The Trump Org and its state propaganda arm, Fox News, are attempting to wear down our adrenals and exhaust our attention with a nonstop three-ring circus of nasty, stupid, and inflammatory tweets from the chief executive, systematic and deliberate propagation of falsehoods and distractionary decoy tactics by the president’s spokesmen and frontwomen, and breathless, minutely detailed MSM coverage of the daily revelations from Special Counsel Mueller. All of this turmoil is driven day and night by the micro-cycles of the Internet. It is a stressful, cruel and unusual political punishment.
This black-pill dark magic execution of the shock and awe Chaos Theory psy-opp attack on the American people through a complex ring of complicit, interconnected right-wing oligarch-owned media platforms is designed to sap our will to fight, sow division and confusion, and eliminate the critical distinction between genuine journalism and fake news meme factories. This is their nihilistic defense against political accountability. We cannot stand aghast at nothingness.
The renewed vigor of the American progressive movement, kicked off by the Bernie Sanders campaign, new young progressive stars like AOC in NYC, a powerful national woman-driven Resistance, an astonishing growth spurt for DSA all over the country and increasing amounts of hard data proving our case that a simple, straightforward, morally-grounded progressive agenda is quite popular with the American public.
As progressives have known for years, there is a real constituency for a 21st Century FDR-style New Deal. Forget about Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. We have yet to realize Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms as the normative and established American public policy baseline, in the law and in the culture. Roosevelt inaugurated his fourth term by proclaiming a new national vision that would have established the U.S. as an international moral leader and the model for an exemplary democratic republic.
In the famous Four Freedoms speech on January 6th, 1941, FDR (soon to pass on) declared that people in all nations of the world shared Americans’ entitlement to four freedoms: the freedom of speech and expression, the freedom to worship God in one’s own way, freedom from want and freedom from fear. We have been driven so far off course by decades of misrule since that day, that this once living social democratic mode of governance now seems like a utopian aspiration.
Since the great retrenchment in the post-1970’s era of seismic political, social and economic instability, the eclipse of Keynesian economics, and the political ascendancy in the 80’s of corporate neo-liberalism, the living standards and real wages of the great post-war American middle class have stalled out. The rise of Chicago School economics installed neo-liberalism as the hegemonic civilizational motif in the era of Reagan and Thatcher. They set about to dismantle the New Deal era structures and the culture of solidarity that had created an historically unprecedented era of shared prosperity and a broad social consensus that all classes would have a share in the wealth generated by new technology and increased worker productivity.
Sadly, that pernicious trend was accelerated by subsequent Democratic Administration’s neo-liberal triangulations and the successive waves of planned Republican demolition of the once robust public sector institutions. Then, alarmingly, the base of the Republican Party metastasized via a vast alternative media closed loop propaganda system, displaced the traditional conservative power brokers and has now devolved into an existentially dangerous authoritarian white nationalist political mega-cult.
We now have the Second Confederate president, and it is a shock to the system for liberals. In defense of my tribe of New Left comrades from the cultural revolution of 1968, the Gen X and Millennial critics of my generation should know that our clan did not sell out. We were defeated.
It has been fun to finally fly our democratic socialist freak flag freely since Sanders broke the Cold War spell. I am now content to have those theoretical discussions in an academic setting with peers, but DC political veteran Dr. Ron Willis (host of the KSVY 91.3 FM show ‘This Week in Politics’) has finally persuaded me that the S word is a hard sell in American politics. After strutting around with my red flag for the last two years, I am ready to fold it up until May Day. We have bigger fish to fry than posing as a boutique hipster political brand.
Democratic socialism is a noble aspirational goal for a future evolved humanity. My sadness, as an aging man, is to recognize that my fate is to be a Moses. I will not live to see the Promised Land.
The real work of a broad-based progressive movement is to build power through both electoral politics and creating durable movement institutions, separate from the short-term electoral focus of the Democratic Party. We will need courage, camaraderie, and inventive ingenuity to patiently build a mass-based progressive movement in the face of escalating national and global crises. The future belongs to those who plan and work for it. We are still on a long march just to get to a Second New Deal in America. That’s my horizon now.