The progressive imperative…

I imagine many people are yearning for Bernie Sanders right now—yearn for the Bern! If you were a Clinton supporter, admit it: she failed you. If you were a Trump supporter, you might have considered Sanders because his message about trade agreements hurting America’s working classes was similar to Trump’s, although his alternative had its genesis in his genuine concern for people and not Il Duce’s faux-concern just to get votes (HRC’s was false too, but she would have made a better president than Il Duce, but Sanders would have made a great president).

Sanders warned HRC about those battleground states—he knew the anger and frustration their citizens had with the status quo, a political establishment that continually failed them—but HRC didn’t listen. Apparently Il Duce and his goose-stepping minions did. Past history now. The question now is: how do progressives stand up to President Trump and move forward with a progressive agenda?

First, progressives have to realize that they weren’t well represented by establishment liberals in the Dem party. Part of that realization has to be that being liberal can mean not being progressive. HRC and her supporters liked the status quo—that’s not being progressive! HRC was also a one-percenter; so were many of her backers like George Soros, who claims to support progressive causes but should even be considered a faux-liberal. Most of Clinton’s rich backers have nothing in common with people in the struggling middle class and poor—they’re completely out of touch with our reality. Like Soros, they have no idea what it means to be a salaried worker dependent on a job (or jobs) to continue their daily struggle that often leaves them in retrograde motion. The income gap between one-percenters and the rest of us increases day by day, month by month, and year by year. Sanders understands that; the Clintons no longer do; and the Trumps, Bushes, and other GOP VIPs never will.

Most people in America’s middle class and poor share Sanders’s background—often hard-working immigrants or sons and daughters of immigrants, economically struggling, worried about rent hikes or excessive property taxes, concerned about the chance their children will receive the schooling they need, and afraid of falling through the cracks of government support systems when they are in dire need of help. In their desperation, fear, or anger, they might turn to personalities like Il Duce Trump who habitually makes promises he can’t and will never keep—false prophets are often successful in cases where people are desperate for change. There was nothing false about Sanders. So the second item progressives have to worry about is following false prophets, those snake-oil sales people who promise progressive change and never deliver. My guess is that most Dems in Congress fall into that category—promises are made to get elected and stay elected, but the Dems like the status quo as much as the GOP, as long as they’re the ones in power. They’re not progressives and don’t even deserve the liberal label.

Third, the true progressive must recognize that status quo should never be a goal! I can’t harp on that enough. Progressive means NEVER being satisfied! It means constant improvement of the human condition. We might achieve today’s goals, but perfection is never achieved. Human beings are complicated—there will always be new goals and new social battles to fight. Here are a few that Sanders forced establishment Dems to put into their 2016 platform: a $15/hour federal minimum wage, expansion of Social Security benefits, and the creation of millions of new jobs that will be needed to rebuild crumbling infrastructure; breaking up the too-big-to-fail banks and creating a 21st-century Glass-Steagall Act; closing loopholes that allow multinationals to avoid taxes by stashing their cash in offshore tax havens; combatting climate change by putting a price on carbon and transforming the energy system away from fossil fuels; major criminal justice reform; and passage of comprehensive immigration reform. These will become part of the dust of HRC’s failed campaign.

Trump even liked some of these (infrastructure improvements, for example); others not so much. And many, like Glass-Steagall and an oppressive crime bill, were problems created on “liberal” Bill Clinton’s watch. Much of this progressive agenda isn’t specific to the U.S. either. One can summarize a lot of it in one phrase: bring capitalism, which is out of control in our country and worldwide, under control so that it helps, not hinders, the steps taken to improve our world and the human condition.

In the U.S., we can certainly add single-payer healthcare or at least Medicare for all (they’re not the same thing because Medicare is only partial coverage); comprehensive tax reform at all levels; reining in military spending; and developing a foreign policy independent of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” logic. With time, as problems are solved and new ones appear, a progressive agenda would improve the lives for everyone with the possible exception of one-percenters.

