Democracy Requires a Middle Class
by HartmannRadio, Wed Sep 06, 2006 at 05:46:44 AM EDT
There's a battle waging today in America that will decide the future of the Middle Class.
On one side are those like Thomas Jefferson who believe that a free people can govern themselves and have the right to organize their government to create a strong middle class - which will, in turn, keep the government democratic. On the other side are those like Thomas Hobbes who believe that only a small elite can and should govern and that the people should be willing to pay the price of poverty in exchange for security.
Those who don't want democracy understand that a middle class will always work to create democracy, which is why they are so opposed to middle-class-creating government policies like free public education, limits on the concentration of ownership of the media, and social safety nets like universal health care and Social Security. They understand that such policies have, and always will, bring about a strong and vibrant middle class that will, in turn, both demand and create a more democratic society.
Who are these people who want to undermine the middle class? They often call themselves "conservatives" or "neo-conservatives," but these people are not true conservatives. They don't want to "conserve" or protect the America the Founders gave us. I call them "cons" because they are conning America.
My dad, for example, was a staunch Republican all his life, but he didn't believe that a small elite should rule America. He was glad the government provided safety nets like Social Security and Medicare and made unionization possible. Most real conservatives I have known believe in the middle class and believe in democracy.
The battle we face in America today is not between liberal and conservative, nor is it between big-D Democrat and Republican. The battle we face today is between those of us who want to protect our democratic heritage against the cons who want to create an America that benefits only a small elite organized around corporate power and inherited wealth...
It really began in full force here with Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton, and today its fruits are most obvious. For more than two hundred years, America was the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world. Today - after nearly three decades of the cons' economics and insane "free-trade" policies - we're the most indebted nation in the history of the world.
We've gone from being - pre-Reagan - the world's largest exporter of finished goods and the world's largest importer of raw materials to being - just over the past decade - the exact opposite. We used to import iron ore, make steel, make cars, and export them all around the world. Now Canadian and Mexican and German companies mine raw materials from mines they own in the US, ship the ore to their nations or to China, manufacture the finished goods, and sell those goods back to us - with dollars we give them in exchange for another few hundred billion dollars' worth of America every year.
There's no reason to let the cons screw us over. We must not stand by while our democracy becomes a corporatocracy, serving an elite group of billionaire CEOs. There is another way - and we've done it before. Thomas Jefferson knew how to build a middle class, which is why he founded the University of Virginia as a free college for anybody with the ability to attend. Franklin Roosevelt knew how. We can do it, too. We can re-create the America that built the middle class.
What is the radical middle? Find out more in Thom Hartmann's new book Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class.
Listen live to the Thom Hartmann Radio Program.
This diary was posted by breakingranks at the request of Thom Hartmann.
Tags: Conservatives, corporations, corporatocracy, corrupt bastards club, democracy, Economic Policy, Medicare, middle class, neo-cons, public education, radical middle, Screwed, Social Security, Thom Hartmann, Thomas Jefferson (all tags)