For a number of reasons (including a sense of despair), I have refrained for the most part from commenting on political matters in this blog. That time, however, is coming to an end.
I'll begin with a quotation from progressive historian Howard Zinn, who suggested in a recent issue of The Nation magazine that the Democratic candidate
for president should make the following statement to the American electorate. I can only applaud, and dream that a nominee would have the courage and creativity to do so.
"Our nation is in crisis, just as it was when Roosevelt took office. At
that time, people desperately needed help, they needed jobs, decent
housing, protection in old age. They needed to know that the government
was for them and not just for the wealthy classes. This is what the
American people need today.
"I will do what the New Deal did, to make up for the failure of the
market system. It put millions of people to work through the Works
Progress Administration, at all kinds of jobs, from building schools,
hospitals, playgrounds, to repairing streets and bridges, to writing
symphonies and painting murals and putting on plays. We can do that
today for workers displaced by closed factories, for professionals
downsized by a failed economy, for families needing two or three incomes
to survive, for writers and musicians and other artists who struggle for
"The New Deal's Civilian Conservation Corps at its peak employed 500,000
young people. They lived in camps, planted millions of trees, reclaimed
millions of acres of land, built 97,000 miles of fire roads, protected
natural habitats, restocked fish and gave emergency help to people
threatened by floods.
"We can do that today, by bringing our soldiers home from war and from
the military bases we have in 130 countries. We will recruit young
people not to fight but to clean up our lakes and rivers, build homes
for people in need, make our cities beautiful, be ready to help with
disasters like Katrina. The military is having a hard time recruiting
young men and women for war, and with good reason. We will have no such
problem enlisting the young to build rather than destroy.
"We can learn from the Social Security program and the GI Bill of
Rights, which were efficient government programs, doing for older people
and for veterans what private enterprise could not do. We can go beyond
the New Deal, extending the principle of social security to health
security with a totally free government-run health system. We can extend
the GI Bill of Rights to a Civilian Bill of Rights, offering free higher
education for all.
"We will have trillions of dollars to pay for these programs if we do
two things: if we concentrate our taxes on the richest 1 percent of the
population, not only their incomes but their accumulated wealth, and if
we downsize our gigantic military machine, declaring ourselves a
"We will not pay attention to those who complain that this is 'big
government.' We have seen big government used for war and to give
benefits to the wealthy. We will use big government for the people."