The New Deal –> Raw Deal

In the 1930s and 40s we had the New Deal. In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, setting legal limits on the maximum number of hours worked and the minimum wages allowed.

Republicans fought it then, claiming it would be essentially socialist, and an economic enemy to business and growth. However, it was the very opposite of that — the war and post-ware years were ones of productivity and prosperity, widely and broadly. A strong middle class was formed, changing the life and culture of America forever.

In the mid-1970s this growth engine finally began to falter, and since the 80s, we’ve instead had the Raw Deal. An ever-escalating version of a Libertarian’s wet dream: deregulation of numerous industries including finance (leading to the housing crash of 2007-8) and energy (leading to Enron), a steadily less progressive tax system (down from a whopping 94% in 1944 down to 28% under Reagan), and endless waves of cuts to social programs designed to level the opportunity playing field.

The thing is, when people feel hopeful, they work harder.

When there is hopelessness, there is less urgency to work hard to maintain the conditions and systems that make one feel so hopeless. If you know the game is rigged, how futile does it seem to keep playing?

Libertarians lament about the size of the pie, which is as good a modern version of “let them eat cake” while the plebes swill McD’s and pay through the nose for health care as any.

On the upsides of being underestimated, and a call to stand

There’s something those of us in marginalized groups know instinctively, having lived lives long in opposition to a dizzying continuum of Absurd Moral Authority: from outright violence, to secretive “technical” manipulations of statutes designed to erode or remove rights, to vague and carefully unstated “wink wink nudge nudge” moments from individuals of authority who had some power to constrain us — whether it’s a boss (or potential boss), a teacher, a community figure, and/or perhaps most guttingly a family member.

We know the sting of being scolded for even daring an attempt atĀ upsetting the Tautological SupremacistĀ Meritocracy: “If you weren’t worthless, you’d already be here by now!”

The British thought we would justĀ roll over too

But we should remember one of the primary reasons that we as a nation even won our independence in the first place:

We were underestimated.

Lord North offered tax relief to the colonies that would help “defend the motherland” in February, 1775 — none took him up on it. And in fact, the Conciliatory Resolution only deepened the growing sense of unity emerging against what increasingly became perceived as a Common Enemy. The attempt to divide and conquer not only failed, but backfired.

The British Parliament thought the colonists full of hot air — that a few shows of military force would quickly crumble the upstart radicals in their quest for representation and rights. But battles at Lexington and Concord only fueled further the sentiment that the colonies were inhabited by an occupying force that must be resisted.

It was widely thought to be insane to stand against the world-renowned military force of the British Empire — but the Continental Army under George Washington doggedly turned the fact of underestimation to their advantage via innovative battlefield strategy. The motherland, finding it difficult to raise sufficient troops to fight against their own former countrymen, hired German mercenaries to fight against the colonists — further deepening the resolve of the Americans to throw off an oppressor willing to bring foreign assassins to bear in a dispute formerly perceived as a conciliatory process of achieving the basic rights of citizenship that colonists’ forbears once enjoyed in England. The British overestimation of Loyalist support — combined with the general mistreatment of those who did cross the “revolutionary picket line” — only added to the troubles faced by a predominantly naval power slogging through a lengthy land war over vast territory.

Diversity does not preclude uniting to face a Common Enemy

In so many ways we’ve become more fragmented; more balkanized; more atomized in modern society. We’ve self-selected into our communities of shared values and our social media bubbles. In many ways this is the paradox of prosperity, and the Catch-22 of progress.

We may feel stronger in our own foxholes, but there comes a time when the whole choir must sing together. Now is that time.

And perhaps it is dangerous to use the language of war, and of conflict — or perhaps it may help us to better identify where our Common Enemy lies. Our Common Enemy is not the down at heelĀ rural Trump supporter who lashes out at us in fear, and in retaliation — though their words are often hateful, these people have been misled.

It’s a very old story — older than Trump; older than George W. Bush; older than Reagan or Nixon or Coolidge or Jackson or Johnson. The wealthy white elite has a centuries’ old playbook of dangling so-called Christian morality in front of those whites left most destitute by the former’s economic policies — and winning.

We are watching reruns.

This time, fascism and foreign influence have been added to up the ante — keeping even the most blasĆ© among us glued to our seats.

Stand up

The framers of our Constitution deliberated, debated, andĀ agonized over the most ideal structure to supportĀ a broad pluralist power, in concerted opposition to the monarchies and aristocracies of the past. Many were shocked by — and fought bitterly against — the unprecedented act of beginning such a governing document with the words, “We the people.”
But 85 Federalist Papers later, our sovereign power was enshrined in the document that still governs our ambitions today — and acts as a backstop against those who would wield tyrannical power in our name.Ā 

Our Common Enemy is tyranny, and we must learn to recognize where it lives, and how it acts. Even — perhaps especially — when that domicile is the White House, and that act an act of Congress.

Our Common Enemy is those who would deny the power of the people to govern themselves: through the silencing of debate in a once great forum; through casual disregard of the judiciary branch; through an endless parade of troglodyte efforts at voter suppression.

Our Common Enemy is the long litany of elected officials who act in their own best interests at the expense of We the People. It is the slew of slick sycophants currying political favor with the powerful, who continually rewrite the rules of the game the Winners have already Won many times over, to accelerate the gaping gulf of inequality that threatens democracy, liberty, justice, and most certainly peace.

Without Justice there can be no Peace.

And those who wield injustice have vastly underestimated the swaths of citizenry who can see through the ruse; who have heard the old story and seen its outcomes; who are tired of having to wage the same struggles for rights and respect over, and over, and over again.

But the tired gain strength through camaraderie in adversity; through simple acts of kindness; through humor, and through love.

