Mercenaries Fighting a Class War

But It’s a Class War that We’re Losing. For Now.

For the 40 years since 1980, wages for most working families have been stagnant. Yet profits and productivity still roughly doubled. I’m not a socialist, but that sounds like class war to me.

Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

On Christmas 244 years ago, Washington and his army crossed the Delaware; in sturdy craft called “Durham boats” no less. They surprised the Hessian mercenaries in Trenton and won a battle that changed the direction of the Revolutionary War.

Hopefully this November 3rd Democrats will defeat a different set of mercenaries and change the direction of a modern war. The class war.

Don’t believe there’s a class war? In the 40 years before Reaganomics, profits, productivity and wages all roughly doubled in value. But for the 40 years since 1980, wages for most working families have been stagnant. Yet profits and productivity still roughly doubled. I’m not a socialist, but that sounds like class war to me. Don’t like that term? I can suggest another one: “tyranny-of-the-minority.”

A tyranny-of-the-minority as in: 1) Trump became president with fewer votes than Clinton, 2) the Republicans have a majority in the US Senate built on a minority of Americans in small states and 3) the previous Republican majority in the US House was sometimes built on a minority of voters getting their way through gerrymandered elections (or could we call them gerry-rigged elections?)

The top one per cent — and even the top 10% — has been doing quite well lately. They’ve amassed the vast majority of growth in income and wealth since 1980 despite the Republican Recession of 2008. (Both the Republican Recession and the Great Depression were preceded respectively by 6 and 12 years of solid Republican governance. Coincidence? Or indictment?)

But to fight a class war or to enforce a tyranny-of-the-minority you need mercenaries. Boots on the ground. The mercenaries I speak of are elected Republican legislators. Hard data indicates their primary responsibility is to the folks who write the big checks for their campaigns while paying lip service to the interests of their voter base.

In my home state of North Carolina the Republican majority General Assembly marches in lock step to support policies favored by the wealthy, but opposed by a large majority of Tarheels. Just a few examples:

· 68% of voters opposed plans to cut corporate and personal income taxes and raise sales taxes.

· 55% opposed cutting unemployment benefits.

· 61% of voters opposed ending the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (64,000 veteran and military families depended on that credit).

That’s not all. Here are a few more examples of Republican mercenaries supporting a tyranny-of-the-minority:

· 59% of voters oppose the reduction in early voting days.

· 59% of voters want the districts drawn in a non-partisan and non-gerrymandered fashion (even 54% of Republicans support non-partisan districts).

These minority policies help keep Republican mercenaries in power by earning them financial support from the one per cent. They then cut programs that helped working families and small businesses and pass on the savings to the wealthy by way of tax cuts.

But you may be wondering how they can undermine average Tarheels (and Americans across the country) and yet get re-elected. The NC GOP has been drawing votes by playing on the fears and prejudices of stressed voters. They promise — sometimes openly, sometimes quietly — to fight blacks, gays, transgender people and abortion doctors. All while knowing that the courts will overturn their bills.

In addition, race-based redistricting (aka Jim Crow 2.0) puts a rich man’s fat thumb on the electoral scales. Just one example: in 2012, 50.6% of voters backed Democratic candidates in NC yet Republican gerry-rigging delivered a 9–4 majority of US House seats to the GOP.

Hopefully revolutionary Democratic voters will throw these 21st century mercenaries out of office in NC and the USA That would be a Christmas worth waking up for.

Frank Hyman is a carpenter and stonemason who has held two local elected offices in Durham, NC. He authored the first living wage ordinance in the southeast. Frank is the policy analyst for Blue Collar Comeback.

Former city councilman, organizer, campaign manager. Author of a living wage ordinance. My essays: NYT, WSJ, dozens of newspapers. www.bluecollarcomeback.com.

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