New coronavirus cases hit 50,000 yesterday for the first time as the epidemic continued to hammer the Sun Belt and West. Officials in many states are pleading with citizens to stay home for the Fourth of July weekend, or at least wear a mask if they go out. States that re-opened first seem to be the hardest hit. Collective action by a significant majority of Americans is the only thing that will keep the outbreak from once again cratering our economy and overwhelming our healthcare system–but can our citizens set aside their individual selfishness and act for the common good? Time will tell, but the situation would be a lot better if our president weren’t catastrophically irresponsible and derelict in his duty to lead by example.
The United States has a lot of problems. This isn’t new information. We’ve known for many years that American exceptionalism has been on the wane. Travel to another advanced country (pre-Covid) and the contrasts are immediate. Their airports are much nicer than ours and their rail systems are far more advanced. The difference in infrastructure almost seems like the difference between the Jetsons and the Flintstones. Their healthcare systems are better. They also tend to have a solid and satisfied middle class. This comparison could go on and on. American exceptionalism has sadly come to mean that we are exceptionally behind our peers in most of the ways that matter to our everyday lives.
It’s easy to focus on a particular part of our economy and list the things about it that don’t work, like healthcare. But it’s harder to see the bigger picture of how so many elements of our republic have been degraded, and then diagnose why. The New York Times published a fascinating article yesterday by David Leonhardt and Yaryna Serkez that shows in a series of simple graphs where the United States stands on a variety of economic metrics, like union membership, CEO pay, wages, and so forth. Here’s a link:
Yesterday’s blog argued that once we remove Trump and the corrupt Republicans from power, our first job as activists is to dismantle the right-wing lie machine led by the Fox “news” network. As long as they’re spewing lies, distortions and propaganda, our nation will remain divided and conservatives will remain artificially enraged.
Our second job will be to address the substance of this NY Times article. Almost every graph the NY Times displayed illustrated one overarching truth: Corporate power and CEO greed have hijacked our democracy to loot our citizens and accumulate wealth in the hands of the few. This piracy has only been possible because Republican (and a few Democrat) lawmakers have fostered it, assisted by right-wing courts. Republicans are bought and paid for by the CEO and billionaire class, and have been for decades. The Koch Brothers, the Murdoch family, the Mercer family, the Adelsons, Pete Peterson, Steve Schwarzman, the oil lobby, the gun lobby, the defense lobby, the pharma lobby–the list is endless. Republicans broke up unions, demonized collective bargaining, blocked efforts for fair wages, blocked healthcare-for-all, blocked drug pricing restrictions, blocked consumer protections, and gave a green light to the polluting and poisoning of our air, water and land. And they conned citizens into believing the fault lay elsewhere–women, minorities, immigrants, foreign nations, etc. Until we get corporate and billionaire money out of politics, at least one major political party will continue to do the bidding of American oligarchy in order to receive campaign cash at the dire expense of our citizens. This is real populism, and it should be at the forefront of our discussions as we approach the election.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”
Have a safe and peaceful holiday weekend. The next blog will post on Tuesday morning.