At this point it is still a matter of if rather than when there will be a rollback of conservative elites’ several decades of triumphant onslaught against America’s workers, middle-class, working poor and poor. In a sense, the President’s new jobs proposal takes a baby step, seeking to stimulate the economy and create jobs in the short term, by taking a half a teaspoon of breaks away from the pampered class in order to finance the stimulation. His long-term deficit reduction plan tilts slightly back in the direction of fairness and middle-class empowerment. But again, these are only proposals, and the Royalist Party, as everyone from sea to shining sea understands with certainty will obstruct them with nihilistic, absolutist finality.
To this point, the Obama administration, despite what many of us expected, has refrained from making any full scale, over-arching thematic case against what has been very methodically inflicted on the country for thirty years, attempting a broadly aimed campaign to educate the American people as to how specifically this was accomplished, and to gain their full-throated support in turning the tide against what has been an unmistakable and brutal class war. In other words, a philosophical pivot, or more accurately revolution on a scale commensurate to that Ronald Reagan and a cadre of ideological hard cases, and influential money bags, launched in the 1980s on behalf of a restoration of feudalism, American style.
Assessing losses in this very real war should make one’s head twirl. Upward mobility in these United States is as of now, a thing of the past. Intergenerational mobility, meaning a generation’s ability to move above the socio-economic condition into which it was born, an American expectation that for much of its history made America the envy of the world now is greater in Canada, all of the Scandinavian countries and all of the European nations other than Great Britain, than it is in these United States. During the Robber Baron era 1% of America’s citizens acquired 18% of the national income. Currently the top 1% acquires 24% of income. Twenty-five years ago the wealthy took home only 12%. During the middle of the century, from the Progressive Era through the New Deal, and then on through the post-war era, this process was sharply reversed (the bad old days according to the American Right), income disparity leveling out in what was known as The Great Compression. As for percentages of the national wealth, twenty-five years ago the top 1% controlled 33% of the wealth. Today that 1% controls a full 40% of the national treasure.
In the 1970’s CEOs were taking home 30 times what their workers made. As of 2009, the ratio of CEO to worker pay was 263 to 1. Top marginal tax rates for the wealthiest remained at 70% until the early Eighties when Reagan slashed them in half. Other than a minor increase during the Clinton years, and after further reductions under George Bush, the wealthy have enjoyed decades of the lowest taxes in history, the tax burden dramatically, and it now appears permanently, shifted predominately onto the backs of the middle class. America’s neediest have all but evaporated from public concern or public notice. Assistance has slowly but surely eroded. Republicans spend brazenly on whatever they please (defense contracts, elective wars, tax reductions for the rich) when they control the government. Then of course, deficits they themselves created are used with contemptuous and unconcealed hypocrisy to attack the sustainability of programs for the middle class and poor when they are out of power. Flim and flam.
If anything the Royalist Party is fiercer today than ever in defending the interests of the small but powerful groups it favors, ever protective of every tax or subsidization luxury, or other benefit for the wealthiest and corporations; truculent as they ever have been in opposition to regulations on behalf of America’s consumers, to any and every attempt to impede predatory or exploitive financial or business practices of which ordinary people are victims. Certainly you will find no defense of the cleanliness of the water or the air among Royalist concerns, the abusers and their profits the only constituency the Royalist Party gives a royal fig about.
Money and concentrated power rule the democratic process to a degree surely unprecedented. A corporation ensorcelled and Royalist majority on the Supreme Court has gone so far as to fully anthropomorphisize the corporation, deeming it to be a human being (Is that you, mom?). Along with the influence and power of lobbyists one could say the nation has remained procedurally democratic while in effect isn’t. As I write, the Royalist legions are at work across the many states waging a coordinated and determined effort to suppress the votes of the alrady isenfranchised, this class war having reached the point of literally disenfranchising the old the young and the poor of the most fundamental right they still retain,the right to vote. Unless thwarted, the result will be the last gasp of “democratic” influence for millions of Americans over any say in their future fate in America.
None of this was any accident: it was the result of specific, calculated behaviors on the part of businesses and corporations; and the long-range agenda of their enablers, carried out over time by a highly focused Republican political class. Were this a more explicitly literal battlefield, one surely would be shocked to see the bodies of 90% of the population strewn across it from end to end, America’s captains of industry and its plutocrats and Royalist Republican generals satisfyingly reviewing the carnage. If only the nation’s middle-class could see the rout of themselves depicted in such visceral terms. What would their reaction be?
Aside from an emboldened President Obama, or a future leader determined to lead a specific and concerted campaign against this reprehensible class war conducted on behalf of concentrated wealth and power by the Republican Party against American workers and the American middle class, it is hard to envision anything more than a continued futile, unsuccessful clawing back against the onslaught.
And any reversal of such a class war certainly would involve enough Americans digging out from their burial under years of Republican propaganda and falshoods to realize they’ve been under persisting and increasingly brutal assault for decades now. Because in fairness, the extent to which some American voters in their misdirection, inattentiveness and ephemeral inclinations are complicit in the success of this royalist Republican class war isn’t incidental.