Elites Have Used Racial Fears and Economic Insecurity to Capture Our Democracy

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Why do other Western democracies grant their citizens things like universal health care, high-quality public education, free college tuition, paid family leave, affordable prescription drugs, child care and living wage while maintaining relatively low incarceration rates?

Part of the answer, as Bernie Sanders has forcefully argued, is that our democracy has been captured by corporate elites and the wealthiest segments of society. Progressives will rarely succeed in achieving their big goals so long as big banks, hedge funds, oil and gas companies, pharmaceutical companies, payday loan companies, Walmart, private prison companies, etc continue to own our politicians, and a small number of millionaires and billionaires continue to control the way the political game is played. 

But there is another critical piece to this puzzle. As this article points out, class anxieties have been highly racialized ever since the Civil War. Elites have repeatedly exploited racial fears and economic insecurity in order to prevent poor and working people of all colors from imagining that they have common interests.

The rise of Trump can be explained by this historical race and class dynamic, but so can Jim Crow and mass incarceration. Both political parties have been deeply complicit in various ways throughout our history. I hope we begin to take seriously the necessity of forming a new party or movement that tackles both of these profound challenges courageously and directly.

Read more: http://slate.me/1ROYqig

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