Fifty years ago, a remarkable thing happened in America. A pro-peace candidate, George McGovern, won the nomination for one of America’s two major political parties. Of course, McGovern went on to lose big time to Richard Nixon in the fall, but his rise within the Democratic Party, much of it driven by grassroots activism, still inspires hope.
McGovern was right in 1972 in his justly famous “Come home, America” speech after he gained the nomination. It’s time to end overseas wars and military adventurism and heal our divisions here at home. The big problem, of course, is that so many powerful elements within the U.S. thrive best when the masses are kept busy fighting each other.
A friend posted this image on Facebook, which sums up much of America’s predicament today:
To borrow from my father once again, in America the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. And the rich have neither sympathy nor use for the poor. Unless by “use” you mean soldiers for empire, cleaners for mansions, and so on.
What is to be done? People ask me this a lot, expecting me to have a magical solution. I say fight the best you can, using your skills and the tools at your disposal. But make sure you’re fighting the right people and forces. Don’t fight your neighbors within the terrarium. Fight the powerful who are preventing change by keeping us divided, distracted, and downtrodden.
Boris Johnson’s victory in Britain is generating predictable headlines in the USA. Scanning the New York Times this morning, I saw a headline suggesting the Democratic Party is drifting too far to the left to win in 2020. What arrant nonsense.
In the mainstream media, political issues in America are almost exclusively presented in terms of left and right. Again, this is nonsense, because America has no leftist party. We have two rightist ones: the Republicans and the moderate Republicans, otherwise known as Democrats.
In America, the true political divide isn’t about left-right; it’s about top-down, as in the richest Americans and corporations against the rest of America. When Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Jeff Bezos are worth as much as the bottom 50% of Americans (that’s 160 million people), do you think top-down disparities in wealth and power might just be a bit more important than left–right issues?
At least Warren Buffett is honest about this. “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” The only candidate who’s willing to tackle this issue consistently, Bernie Sanders, is the one who’s either ignored or vilified as extreme by the mainstream media.
Sanders is right. America needs a political revolution, one in which workers’ concerns would finally take first rather than last place. And that has nothing to do with being a leftist or rightist.