Monday, May 11, 2009

No Square Deal Today

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Reading Jane Hamsher's rundown of the Democratic lobbyists in DC who are working against President Obama's proposal for credit card rights legislation, which followed her smackdown of the folks who have been spending millions to prevent mortgage renegotiation (AKA "cramdown") makes me mindful of the person who said this:

Practical equality of opportunity for all citizens, when we achieve it, will have two great results. First, every man will have a fair chance to make of himself all that in him lies; to reach the highest point to which his capacities, unassisted by special privilege of his own and unhampered by the special privilege of others, can carry him, and to get for himself and his family substantially what he has earned. Second, equality of opportunity means that the commonwealth will get from every citizen the highest service of which he is capable. No man who carries the burden of the special privileges of another can give to the commonwealth that service to which it is fairly entitled.

I stand for the square deal. But when I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service...

Wikipedia: Theodore Roosevelt

It's emblematic of our times that the person who said this was a Republican President. The reason it's emblematic is that these are the words of Theodore Roosevelt, who was President a little more than a century ago.

While it hasn't given up its bellicose foreign policy or its fetish for a huge military, today's Republican Party has certainly given up giving the working people of this country any thought. Today, it seems utterly ironic that a GOP leader would rate his potential successor as a progressive, and think of that as a good thing. Not long after, though, the Republicans gave up that concern for ordinary Americans in exchange for the corruption of Warren Harding and the indifference of Herbert Hoover.

Twenty years later, Teddy's cousin Franklin Roosevelt would make the Democratic Party the progressive party. With the coming of the Democratic Leadership Council, the Democratic Party has largely abandoned the idea of a square deal in favor of wealth and corruption. Now, we have no party that truly represents the 95 percent of us who haven't benefited from the last thirty years.

It might seem that I'm counseling despair when I write this, but the truth is a bit more complicated. In the past, we have been led by people who felt that what America needs is an honest living for honest work. We can have such people running things if we're willing to be informed, to educate ourselves and vote in our own best interests. It's happened before, and it can happen again. But it won't be easy, and it should be abundantly clear that the job of fighting for our rights against the rich and corrupt will never be done.


Dana Hunter said...

The problem is getting enough people to vote in their own best interests. The fact even a handful of ignorant sods could be convinced to wave teabags around and scream about socialism makes me fear for the future of this democracy.

Cujo359 said...

Yes, it is. I keep trying to find ways of convincing people, and usually fail.