnon, honey, come inside and take a bath. Your girlfriend can wait here.

Cassandra to Agamemnon: I wouldn’t go in there if I were you.

Clytemnestra to Agamemnon: Here we go, get in the tub. [Stab, stab, stab.]

Cassandra is like: I told him. This family never pays attention to me.

Orestes is like: OMG, what am I going to do? If I don’t revenge Dad, the whole entire House of Atreus will look, like, totally lame. But you’re not supposed to like kill your own mother, are you?

Electra is like: Um, Iphigenia was stupid anyway? I totally would have sacrificed her to Artemis if I’d been in Dad’s situation. Mom overreacted as usual. I hate her. [Exits, slouching.]

[Orestes slays Clytemnestra.]

Chorus of Boeotian Fisherwives: OMG! OMG! Life totally sucks for these guys!

[The trial of Orestes]

Bailiff: In the case of People v. Orestes Son of Agamemnon Son of Atreus, the defense has rested. Jury, how find you?

Furies: Guilty! Let us hound him to hell!

Various respectable Athenians: On account of the defendant’s dysfunctional home environment, we recommend counseling in lieu of human sacrifice and damnation.

Athena: The jury is split 50/50. Let the defendant go.

Furies: We’ll hound him anyway!

[Iphigenia in Tauris]

Iphigenia is like: I am so glad I don’t have to live in stupid old Greece anymore. Dad was so typical–ready to kill me just to go sailing. I can’t understand a word these barbarians say but they are so cool. If any Greeks show up, I’ll sacrifice them!

[Enter Orestes and Pylades, in chains, pursued by Furies.]

Iphigenia is like: Look, here come two Greek dorks now! Get them ready for the sacrifice. I am like totally up for cutting those two dudes’ throats.

Orestes is like: Um, Iphigenia? I’m, like, your long-lost brother?

Iphigenia is like: Oh yeah, look at you. What was I thinking–sacrificing you guys, hahaha. Let’s all escape from this place. Your boyfriend can come, too. I am totally ready to go home to Greece.

[Orestes rules justly for many years and then goes to hell with the Furies like everyone else.]

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creative options for the next House Speaker

Turmoil in the US House has provoked a remarkable variety of creative proposals, which I’ll list in descending order of likelihood. In reviewing this list, keep in mind that the Speaker is elected by the entire House and need not be a US representative. The links are to articles making the case for these various scenarios.

John Boehner: Whether he wants to or not, the current Speaker could stay on as the Speaker. He is the only person in the world who does not have to win an election; he would just announce that he is staying on. He might be prevailed upon to do so if the alternative is a disaster. Or–conceivably–this was the outcome he foresaw all along.

Paul Ryan: The Wisconsin Rep. has broad support across the GOP caucus, so they might decide to vote for him unanimously and make him the Speaker. The main obstacle seems to be that he is steadfastly against running.  (“Was the crown offered him thrice?” / “Ay, marry, was’t, and he put it by thrice, every / time gentler than other, and at every putting-by / mine honest neighbours shouted.” … But look what happened to Caesar.)

Reps. Daniel Webster (sic) or Jason Chaffetz. They are running. But they don’t seem to have enough support in the GOP caucus to win, unless the Republicans face a protracted struggle and decide they’d just better pick someone who is seeking the seat.

Mitt Romney: The House GOP could select him if they wanted to (and if he accepted). Ezra Klein notes that they almost all endorsed him for president, so maybe he could unify their caucus. And they would get a prominent, effective leader from Capitol Hill.

“Colin Powell”: I use this name as an example of someone who might fit the following profile: popular and respected, with at least some GOP credibility and yet appeal to some Democrats. In the latest US poll of most admired humans, Powell gets zero percent, but so does everyone except a small group of people who are either disqualified (Pope Francis, Vladimir Putin, the current POTUS) or politically unacceptable to the House (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush). In any case, the scenario is that the House GOP decides they can look good by picking a popular figure and they replace the defectors on their side by drawing in quite a few Democrats who feel they’d be better off under Speaker Powell than under a House GOP leader. In fact, this idea could come from the Democratic side. (Speaker Buffett?)

