The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.
Showing posts with label Bill Moyers and Company. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bill Moyers and Company. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Dana Loesch: Typical NRA & American Racist Conservative









Yes, what she said I call controversial and flat-out racist. It isn't racist in the sense of overtly showing disregard for the many black mothers who appear on TV crying. No, it is much more subliminal. It is controversial and racist regarding Dana Loesch's exercising white privilege to the CPAC microphone ...and receiving accolades for spewing her racism.

Yet the spokesperson for the NRA is both highly paid, "controversial" probably deep core racist and a wanton titillation of white supremacists and Americna racists.  In 2017.  Bill Moyers and Company published a piece which illustrates how Dana Loesch serves the NRA and the millions across the nation who overtly and covertly subscribe to American racism.

Loesch last week at CPAC



Let's take a look and listen back to 2017.

"This post was first published on BillMoyers.com" (Linked here)



NRA Issues Call for White Supremacy and Armed Insurrection

The gun lobby's new "recruitment ad" is really a call for white supremacy and armed insurrection, deliberately crafted to stir anger and fear.

BY BILL MOYERS AND MICHAEL WINSHIP | JUNE 29, 2017

Take a look at the ad below and ask whether the National Rifle Association can go any lower. Ponder this flagrant call for violence, this insidious advocacy of hate delivered with a sneer, this threat of civil war, this despicable use of propaganda to arouse rebellion against the rule of law and the ideals of democracy.

On the surface, this is a recruitment video for the National Rifle Association. But what you are really about to see is a call for white supremacy and armed insurrection, each word and image deliberately chosen to stir the feral instincts of troubled souls who lash out in anger and fear:



Disgusting. Dishonorable. Dangerous. But also deliberate. Everything deplored by the NRA in the ad is committed by “they” — a classic manipulation turning anyone who disagrees with your point of view into “The Other” — something alien, evil, foreign.

“They use their media to assassinate real news,” “They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler,” “They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again.”

“And then they use their ex-president to endorse the resistance.”

Well, we all know who “they” are, don’t we? This is the vitriol that has been spewed like garbage since the days of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, blasted from lynch mobs and demagogues and fascistic factions of political parties that turn racial and religious minorities into grotesque caricatures, the better to demean and diminish and dominate.

It is the nature of such malevolent human beings to hate those whom they have injured, and the NRA has enabled more injury to more marginalized and vulnerable people than can be imagined. Note how the words “guns” or “firearms” are never mentioned once in the ad and yet we know that the NRA is death on steroids. And behind it are the arms merchants — the gun makers and gun sellers — who profit from selling semiautomatic rifles to deranged people who shoot down politicians playing intramural baseball, or slaughter children in their classrooms in schools named Sandy Hook, or who massacre black folks at Bible study in a Charleston church, or murderously infiltrate a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Watching this expertly produced ad, we thought of how the Nazis produced slick propaganda like this to demonize the Jews, round up gypsies and homosexuals, foment mobs, burn books, crush critics, justify torture and incite support for state violence.

It’s the crack in the Liberty Bell, this ad: the dropped stitch in the American flag, the dregs at the bottom of the cup of freedom. It’s a Trump-sized lie invoked to bolster his base, discredit critics, end dissent. Joseph McCarthy must be smiling in hell at such a powerful incarnation on earth of his wretched, twisted soul.

With this savage ad, every Democrat, every liberal, every person of color, every immigrant or anyone who carries a protest sign or raises a voice in disagreement becomes a target in the diseased mind of some tormented viewer. Heavily armed Americans are encouraged to lock and load and be ready for the ballistic solution to any who oppose the systematic looting of Washington by an authoritarian regime led by a deeply disturbed barracuda of a man who tweets personal insults, throws tantrums and degrades everything he touches.

Look again at the ad. Ask yourself: What kind of fools are they at the NRA to turn America into a killing ground for sport? To be choked with hate is a terrible fate, and it is worst for those on whom it is visited.

