We Are Not A People Divided
A version of this article was previously published in the Wausau Daily Herald
It is said that Americans are divided, that conservatives and progressives have irreconcilable differences represented by the Republican and Democratic parties. But perhaps a more accurate assessment is that we have been deliberately divided and are no longer represented by either political party. Perhaps we are not as divided as we think.
Conservatives and progressives alike feel anger for the looting of Americans that occurred in the bailout of Wall Street banks. We are united in our belief that there should be criminal prosecutions at the highest levels of the financial sector – that “too big to fail” banks must be broken up and reregulated. We are united in our desire for a financial transaction tax limiting the casino capitalism of hedge funds that buy and sell the lives of working Americans like so much fodder – united in our belief that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy should have been terminated, that offshore tax havens for the richest Americans and corporations must end.
Virtually all but the wealthiest Americans feel hatred for the Supreme Court “Citizens United” decision giving personhood to corporations. We are disgusted that elections are sold to the highest bidder.
Americans of all political stripes oppose cuts to social security. We understand there is no true lack of funding for this vital earned benefit and that future shortfalls can be easily corrected by raising the payroll tax cap to a level reflecting decades of inflation. President Bush’s effort to privatize social security for the benefit of Wall Street was universally opposed, and President Obama’s attempt to link cost of living adjustment to the Chained CPI met similar resistance.
Conservative and progressive citizens are united in their disgust at the current level of income inequality. In 2013, the income of the highest earning 8 Americans exceeded the combined income of 1,401,069 public school teachers west of the Mississippi, hedge fund manager George Soros made $1.9 million per hour, and average CEO pay for typical corporations was over $10 million, or $192,000 per week. Few average Americans feel such income levels are legitimate.
The list of issues uniting us goes on, and Americans of all persuasions are beginning to realize their neighbor is not their enemy. They are realizing they have been the victim of divide and conquer strategies pitting us against one another while hiding the true culprits responsible for our economic woes. Americans are realizing there is no longer a level playing field – that “government debt” and “spending cuts” are rigged games used to plunder the public domain through “privatization” and cut social programs vital to hard working conservatives and progressives alike. They are realizing their government has been abducted, that it has become the servant of money.
Two words must become familiar to all Americans: Plutocracy – government by the wealthy, and Oligarchy – government by the few, or government in which a small group exercises control for corrupt and selfish purposes. There is a divide in America, but it is not between conservatives and progressives.