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2/7/2017: Let’s Champion the Working Class – Just Like Jesus, by Dick Burkhart


When Donald Trump used the word "carnage" in his inaugural address, he was simply amplifying his home run hit with the US working class. It was a bloody nose for both the Democratic and Republican political and economic elites. Yet neither side wants to admit the failure of the divide and conquer strategies that proved so successful in the past. On the right they championed anti-abortion policies, balanced budgets, small government, and other dogmas of the “cultural wars”. On the left they championed women and minorities and upward mobility, and other aspects of “identity politics”, to much better effect. Yet both sides let the US working class be crushed by the juggernaut of global “free market capitalism”

    It was Reagan, of course, who led off the charge toward plutocratic capitalism. But it was Obama who wrapped it up with his multi-trillion dollar bailout of Wall Street (with a “get out of jail free” card for the banksters) and championed the retrograde TPP and ObamaCare (a.k.a. RomneyCare). The election of Trump represents the failure of these strategies, not just for the American working class, but for American democracy itself.

     True, a portion of the working class is still unionized or doing well enough. Yet the horrifying numbers show that the only Americans whose compensation has kept pace with the growth in GDP since 1980 are the top 1%, while much of the bottom 20% is actually worse off. The despair in much of Trumpland is so brutal that it has led to an astounding decline in life expectancy in much of the white working class, especially women. For these folks “white privilege” has become a farce, because the good jobs that used to come their way so easily are mostly gone.

     To fight back they fueled the faux Christian “cultural wars". It took them 35 years to figure out how they were being manipulated, abandoning Ted Cruz and for the sacrilegious Trump. They had already figured out that they’d get little help from Wall Street Democrats. Bernie Sanders could have turned this around, but he never got the chance.

     So why not invoke the real Jesus, who led the turning over of the tables of the money changers in the temple (the Wall Street of their day) and who preached how it would be easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. Of course, going after the filthy rich will be risky- after all, Jesus’ bold action led directly to his crucifixion.

     But at least we'd have a chance to reestablish democracy, both economic and political, and along with it the moral conscience, humility, and unity of purpose that we'll need to tackle existential threats like limits-to-growth instead of fracturing into a brutal, war torn world.


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