October 25, 2014
As the Editor of AlterNet for 20 years, I have read and seen the entire range of horrendous and growing problems we face as a society and globe virtually every day. It is not just climate change, or ISIL, or Ferguson, or poverty and homelessness, or more misogynistic murdering of women, or the Democrats about to lose the Senate as Obama gets more unpopular. It is much, much more. Every day. It passes by before my eyes. At AlterNet, there are no issue silos—there is just the open faucet of depressing political information coming and going every hour of every day (with the occasional story of success and inspiration).
So I am sorry to share my deep-seated opinion, which should jibe with anyone who is paying attention. After decades of engagement in progressive politics and media, it is very clear to me: we progressives, liberals, common sense people, are losing badly to the conservative business state, the tyranny of massively expanding tech companies, theocratic right-wing forces and pervasive militarism, home and abroad. By virtually every measure, things are getting worse. And are trending much, much worse in ways we can easily measure, like inequality, climate, militarization of police forces, etc., and in ways that are more psychological and emotional.Americans are very pessimistic: 76 percent of respondents in a Wall Street Journal poll did not feel confident that their children’s generation will have a better life than they. That’s up from 60 percent in 2007. Optimism for Americans peaked in 2001. The percentage of American adults who believe the country is on the wrong track jumped eight percentage points just this summer, to 71 percent, the WSJ poll found.
And Americans dark views of the future are rational, as their lives have become so much more difficult and depressing. People are working longer hours, working far past previous retirement age—if they can retire at all. Many Americans do not take vacations. And many Americans of all ages can’t find good jobs, or can only find low-paying and often part-time work, which causes their lifestyles to plummet. College graduates are burdened with heavy debt.
Younger generations know that the perhaps romantic notion of the American Dream, for most people, lies in the trash bin. Over the past 15 years there was more than a 50 percent increase in people thinking there is a lack of opportunity in America (it is now just about half of all Americans). And 59 percent of Americans believe the American Dream is impossible to achieve for most people.
In terms of inequality, The Huffington Post wrote: “more than 45 million people, or 14.5 percent of all Americans, lived below the poverty line last year, the Census Bureau reported. … The annual income threshold for being counted as living in poverty was $11,490 last year for a person and $23,550 for a family of four.”
Poverty is particularly dire for single mothers: A third of all families headed by single women were in poverty last year—that’s 15.6 million such households. The black poverty rate was 27.2 percent. … More than 11 million black Americans lived below the poverty level last year. About 42.5 percent of the households headed by single black women were in poverty. The Hispanic poverty rate was 23.5 percent.”
The Long March Toward Conservative Corporate Dominance
The relentless push for the conservative anti-government business agenda, that has created most of reality described above, has been underway for more than 40 years, since the age of Reagan. The infamous and ubiquitous Koch Brothers, and dozens of very conservative, super rich allies, joined the right-wing corporate band wagon post Reagan, when their Libertarian electoral efforts fell flat. They then used their massive money, infrastructure and energy to turn the existing propaganda, political and business lobbying machine into a juggernaut.
So now the corporate, business-state power nexus, which includes the political arms that have a range of conservative political entities—from fundamentalist religious groups to the Tea Party—has it all. There are large numbers of organizers, highly visible gatherings of the faithful, and a powerful media and online presence—complemented too often by an eagerly compliant corporate media which repeats reactionary and business state talking points like stenographers (as often even does progressive media). There are thousands of paid conservative talking heads on all the news shows, lavishly funded think tanks, and of course the omnipresent Fox which hugely dominates cable news and influences public attitudes more than any other media. And the leaders of this conservative colossus really hate to lose. Thus they hold people accountable to get results. They are relentless, not unlike many other fundamentalists across the globe, who are intent on imposing their will and crushing their enemies.
Sure, the torch-keepers of the corporate agenda may lose elections along the way, but they now can pretty much stop any major laws from passing in America on the national level. They have tilted our politics far enough in their direction, that the public at large lacks the leverage to regain the balance, to protect most things that we believe in. It is not clear when, or even if we can regain the balance.
To read the rest of this op-ed, click here.
Curated from www.alternet.org