Saturday, April 16, 2016

Thomas Frank: What We Can Do

There truly are profound differences between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton (and Barack Obama!) and, more obviously, between Bernie and the Republican candidates for the President of the United States. And these deep and critical differences inform the many reasons why Bernie Sanders has my passionate endorsement and Hillary Clinton does not. 
The more I research and learn, the greater my concerns are about Clinton. And the greater my conscious awareness is that we truly do have an option beyond really bad (the status quo and entrenched "liberal" Democrat) and a nightmare (the Republican candidates, who do not even believe in global warming!).
Reading Thomas Frank's latest book, Listen Liberal: What Ever Happened to the Party of the People, illuminates why it is such a strength that Sanders, until recently, has not been part of the Democratic Party over the years and why he is infiltrating it today. This book - and others! - clearly articulates what has happened to the "liberal" party and why it is that wealth disparity, environmental destruction, global wars, global warming, and on and on have grown right along side with the the toxic impact of Wall Street, the Big Banks, Dark Money, the Military/Media/Educational/Political/Pharmaceutical (Etc.!) Complexes and what I have come to see accurately described as Global Late Stage Fossil-Fueled Capitalism. 

It is my deepest hope that more and more of us will turn off and/or limit our exposure to the "news" reported on FOX, CNN, MSNBC, OPB and other mainstream media and instead choose to truly inform ourselves. To do that, we have to look deep and gather courage and support to lift the veils of our own distortions and ignorance and indoctrination into the dark side of the American culture. 
Another world is possible. And it begins with each and every one of us choosing to know what we do not know. If we are alive and breathing, there are more veils to lift that fog our minds, that cut us off from our deepest hearts, and that limit our capacity for courage, caring, love, and fierce compassionate action. We can increasingly commit ourselves to joining together to be part of this great birthing, this great Revolution of our time and Evolution of humankind.
Bless us all on our journeys of awakening ~ Molly
Where We Are Eight Years Post-Hope
There was a time when average Americans knew whether we were going up or going down - because when the country prospered, its people prospered too. But these days, things are different. From the middle class of the Great Depression up to 1980, the lower 90% of the population, a group we might call "the American people," took home some 70% of the growth in the country's income. Look at the same numbers beginning in 1997 - from the beginning of the New Economy boom to the present - and you find that this same group, the American people, pocketed none of America's income growth at all. Their share of the good times was zero. The gains they harvested after all their hard work were nil. The upper 10% of the population - the country's financiers, managers, and professionals - ate the whole thing. The privileged are doing better than at any time since economic records began...
One particularly lucky American family, in fact, has as much wealth as does 40% of the American population. The main accomplishment of the six individuals who make up this fortunate bunch, was to inherit shares in Wal-Mart, the retailer that has sucked the life out of thousands of middle-American towns. Sucked the wealth out of those towns and spent it on the six Wal-Mart heirs' tasteless mega-mansions, their degrees from prestigious colleges, their fancy racecars, and their sports teams. They own a bank, a ballet company, an art gallery (where you can see Norman Rockwell's painting of Rosie the Riveter), and of late the Wal-Mart bunch have begun "reforming" the public schools your kids go to.

Should all this go on - and it will - those kids of ours are going to be educated on certain matters far better than we ever were. They will know to laugh at the old middle-class promise - retirement, pension, a better life than the previous generation had - because it is propaganda so transparent it sounds like something the Soviet Union used to put out. They will understand that this isn't a commonwealth; it's a workhouse.

And that's where we are, eight years post-hope. Growth that doesn't grow; prosperity that doesn't proper. The country, we now understand, is simply no longer arranged in such a way as to make its citizens economically secure.....
Now, all political parties are alliances of groups with disparate interests, but the contradictions in the Democratic Party coalition seem unusually sharp. The Democrats posture as the "party of the people" even as they dedicate themselves ever more resolutely to serving and glorifying the professional class. Worse: they combine self-righteousness and class privilege in a way that Americans find stomach-turning. And every two years, they simply assume that being non-Republican is sufficient to rally the voters of the nation to their standard. This cannot go on.
Yet it will go on, because the most direct solutions to the problem are off the table for the moment. The Democrats have no interest in reforming themselves in a more egalitarian way. There is little the rest of us can do, given the current legal arrangements of this country, to build a vital third-party movement or to revive organized labor, the one social movement that is committed by its nature to pushing back against the inequality trend.
What we can do is strip away the Democrats' precious sense of their own moral probity - to make liberals live without the comforting knowledge that righteousness is always on their side. It is that sensibility, after all, that prevents so many good-hearted rank-and-file Democrats from understanding how starkly and how deliberately their political leaders contradict their values. Once that contradiction has been made manifest - once that smooth, seamless sense of liberal virtue has been cracked, anything becomes possible. The course of the party and the course of the country can both be changed, but only after we understand that the problem is us.
- Thomas Frank
Excerpted from Listen Liberal: What Ever Happened to the Party of the People
With Thomas Frank, April 2nd, 2016

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