Take one more look, and ask: Why do they get away with it? What is happening to us? How long do we have before the fire this time?
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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Bill Moyers and Company: Trump’s Bigotry


This post was first published on BillMoyers.com



Trump’s Bigotry Revives Fears of ‘It Can’t Happen Here’

 Image from WIKI Commons (Not added by The Pardu)

Reading the coverage of Donald Trump’s latest philippic calling for the prohibition of Muslims traveling to the United States, I noted that some reporters and commentators mentioned Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 novel, It Can’t Happen Here, his imagining of a United States taken over by a fascist dictator.

That reminded me of a piece I wrote for the Bill Moyers Journal website five years ago. Substitute Trump for the names of right-wing circus barker Glenn Beck or Lewis’s fictional “Buzz” Windrip and the essay becomes freshly and frighteningly relevant. Fascism with a human face is back. Read on. — Michael Winship
* * * * * * * *
The Awful Price for Teaching Less Than We Know
August 31, 2010

Watching Glenn Beck’s performance Saturday at his “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington, DC, I thought of the novelist Sinclair Lewis’ Elmer Gantry, the charlatan evangelist who seduces most of those around him with his hearty backslapping and false piety.
Then I realized it wasn’t Gantry of whom I was reminded so much as another Lewis character, Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, the politician who poses as a populist, then once elected president turns the United States into a fascist dictatorship, aided by an angry, unknowing electorate and a paramilitary group called the Minute Men.
Glenn Beck speaking to the crowd during the rally (Luke X. Martin / Flickr CC 2.0)
Glenn Beck speaking to the crowd during the 2010 Restoring Honor rally (Luke X. Martin / Flickr CC 2.0)
Read how Sinclair Lewis described Windrip seventy-five years ago in his novel It Can’t Happen Here and think Beck: “He was an actor of genius. There was no more overwhelming actor on the stage, in the motion pictures, nor even in the pulpit. He would whirl arms, bang tables, glare from mad eyes, vomit Biblical wrath from a gaping mouth; but he would also coo like a nursing mother, beseech like an aching lover, and in between tricks would coldly and almost contemptuously jab his crowds with figures and facts — figures and facts that were inescapable even when, as often happened, they were entirely incorrect.
Entirely incorrect. In its despair and confusion, a large segment of the American populace is prepared to believe anything it’s told, in part because we are a country less and less educated, increasingly unable to tell fact from fiction because we are so unschooled in basic essential knowledge about America and the world.
I remembered a conversation my friend and colleague Bill Moyers had with journalist and author Susan Jacoby on Bill Moyers Journal in 2008, just after the publication of her book, The Age of American Unreason.
She cited a 2006 National Geographic-Roper Survey: “Only 23 percent of college-educated young people could find Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and Israel, four countries of ultimate importance to American policy on the map — a map, by the way, that had the countries lettered on it. So in other words, it wasn’t a blank map, [which] meant they didn’t really know where the Middle East was either… If only 23 percent of people with some college can find those countries on a map that is nothing to be bragging about. And that has to have something to do with why, as a country, we have such shallow political discussions.”
It’s not much of a leap from there to the Pew Research Center survey earlier this month reporting “nearly one-in-five Americans (18%) now say Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009. Only about one-third of adults (34%) say Obama is a Christian, down sharply from 48% in 2009.”
The jump in the “Obama is a Muslim” numbers is sharpest among Republicans (and a new Newsweek poll finds a majority of Republicans also believe that it’s “definitely” or “probably” true that “Barack Obama sympathizes with Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world”). But as New York Times blogger Timothy Egan noted in an entry headlined, “Building a Nation of Know-Nothings,” it’s “not just that 46 percent of Republicans believe the lie that Obama is a Muslim, or that 27 percent in the party doubt that the president of the United States is a citizen. But fully half of them believe falsely that the big bailout of banks and insurance companies under TARP was enacted by Obama, and not by President Bush.”
Back when Moyers spoke with Susan Jacoby about “the ignorance and erosion of historical memory that makes serious deceptions possible and plausible,” she cited as an example that, “If we don’t know what our Constitution says about the separation of powers then it certainly affects the way we decide all kinds of public issues.”
Is it any wonder that many Tea Partiers are equally unknowing of the fact that much of their grass roots movement is bankrolled by fat cats with ulterior motives like billionaire libertarians David Koch and his brother Charles?

