Did you ever wonder if history really does repeat itself? Has America ever faced a similar situation to the one we find ourselves within today? One where economic collapse occurred, where the special interests that caused that collapse fought tooth and nail against reforms that would give power back to the people? Have we ever witnessed a period of time where the wealthy stood in the way of the weary, barring their entry into prosperity, where power and wealth truly were one?
“Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities, new machinery of industry and agriculture, of labor and capital – all undreamed of by the Fathers – the whole structure of modern life was impressed into this royal service.
There was no place among this royalty for our many thousands of small-businessmen and merchants who sought to make a worthy use of the American system of initiative and profit. They were no more free than the worker or the farmer. Even honest and progressive-minded men of wealth, aware of their obligation to their generation, could never know just where they fitted into this dynastic scheme of things.
It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man.
The hours men and women worked, the wages they received, the conditions of their labor – these had passed beyond the control of the people, and were imposed by this new industrial dictatorship. The savings of the average family, the capital of the small-businessmen, the investments set aside for old age – other people’s money – these were tools which the new economic royalty used to dig itself in.
Those who tilled the soil no longer reaped the rewards which were their right. The small measure of their gains was decreed by men in distant cities.
Throughout the nation, opportunity was limited by monopoly. Individual initiative was crushed in the cogs of a great machine. The field open for free business was more and more restricted. Private enterprise, indeed, became too private. It became privileged enterprise, not free enterprise.”
“For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor – other people’s lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.”
“These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike.”
“The collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people’s mandate to end it. Under that mandate it is being ended.”
“There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1936 DNC acceptance speech.
Allow me to update this:
The collapse of 2008 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 2008 was the people’s mandate to end it. Under that mandate, are we now prepared to end it?
I submit to you, that Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts was the people’s response to a belief that we have yet to begin ending it. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in favor of Citizens United vs the FEC coincides perfectly with “”These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution.”
The White House keeps repeating that “people are angry and frustrated”. I would keep repeating that we are because our government still doesn’t understand what our actual mandate is. History has repeated itself, indeed. The only thing we now await are the results of this most recent mandate, and whether Washington will fight for the many people, or for the few, royal, wealthy corporations.
Our generation once again has a rendezvous with destiny. All that remains to be seen is whether Washington will survive that rendezvous.
I believe that it was Thomas Jefferson who said, “widespread poverty and concentrated wealth cannot long endure side by side in a democracy.”