The 2016 Democratic Party ticket. I guess it’s better than the End of the World.
On Halloween night, 1936, incumbent Democratic president Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a riveting speech at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The United States was in the eighth year of the Great Depression, and FDR was fixin’ to tout his smorgasbord of government programs known collectively as the New Deal.
FDR acknowledged that Americans “wanted peace of mind instead of gnawing fear.” To offer this piece of mind, he promised to protect currency, ensure fair wages, reduce working hours, end child labor, and crush financial speculation. Moreover, The president directly addressed the business and financial interests and their Republican allies who opposed his administration: “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.” Democrats used to talk like that. They ought to again.
By framing anti-labor ideology as “freedom,” conservatives like Scott Walker (above, framed by smiling, white assholes) have convinced Americans that the way to get ahead in the world is to pull someone else down.
Every year, the long Labor Day weekend rolls across the American landscape, spurring millions to fire up their consecrated backyard pyres for the purpose of sacrificing vacuum-sealed mammal and poultry parts — all to celebrate getting a few days off from a job they’re lucky to even have. Indeed, Labor Day has now become a largely hollow observance of late-summer soft hedonism; a chance for Americans to kick back and grasp a few days worth of respite from the soul-devouring drudgery that defines the majority of their time on earth.
Labor Day’s transformation — from a day honoring the sacrifices of the Labor Movement into a rare respite from the relentless capitalist domination of human life — speaks to the totalitarian grip that the consumer-based market leviathan now holds on the collective American body.
Former Massey Energy CEO — and world-class asshat — Don Blankenship, wraps himself in the flag to give the impression that he cares more about the red, white, and blue than he does the green.
Americans like to talk a good deal about their twin-commitments to both capitalism and democracy, but the relationship between the two systems is, shall we say, fraught with tension. Democracy tries to remind capitalism about the importance of freedom and individual human rights, but, like an anti-domestic violence group trying to lecture the NFL about the importance of respecting women, its success rate is mixed, to say the least. The resulting conflict between corporate profit and human flourishing has burned with the intensity of a coal fire throughout U.S. history — which brings us to Don Blankenship.
United States Infantry square off against Chicago workers in the Stock Yards, by Fredric Remington, from Harper’s Weekly Magazine
Well, its Labor Day 2013, a national holiday in both the U.S. and Canada bolstered by an idea — that the national economy thrives when we recognize workers’ contributions to creating an economic system based on broadly shared prosperity — that seems more and more hopelessly symbolic in the New Gilded Age. In the contemporary U.S., American income inequality has reached pre-Great Depression-era levels, private sector unionization is now a pale shadow of its former strength thanks to 30-plus years of concerted right wing ideological and policy assaults, and public sector unions seem destined for collapse for the very same reason.