Richardt Stormsgaard: How to ruin a good country in 50 years, or less
Up through 1970s the American working class was the envy of the world. High progressive tax rates and massive investments in infrastructure, research and development had created a wealthy middle class and a working class that was the envy of the rest of the world.
Moderates from both major parties created the civil rights and voting rights legislation in the 1960s, and a bit later environmental legislation.
A remarkable back-lash followed beginning during the Reagan era. A well-orchestrated media effort from right-wing extremists gradually developed into a very sophisticated campaign of anti-government messages with racist and sexist overtones. It found an enthusiastic audience with white blue collar voters, very often previously Democratic, who decade after decade voted against their own economic interests. These voter groups are responsible for electing increasingly right-wing Republican politicians, not Wall Street or corporate USA in general as claimed by the left wing. Since 1980 lower income Americans are uniquely the one group that has experienced income stagnation while other advanced countries have seen a three to four time increase in wages (2018 World Income Report).
One of the most effective lies peddled by the right-wing has been that the civil rights, voting rights, environmental legislation, along with the New Deal legislation from the 1930s, were examples of socialism. The historical fact is that this legislation was established by moderates from both major parties, not Socialists.
While U.S. mainstream media previously resisted the lie about our progressive legislation being Socialism it now appears that it is succumbing to the false narrative. The emerging Democratic left today has adopted this myth because it suits their narrative as they now try to claim progressive U.S. legislation that they had no influence on and no part in. They are pointing to countries like Denmark as examples of how well socialism works. This is another outright falsehood. It is yet another historical fact that the so-called welfare societies in Northern and Western Europe like the Danish model were established by Social Democratic/Labor Parties and liberal centrist parties with very minor to no socialist influence.
Bernie Sanders claims he wants the U.S. to become more like Denmark. But Denmark is not a socialistic country, and never has been. It is a thriving free enterprise society that is rated a better country in which to do business than the U.S., according to both Forbes and Business Insider. You will not find Danish Social Democrats railing against their millionaires and billionaires. Neither will the political leaders of the two smaller Socialist Parties (totaling 12% of voters), leaving the vilification of the creators of wealth and opportunity to their most extreme fringes.
The media, conservative and mainstream, have proclaimed the recent 2018 mid-term elections a great success for the left-wing of the Democratic Party. The seven leftist winners, like Cortez, Tlaib, and Omar, all winners of very liberal minority urban districts, not one remotely a swing district, along with Bernie Sanders, are celebrated almost daily as the face of a resurgent new Democratic Party.
The real lessons from the 2018 mid-term election are in fact very much different. An increasingly extremist Republican Party has alienated large voter groups because of their commitment to dismantle our social safety net and roll back civil and voting rights, and are now losing moderate voters in large numbers. Suburban white voters and particularly women are becoming seriously fed up, and as a result about 400 seats flipped in federal and state elections from red to blue all around this country.
Moderate Democrats ran on issues like better health care and more investments in education and infrastructure, and in the vast number of cases wanted no Bernie Sanders presence of any kind, because he would be the proverbial millstone around their necks. Minority women like Sharice Davids of Kansas and Lauren Underwood of Illinois beat four-term conservative incumbents in deep red districts by appealing to moderate voters. They have been largely ignored by media.
The media coverage of the 2018 mid-term elections is a frightening example of the extremes in U.S. politics having a shared interest in building each other up as the adversary in the very important 2020 election, and presenting the majority of Americans believing in common sense American values a painful choice between two deeply flawed extremist candidates tearing our country apart.
Richardt Stormsgaard lives in Nevada City.
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