Thursday, November 18, 2010

When Democrats stood for something

In a remarkably rare, profanity free post, Rude Pundit recalls when the Dems stood for the working class. Read it in full, but here's part of the vignette he uses to illustrate the point:
"This is the only place in American history where we used our Air Force to bomb our own people," the old woman said, gesturing at a ridge on Blair Mountain, West Virginia, puffing on a cigarette. "To protect the property of the coal barons." We ran into a group of elderly people who wanted to see the mountain before it was blown up. It's why we were there, too. [...]

The woman wasn't entirely right. While the fairly new Army Air Corps had planes go out on reconnaissance missions, the bombs that were dropped on the miners from the air were homemade and came from private planes that the coal barons had hired. The miners turned back and the United Mine Workers Association lost its chance to unionize the southern coalfields of West Virginia for another 15 years. In fact, the union went from 50,000 members to 10,000 members, part of an ongoing effort to crush unions during the 1920s, under Republican presidents. Union membership did not climb until FDR came into office and the National Labor Relations Act was passed.
Most of the political activists I know on the tubes are too young to recall that even as late the 60s and 70s there were many more Democrats who actually fought for the social safety net, for the working poor, for equal rights and corporate accountability. Watching old video of MLK or JFK is moving, but there's no way to really recreate how inspiring and transformational it was to hear it live for the first time.

Of course it wasn't perfect, but back then it was a whole lot easier to define the differences between the two parties. Then again, it also took three days to get video from China, there were tens of thousands of independent local news outlets, political campaigning didn't run on an endless loop and sports had definable seasons. Today, an unfounded rumor can explode around the world in minutes on the internets and once planted, is impossible to fully dislodge.

It's ironic really. Advances in communication allow us to interact instantly and internationally, but it made our politicians timid and created so much noise that honest, sensible voices can hardly be heard above the din. Society at large is less informed than ever. [Via BGinKC.]

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