A former student of mine, now in his early 60s, visited me for coffee, recently. We tried to avoid discussing politics, but it was the elephant in the room. Eventually, my “young” friend admitted he found the antics in Washington, D. C. depressing. Knowing he was a liberal Democratic, I understood why. Funnily enough, he shares his disillusionment with Republicans.
The reasons differ, of course. but are not always clear. A recent poll among Republicans, published on Yahoo Finance, suggests a significant percentage would rather have Russians interfere with our politics than see the country move in a liberal direction. But was the poll scientific? I don’t know. Another, from the Cato Institute, a reliable, if conservative think tank, gives a modest insight but little more. The analysis concludes, different types of people came to vote for Trump and not all for the same reasons.
If I had to guess, the common denominator shared among disparate groups, including Democrats, is fear. Society is changing at a pace faster than our brains can absorb. Money is pooling into the hands of a few, for example, and decimating the middle class. Science and technology, have added to the upheaval. Together, they’ve wrought a tectonic shift like no other. We can’t compare it to the drift from a nomadic to an agrarian way of life; nor to the change from an agrarian to an industrial economy. The Information Age has exploded upon us with little warning and demanded continuing and exponential transformation. For me, just dealing with my computer upgrades is stressful.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our 32nd President, inaugurated during the depression and on the eve of World War II, said we had nothing to fear but fear itself. That same admonition would serve us well today. Democracy isn’t lost, though we may think it. Nor are we required to repeal the law of gravity to revive it. We can begin by dusting off three necessary provisions. We can start by reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act. It prevented banks from speculating with depositors’ money. Republicans and Democrats understand that evil. Many of them lost their homes and were driven into the streets after the financial housing debacle of 2008 .
No one likes fake news, either Not even our President. So let’s do something about it. Let’s demand the FCC restore the Fairness Doctrine . That doctrine required balanced reporting. And why should we the people take less? The airways belong to us. Let media serve democracy first and not their bottom lines or political interests.
The last goal will be the hardest to achieve, I admit. Politicians have become addicted to lobbyists’ money. Nonetheless, the rest of my fellow Americans can distinguish between corporations and people. Let us demand legislation that will make the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United moot.
If we 98%ers stick to these three demands, we will rebuild trust in three of our most important institutions: the banks, the media and our Congress. That’s the way we all win and eliminate some of the fear.