by Joe Courter
Truth. We are living through a slow motion coup by the conservative and corporate powers of this nation.
It began during the Reagan era with economic changes that allowed the wealthy to prosper with changes in tax regulations (for example allowing bankruptcies to be tax write-offs), the smashing of the labor movement (PATCO), and the recruiting of the Christian Right into politics.
Right wing think tanks and radio and TV programming sprouted up and got media space, and in a parallel track, efforts at pushing for conservative judges grew in influence (the Federalist Society). Add to that Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and others taking oppositional politics to a coarsened and crude level, and collegial politics was thrown out the window. Make “the other” the enemy.
All this took place while liberals and the Democratic party coasted on the numerical strength of their loyal base and compromised away on things that they should have fought for such as defending welfare, fighting for for universal healthcare (Clinton), codifying abortion rights, and fighting for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland (Obama).
The Right, taking advantage of the expected fall off in voting in the 2010 midterms following Obama’s 2008 win, took over many state races and gained the power to redraw districts as happens every decade using the new census information.
With sophisticated data analysis, state legislators locked in all kinds of conservative seats, splitting up Democratic areas’ voting power. This has given rise to states that are close to 50/50 Dems and Repubs having super majority Republican legislatures which just flat do what they want. Florida is a prime example, because winning again in 2020, the Right further locked in their power. The story “Well, that sucks,” starting on the front page, covers the horrors they passed this term.
We are living the consequences of protracted efforts to undo the FDR New Deal, and to use voter suppression and fear mongering to do so. FDR’s New Deal was a huge success, full of great and bold ideas put into programs that helped bring people’s living standards up. It promoted the general welfare, what our constitution says our government should be doing: healthcare, education, fair wages, and taxation.
The Right, bolstered of course by a huge money advantage and the horrendous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, also were ORGANIZED! They want to win and they play that way. They have been playing a long game. We on the left are way too willing to compromise, and to give up and not go for what we really need and want.
But at this point the truth is, we need to be organizing our way out of this, and there are many options.
Elections matter, and there are states fighting back … Washington, Colorado, Michigan, New Jersey. Getting abortion rights on the 2024 Florida ballot is a huge deal; be part of that effort with signature gathering (see page 23).
Become better informed and help others to be. Communicate with elected leaders. Join and support unions, respect strikes and boycotts. Influence your areas’ politics, join committees and advisory groups. Join social justice and environmental groups and BE VISIBLE in your actions.
Ease up on the doom scrolling and corporate news sinkholes, get outdoors and stay healthy, because this will be a long haul.
We can’t stop climate change, but we will need a more general-welfare-minded culture to deal with the changes that are coming. Now is when we need to start building that future.
Young folks see what’s coming; it’s their future and we need to have their backs.