Shocking: High School Grads Twice As Likely To Be Jobless Than College Grads â€“ and Right-Wingers are Profiting From Their Pain
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Among the unemployed, 90 percent describe themselves as stressed, according the ABC News /Washington Post poll. Of those stressed-out people, 58 percent say they're depressed, and 62 percent say they're angry. That's a lot of angry, depressed, stressed-out people.
The right is clearly much more aware of the popular unease, and its leaders are organizing, organizing, organizing. That's what the Tea Party movement is all about: it taps into that vein of seething discontent and redirects it toward racial resentment and distrust of the government. Using corporate dollars, leaders of the right have built an impressive infrastructure comprising two major astro-turfing groups -- Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks -- whose efforts are trumpeted through the megaphone of FOX News. Then there's the community organizing done by FOX's Glenn Beck through his own FOX television show, his radio show and his 912 Project Web site -- in addition to the free publicity granted AFP and FreedomWorks on nearly all the FOX News programs.
The left has been building its infrastructure, too, but it's one that speaks to the college-educated, full of smartypants Web sites and a couple of elite think tanks, largely populated by people like me -- and maybe you. By that I mean people who don't live day to day, among the struggling parents of four or five kids, parents who used to earn a living in retail, or driving the trucks that stock the stores, or cranking out the cars we used to drive to the stores. Our distance from this reality leads us to the realm of wonkery and big ideas, perhaps willing to scuttle a health care bill if it has no public option, even if it would secure health care to millions for whom it is now out of reach. We debate climate change and net neutrality, both of which seem hopelessly abstract to people who are facing eviction from their homes.
Meanwhile the administration is buckling to Republican pressure to trim the deficit -- at the very moment when we need deficit spending for the creation of a massive jobs program. If progressives put the same level of energy and resources into demanding a jobs program as they have a public health plan, the prospects for a progressive era would be greatly improved.
But what about the unions, you ask? Progressive leaders organize the working stiffs through labor unions, right? Well, not exactly. While unions expend plenty of muscle on behalf of working people -- and do it smarter and better than they have in the past -- unionized workers today account for only 12 percent of the workforce. And unions should not be expected to carry the burden alone of energizing the entire population of displaced workers around a larger political agenda.
When we progressives organize, we're largely organizing the educated, whose hard times lack the urgency of those without college diplomas. We are simply not present in their world. Progressive writers rarely appear on the opinion pages of local newspapers (with the notable exception of David Sirota), and the progressive movement is rarely represented on the local television news. And that's our fault. The truth is, we'd rather just talk to each other than engage with the people whose plight we claim we wish to improve.
You can't say that of the Tea Party crowd. Right-wing leaders found a way to empower local activists to act on the leaders' behalf. They gave them a banner under which to brand themselves, a narrative linked to a romantic notion of patriotism, and plenty of room to build cell groups at the local level, where their local events help to get them on the local newscast. Tea Partiers write letters to the editor of their local papers. And the right long ago made significant inroads into the op-ed pages of midsized newspapers via the big syndication services. (While newspaper circulation continues to fall, 45 percent of those whose education stopped with high school still read a daily newspaper.)