The concept of a political whole has existed since Thucydides described the Peloponnesian War. In those days, a political whole was necessary to provide armies for war. Today, a political whole is the same as flour in a bread recipe: it holds a nation together despite endless differences in politics, society, technology, religion, economics, international treaties and the state of the planet itself – all part of the same recipe.
A way to feel the presence of a unified political whole, or unified nation, is to feel national pride. Remember in the old days when the phrase ‘I am an American’ was spoken with sincerity? An obligated feeling is to believe that each individual is America. America is each individual. Joined at the hip to use an old phrase. Alas, today the recipe isn’t working; the bread collapses into useless crumbs and bad tasting pieces.
Throughout history when change was in the air, in fact overdue, the idea of a unified nation no longer sufficed. Populist groups rose in rebellion; today we call it ‘identity politics’ and there are fractious campaigns across the board involving abusive class practices, abusive racial practices, abusive sexual practices, abusive economic practices, abusive corporate practices, political party elitism, and too frequently, a relapse into less than moral respect for the nation itself. The Base is among this list of entities. Why?
Mariner points to the over-capitalization of the US given that its resources have shrunk over time – from that time when an entire virgin continent was at hand to let capitalism generate the profits that it can generate so quickly. But in this century especially, there isn’t enough continent to go around and capitalism still reigns as the economic philosophy. Given less resources, those who garner wealth continue to maintain profits while the common citizen collects less and less over time until things obviously are unbalanced and unfair. The time has come that the common citizen knows their children will be economically disadvantaged.
The common citizen points their finger at Federal and state governments that have let this happen. It is a serious issue; savoir faire does not apply. The election of Donald, a pompous bully who is destructive, is not an issue with the Base. His job is to bring down an unsympathetic government – no love lost.
There are just a few ways a citizen can share profits derived from the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP):
Investment – For those citizens and corporations that have ‘extra’ cash above normal living and operating expenses, the cash is invested in things like stocks and bonds and various funds or it is invested in business expansion. Today there are some new wrinkles in capitalization; antitrust laws are ignored so very large companies can supersize themselves to sustain market value and increase profits; investment has become an international reality and significant percentages of money are not reinvested in US interests but invested overseas. Having little or no extra cash, the Base does not participate in profit by investment.
Wage and benefit negotiation – At the beginning of the 1900s, there were some bloody clashes and major destruction as laborers fought to unionize. Today, at the beginning of the 2000s, unions have been outlawed to the point of not being a significant influence in corporate decisions about wages and benefits. Employers can now treat wages as a static overhead regardless of profits. Consequently, the Base is shut out from GDP profits with a net effect of underfinanced retirement. Another side effect is minimum wage; plutocratic influence in governments has pushed against increases even to levels of viability.
Taxation – It is common knowledge today that the tax tables are upside down. As a percentage of income, low income citizens are taxed at severe percentages while wealth in all its forms is virtually tax free. Further, corporations no longer are bound to one government’s tax laws and are able to avoid taxes of any kind. The Base feels it is paying an unfair share of taxes for a government that caters to the plutocracy instead of the tax-paying workers.
Discretionary Programs – Programs in the government’s budget that are beneficial to citizens in general, e.g., health, welfare, social security, worker’s compensation, support for the indigent, and equal treatment programs; add in public education. The Affordable Care Act is the first major program to be added since the Civil Rights Act in 1957 and Medicare/Medicaid in 1965. In the 1990s, the health industry became a profit taking industry; the cost of health services was no longer based on cost plus a margin, it became based on what the market would bear. This increased health insurance significantly; copays increased and many health services opted out of Medicaid and Medicare, forcing citizens to pay huge bills for special services and prescriptions. Major detractors of discretionary programs are Libertarians and conservative parts of the Republican Party. The Base feels that governments are ignoring their needs.
A paragraph must be dedicated to the screwy results of the 2016 election. When surveying Republicans, Donald has 70% of the GOP. When surveying the general population, Donald has 40%. The 40% represents Donald’s Base; the other 30% is the GOP faithful. Unfortunately, Hillary was in the crosshairs of history: the whole Bill thing, the Whitewater thing, the female thing, the Establishment thing – the crossover to vote republican was just enough for the Base to switch to Donald. The irrational Electoral College didn’t help either. Ironically, Hillary won by 4 million votes and in 2018 the Democratic Party rose like a tsunami to take control of the House of Representatives. But Donald, running republican, took the day. Mariner feels sorry for the Base in that they elected the personality they wanted but not the party they wanted.
So what can we do about the Base? Fear feeds populism. The Base feels threatened on every side. Salaries are inadequate; retirement is uncertain; automation eliminates jobs every day; upward mobility is denied (college costs, forced layoff around the age of 50, rising house prices, etc.), governments are awash in plutocracy, children can’t afford to move out and on and on.
Mariner isn’t touting either party these days; government is totally dysfunctional whether Democrat or Republican. Still, the Green New Deal may expand the necessary workforce – especially for the working class; retooled discretionary programs, including the expense of college, may help around the edges of life; the idea of a dole to every citizen may rebalance income conditions especially for the poor and elderly; universal medical coverage may ease the life of just about everyone. It seems that the Democrats need specifically to invite the Base back to their party for 2020. A lot hangs on who the presidential nominee will be.