These are tools the tyrannical cannot access.
Stand, and wield them, in the name of We the People.

Women in Congress: Factoids

Republicans do not like to elect women.

Stats of note:

  • GOP women make up only 4% of the current Congress.
  • 12% are female Congressional Democrats — for a total of 16.5% vs. 83.5% male legislators.
  • As a percentage of the historical collection of Congress members over all time, women have comprised only 1.7% of the total. 

Women need more representation across the board! Let’s do this, America.
P.S. If you have any need for a Slack bot that returns data on sitting Congresspeople, look no further! You can install this bot in Slack easily; you’ll just need to set up a Fieldbook account.

Women in the 114thĀ Congress

(As of 1/6/2015)Ā 

SeniorityMemberParty & StateStart of Service
Ā (in desc order)Marcy Kaptur (D), OH01-03-1983
 Louise Slaughter(D), NY01-03-1987
 Nancy Pelosi(D), CA06-02-1987
 Nita Lowey(D), NY01-03-1989
 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen(R), FL08-29-1989
 Rosa DeLauro(D), CT01-03-1991
 Eleanor Holmes-Norton (delegate)(D), DC01-03-1991
 Maxine Waters(D), CA01-03-1991
 Corrine Brown(D), FL01-03-1993
 Anna Eshoo(D), CA01-03-1993
 Eddie Bernice-Johnson(D), TX01-03-1993
 Carolyn Maloney(D), NY01-03-1993
 Lucille Roybal-Allard(D), CA01-03-1993
 Nydia Velazquez(D), NY01-03-1993
 Sheila Jackson Lee(D), TX01-03-1995
 Zoe Lofgren(D), CA01-03-1995
 Diana DeGette(D), CO01-03-1997
 Kay Granger(R), TX01-03-1997
 Loretta Sanchez(D), CA01-03-1997
 Lois Capps(D), CA03-10-1998
 Barbara Lee(D), CA04-07-1998
 Grace Napolitano(D), CA01-03-1999
 Jan Schakowsky(D), IL01-03-1999
 Susan Davis(D), CA01-03-2001
 Betty McCollum(D), MN01-03-2001
 Marsha Blackburn(R), TN01-03-2003
 Madeleine Bordallo (delegate)(D), GU01-03-2003
 Candice Miller(R), MI01-03-2003
 Linda Sanchez(D), CA01-03-2003
 Virginia Foxx(R), NC01-03-2005
 Cathy McMorris-Rodgers(R), WA01-03-2005
 Gwen Moore(D), WI01-03-2005
 Debbie Wasserman-Schultz(D), FL01-03-2005
 Doris Matsui(D), CA03-08-2005
 Kathy Castor(D), FL01-04-2007
 Yvette Clarke(D), NY01-04-2007
 Niki Tsongas(D), MA10-18-2007
 Jackie Speier(D), CA04-10-2008
 Donna Edwards(D), MD06-19-2008
 Marcia Fudge(D), OH11-19-2008
 Lynn Jenkins(R), KS01-06-2009
 Cynthia Lummis(R), WY01-06-2009
 Chellie Pingree(D), ME01-06-2009
 Judy Chu(D), CA07-16-2009
 Karen Bass(D), CA01-05-2011
 Diane Black(R), TN01-05-2011
 Renee Ellmers(R), NC01-05-2011
 Vicky Hartzler(R), MO01-05-2011
 Jaime Herrera-Beutler(R), WA01-05-2011
 Kristi Noem(R), SD01-05-2011
 Martha Roby(R), AL01-05-2011
 Terri Sewell(D), AL01-05-2011
 Frederica Wilson(D), FL01-05-2011
 Janice Hahn(D), CA07-19-2011
 Suzanne Bonamici(D), OR02-07-2012
 Suzan DelBene(D), WA11-13-2012
 Joyce Beatty(D), OH01-03-2013
 Susan Brooks(R), IN01-03-2013
 Julia Brownley(D), CA01-03-2013
 Cheri Bustos(D), IL01-03-2013
 Tammy Duckworth(D), IL01-03-2013
 Elizabeth Esty(D), CT01-03-2013
 Lois Frankel(D), FL01-03-2013
 Tulsi Gabbard(D), HI01-03-2013
 Michelle Lujan Grisham(D), NM01-03-2013
 Ann Kirkpatrick(D), AZ01-03-2013
 Ann McLane Kuster(D), NH01-03-2013
 Grace Meng(D), NY01-03-2013
 Kyrsten Sinema(D), AZ01-03-2013
 Dina Titus(D), NV01-03-2013
 Ann Wagner(R), MO01-03-2013
 Jackie Walorski(R), IN01-03-2013
 Robin Kelly(D), IL04-11-2013
 Katherine Clark(D), MA12-12-2013
 Alma Adams(D), NC11-12-2014
 Bonnie Watson Coleman(D), NJ01-06-2015
 Barbara Comstock(R), VA01-06-2015
 Debbie Dingell(D), MI01-06-2015
 Gwen Graham(D), FL01-06-2015
 Brenda Lawrence(D), MI01-06-2015
 Mia Love(R), UT01-06-2015
 Martha McSally(R), AZ01-06-2015
 Stacey Plaskett (delegate)(D), VI01-06-2015
 Aumua Amata Radewagen (delegate)(R), AS01-06-2015
 Kathleen Rice(D), NY01-06-2015
 Elise Stefanik(R), NY01-06-2015
 Norma Torres(D), CA01-06-2015
 Mimi Walters(R), CA01-06-2015
Total Women: 88 Democrats: 65
Republicans: 23

https://www.govtrack.us/data/congress-legislators/