Based on my writing for this series thus far, I would concede to a reader taking me to task for seemingly only having complaints, for offering criticisms of all segments of the American political spectrum but offering no perspective changes. All of the preceding criticisms come from deeply held moral and ethical beliefs — not just on my part but on that of the American left as a whole. The right and the center, in our view, stand in the way of seeing moral and ethical beliefs fulfilled, of progressing toward an equitable future for all. This article outlines how we mean to get there.
A future that neither Democrat nor Republican politicians want to see is one where an American society has been achieved that ensures every human life is provided not only the opportunity to survive, but to thrive. Providing health care, housing, food, possibly even basic income for every American, regardless of wealth, race, sexuality and legal citizenship status (much to the chagrin of Republicans and some Democrats) is the end goal of American leftists.
People tell me, “If you just give people things, they won’t have earned them and won’t take them as seriously as if they had!”
I, and other leftists in America, don’t want Americans to have to take seriously the things they need to survive. According to the University of California, Davis, in 2017, an estimated 39.7 million Americans lived in poverty. Millions more make enough money to just barely avoid poverty but still can’t afford any kind of financial emergency.
“Then they should find a better job!” I am told. Jobs that pay a living wage are becoming increasingly hard to find, especially when they require college degrees to obtain. When going to college is more expensive than ever, poorer Americans have to make the choice between continuing to work their lower-wage jobs and struggling to get by, or taking out loans to go to college, accumulating debt that will continue to financially suppress them for decades.
“How could we possibly afford to pay to provide all of that to everyone?”
We couldn’t. Not within the confines of our current system, at any rate. Under late-stage capitalism, huge corporations will continue to suppress the wages of their workers while making billions of dollars in profits and giving executives massive bonuses. They will pay virtually no taxes on those billions, giving nothing back to the communities that do the labor that produces them. They will horde hundreds of billions — even trillions — in wealth that serve no purpose besides sitting in an offshore bank account and helping them feel superior to the masses.
Meanwhile, Americans starve. Americans get sick and can’t afford to go to the doctor.
In this way, hoarding those obscene amounts of wealth is an act of violence. To rectify that offense, a radical reversal, of course, must be made. In our politics, a shift to value American lives over profits and the survival of the billionaire class is required.
We that constitute the American left have plans to do just that. Some plans are more radical than others, but four proposals exist as stepping stones: a drastic increase in and new taxation for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, single-payer universal healthcare, a federal minimum wage of at least $15 per hour, and tuition-free public college and university for all. The first of these is the method by which the latter three will be paid for, and in tandem, these programs would lift millions of Americans out of poverty and guarantee them the opportunity to succeed.
These are only economic changes, however, and they alone are not nearly enough. There are cultural forces at work that seek to eliminate entire groups of people based on their immutable characteristics, even if that isn’t their explicitly stated goal. The decades-long demonization of undocumented immigrants is the most obvious example, but there are more subtle and insidious illustrations of the widespread fear of the “other”: the epidemic of dead black Americans at the hands of police, endless murders of transgender women, and the recent rise in white supremacist terrorism are just a few of the many ways marginalized communities are victimized.
While harder to address, there are leftist solutions to these as well: expanding hate crime legislation and defining more severe criminal penalties; an overhaul of American police forces, with consideration for training in de-escalation and disarmament of cops and expansion of sensitivity training for school-age children, focused on race, gender identity, and sexuality, to create an overall kinder and safer environment for all Americans.
It is to be expected that there will be resistance to these measures. Republicans and Democrats alike have spent too much time and energy making scapegoats out of these groups for the American public to simply roll over and treat them with basic human decency. Considering these policies are meant to save American lives, leftists can never back down from pursuing them.
Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to figure out how to convince someone that they should care about their fellow Americans, that the existential fear that so many people in this country feel every day because they might lose their jobs, their homes, and far too often their lives, is a grievous error on the part of the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. I do know, however, that the measures I’ve outlined here are steps in the right direction, and they deserve to be fought for — for the betterment of America as a whole.
How these can be achieved will be the subject of Part Four, published online next week. I will be focusing on how the left can and should organize to increase their political power and leverage in an effort to achieve a more equitable American society. It will be the conclusion of this series, so I hope you’ll follow it through to the end.
Kyle Gombosi is a senior music: elective studies major with a minor in journalism. KG806059@wcupa.edu