Talking inequality to your politically mixed US American family

My family is a mixture of Democrats, Republicans and swing voters. This can make for interesting emails, calls or reunions. It seems clear to me that partisan discussions, especially involving blame, are a no go. In fact, family in-fighting is pretty much like public in-fighting. It distracts us from some of our common problems. Like the unbridled increase in income and wealth inequality in the United States since the late 1970s. Especially the top 1%. The question is how to find common ground when one or both sides are past their breaking points.

I suggest three things that would benefit almost any American, except for the ultra rich (top 1%) or relatively rich (top 10%). These are things that encroach on freedom without touching on more polarizing topics.

1. End the winner-take-all electoral system. Why should the winner take all, when the winner is rich people? Low and middle-class workers have not had a real wage increase since the 1970s on average, but wall street provided huge profits.

There is nothing wrong with profits, but shouldn’t everyone working at profiting companies profit? A similar story unfolds in politics. The upper classes control both parties. Republicans favor the ultra-rich, and Democrats favor the quite-rich in general. We do not have parties that represent all voters’ interests. If you are lower to lower-middle class, these parties are both against you, for the most part. If you support the Tea Party, Libertarian, Social Democrats, Green Party, or other parties, you have no chance to get representation in government at the national level. We need a representative democracy where parties get power that equals their vote share. If Republicans get 55% of the vote they should get 55% of the legislative and executive positions. That is real democracy, where the government reflects the preferences of the people. When parties get proportional vote shares, they are forced to work together to solve problems. More than half of those who identify as Republicans and Democrats favored having a third party in a recent Gallup poll.

The two party system is now so deeply divided that democracy itself is faltering. The abuse of power the Constitution hoped to prevent is now rampant with executive dominance, a Supreme Court of partisan judges, and deep segregation of voter districts due to gerrymandering. Adding more parties will instantly restore coalitions and cooperation.


2. End Super PACs. This is how both parties came to be dominated by rich-peoples’ interests.

Citizens United and Speechnow.org made it possible that parties and candidates can get unlimited secret funding. This raised the stakes so high that the only way to get elected is to have over 1 billion dollars, or to accept donations to equal 1 billion dollars (that is one thousand times one million dollars – a $hit ton! The only way to get such big donations is to promise things to the rich that benefit them. In more plain English, this is known as corruption, by definition. These are simply ‘legal’ bribes being paid to politicians, made legal because of Citizens United. 

“for the first time since at least the 1960s, the majority of Americans were not in the middle class”

– PEW Research Center

3. Overturn the 1987 repeal of the FCC Fairness Doctrine. Political conflict is an opportunity to create economic conflict.

Until 1987, news companies were legally bound to report news in a balanced manner, providing different sides of each story. Today they are allowed to say anything they want and claim it as ‘fact’ without any repercussion. All of our political and factual beliefs have been shaped by distortions of reality. For example, try this on for size at the next mixed-political gathering. Obama, what many political news agencies call the ‘socialist-Muslim’, was actually a relatively hawkish military president. He was the first president in history to have an American citizen assassinated without any trial. He also give a large pay and benefit raise to the military and made aggressive moves of the US to contain China militaristically and economically. These facts might perk the attention of even the most ‘libtard’-hating-family-members. But that is not my main point here. The media outlets are mostly owned by corporations with special interests in keeping you and I fighting over politics, so that corporations can keep paying low wages. The news in the US sows seeds of hate and misinformation so that working-class people end up in constant conflict. This conflict keeps the focus away from the ultra-wealthy making decisions that harm them, such as paying them miserable wages with low benefits. Why not end fake news?

In case you are not sure, what not to do. Abortion, gun control, racism, blame of any sort. Not gonna go over well in mixed political company. If you are not ultra wealthy, we are on the same side in the things that matter most – like getting fair wages for fair work.

Notes to the reader:

As news media companies tend to be on one side or the other, I tried to use neutral sources as much as possible in this post.

Full disclosure. I have never voted Republican. But I am no fan of the Democrats either. Having to choose the lesser of two evils is not an exciting political reality to face. Especially while watching the rich get richer, and the working-class continually get the shaft.