“…by 1934 money was moving out through PWA [The Public Works Administration] into the hands of contractors, manufacturers, engineers, laborers, truckers, carpenters, architects, and deep into the arteries of the economy.”
– James MacGregor Burns, Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox, 1956
“Forty-seven percent of self-identified Democrats describe themselves as economic and social liberals, according to a Gallup poll released last June (2016). That’s up from 39 percent in 2008 and 30 percent in 2001, the year Bill Clinton left office.”
– Jordan Fabian, The Hill, 07/04/16
“The truth is that when a human being is not eating, drinking, sleeping, making love, talking, playing games or merely lounging about – and these things will not fill up a lifetime – he needs work and usually looks for it, though he [or she] may not call it work. Above the level of a third- or fourth-grade moron, life has got to be lived largely in terms of effort…Cease to use your hands, and you have lopped off a huge chunk of your consciousness.”
– George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, 1937
“Hillary Clinton understands that we must fix an economy in America that is rigged and that sends almost all of the new wealth and income to the top 1%. Hillary Clinton understands that if someone in America works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty. She believes, we all believe, that we must raise the minimum wage to a living wage.”
– Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 07/12/16
What goes around comes around, eventually. Today’s Democrats nationwide are finally beginning to rediscover what New Deal Democrats always knew, and what Republican leaders have long known and feared: the average voter wants government to work for them, as well as it does for the well-connected in Wall Street and for their local fat cats.
People can only be successfully distracted from the enlightened self-interest of guarding their pocketbooks, at election time, by appeals to the darker sides of their human nature, and for a limited amount of time.
Upon reflection, they realize that their legitimate fears are better-handled by responsible legislators than screamers and shouters who currently hold a majority in the House of Representatives, and the cynical deniers of executive government legitimacy who hold a majority in the Senate.
In 2016, folks are realizing that you can’t build highways and hospitals from Tea Bags, or Tea Party rhetoric that stymies Congress from passing infrastructure, public health and safety funding that benefit us all, not just the favored few.
Voters from every station of life, among the rest of us 99%, fear the loss of our daily bread, even more than the daily menaces that fear-mongering conjures up on FOX news, Rush Limbaugh, and press conferences of Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI).
The bloody menaces of real terrorism and religious and racial hatreds are also coming to be viewed as better handled by those who have striven to make government work, rather than diminish its effectiveness: ie., Democrats; and that vanishing breed, moderate, conservative Republicans. Right wing Republicans who earn a government salary, but do everything they can in word and deed to degrade the effectiveness of government, are coming under increasing public scrutiny.
Former chair of the North Dakota Republican Party, Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), for example, has been making his livelihood at public expense since 1993 (State Tourism Director, 1993-1997; State Economic Development Director, 1997-2000; North Dakota Public Service Commission, 2003-2012; U.S. Congress, 2012-Present).
While North Dakota and U.S. taxpayers have been helping Kevin Cramer bring home the bacon for his family, however, Congressman Cramer has dedicated his political life to opposing public policies that would allow so many of his fellow citizens to provide for their families.
The idea of a raise in the minimum wage appalls him.
Congressman Cramer also rails against climate change realities that diminish our use of coal as a source of energy production, but has no use for serious infrastructure (highways, hospitals, water, sewer, public health and public safety, etc.) bills in Congress that could provide substantial numbers of construction jobs for coal industry workers and others in North Dakota and around the country, who are displaced by alternate fossil fuel and green energy production.
Democrats, and a minority of moderate Republicans in today’s Tea Party Congress, on the other hand, support construction jobs that would benefit those displaced from coal; as well as provide a principled support of Social Security and other government programs which, since the time of the New Deal, have preserved the income from these hardworking folks into retirement.
Congressman Cramer’s cover, like that of most hard-line conservatives, has been that business is somehow more efficient than government.
Efficient for whom?
The wealthy and well connected? Certainly. The rest of America? Not so much.
Republicans, like Democrats, know very well that government stimulus to the economy creates real jobs, with real income going directly into the national economy. President Reagan did this very thing on becoming President in 1981, even though his public stance was that “government was the problem.” This stimulus was thus, only a temporary fix, as it was not a sincere commitment to proactive uses of governmental action. On the contrary, the Reagan administration’s “trickle down” slogan masked an actual “trickle up” philosophy, that involved a greater and greater transfer of public resources to the private sector, and a greater and greater transfer of wealth from middle class incomes to the wealthiest 1%.
The privatizing mania that set in soon after the initial Reagan stimulus, eventually produced government that was less efficient than it had been, or could be, and so fulfilled the dreams of right wing ideologues. But the nightmare of the 2008 economic meltdown exposed the fraud that is in inherent in a “greed is good” philosophy, and contributed to the successful presidential candidacy of Democrat Barack Obama.
Rather than recognize the error of their ways, Republican leadership in Washington, D.C. decided to concentrate on the color of President Obama’s skin (albeit covertly) as a timeworn appeal to divisive forces in American history, and to overtly obstruct any and all legislation that came to Congress from the White House.
This strategy succeeded in the short run in 2010, a crucial census year that controlled redistricting of House seats, and allowed for further obstruction of reasonable forms of government efficiency on behalf of Americans, in all but the area of tax breaks for the wealthy. In 2016 it produced Donald Trump.
Buyer’s remorse on behalf of Republicans at the prospect of their presumptive nominee for President, won’t cut it. Whether or not he becomes the nominee for President of the Republican Party, Mr. Trump’s capture of the required plurality of delegates going into their Convention in Cleveland, is a logical result of Republican’s hidden code messages of racism and religious bigotry, all too obvious among Tea Party members of Congress since 2010. Donald Trump merely brought these visceral and vicious thoughts out into the open, thereby destroying his opposition in the Republican primaries. In terms of “national health,” one could say that Mr. Trump has done a kind of public service by “lancing a boil,” with the puss of fear and loathing being brought out into the air, where it can be treated with ointments of reason, conscience and compassion.
Like his fellow congressional Tea Party devotees of “The Donald,” Kevin Cramer has put himself squarely in the way of economic progress for working people, whether their shirt collars be “blue” or “white.”
As Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) puts it, “if you want the country to go in reverse, just put it in “R” for Republican, if you want the country to move forward, you put it in “D” for Democrat. In no other year of recent memory, has such a choice seemed so clear.
Kevin Cramer described his recent meeting in North Dakota with Donald Trump, as one which “changed his life.”
Looking ahead to November, one can only hope, for the sake of those who would like to support “family values” with some decent family income, that such a “transformative experience” changes Congressman Cramer, as well as a substantial number of his Republican/Tea Party associates, into “former Congressman Cramer.”