By Nancy Churchill
The holidays are supposed to be a time for generous giving. This time it seems to be all about how much the American people will be giving up.
In 1980 Ralph Nader prognosticated in The Nation: “The contemporary challenge to giant business is quite modest compared to historical movements in our past…. The principal call is … for corporations to stop stealing, stop deceiving, stop corrupting politicians with money, stop monopolizing, stop poisoning the earth, air and water, stop selling dangerous products, stop exposing workers to cruel hazards, stop tyrannizing people of conscience within the company and start respecting long-range survival needs and [the] rights of present and future generations.”
Unfortunately, Nader hadn’t taken the 1980 Libertarian Party platform into account. Its neoliberal platform has only given us more of the same over the decades, chipping away in earnest at social programs and regulatory bodies, transferring wealth from the 90 percent to the 1 percent, with the ostensible goal of balancing the budget.
As I write this another government shutdown has just been avoided. The debate had been over how much more the American people will give up to the corporations, and this time the people narrowly prevailed. At Campaign for America’s Progress [https://ourfuture.org/20151217/with-latest-budget-deal-more-failure-by-design?utm_source=progressive_breakfast&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pbreak], Isaiah Poole lays it at the feet of Congressional Republicans. “[This] is the evil genius of how congressional Republicans have manipulated the budget process to serve their ends, even with President Obama in the White House,” he said. “They have an ideological scorn for government in general, and a particular scorn for government programs that ask the haves to help the have-nots and that limit the ability of the super-haves to game the economy at the expense of everyone else.”
The last time Republicans shut down our government in 2013, the country “gave up” $24 billion in lost revenue, lost millions of jobs, and risked a credit rating downgrade.
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders appealed to Rachel Maddow’s audience in an interview 12/8/15, asking “Who is your enemy? What does it mean that 58 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent, that we have massive income and wealth inequality? You want decent jobs, you want your kids to have an opportunity, we’re going to fight to give you that. Don’t go to the dark side, don’t go bashing immigrants or Muslims…. Work with us to create an agenda and a political movement that will make your life better, not just other people’s lives worse.”
Sanders’ 12 point strategy as a democratic socialist will give back what people have been asked to give up: rebuild our crumbling infrastructure; reverse climate change; create worker co-ops; grow the trade union movement; raise the minimum wage; grant women equal pay; craft trade policies that benefit American workers; make college affordable for all; take on Wall Street; provide health care to all; protect vulnerable Americans; produce real tax reform.
But electing Sanders for president won’t be enough, as this Congress has shown. We must create a progressive majority in Congress that will sign onto Sanders’ platform of giving back to the people. To get this done we must all pledge to educate ourselves on what is at stake, and then vote. And get our neighbors, friends and relatives to vote. For progressives. This will be our goal until it is done.
As Nader said, America has prevailed over greater challenges in the past.