Only a Progressive Renaissance Can Rebuild the Middle Class
The last time our country was governable was back in 2009 and 2010. Democrats had a supermajority in the Senate and a substantial lead in the House of Representatives. During those two years, President Obama got more accomplished than any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In fact, the policies passed during those two years are responsible for all economic progress, however anemic, that was made under President Obama.
President Obama was unable to enact any substantial policies after that. Why? Because Republicans took over the House and subsequently the Senate. Gridlock is dysfunctional.
Republicans had an agenda based on the debunked tenets of austerity exposed by a 28-year-old grad student. The agenda came from an Ayn Randian sect who did not mind lying to their constituents in their attempt to pass policies that were beneficial solely to their wealthy benefactors. In doing so, they ensured an economy that grew at the slowest rate of any recovery since World War II. While it is also the longest sustained recovery ever, most Americans are not partaking of this continued economic growth.
Americans, especially millennials, are fed up with political parties. When Democrats had their supermajority, they had the ability to pass legislation in a manner that would have insulated them from Republican misinformation.
In 2009, the health care fight was not between Republicans and Democrats: It was between progressive Democrats and corporatist establishment Democrats.
Had all Democrats worked in the interest of the middle class and the poor by using their once-in-a generation political power to pass the only mathematically plausible and affordable health care program, single-payer Medicare for all, Americans would never have voted for the false promises of market-based health insurance again.
Had all Democrats told the truth—that taxpayer dollars are responsible for most of the research and development for drugs that are later marketed by pharmaceutical companies at obscenely escalated prices—it would have made it possible to curtail pricing and forced pharmaceutical companies to share their unearned windfall profitswith the Treasury. That would have been the fair thing to do.
Had Democrats instituted pay-it-forward, tuition-free college, they would have owned the young vote. Had Democrats established a national daycare plan that allowed all who wanted to work the opportunity to do so, they would have possessed the votes of those who wanted children.
One could go on and on: so many ifs. These are all policies that poll at more than 50 percent approval, irrespective of party or ideology. Of course, these policies won't garner support from those extracting their unfair share of wealth from the excess labor of the vast majority of Americans. They would have regular Americans believe that they are simply takers, always begging for free stuff.
Here is the reality: those who reap excess profits at the expense of a humane society are in fact the takers. Their excess profits are your income and wealth deficits.
Our learning institutions do not teach basic courses in economics that allow the general public to discern the real reasons for the collapse of the middle class as the masses march on to virtual indentured servitude. Our schools no longer teach civics. Why? Because an informed population would not donate their labor and intellect in a manner that only benefits their employers: the wealthy, the few.
As we affected progressive policies in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the American plutocracy had to act to arrest the enlightenment of the masses. That action came in the form of the Powell Manifesto. That single document was the road map to institutionalized misinformation and the dumbing down of America.
But do not despair: The stars are aligning for a progressive renaissance. We all knew that Donald Trump was lying to his followers. However, his construction of a coalition seemingly based on populist tenets (read: liberal principles) is probative.
The goal of our plutocracy is not to satisfy the masses. Their intent is to restructure government to allow a permanent governing minority. Gerrymandering, voter suppression laws, and a friendly judiciary are their building blocks for this new form of governing.
But it isn't a reality yet—and Trump is not making it any easier. Still, progressives do not have much time. They must act now.
Americans know their political system is in shambles, which is evidenced by how many took a chance on Trump. Now, here’s a brief digression: Many want to put Trump's win on Russia. But assuming that Russia did not hack voter machines, everything Russia did to help Trump win could have been done by Trump with the money he would have had available to him. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton spent much more per vote than did Trump in the aggregate. So the problem is evident: Democrats simply lost the support of too many, even though they have a platform backed by the vast majority of Americans.
Several progressive organizations have decided to get involved in an effort to reverse that trend. Some are teaching civic engagement. Some are policy specific (e.g., Physicians for a National Health Program). Some are even running candidates (e.g., Brand New Congress, Our Revolution, People's House Project).
Just like today's doctors attack viruses with several different medicines at once to prevent mutations from rendering drug therapies ineffective, progressives must attack the virus that is the compounding effects of the Powell Manifesto. The stars are aligning: if progressives do not take hold now, they are unlikely to get another opportunity before some form of revolution sets in, as the despair of the masses multiplies.
We are at the tipping point—and all peace-loving progressives must activate.