The Great Depression was the direct result of the Gilded Age, a time when banks, corporations, and the men (were there any women or people of color in power then?) of wealth and power had government by the balls, treated workers like shit, and worst of all when it came to banks, wildly speculated with their depositors’ money, lost it all, and crashed the economy.
Sound familiar? It should.
A YouTube video about The Bonus Army recently landed in my inbox. It seemed to be blaming the wrong people and trying to connect past and present dots that simply do not exist or connect except in ways that conservatives and Republicans would rather they didn’t.
H.R. 7726, the Patman Bonus Bill that would have paid WWI vets their bonus early, was passed mostly by Democrats in the House of Representatives in 1932. The vote was 211-176. 152 (72% of the total) of the 211 Aye votes were by Democrats. 126 (again, 72%) of the 176 Nay votes were from Republicans.
When HR 7726 reached the Senate, it was rejected 18-62. It was a more “bi-partisan” split on the 62 Nay votes. Only slightly more Republicans (35) than Democrats (27) voted against it. Still, it was rejected by more Republicans than Democrats.
The point here being that it was Democrats looking out for and trying to do the right thing for the little guy – in this case, WWI veterans – more so than Republicans.
It seems pretty clear that Republicans, then as now, seem perfectly at ease using veterans as political pawns.
It also must be pointed out that the president who ordered U.S. troops to forcibly evacuate The Bonus Army protesters wasn’t some crazed, power-mad Democrat. It was Herbert Hoover, a Republican. (Yes, I know. FDR imprisoned Japanese-Americans. An unforgivable and heinous act, too, I agree.)
American voters swept Democrats into power in 32. This was thanks in part to Hoover’s failures at turning around that era’s disastrous Republican economy, as well as his handling of desperate and penniless World War I vets demonstrating in DC close to an election.
After 1932, bankers began to be put in their place, organized labor grew stronger and stronger, and especially after WWII and still under Democratic governance, the Middle Class really came into its own and prospered. It was the Middle Class who created America’s Golden Age, not the rich and powerful. They did not build that, we did.
History doesn’t lie. Look at the facts.
Look at which party basically controlled Congress and the White House most of the time from 1933 to 1979. Look at the balance of power between labor and management. Look at the financial services and banking regulations in place. Look at how consumer and environmental protection laws started making our workplaces and our lives safer. Look at how our consumer-driven economy was powered from the middle-out, not the top-down.
What other conclusion is reasonable? America’s hard-working middle class has mostly Democrats, progressives, and liberals to thank for the prosperity it enjoyed throughout late 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s.
Understand, too, that we have mostly conservatives, the wealthy, and Republicans – starting with their patron saint, Ronald Reagan, and people like his Randian ideologue and economic zen master, Alan Greenspan – to blame for where we’ve fallen to now.
Maybe the present-day generation of ordinary Americans – especially those Americans who find themselves out of work, struggling to make ends meet, slipping out of the middle class, or downright destitute and poor – will wake up once again and as they did in the 30s to the reality that Republican ideology and policies like trickle-down economics are generally horrible for anyone but the rich and powerful.
So, yes, let’s hope history does repeat itself. Let’s hope Americans will once again dump the GOP, and let’s hope it starts with the midterms in 2014.