According to a survey conducted last year by The American Revolution Center, a non-partisan, educational group, more than half of American adults “mistakenly believe the Constitution established a government of direct democracy, rather than a democratic republic,” a third don’t know that the right to trial-by-jury is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and “many more Americans remember that Michael Jackson sang ‘Beat It’ than know that the Bill of Rights is part of the Constitution.” (Sixty percent knew that reality TV’s Jon and Kate Gosselin had eight kids but more than a third did not know that the American Revolution took place in the 18th century.)

So is it any wonder that many Tea Partiers are equally unknowing of the fact that much of their grass roots movement is bankrolled by fat cats with ulterior motives like billionaire libertarians David Koch and his brother Charles, who, as a former associate told The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, seems to have “confused making money with freedom?” Or that continuing tax cuts for the rich while supporting deficit reduction are inherently incompatible concepts? Or that raging Islamophobia plays right into the hands of radical terrorists who use our bigotry to incite and recruit? Or that Glenn Beck just says whatever craziness pops into his head?
“It’s one thing to forget the past, with predictable consequences, as the favorite aphorism goes,” Timothy Egan wrote on the Times website. “But what about those who refuse to comprehend the present?”
Years ago, I attended a rally protesting government cuts in funding for education and the arts. One of the speakers suggested that we boomers may be the first generation to teach the next generation less than we know. That often-willful ignorance may turn out to be our final, fatal mistake, the greatest American tragedy of all.

Watch Bill Moyers and Susan Jacoby talk about “The Age of American Unreason”

Michael Winship is the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, and a former senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelWinship.
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Saturday, October 17, 2015

The GOP Southern Strategy Via Bill Moyers And Company

Bill Moyers and Company republished about the GOP's Southern Strategy which was originally published in The Nation. We should never underestimate the degree to which the strategy has shaped our nation, social interaction, social tolerance (the lack thereof), and political elections.  

Yes, the southern strategy reaches to your household as cloaked as the airborne dust that floats around as unnoticed as Co2. 


Why the GOP Crackup Is the Final Unraveling of Nixon’s ‘Southern Strategy’


The abrupt resignation of House Speaker John Boehner was his capitulation to this new reality. His downfall was loudly cheered by many of his own troops — the angry right-wingers in the House who have turned upon the party establishment. Chaos followed. The discontented accuse party leaders of weakness and betraying their promises to the loyal rank and file.

At the heart of this intramural conflict is the fact that society has changed dramatically in recent decades, but the GOP has refused to change with it. Americans are rapidly shifting toward more tolerant understandings of personal behavior and social values, but the Republican Party sticks with retrograde social taboos and hard-edged prejudices about race, gender, sexual freedom, immigration, and religion. Plus, it wants to do away with big government (or so it claims).

The party establishment, including business and financial leaders, seems to realize that Republicans need to moderate their outdated posture on social issues. But they can’t persuade their own base — especially Republicans in the white South — to change. The longer the GOP holds out, the more likely it is to be damaged by the nation’s changing demographics — the swelling impact of Latinos and other immigrants, and the flowering influence of millennials, the 18-to-30-year-olds who are more liberal and tolerant than their elders.

Nixon’s “Southern strategy” was cynical, of course, but it was an effective electoral ploy. Now, however, it is beginning to look like a deal with the devil. For 2016, the GOP has to cope with very different challenges. The party has to find a broadly appealing nominee who won’t scare off party moderates and independent voters, but who at the same time can pacify rebellious right-wingers and prevent a party crackup.

Looking over the list of possible nominees doesn’t reveal an obvious solution. Trumpish extremism is entertaining, but it could simply boost voter turnout among Democratic constituencies. Hard-core tea party types threaten to play Samson and pull down the temple if they don’t get their way.

* * *

To grasp the GOP’s dilemma, it helps to understand that the modern Republican Party was founded on some basic contradictions. It has been an odd-couple coalition that unites the East Coast Republican establishment with the hardscrabble segregationists of the white South. Richard Nixon brokered the deal with Dixiecrat leader Strom Thurmond at the ’68 convention in Miami, wherein states of the old slave-holding Confederacy would join the Party of Lincoln. It took two election cycles to convert the “Solid South,” but Nixon and GOP apparatchiks made it clear with private assurances that Republicans would discreetly retire their historic commitment to civil rights.

