Pres. Donald Trump’s proposed budget would slash the social safety net to ribbons, while continuing the process of dismantling or privatizing virtually all parts of the U.S. government that don’t directly benefit the war machine.
In response, Bernie Sanders and the Democrats have come out SWINGING with a comprehensive and radical list of human-rights centered amendments. They’re even threatening to SHUT DOWN the government! …Just kidding. They promised to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2024.
By TWENTY TWENTY-FOUR?!
Activists on the left often declare that “a budget is a moral document,” meaning that it isn’t merely numbers but a reflection of the ethics and values of those who propose it or vote for it. The Republicans’ budget proposal reflects an administration that is profoundly morally bankrupt. Food stamps, Medicaid, Social Security disability benefits, student loans, and even farm subsidies all face deep cuts, ensuring that a diverse cross section of the middle and working class will all suffer under the Trump budget, with the most vulnerable people (children and the disabled, for example) suffering most of all.
By contrast, the Democrats’ weak-willed response to the budget, and their overall lack of actual measurable “resistance” to our corporatocracy, reflects an ongoing disconnect from some of the voters that once represented their core demographic. Years of neoliberal policy-making combined with near-constant compromise with the right (and with their ethics) created the atmosphere of voter disenfranchisement and apathy which helped usher Trump into office. This is more of the same.
I don’t see any sign that the Dems can turn things around in time for 2020, much less 2018. Not only will gerrymandering, Interstate Crosscheck and other racist anti-voter programs continue to keep millions of people away from the polls, few of those who can vote are likely to be motivated by promises that life might get a little better IN SIX YEARS if we just hold our nose and vote Democratic again.
It took years of protest by activists like Fight For 15 to even get this far. Remember, Hillary Clinton opposed a $15 an hour minimum wage, suggesting we go with $12 instead — despite the fact that the minimum wage would be over $21 now if wages had kept up with income distribution and buying power.
Cities like Seattle (and soon, potentially, Minneapolis) are already raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, while 19 states increased their minimum wage at the start of 2017. Most of these changes have come through the dedicated efforts of everyday workers and labor organizers, proving once again that we must rely on people power, rather than political parties, if we have any hope of building a better future.
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For more on this topic, watch Lee Camp’s Moment Of Clarity: “Is A Two Party System Really Democracy?“