A Party Of The Small People
This is a post for younger readers. Its a story, an amazing but nonetheless true story, of a major political party in this country that once upon a time promoted policies aimed at advancing the interests of those long termed “the little guy,” but referred to more recently by a BP executive as “the small people.”
This party (and I know this may sound very strange to younger readers) actually pretty much governed this country between the early 1930s and the mid-1980s, controlling the presidency, the congress, and the judiciary indirectly through appointments to the Supreme Court. Even when another major party elected a president, that person largely accepted that promoting small people interests had to be an overriding priority. These were thus not only the fastest economic growth years in our history, but years when wealth was so widely spread among the entire American population that tens of millions of our citizens rose to the economic middle class, owned homes, sent their kids to college, and did it all without incurring debt they couldn’t long afford to service.
It’s true. I swear its true. Hard to believe, but true.
Of course, a lot of Americans were getting rich in those years, too, some quite rich. They did it by making things and providing needed services, not by concocting wave after wave of financial instruments of no intrinsic value other than balancing off the risks of previously spawned financial instruments. Not by employing lending practices that created a false sense of wealth among their fellow citizens while actually locking those so conned into New Age debt peonage. Not by undermining the once sacred right of individual privacy in various ways.
This political party I speak of did something you may find even more incredible. This party believed the government and the nation it represented had an obligation to alleviate poverty and even declared a war on poverty. While it certainly didn’t think much of socialism, which it properly understood as the public ownership of the means of production and distribution, it wasn’t paralyzed into spreading wealth more evenly via taxation by nonsensical screeches from what was then regarded as hysterical cranks who declared that genuinely progressive taxation was socialist.
Yes, we had a major political party in power in this country that actually did those things for 50 years. This country. Our very own country! And here’s the amazing thing, something you younger readers may find so very astounding. It was the Democratic Party!
The vestige, the remains, the rudderless, visionless, increasingly supine servant of those it once controlled and kept in check still exists. It’s sole claim on those who once held it dear these days is that the other major party is worse. Which is probably true, in the sense that one broken leg is better than two.
A party of the little guy. A party of the small people. A party that once upon a time would never, ever, allow the same Wall Street crowd that almost destroyed the world economy in 2008 to wrack up the largest bonuses in world history in 2009. A party that cares about the downtrodden and the temporarily in pain more than stuffing its campaign coffers with wads of free speech.
Once upon time, children. It existed here. Once upon a time…
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