But back to Sanders. With Trump itching to destroy everything that is good about the U.S., Sanders and other true progressives are our last hope. Can we keep a true progressive agenda alive? Maybe not. Maybe we are doomed to continue our “patriotic duty” as taxpayers, consumers, and fodder for the maws of the run-away capitalism that enriches only one-percenters and multinationals and is championed by the GOP sycophants in Congress. But maybe things will just get bad and then get better? They certainly won’t if true progressives sit on their hands. Time will tell.


Silicon Slummin’…and Just Gettin’ By.  The Silicon Valley hasn’t seen anyone like Mary Jo Melendez, ex-USN Master-at-Arms, and she’s not sure she wants to stay there either. Readers met the MECHs (Mechanically Enhanced Cybernetic Humans) in Muddlin’ Through. Russia and the U.S. still want them and think Mary Jo knows where they are. But they have to compete with Mary Jo’s stalker. Unlike the first book in the series, this one doesn’t travel around the world, but the dangers for her might be worse. This mystery/suspense/thriller novel is available in all ebook formats.

And so it goes…


4 Responses to “The progressive imperative…”

  1. Scott Dyson Says:

    “…and the Trumps, Bushes, and other GOP VIPs never will.”

    Perhaps a better way to say this would be “wouldn’t have it any other way.”

    How can this wealth gap be addressed by government? Certainly one way would be to expand health care coverage for all to lessen the financial burden on families and have much of it paid for by taxes on the wealthy. (Yeah, that’ll get done.)

    Raising the minimum wage from whatever it is today to the proposed level would be hard on a lot of small businesses, like my own. As I’ve mentioned before, a drastic raise in the minimum wage would throw my entire wage structure into a mess. I don’t have anyone here working for anywhere near the minimum, but IF I have to hire someone new and they have to start at something that close to what the lowest paid person here is making after several years, I might face a bit of a revolt. And I would hate to lose people over it, but I also am constrained by how much I can ethically produce and how much I can charge for my work by insurance company fee schedules. (Even if I’m not bound by those fees, I can’t be charging a lot more than them or patients will move on to someone who is on a PPO or is charging the lower amount.) There’s no argument here that the minimum wage is too low. It should be higher right now. But a gradual raising to $15.00 might be more palpable as fees would have a chance to adjust…

    A lot of people were making more than they may have been worth. (Though who am I to put that value on their services?) Auto workers and a lot of union workers would seem to be making an awful lot of money. There has to be an upper limit. As a small businessman I can see that. There’s a balance between a good, living wage that increases one’s standard of living and a wage that begins to stress the bottom line of the businesses…

    I’m probably focusing too much on one little part of your post. My first question remains. What can government do to close the income gap? Taxing the rich is a way of removing wealth from them, but how to best get it to the people who need it? How to best elevate people’s standards of living?

  2. Steven M. Moore Says:

    Nothing wrong with picking one little part when it’s important to you.
    I might agree with you about a gradual increase to $15 if cost of living increases were also gradual. They’re not. The min wage hasn’t budged much in the last twenty or thirty years while costs of living keep widening the income gap. The NYC area MTA has made huge jumps in what they charge for public transportation, for example, regressive taxes have increased in quantum leaps, and food costs have jumped at an alarming pace, just to name a few. And I’m not even counting healthcare costs because, as Biden says, who knows what Mr. Trump will do as hit man for the congressional death squads.
    We have to move to a place where a family with two wage-earners (and just two jobs) can live above the poverty level. If that’s gradual and other increases are gradual, things will get better. Otherwise, somethings will break in our society…and the world, and the breakage might not be pretty.

  3. Scott Dyson Says:

    I don’t know if you’ve seen this article, but I read it and thought you might find it interesting as well…

  4. Steven M. Moore Says:

    Hi Scott,
    Good link. A small analysis of a really big problem. But what Ma mentions goes all the way back to Vietnam: our priorities have been wrong for a whale of a long time (I like the shrimp boat analogy–we’ve become whores for the multinationals and politicos their pimps, all the while neglecting small and entrepreneurial businesses).