(Loose response to an article here: http://www.slate.com/id/2304416/ )
Can violent unrest occur in America? The better question in response to that question is: “Do I even have to ask this question?” Not only is it likely, I imagine if the current trends in American politics and the reductionist/eliminationist speak continue, there will be a far larger response from the 95% residing below what I like to affectionately refer to as the “affluence line”. To me, if you make more than a quarter-million dollars a year, not only should you try to give back more, you should actively work to bring those around you up to your level or better. Succinctly: “paying it forward”. There is no further reason to believe that “trickle-down economics” or “the tide that lifts all boats” works, especially not after Fmr. President Bush Sr., Fmr. President Clinton (parts 1 and 2), Fmr. President G.W. Bush Jr. (parts 1 and 2), and President Obama have pushed effectively the same policies term-after-term with no visible improvement.
Here’s a run-down of what I see that’s wrong with our country currently:
Let’s face it: our economy is in the tank, and there’s no way in hell to get it out without bursting all of our bubbles, setting ourselves back to a base-line, and telling corporate America to sit on it and rotate. We can’t even get a budget bill passed through Congress without a Tea Party Republican foaming at the mouth and trying to tell everyone else what the role of government should be. The perceived “better era” of the industrial past (circa 1900) no longer exists, and will never exist again; at least, not unless we roll-back everything from the Civil Rights Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal (though everyone forgets there was a stipulation in that executive order that was ignored: Don’t Pursue), Medicare, Social Security, child labor laws, regulatory laws, food and drug safety laws… you could write an entire book filled with nothing but laws that the Tea Party Republicans would repeal (if of course they even let you live).
To be fair, not all Republicans are as demented as their Tea Party counterparts make them seem. Some are downright personable if (and only if) you get the opportunity to sit down with them and have a drink without the presence of the media. And to be equally fair, there are even fewer Democrats and Independents who have stood on their principles and have stood their ground even when they are in a losing battle. Democrats have cleaved to the center ever since they had their spines removed during the 80s and have not since re-grown them, which is plainly evident in the economic policies that they have “worked hard” on to appease “centrist” Republicans. The problem with that methodology is simple: Republicans have pulled the “center” so far to the right that centrist arguments from just a decade ago seem fairly progressive by comparison to today’s standards. Within the last decade, Republicans have introduced bills to create a single-payer healthcare system, mandate insurance coverage, regulate carbon emissions, protect our natural resources and environment, create “green jobs”, and even increase the minimum wage… yet, all of these are bills and topics that are now dead-on-arrival with the current Republican- and Tea Party-controlled Congress.
To be blunt: No single candidate and neither party has done their job in terms of getting our economy back on-track. Politicians are not proposing the kinds of measures that would save our failing economy, nor do they have any interest in doing so: their feet aren’t over the flames, nor will they ever be. These people are bought-and-sold because progressive candidates haven’t done their jobs and haven’t reformed campaign finance laws, haven’t rescinded corporate personhood clauses through legislation, and have actively worked against working-class Americans at every turn.
A few things that could be legislated right now and pushed through the current Congress with pressure from the public:
- Tax reform (flat income tax, transaction tax, fair tax, etc.)
- Minimum wage increase
- Public works bills (jobs)
- Infrastructure upgrades (jobs)
- Investment and entrepreneurial incentives (tax breaks, additional funding, etc… again, jobs)
- End military and economic support for Israel
- Begin peace negotiations in the Middle East between Israel, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran and Saudi Arabia
- Pull completely out of Iraq and Pakistan
- Begin a formal investigation into Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks (15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian)
- Pull all military forces from all bases not currently engaged in full wartime activities (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan)
- Populate military OPs (Observation Points) along the Mexico border and as much of the shore-line as possible to maintain a defensive posture
- Negotiate with the UN to allow nuclear reprocessing for peaceful power generation requirements
“You cannot simultaneously hope for peace and prepare for war.”
- Weapons of mass destruction
- Intent to harm the United States (either economically or militarily)
- Intent to invade another neighboring country
- Intent to manufacture weapons of mass destruction
- Gay marriage is still not an option in many cities (and in fact, gay men and women still face discrimination in job selection, housing, and schools)
- Social security, medicare, and many other programs are in danger of being cut
- Unemployment is at the highest point since the Great Depression, and Republicans seem to want nothing to do with any solutions that would add jobs to the economy immediately
- Income inequality and corporate malfeasance are wreaking absolute havoc on the ability of middle- and working-class Americans to resolve their debt problems and go to college
- Education funding is being slashed even as test scores drop, teachers are fighting for better working conditions, and alternative schooling programs are working to find private funding
- Campaign finance reform is at a stand-still
- Income tax is not collected fairly between different income levels (not to mention the fact that tax code reform still hasn’t left committee)
- Environmental regulation is stalled on the floors of Congress by Republican filibuster