Scott Lilly, a liberal Democrat who for many years was the sagacious staff director of the House Appropriations Committee, explained the GOP’s intra-party fracas in that context. Boehner’s resignation, Lilly wrote in The Washington Spectator, “was, in fact, about the steady unraveling of a coalition that has allowed the Republican Party to hold the White House for 27 of the past 47 years and maintain a seemingly solid base for continuing control of the US House of Representatives.”

“The country clubbers don’t care about prayer in the public schools, gun rights…abortion and immigration.”

Nixon’s reconfiguration brought together “polar opposites among white Americans,” Lilly noted. The traditional wing of the party — “country club” Republicans, who include corporate leaders, financiers and investors — became partners with poor, rural, church-going voters, among them the Southern “segs” who had previously always voted for Democrats. Black Southerners didn’t count in the equation, since they were still mostly being blocked from voting.


After Congress enacted the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Lyndon Johnson confided to a White House aide, “I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come.” Nixon’s new Republicans became a formidable national party, Lilly explained, but they always straddled the tension between rich and poor.

“The problem,” Lilly said, “is that this latter group has almost nothing in common with the country club wing.… The country clubbers don’t care about prayer in the public schools, gun rights, stopping birth control, abortion and immigration.” On the other hand, common folks don’t worry over marginal tax rates, capital formation, or subsidies for major corporations.

“If they ever fully understood that their more prosperous party brethren were contemplating deep cuts in Medicare and Medicaid to pay for those policies, they would be in open rebellion,” Lilly observed.

Nixon and his successors hid behind ideology and obscured the contradictions by pursuing a strategy I would call “no-fault bigotry.” Every now and then, especially in election seasons, the Republicans played the race card in dog-whistle fashion to smear Democrats, with savage effect. The GOP never attempted to repeal civil-rights legislation but sought cheap ways to undermine enforcement and remind whites, South and North, that the party was on “their” side.

In his first term, Nixon himself made a memorable gesture by supporting federal tax subsidies for the private “seg academies” springing up across the South. He didn’t prevail, but he won lots of political loyalty among Southern whites — a generation of voters who had been raised to vote Democratic, but who were beginning to switch parties.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan opened his presidential campaign at the Neshoba County Fair in Mississippi — a few miles from where three civil-rights workers had been murdered in the 1960s. Reagan announced his intention “to restore to states and local government the power that properly belongs to them.” That is Dixie’s euphemism for opposing racial integration.

In 1988, George H.W. Bush smeared Michael Dukakis with his notoriously racist “Willie Horton” ads. In 1990 in North Carolina, Senator Jesse Helms ran for reelection against Harvey Gantt, a black former mayor of Charlotte, with a provocative ad called “white hands, black hands” attacking affirmative action. Helms won, and of course so did Bush.

It finally dawned on loyal foot soldiers in the odd-couple coalition that they were being taken for suckers.
In 2008, when Americans elected our first black president, most of the heavy smears came after Barack Obama took office. Grassroots conservatives imagined bizarre fears: Obama wasn’t born in America; he was a secret Muslim. Donald Trump demanded to see the birth certificate. GOP leaders like Senator Mitch McConnell — who had been a civil-rights advocate in his youth — could have discouraged the demonizing slurs. Instead, McConnell launched his own take-no-prisoners strategy to obstruct anything important Obama hoped to accomplish.

At least until now, Republicans have gotten away with this bigotry. As a practical matter, there was no political price. Democrats often seemed reluctant to call them out, fearful that it might encourage even greater racial backlash. Indeed, the Dems developed their own modest Southern strategy — electing centrists Jimmy Carter of Georgia and later Bill Clinton of Arkansas to the White House. But the hope that Democrats could make peace with Dixie by moderating their liberalism was a fantasy. Conservatives upped the ante and embraced additional right-wing social causes.
* * *
So what caused the current rebellion in the GOP ranks? It finally dawned on loyal foot soldiers in the odd-couple coalition that they were being taken for suckers. Their causes always seemed to get the short end of the stick. The GOP made multiple promises and fervent speeches on the social issues, but, for one reason or another, the party establishment always failed to deliver.

