Senator Warren, still my idol. Here’s some more excerpts from the MassLive interview:
… Q: Who is we? I hear progressives, and politicians in general, talk a lot about the middle class, but not much about people who live in poverty. Why is that?
Warren: One of the things I talk about is the way I divide the world. It’s the top ten percent who do very, very well; and the remaining ninety percent. And I talk about the interests of the ninety percent together, and make the argument that the investments in education, in infrastructure, in a robust economy, and in research are the things that benefit the ninety percent.
Q: So the breakfast waitress, and the dual-income double-professor family?
Warren: That’s right. Who are busting their rear ends but still can’t pull it all together. So that’s really the idea behind it. America once worked to build a lot of opportunity. And they called it the middle class; they filtered things through the middle class. But the truth was, opportunity was there for the middle class, for the working class, for the working poor, and for the poor poor. And you watch from about 1935 to about 1980, income goes up for everyone.
Q: Are you talking about Reagan; the 1980 mark?
Warren: Yes, that’s the 1980 mark. And African Americans talk about this as well. From the time we first started measuring, there was a black-white wealth gap; a big one. But we were hooked on the idea of opportunity. When the Civil Rights movement picks up steam in the 1960s and 70s, the black-white wealth gap shrinks by 30 percent. Then the shift to a trickle-down economy causes the black-white wealth gap to triple. So that’s the point. We can make a set of investments that work for all of us.
Q: You know some African-American political analysts say the progressive movement is tone-deaf when it comes to race. They say economic opportunity is all well and good, but it’s not going to make racism go away.
Warren: I talk about this in the book; about the economics of race. Which is a different point. It’s there in the first part of the story; how we built a middle class, and it’s there in the second part with trickle-down economics. But I also talk about it in terms of the politics of race. And the discussions around the Republicans; the dog-whistles on race, and then Donald Trump’s deliberate efforts to try to stir up bigotry…
That’s really an essential point — the Democratic Party’s problem is not that civil rights and women’s rights are somehow a distraction from “real” economic issues. It’s that, in our two-party system, some people who don’t want to call themselves Republicans are trying to turn the Democratic Party into a platform to talk about their issues (ECONOMIC JUSTICE! SINGLE PAYER NOW!) rather than the messy, open-ended coalition of “special interest groups” (urban activists, local machine politicians, immigrant workers, civil rights and women’s rights supporters) we’ve been at our best and most successful.
In fact, this is another nasty revival from the original Gilded Age, when Finley Peter Dunne mocked the Goo-Goos determined to purge American politics of ‘corrupt’ urban professional politicians (with the help of voter registration!) and replace them with clean-minded properly-educated white ‘native-born’ men. Just as it was more than a century ago, it’s always the people of color, immigrants, women — and working-class — voters who are expected to sacrifice themselves for True Progressivism.
(To be continued)