I was thinking about this one while listening to a bishop from one denomination or another on Rachel Maddow this evening.
As you know, I am a fan of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its offshoots, and I wish them a lot of success. I am too busy trying to get out of my boat to join our local group in the park, but I follow every report coming out. Call me a slacktivist, but I have to keep networking and contacting people about getting into accounting again–getting into the groove. Or getting my groove back.
These days, I am always thinking back to the 1970’s, which really was the last extended crap times in America. I am one of these who thinks the last 30 years have really sent America off on the wrong trajectory. The so-called “Reagan Revolution” was properly a reaction to what people saw as excesses in the 1960’s and ’70’s. That’s why Reagan had his sporadic popularity at the time. I don’t think he was out to do much more than put more limits on the limited role of the federal government. He seemed to think that cutting taxes would do the trick.
What Reagan encouraged is this later generation of balding, middle aged (mostly) white guys, going around and trying to bully or bribe America back into the 19th century. As a Progressive at heart, I keep asking myself why anyone would want to scrap the last 100 years of Progress. But there are these nuts out there who do; and they have their followers.
Our official unemployment is 9%–stuck at 9%–and our Congress is doing nothing. My local guy, Joe Pitts, is up next November with the rest of the bunch, and I wonder if the local Republicans really think that everyone is going to be so delighted to be pulling the lever for Mr. Pitts, when every couple weeks of this Congress seems to have involved a phoney crisis to shut down the fragile recovery, or some other budget cutting scheme involving cutting Medicare (American health care for seniors) and passing the savings on to the rich in the form of tax cuts.
Occupy is like a collective plea for sanity, to preserve, to bring back and extend the Progress of the 20th century. We are quickly losing it to right-wing nuts funded by billionaires in the shadows. When you listen to the Occupy people speaking, they basically are asking what happened to our nation and its social contract as it has developed. Occupy is not new. It is old.
Unlike the Tea Party, which was financed by the Koch Brothers (billionaires who inherited their money from their dad), the Occupy movement is truly grassroots. It is pulling support from all communities within America, and especially places where Theodore Roosevelt’s progressivism was very strong: the North, the Midwest and the far West.
The political goals mentioned by the various participants in Occupy have been put forth in our country long before. And in fact, most of these things, most of what you hear in a typical interview, or in the commercial below, are things that, frankly, I think the 99% of us WOULD agree about.
If you read the 1912 Progressive “Bull Moose” platform of Theodore Roosevelt, many of these themes have been repeated long ago.
From the Wiki, the Progressives wanted:
A National Health Service to include all existing government medical agencies.
Social insurance, to provide for the elderly, the unemployed, and the disabled
Limited injunctions in strikes
A minimum wage law for women
An eight hour workday
A federal securities commission
Workers’ compensation for work-related injuries
An inheritance tax
A Constitutional amendment to allow a Federal income tax
The political reforms proposed included
Direct election of Senators
Primary elections for state and federal nominations
The platform also urged states to adopt measures for “direct democracy”, including:
The recall election (citizens may remove an elected official before the end of his term)
The referendum (citizens may decide on a law by popular vote)
The initiative (citizens may propose a law by petition and enact it by popular vote)
Judicial recall (when a court declares a law unconstitutional, the citizens may override that ruling by popular vote)
However, the main theme of the platform was an attack on the domination of politics by business interests, which allegedly controlled both established parties. The platform asserted that
To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.
To that end, the platform called for
Strict limits and disclosure requirements on political campaign contributions
Registration of lobbyists
Recording and publication of Congressional committee proceedings
The recent Occupy commercial: