According to news reports, around March 14 democrats in the
Senate managed to force the republicans into embarrassing votes
by proposing more funding for veterans health benefits and for
firefighters. Since revenue to fund these increases was to be
raised by repealing tax breaks for the very wealthy, republicans
voted to defeat them.
If their traditional ineptitude in such matters holds, democrats
will be unable to make much of these failures of care on the
part of republicans. If they try to make anything of these events
they will be accused of fomenting class warfare. In American
political-speak that means being leftist, and leftist equals
socialist if not communist. Confronted with this slam democrats
get that dejected and beaten look, acknowledging they have lost
the very short run nothing can be done about this dynamic. Discursive
channels are gouged out of the landscape by long running, thin
streams of talk. Change is certainly possible, however by educating
people about actual class warfare in 20th century America.
Ancestors of contemporary anti-class warriors opposed workplace
safety regulations, child labor regulations, workplace health
requirements, the freedom to chose a union or not, a minimum
wage ( and ALL increases thereof ever since), race equality,
gender equality, health insurance for the elderly and infirm,
all forms of consumer protection from cars unsafe at any speed
to securities fraud, and of course social security itself.
Having lost most of these anti-class struggles the anti-class
warriors turned their attention to money. Thirty years ago or
so American corporations paid about 17% of the total federal
take; today they pay abouty 7%. The income tax ceiling has been
reduced by about 60%. From 1950 to the end of the 70’s
the growth in the American economy benefited people at all levels
of income; from the late 70’s to the mid 90’s the
bottom 3/5 of the population lost some ground, and 98% of the
gain went to the upper 20%.
snips of history will not convince anyone to change political
orientation or party. But it is the sort of thing democrats
need to iterate in order to enrich the conversation about class
competition in America. It has been around for some time, it
is real, and it is not going away.