“We told people Obama was a dangerous socialist…when really we knew he was a moderate. But they believed us.”

This belated realization stirred the anger that has flared across the ranks of the followers — and not just in the South. The financial crisis, the bailout of the banks, and collapsing prosperity intensified their sense of betrayal. People began mobilizing their own rump-group politics to push back. The tea party protests were aimed at President Obama, of course, but they were also an assault on Republican leaders who had misled and used the party base for so long. Tea party revenge took down long-comfortable legislators and elected red-hot replacements who share the spirit of rebellion.

A Republican lobbyist of my acquaintance whose corporate client has been caught in the middle of the political disturbances shared a provocative insight. “I finally figured it out,” he told me. “Obama created the tea party.” I laughed at first, but he explained what he meant. “We told people that Obama was a dangerous socialist who was going to wreck America and he had to be stopped, when really we knew he was a moderate Democrat, not all that radical,” the lobbyist said. “But they believed us.”

In other words, the extremist assaults on the black president, combined with the economic failures, were deeply alarming for ordinary people and generated a sense of terminal crisis that was wildly exaggerated. But it generated popular expectations that Republicans must stand up to this threat with strong countermeasures — to win back political control and save the country. I suggested that racial overtones were also at work. “That’s your opinion,” the lobbyist said. “I don’t know about that.”

The point is, the grassroots anxieties were disappointed by the party establishment’s responses. The GOP kept denouncing Obamacare and predicting Obama’s failure, so it was a great shock to the rank and file when the president won reelection. He proceeded with executive action on immigration that further inflamed defeated conservatives.

Tea party patriots observed that once again the GOP had failed to deliver on their social discontents: Abortion was still legal. Gays were getting married. Republicans won control of both the House and Senate, but the leaders declined to shut down government or force the president’s hand in other ways. America was burning, they believed, but Washington didn’t want to disrupt business as usual.

If my lobbyist friend is right, the Republican establishment brought this crisis on itself by cynically manipulating its own rank and file. The party can’t deal with the real economic distress threatening the nation as long as rebellion is still smoldering in the ranks. Of course, that suits the interests of the country-club and Fortune 500 wing of the party — the last thing they want is significant economic reform. Confusion and stalemate have their political uses. On the other hand, the GOP can’t give the tea party rebels what they want without darkening its electoral prospects for 2016. Chaos to be continued.

The confusion and feared crackup may actually open a brighter path for future politics, because the country is changing, including among white Southerners. The most resonant political moment in 2015 may have been what occurred in South Carolina after the church massacre in Charleston. Many politicians fumbled around, not sure what to say, but GOP Governor Nikki Haley stepped forward and took ownership of the shame. She burned the Confederate flag, so to speak, by acknowledging that it is a symbol of hate and calling for its removal from conspicuous display, which the state legislature agreed to do. Other Southern states swiftly followed with similar moves.

This seems like a small symbolic gesture alongside the squalid history of racial oppression. But I think it signals a yearning for greater possibilities — a “New South” wishing it could truly escape the claustrophobic society created by the legacy of racial apartheid and the punishing social edicts imposed by demagogic preachers.

As recent events have made clear, the corporate partners who dominate the GOP coalition have their own strong interest in promoting progressive social change — their customers demand it, and their employees and overseas markets expect it.

Deep political change cannot reverse history in a single election cycle — it will take many elections — but Democrats have a great opportunity to force the question on the nation in 2016. Instead of playing limp and vague, Dems can launch what Howard Dean called for in 2004: a 50-state strategy that runs on liberating issues. Instead of ignoring GOP bigotry, the Democratic ticket can promise to challenge it on every front and attack reactionary Republicans who try to impose the past on voters.

Above all, Democrats should demand that tea party rebels explain why they are in league with a party that intends to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in order to finance more tax cuts for billionaires. As Scott Lilly suggested, if common folks ever understand the corrupt nature of the Republican coalition, we will see a popular rebellion that makes the present chaos look like, well, a tea party.


