Many readers of my online columns have recently expressed feelings of both anger and resignation. The elections seemed to “push a dagger” into the heart of progressive ideals. Many hoped that the public would vote Democratic over Republican to stop this assault on our civil liberties, our treasury, and American “fair play” philosophy. Other progressives shouted before the elections that it was “too late”- the mainstream Democratic party had already AGREED with the Bushes on much of the above. What would the elections prove?
Alas, hopelessness fills the air. We tune in the radio and the boob tube to witness endless talk shows promoting the “soon to be war”. Rarely is dissenting opposition ever offered. “Showdown with Saddam” has become television’s title of choice. It is no longer “IF” we go to war, rather “WHEN and “HOW”. The only concerns seem to be “how long will we have to stay”, not “how many soldiers and civilians will die” or “how many future acts of terrorism will this invasion incite”? Few debates are aired about “anti terrorism” laws that allow for random eavesdropping of our e-mails, our phone conversations, our credit card bills, all without the decades old mandatory court order. If Big Brother thinks you are “them”, you become targeted. What the media fails to mention is that activisits and dissenters can easily get “labeled” as terrorist supporters.
Moving on, the elections did not offer voters a choice about MONEY, meaning how to take less from column E and D and C and B, while taking more, much more, from column A (the super rich). If one reads Kevin Phillips excellent study “Wealth and Democracy”, one sees how much the top 1% of this nation earns (or controls via inheritance). The “insult to injury” is that most of the Congress, continually bought and paid for by the column A’s, legislated so that the top bracket for federal income taxes be capped at around $150k per year. Someone who earns $150k or $300k per annum is treated the same as the 1% who may earn $5 or $10 or $50 million–all sharing the top rate of 39.6% (year 2000). In 1980 it was 70%, in 1970 it was 71.75%, in 1960 it was 91% (capped at $400k per year in 1960 dollars). When you examine Corporate tax rates, it becomes even more obscene! Many companies no longer even have to pay a MINIMUM corporate tax, instituted under (of all people) Reagan, because, through loopholes, they avoid paying taxes completely!
When people like my old Brooklyn pal Carmine, a usually non political person, come out strongly for a “Maximum Income”, then we know things are bad.
So, progressive thinkers are depressed. What to do? Putting our heads in the sand won’t solve anything. Taking to the streets will brand us as “crazies” by the “sleeping majority”. The only answer, in this writer’s eyes, is to do what great college coaches have done. Take a guy like a Rick Pitino. Great basketball mind–great leader, excellent teacher. Pitino has a history of going into programs in disarray and “turning them around”. Here’s the key: the very fact that the teams were losing gave Pitino the impetus to a) be hired and b) do as he pleased to turn things around.
Progressive Americans must now take the gauntlet. We must organize “Progressive Democrat clubs”, advertise and hold meetings locally, and “push” our way into that decadent and corrupted party. Weeding and pruning that once proud garden of democratic and economically fairer ideals- but first pulling out the weeds! They know who they are, those weeds: they who “slept” with the corporate honchos; they who sacrificed principles for “posture”; they who walked out on Sen. Byrd as he held the Constitution in his arm, cradling it like a precious babe. They who followed, like lemmings over the cliffs of reason, this shameful administration and its disregard for the Bill of Rights and Due Process. Finally, the weeds who turned their heads at calls for Clean Election Laws, National Health Insurance, fairer taxation and the end to this “War Economy, War Mentality”. Think how much the reduction of this “arsenal of overkill” weaponry could accomplish economically? How many new schools a B-1 bomber can build? How many millions of doctor visits one nuclear warhead could subsidize? And on and on.
So, true progressives, the choice is yours. One of my role models, the man from Galilee said: “the path to salvation is a narrow one, full of turns”. I think he said that. If he didn’t then I guess I’ll take credit for it. After all, if I must share my role model with “The Man Who Would Be President”, ya gotta cut me some slack, now dontcha?
PHILIP FARRUGGIO is a baby boomer Brooklyn NY born bred and educated (Brooklyn College ’74), Currently, he resides in Florida and is self employed as a mfg. rep for an environmental bacteria company. Philip writes for many publications as a free lance columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org