US Politics

The New Democratic Senate: Jim Webb on Class

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On election night/day, I’d have to say 64% of the happiness I felt about the Virginia result was watching that arrogant, Confederate-wannabe lose. While I’d been impressed with Jim Webb, I didn’t know enough about him to be sure what we’d get in the Senate. This piece, in the Wall Street Journal is a good sign: (excerpts below)

The most important–and unfortunately the least debated–issue in politics today is our society’s steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America’s top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars…

In the age of globalization and outsourcing, and with a vast underground labor pool from illegal immigration, the average American worker is seeing a different life and a troubling future. Trickle-down economics didn’t happen. Despite the vaunted all-time highs of the stock market, wages and salaries are at all-time lows as a percentage of the national wealth…

This ever-widening divide is too often ignored or downplayed by its beneficiaries. A sense of entitlement has set in among elites, bordering on hubris. When I raised this issue with corporate leaders during the recent political campaign, I was met repeatedly with denials, and, from some, an overt lack of concern for those who are falling behind. A troubling arrogance is in the air among the nation’s most fortunate. Some shrug off large-scale economic and social dislocations as the inevitable byproducts of the “rough road of capitalism.” Others claim that it’s the fault of the worker or the public education system, that the average American is simply not up to the international challenge, that our education system fails us, or that our workers have become spoiled by old notions of corporate paternalism…

The politics of the Karl Rove era were designed to distract and divide the very people who would ordinarily be rebelling against the deterioration of their way of life. Working Americans have been repeatedly seduced at the polls by emotional issues such as the predictable mantra of “God, guns, gays, abortion and the flag” while their way of life shifted ineluctably beneath their feet. But this election cycle showed an electorate that intends to hold government leaders accountable for allowing every American a fair opportunity to succeed.

If the Democratic Party wants to regain the working class in this country, and more importantly, earn their support, these are the kind of speeches and editorials they need to be offering.

We have an obligation, too. We can’t allow the Democrats to just take their place at the corporate trough now that they are in power. America needs a party that represents the majority of this country, the people that work just to pay their mortgages, send their kids to colleges, and pay the bills.

The plutocrats can fend for themselves.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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  • I read Webb’s novel about Vietnam—I think it was called “Field of Fire”—and remember thinking he was a good writer, and definitely a guy who’d paid his dues, since the book was based on his experiences. And if the ideas you excerpted here are any indication, he should make a heck of a senator, too.

  • This is promising. I have this probably naive hope that someone in this country is going to start talking about (and dealing with) the huge gap developing between the extremely rich and the middle class in this country.

    That Webb, one of the new Democratic senators Republicans so desperately want to believe is conservative, is doing it is a great sign.

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