William Greider, The Nation
William Greider is a prominent political journalist and author who has been a reporter for more than 35 years for newspapers, magazines and television. Over the past two decades, he has persistently challenged mainstream thinking on economics. He is the national affairs correspondent for The Nation.
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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Social Democracy Vs Socialism And The Pathetic Mindset of Senator Claire McCaskill



Yes, I saw and heard Clarie (almost a Republican) McCaskill comment about Bernie Sanders as a "socialist"  and "extreme." We at the TPI know that Bernie sanders will not beat Hillary Clinton in the Democrat Party Primaries. A real shame actually as Sander is providing many sparks against a backdrop of utter Clinton snoozing.   Frankly, we are seeing more and more Bill Clinton; a past relic the Democrat Party should exercise a degree of platform reticence in the run to 2016.


McCaskill's remarks provided an impetus for a detailed and informative piece developed by Harvey J. Kaye and posted on Moyers and Company.


Bill Moyers and Company

Social Democracy Is 100% American


For some time we have feared that Republican politicians were losing their minds. Now it seems we must worry, as well, that Democratic politicians are losing their memories.
Appearing late last week on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri insisted that Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont “is too liberal to gather enough votes in this country to become president.” Indeed, responding to the fact that candidate Sanders is not only drawing big, enthusiastic crowds to campaign events in Iowa and New Hampshire, but also pulling within 10 points of frontrunner and party favorite Hillary Clinton in certain state polls, McCaskill said: “It’s not unusual for someone who has an extreme message to have a following.”

Extreme? McCaskill’s remarks indicate that we may be in more trouble than we thought. For some time we have feared that Republican politicians were losing their minds. Now it seems we must worry, as well, that Democratic politicians are losing their memories.

Clearly, McCaskill’s attack — which, to me, smacked of red baiting — was intended as a dismissal of Bernie Sanders’s candidacy based on the fact that Sanders, who has repeatedly won elections in Vermont as an independent and then caucused with the Senate Democrats, is a self-described “democratic socialist” or “social democrat.” And of course, we all know that social democracy is not just unpopular in the United States, it is un-American.

Well, think again. Social democracy is 100 percent American. We may be latecomers to recognizing a universal right to health care (indeed, we are not quite there yet). But we were first in creating a universal right to public education, in endowing ourselves with ownership of national parks, and, for that matter, in conferring voting rights on males without property and abolishing religious tests for holding national office.
Thomas Paine by Laurent Dabos
Thomas Paine by Laurent Dabos,
National Portrait Gallery (Wikicommons)


But there’s even more to the story. It was the American Revolution’s patriot and pamphleteer, Thomas Paine — a hero today to folks left and right, including tea partiers — who launched the social-democratic tradition in the 1790s. In his pamphlets, Rights of Man and Agrarian Justice, Paine outlined plans for combating poverty that would become what we today call Social Security.

As Paine put it in the latter work, since God has provided the earth and the land upon it as a collective endowment for humanity, those who have come to possess the land as private property owe the dispossessed an annual rent for it. Specifically, Paine delineated a limited redistribution of income by way of a tax on landed wealth and property. The funds collected were to provide both grants for young people to get started in life and pensions for the elderly.
Ladies Tailors Strike

Think again. The social-democratic tradition was nurtured by Americans both immigrant and native-born – by the so-called“sewer socialist” German Americans who helped to build the Midwest and, inspired by the likes of Eugene Debs and Victor Berger, radically improved urban life by winning battles for municipal ownership of public utilities. By the Jewish and Italian workers who toiled and suffered in the sweatshops of New York and Chicago but then, led by David Dubinsky and Sidney Hillman, created great labor unions such as the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and theAmalgamated Clothing Workers of America. By the farmers and laborers who rallied to the grand encampments on the prairies organized by populists and socialists across the southwest to hear how, working together in alliances, they could break the grip of Wall Street and create a Cooperative Commonwealth. By African-Americans who came north in the Great Migration to build new lives for themselves and, led by figures such as the socialist, labor leader and civil rights activist A. Philip Randolph, energized the civil rights movement in the 1930s.

