Politics

An Inauguration Pilgrimage: Dreams From My Mother

We waited for 30 minutes. Standing, awkward, we looked up at the board. When I arrived at Penn Station the board said train #167, enroute to Washington D.C., "25 mins late"... Five minutes later, "30 mins late." The terminal filled up, more people standing -- waiting ... and wondering if the others hovering with backpacks and napsacks and yoga mats were all waiting for the same thing.

It's the Equality, Stupid

... that quaint period, the thirties, when the huge middle class of America was matriculating in a school for the blind. Their eyes had failed them, or they had failed their eyes, and so they were having their fingers pressed forcibly down on the fiery Braille alphabet of a dissolving economy. —Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie (1945)

Have we learned the lessons of the Great Depression now?

We are once again, in Tennessee Williams’ memorable image, having our “fingers pressed forcibly down on the fiery Braille alphabet of a dissolving economy.” And the reason is that many of us have, once again, “failed our eyes.”

The lessons taught to the socially and economically sight-impaired in the 1930s have been forgotten or willfully denied, producing conditions in the present decade very much like those in the 1920s that led to the Great Depression. In the ’20s, as in recent years, tax cuts for the rich, in combination with anti-union practices and a lack of regulation of markets, yielded increasing wealth inequality. The extreme gap between rich and poor meant that more money went into speculation (by the rich) rather than consumption (by everyone); consumption is what keeps the economy healthy. Mass consumption and the economy were propped up, but only temporarily, with an unsustainable amount of consumer credit—until the speculation bubble burst and the credit ran out in 1929.

Who most completely failed their eyes? Who are those responsible for creating the conditions that led to the economic meltdown that began in September?

Fundamentalists.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine January 2009
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

The Battle Over the 1960s

Even before his inauguration, Barack Obama has already made at least one vital and perhaps enduring contribution to American culture. His winning campaign for the presidency has gone a long way toward ending the stranglehold that the myths of the 1960s have held on our national imagination for lo these many years.

Obama is our first post-baby boom president. He came into adulthood in the Reagan era. And to reach the White House he has had to overcome one quintessential, cut-to-pattern boomer, Hillary Clinton, and a Vietnam warrior, John Mc­Cain, who tried to win by tarring Obama with the worst excesses of the 1960s countercultural Left, as personified by Weather Underground leader William Ayers. Along the way, Obama also had to make a painful break with his old friend and one-time mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, after trying to explain Wright’s angry rhetoric by noting that the minister was a product of the 1960s.

Wiping our national slate clean of the curse of the ’60s is important because the culture war of the past three decades has really been a war about the legacy of that decade. On the Right, the ’60s are viewed as the time when narcissistic white liberals and over-empowered minorities pulled the rug from under a traditional social order that was still serving us quite well. Many Republican careers have been made by tying every call for social justice, equality, and peace to that dubious era of “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.”

Meanwhile, to many in the baby boom Left, the ’60s were viewed as a lost Golden Age. It was a time of liberation from repressive social norms. It was the era in which African Americans finally won their full citizenship rights, millions of ordinary Americans acted to end an unjust war, and women began to take their rightful place in the public square.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine January 2009
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Pages

Subscribe