Nancy Pelosi: She could get all the Democrats to support her, and if 29 moderate Republicans decided to join them, she would be elected. But those moderate Republicans stand far from Pelosi on the issues and would pay a price politically for supporting a Democrat. Moreover, if she compromised too much to get the 29 Republican votes, she could lose some Democrats or just decide herself that it wasn’t worth the candle.

See also why can’t a centrist coalition form in the US House? (Sept. 2013)

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the big divisions of academic work

I constantly see evidence that people are confused about phrases like “the liberal arts,” the “arts & sciences,” and “the humanities.”  Although some of my definitions may be controversial, I thought a lexicon might be helpful:

The liberal arts encompass the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. These disciplines are meant to be valuable irrespective of their utility as preparation for careers. The root meaning is that they are appropriate for a gentleman or -lady. In the middle ages, it was common to list seven liberal arts, often the following: music (which was really music theory), arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The last three were about language, whereas the first four were about nature. Philosophy and theology were sometimes substituted or added to the list, and philosophy has subsequently given rise to a range of liberal arts, from anthropology to zoology.

The phrase arts & sciences seems to be synonymous with liberal arts but avoids the modern implication that the “arts” exclude the sciences.

The humanities involve the interpretation of human culture. Interpretation generally takes the form of insightful description, whether organized over time (as narrative) or across space, but the humanities also encompass theorizing about human culture and applying such theories. By this definition, the humanities encompass the study of literature, music, and the arts. They also include portions of history (cultural history and historical narrative), anthropology (qualitative cultural anthropology/ethnography), political science (normative political theory), and philosophy (history of philosophy and some approaches to ethics and political philosophy). Many would disagree, but I believe that the rigorous moral assessment of human phenomena is intrinsic to the humanities, whereas science claims to separate facts from values.

The social sciences investigate the human world in ways analogous to the natural sciences, meaning that they generally seek to classify, model, and/or explain human phenomena. So a historian who tells the story of Boston’s development is a humanist, but a historian who tries to model the causes of urban growth is a social scientist. The social sciences can be primarily qualitative, quantitative, or theoretical. The line between the humanities and social sciences cuts through departments; the criterion is whether the research is analogous to natural science.

The behavioral sciences do not seem to me sharply distinguishable from the social sciences, but they put human mental states (such as choices and responses) at the center, as opposed to social systems and processes. They tend to employ the elaborate toolkit of empirical psychology rather than other methods.

The arts (in the context of a university) involve the actual production of cultural products, from ceramics and paintings to dance performances and music.

The natural sciences investigate nature, sometimes including human beings as natural species. They thus encompass not only mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and their offshoots but also some forms psychology, anthropology, and philosophy.

Engineering, computer science and related fields do not investigate nature but rather aim to change nature through deliberate interventions.

The professional disciplines aim to understand and teach the techniques, ethics, and underlying principles applicable to particular socially constructed professions, ranging from those that are strictly licensed (e.g., medicine and law) to those that are more loosely and informally defined (business, journalism).

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3010 blog posts

I just realized that this blog recently inched past 3,000 posts. Today’s post is the 3011th since I began in January 2003. For more than 10 years, I posted absolutely every work day. Of late I’ve begun missing one now and then, and I’m OK with that. But the 3,000-post mark seems worth noting.

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Bernie Sanders runs on the 1948 Democratic Party Platform

One gap between liberals and conservatives is their sense of the direction the country has recently taken. Each side perceives a nation that has abandoned valuable principles that were prevalent in the past. Sometimes, both sides’ perceptions are exaggerated. For instance, gross government spending has neither soared as a result of Obama and other recent spendthrift lefties, nor has it plummeted due to neoliberal budget-cutters. It looks fairly similar from decade to decade. (The upper trend includes entitlements and interest payments; the lower is limited to direct government spending.)