And think again. Think about the greatest president of the 20th century, Franklin Roosevelt, whose grand, social-democratic New Deal initiatives – from the CCC, WPA and Rural Electrification Administration, to Social Security and the National Labor Relations Act — not only rescued the nation from the Great Depression, but also reduced inequality and poverty and helped ready the United States to win the second World War and become the strongest and most prosperous nation on earth.

Fighting for the Four Freedoms from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.
Fighting for the Four Freedoms from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Moreover, those we celebrate as the Greatest Generation, the men and women who confronted the Great Depression and went on to defeat fascism, fought for the decidedly social-democratic Four Freedoms – freedom of speech and religion, freedom from want and fear – and the chance of realizing them at war’s end.

Polls conducted in 1943 showed that 94 percent of Americans endorsed old-age pensions; 84 percent, job insurance; 83 percent, universal national health insurance; and 79 percent, aid for students — leading FDR in his 1944 State of the Union message to propose a Second Bill of Rights that would guarantee those very things to all Americans. All of which would be blocked by a conservative coalition of pro-corporate Republicans and white supremacist southern Democrats. And yet, with the aid of the otherwise conservative American Legion, FDR did secure one of the greatest social-democratic programs in American history: the G.I. Bill that enabled 12,000,000 returning veterans to progressively transform themselves and the nation for the better.

Nor did that generation of veterans give up their social-democratic aspirations. On reaching middle age in the 1960s, they enacted civil rights, voting rights, Medicare and Medicaid; established protections for the environment, workers and consumers; and dramatically expanded educational opportunities, especially in public higher education.

We ourselves honor America’s social-democratic history with two great monuments on the National Mall – not just the FDR Memorial, but also the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Yes,King was a democratic socialist. Drawing on the New Deal experience, embracing the American tradition of Christian socialism and peaceful activism, and believing, like so many of his generation, that Americans could harness the powers of democratic government to enhance freedom and equality, he campaigned for both racial justice and the rights of working people and the poor.

Senator McCaskill’s attack on Senator Sanders appears to have been launched on behalf of the Clinton campaign. Its rationale rests on the belief that, in the light of the past 40 years of conservative ascendancy and liberal retreat, her words were simple common sense: Aren’t we, as the talking heads tell us, acenter-right nation?

Well, no, we are emphatically not. And it is regrettable that by swallowing this myth, the present leadership of the Democratic Party, embodied in the Democratic National Committee has, in election after election, shrunk from some of the party’s best traditions in order to keep up in the race for campaign cash, even to the extent of marginalizing and openly scorning what is described as its “left wing.”

Indeed, when America’s purpose and promise have been in jeopardy we acted radically, progressively, and, yes, as social democrats. Hillary Clinton herself seemed to recognize the power of that history and its legacy by launching her new presidential campaign at New York City’s Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. Though she never did actually pronounce the words of FDR’s Four Freedoms, her speech revealed some awareness of a reviving — dare we say it? — social-democratic spirit? Whether simply tactical or genuine on her part is an important question that remains to be answered.

Bernie Sanders may never appear at Four Freedoms Park. But he sounds like FDR, not simply because you can practically hear him saying of the one percent what FDR did — “I welcome their hatred” — but all the more because of what he wants to do: tax the rich, create a single-payer national health care system, make public higher education free to all qualified students, create jobs by refurbishing the nation’s public infrastructure, and address the environment and climate change.

But even more critically, like FDR he doesn’t say he wants to fight for us. He seeks to encourage the fight in us: “It is up to us to launch the most heroic of all struggles: a political revolution.” If that is “extreme,” then Democrats like McCaskill are not just forgetting their history, but trying to suppress it.

That Sanders, given his background, is garnering huge crowds who shout his name with an enthusiasm reminiscent of the heyday of the People’s Party in the 1890s, radiates a special glow. Americans may once again be remembering who they are and what they need to do to recapture a government now in thrall to the Money Power. And that ain’t extreme. It’s fundamentally American.

Harvey J. Kaye is the Ben & Joyce Rosenberg Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the author of the new book The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great (Simon & Schuster). Follow him on Twitter: @harveyjkaye.
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