United We Stand: What we need to do to have a more perfect union
““We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few,” he said, “but we can’t have both.” Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis
The impetus for the Revolutionary War was a populist revolt against a corrupt monarchy and international megacorpoation. Many of us remember learning about the Boston Tea Party even if the right wing tea party has completely forgotten the actual meaning of it. “No taxation without representation” is a famous line used in order to protest against an unfair taxation and tariff system being unilaterally enforced on the colonists. This would lead to an escalation into the Revolutionary War. Populism is in our veins and is part of the American psyche.
Mr. Matt Stoller wrote a piece for the Atlantic that I think is a must read for anyone who is wondering how we must move forward towards a more progressive agenda. After reading his piece I am once again convinced of the necessity of creating a united front on the left with one of the main goals to bring economic policies to the left. Mr. Stoller’s article describes on how the young idealistic Watergate babies, who were the generation who came into power following that monumental time, shifted the focus away from populism and more towards identity politics. I do not think either Mr. Stoller or anyone who is a progressive would disagree with the fact that there is still work to do on the social issue front, but it does give a good idea of how the main tradition of New Deal Democrats was shunned in favor of social policies.
The most important thing that I learned though was that there is a major misconception about the New Deal that many of us have. It was not, as many right wingers and some lefties contend, as a big government intervention in order to combat the robber barons. Instead it was a direct response to income inequality and a rebellion to concentrated wealth and power. Indeed the whole reason for the New Deal was to make sure that Capitalism was running well for everyone and that the government intervened, only insomuch as was necessary to combat the externalities of the supposed free market. They weren’t communist sycophants but were people who believed in competition and that everyone regardless of what vocation they had, were given the opportunity to succeed. When that tradition was abandoned, the economic argument was won by those who were on the side of big business. The difference in the parties would now be gauged based on social issues and not on actual economic opportunity and pro-labor policies,
Two major figures of this time were Supreme Justice Louis Brandeis and Wright Patman who was a major legislation force for New Deal Politics. Indeed both of them were a formidable team until the Watergate Babies removed Mr. Patman from his job as chairman of the banking committee. Indeed both of these men had their flaws as both were less concerned about racism and segregation, but both of them were fierce populists and would help craft legislation that would prevent the concentration of power that dogs our politics today. Indeed by abandoning their New Deal roots, the Democratic Party has actually weakened itself, as they have allowed the Republican Party to more aggressively frame the debate in most arenas when it comes to government power. Even as government gets bigger in areas that are detrimental to most of us but serves the powerful, the Democrats have descended into Russian hysteria and have forgotten how to argue against the most pathetic group of crazy Republicans in our history. But power never concedes without a fight and the election of Tom Perez as DNC chair, a largely minuscule win for corporate democrats, sends a message that the Democrats will resist the lessons that should be learned after the 2016 defeat.
The left can win only by reembracing the New Deal policies that used to be common sense for all Democrats and even most moderate Republicans. Special interests ensure that the entire electoral process is little more than a show for the masses. The powerful select those who they deem worthy of power, and squish those who might threaten it. However, the proliferation of information due to the internet and the fact that half of America makes less than 25,000 a year means that the anger is heavy and real.
There must be a party that speaks for the interests of the powerless, and one that is in opposition to the right wing economic system. If both parties agree on economics then we all lose. In order to craft meaningful legislation two opposing forces are necessary and social issues are intertwined with economic ones. You cannot just concentrate on one of these things because it is far more divisive than helpful. By embracing left wing economics and social issues you can create a unifying movement and you can win again. It does require antagonizing the powerful but if it doesn’t happen now, there will eventually be a revolution. There must be a conglomeration of the different special interests of the left on social and economic issues. This coalition must be willing to unify even on issues that aren’t ones that all of them agree on. It is only by establishing this loyal coalition that we can win again.
Stoller, Matthew. https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/504710/