But there is an important way in which the progressives’ perception is valid. Ideas that are now embraced mainly by Occupy protesters and the Sanders campaign were once so mainstream that they provided the basic planks of the 1948 Democratic Party Platform. I quote from that document (italics added):

  • We shall enact comprehensive housing legislation, including provisions for slum clearance and low-rent housing projects initiated by local agencies. This nation is shamed by the failure of the Republican 80th Congress to pass the vitally needed general housing legislation as recommended by the President. Adequate housing will end the need for rent control. Until then, it must be continued.
  • We advocate such legislation as is desirable to establish a just body of rules to assure free and effective collective bargaining, to determine, in the public interest, the rights of employees and employers, to reduce to a minimum their conflict of interests, and to enable unions to keep their membership free from communistic influences.
  • We favor the extension of the coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act as recommended by President Truman, and the adoption of a minimum wage of at least 75 cents an hour [$7.42 in 2015 dollars] in place of the present obsolete and inadequate minimum of 40 cents an hour.
  • We favor the extension of the Social Security program established under Democratic leadership, to provide additional protection against the hazards of old age, disability, disease or death. We believe that this program should include: Increases in old-age and survivors’ insurance benefits by at least 50 percent, and reduction of the eligibility age for women from 65 to 60 years; extension of old-age and survivors’ and unemployment insurance to all workers not now covered; insurance against loss of earnings on account of illness or disability; improved public assistance for the needy.
  • We favor the enactment of a national health program far [sic] expanded medical research, medical education, and hospitals and clinics.
  • We will continue our efforts to expand maternal care, improve the health of the nation’s children, and reduce juvenile delinquency.
  • We approve the purposes of the Mental Health Act and we favor such appropriations as may be necessary to make it effective.
  • We advocate federal aid for education administered by and under the control of the states. We vigorously support the authorization, which was so shockingly ignored by the Republican 80th Congress, for the appropriation of $300 million [almost $3 billion today] as a beginning of Federal aid to the states to assist them in meeting the present educational needs. We insist upon the right of every American child to obtain a good education.
  • We pledge an intensive enforcement of the antitrust laws, with adequate appropriations. … We advocate the strengthening of existing antitrust laws by closing the gaps which experience has shown have been used to promote concentration of economic power.
  • We support the right of free enterprise and the right of all persons to work together in co-operatives and other democratic associations for the purpose of carrying out any proper business operations free from any arbitrary and discriminatory restrictions.
  • The Democratic Party commits itself to continuing its efforts to eradicate all racial, religious and economic discrimination. … We again state our belief that racial and religious minorities must have the right to live, the right to work, the right to vote, the full and equal protection of the laws, on a basis of equality with all citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution.
  • We recommend to Congress the submission of a constitutional amendment on equal rights for women.

To be fair, the platform also diverges in some respects from contemporary progressive thinking. The environmental policies are mostly about supporting big projects that will extract more power and natural resources from public lands. That was Midcentury Modern progressivism, which lost its appeal in the 1960s. The platform is very positive about the Farm Bill, which may still receive Democratic Party support today but is unpopular among progressive activists. And the platform calls for tax cuts, albeit focused on lower-income Americans and as a response to post-War defense cuts.

Overall, the 1948 Platform seems left of the contemporary Democratic Party. It is, however, true that some important proposals of the 1948 platform were enacted by 1972, and today’s mainstream Democrats tend to want to protect those policies. In that sense, the mainstream Democratic Party is arguably the most conservative force in the country today (and I mean that respectfully). Its goal is to preserve what was constructed from 1932-1968. Meanwhile, Senator Sanders can be pretty accurately described as someone who wants to check the unchecked boxes on Harry Truman’s 1948 to-do list.

See also: Wyoming has moved right, the country has not moved leftEdmund Burke would vote Democratic; and the left has become Burkean.

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