National Commentary

In Elections, Progressive Must Triumph Over Regressive


In the 16th year of the 21st Century, we are a nation divided, culturally, financially, geographically, and politically. There are distinct differences between the Democratic and Republican Party. We have two visions of America and only one will prevail. It is up to us — you and me — to ensure that progressive triumphs over regressive.

This election is about who we are. What we stand for. Where we’re going, and what we believe in. I’m proudly an aggressive progressive, because if we don’t fight, we cannot win. If we don’t stand up for our values, we will be devalued.

Last week, two developments highlighted how key the upcoming elections truly are. In the first, the charity Oxfam released a study in Davos that said 62 people own as much wealth as the 3.5 billion people in the bottom half of the world’s income scale.

Jeffrey Winters, a political scientist at Northwestern University described it this way to the New York Times: “These are unprecedented levels of stratification in all of human history. Whether compared to ancient Rome or authoritarian dictatorships that exert near-total control of a country’s resources, no other system has concentrated wealth as much as this system has.”

In a second major development, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA said that last year was Earth’s warmest ever. This goes all the way back to when they first started keeping records in 1880. The second hottest year was 2014. Ten out of the 12 months last year were the warmest months on record.

Now, which party do you think is going to best tackle economic inequality and climate change? Hint: it’s probably not the Party that doesn’t believe either phenomenon exists.

Oxfam’s alarming study is in line with other disturbing economic trends:

• The New York Times reports that median CEO compensation in 2013 was $13.9 million, a 9-percent increase from 2012

• The average CEO of a Standard & Poor’s 500 company was paid 216 times more than the median employees at their companies, according to a USA Today analysis. They were paid just 20 times more on average in the 1950’s, according to Bloomberg Business Week.

• A shocking 95-percent of income growth since the recovery started has gone to the super-wealthy.

I’m not against the wealthy – in fact I’d love to be rich. But, I take issue with the greedy. This inexcusable wealth gap was not necessary for the growth of the economy or the creation of jobs, as Republicans like to say.

We must win and take back our country before our country is unrecognizable. Aside from the importance of The White House, the Supreme Court hangs in the balance, as unbalanced minds fight for the Republican nomination. Elections matter and as Donald Trump likes to say, there are winners and losers. And, in one sense, he’s right. If a Republican wins, America will be the loser.

President Barak Obama saved the auto industry and dug our economy out of the George W. Bush abyss. On this president’s watch, 14 million new jobs have been created, unemployment cut in half, and 17 million new people now have healthcare.

New York Times columnist Timothy Egan points out that, “at no time in Ronald Reagan’s eight years was the unemployment rate lower than it is today, at 5-percent – and this is after Obama was handed the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression. Reagan lauded a federal deficit at 3.4% of gross national product. By last fall, Obama had done better than that, posting a deficit of 2.5 percent of GDP.”

But it is not just Barack Obama – it’s the Democratic Party. The research of economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson show that since 1947, the economy under Democratic presidents grew, on average, 4.35 percent per year; under Republicans, only 2.54 percent. Over the whole period, the economy was in recession for 49 quarters; Democrats held the White House during only eight of those quarters.

Democrats succeed because we ensure regulated free markets. Republicans believe in fraud markets, fake markets, and failed markets.

New York Times columnist, and Nobel Prize winner, Paul Krugman wrote, “Obama’s record compares favorably on a number of indicators with that of George W. Bush. In particular, despite all the talk about job-killing policies, private-sector employment is eight million higher than it was when Barack Obama took office, twice the job gains achieved under his predecessor before the recession struck.”

At the very moment our economy is healing, the last thing we need is a return to trickle down, voodoo economics. We don’t want to go back to bubble headed ideas that will lead to a bubble bursting recession – or worse.


Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”