Trump Brought Our Democracy Back To A Gilded Age Like The 1890s!

By Donald A. Collins | 26 June 2023
Church and State

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

The riches of our virgin continent which Europeans arrived on in the early 1600s were systematically exploited since then in the process of creating one of the greatest empires the world has ever known.

AND concurrently produced the most dazzling array of human accomplishments in human history.

That our excesses of growth now causing the 6th Extinction are now dawning on more and more scientists and informed people worldwide but focus on corrective actions are now much too slow.

For example, the lethal combination of our burgeoning population, our climate deteriorating and our drift towards greater international conflict, which could turn into a nuclear holocaust, puts us desperately in need of solutions that are now known and often articulated but seemingly impossible to achieve.

Now as we have staggered though the Trump years since his election in 2016, we find that not only is he not in jail, but he is also likely to be the GOP Presidential nominee in the 2024 election.

Recall that one of his earliest acts as President was to CUT corporate taxes from 35% to 21% further ceding control of our government to business and confirming our arrival into a new Gilded Age.

We financed much of our present Gilded Age national debt with $32 trillion with borrowed money!!

At the end of the 19th Century, its excesses such as the Robber Barons, the violent strikes, the abject poverty of many citizens decried by the media and political protests, brought an end to the Gilded Age with massive improvements demanded and achieved by intense political action.

Read the total history here along with advances achieved as it ended.

Quote from this article:

In 1893, both the overextended Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and the National Cordage Company failed, which set off an economic depression unlike any seen before in America.

Banks and other businesses folded, and the stock market plunged, leaving millions unemployed, homeless and hungry. In some states, unemployment rose to almost 50 percent.

The Panic of 1893 lasted four years and left lower and even middle-class Americans fed up with political corruption and social inequality. Their frustration gave rise to the Progressive Movement which took hold when President Theodore Roosevelt took office in 1901.

Although Roosevelt supported corporate America, he also felt there should be federal controls in place to keep excessive corporate greed in check and prevent individuals from making obscene amounts of money off the backs of immigrants and the lower class.

Helped by the muckrackers and the White House, the Progressive Era ushered in many reforms that helped shift away power from robber barons, such as:

trust busting
labor reform
women’s suffrage
birth control
formation of trade unions
increased conservation efforts
food and medicine regulations
tax reform
civil rights
election reform
fair labor standards

By 1916, America’s cities were cleaner and healthier, factories safer, governments less corrupt and many people had better housing, working hours and wages. Fewer monopolies meant more people could pursue the American Dream and start their own businesses.

When America entered World War I in 1917, the Progressive Era and any remnants of the Gilded Age effectively ended as the country’s focus shifted to the realities of war. Most robber barons and their families, however, remained wealthy for generations.

Even so, many bequeathed much of their wealth, land and homes to charity and historical societies. And progressives continued their mission to close the gap between the wealthy and poor and champion the needy and disenfranchised.

My chief concern now is not Trump’s defeat or his conviction although both are richly deserved, but in getting Americans to wake up to where we have drifted with America having total riches beyond any earlier time in world history.

We are now clearly in a new Gilded Age where our democracy has been fully bought by corporations who have changed the laws to allow them full license to feather the nests of the few at the top, while 60% of us are living paycheck to paycheck!!!

Read here about how so many people are wondering— in the richest country in the world—why too many of us have inadequate health coverage and support in their old age. Why are 60% of us living paycheck to paycheck?

Read about it here.

Meanwhile the compensation of CEOs of major companies has skyrocketed while pay for most workers has not.

Read here.

Per Google–Total adjusted compensation for the highest-paid CEOs of S&P 500 companies in 2021 ranged from $296.2 million to $37.8 million. The same figures for female CEOs in 2021 ranged from $51.2 million to $7 million.

As many have pointed out, the road to this fiscal imbalance was facilitated by two major legislative coups for corporate license seen as great at the time, which in 2007-2008 led to that major financial crash which the US Government bailed out many big financial institutions at a huge cost to taxpayers.

The first was the abolition of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act intended to separate investment and commercial banking activities. Repealed in 1999, during the Clinton Administration, though some parts remain, including the FDIC. It erased that needed protection and led to excesses of risk.

Read here the full story.

The next major overreach for corporate control of our Federal Government was

“January 21, 2020 will mark a decade since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a controversial decision that reversed century-old campaign finance restrictions and enabled corporations and other outside groups to spend unlimited funds on elections.

While wealthy donors, corporations, and special interest groups have long had an outsized influence in elections, that sway has dramatically expanded since the Citizens United decision, with negative repercussions for American democracy and the fight against political corruption.”

This proved a disaster on the road to our new Gilded Age as this quote explains:

With its decision, the Supreme Court overturned election spending restrictions that date back more than 100 years. Previously, the court had upheld certain spending restrictions, arguing that the government had a role in preventing corruption. But in Citizens United, a bare majority of the justices held that “independent political spending” did not present a substantive threat of corruption, provided it was not coordinated with a candidate’s campaign.

As a result, corporations can now spend unlimited funds on campaign advertising if they are not formally “coordinating” with a candidate or political party.

Read the whole sad story here.

And time is getting very short to fix other crises such as how we recycle our water and avoid desertification of our precious agricultural land.

Or offering women access to all family planning choices so that we reduce the 45% of US annual pregnancies that are unintended.

Our new Gilded Age has incited this new 2nd Civil War!

Small wonder people are concerned and angry.

Remember that our founders proposed our uniquely successful democratic (small d) institutions, it was a great experiment. To make it continue to make it work well, to repair the divisions and ills that now abound, we will all have to be engaged in political activism.

How can this Trump forwarded Gilded Age be reformed and brought to the end of corporate dominant funding of our Federal Government?

This task now seems equivalent to fighting the law of gravity, although seemingly worse conditions prevailed in the first Gilded Age.

Perhaps then the massive upsurge in media from the Muckrakers and threatening strikes got those amazing results. Teddy Roosevelt led some of the actions, and truly meaningful changes came.

Now it is not clear whether enough voters fully grasp the inequity of this corporately controlled system.

Would restoring Glass-Steagall and Citizens United be possible?

Are our Federal Government commitments to our defense in a troubled world and vital social services spending driving us to disastrous financial instability?

Democracy is fragile and many of those 735 US billionaires may not see that in driving most of us into anger and despair they risk bringing us down into the Trump authoritarian populism he has advocated since his election in 2016!

Would massive citizen marches in our streets get change? Only if voters understood and were motivated to protest that big corporations own their government.

You may not like Biden, but the GOP Presidential alternatives are frighteningly close to Trump’s policies!

The 2024 election is the most important for democracy since the Civil War and for the world in which our experiment if righted will have so much influence.

Can we fix our republic? It will be up to our recovering from the greed, racism, and the fault of too many mindlessness citizens into ignoring and acting on our problems. Can our younger voters awaken their elders to begin to begin in the 2024 election to help rectify this need to end this dangerous new Gilded Age!

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC, has spent over 50 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of “From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013”, “Trump Becoming Macbeth: Will our democracy survive?”, “We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?”, “What Can Be Done Now to Save Habitable Life on Planet Earth?”, “Vote”, “Can Homo Sapiens Survive?”, “Will Choice and Democracy Win?”, “Can Our U.S. Survive 8 Plus Billion of Us” and “Economic Growth: A Cancer on all Earthly Life”.

Earth currently experiencing a sixth mass extinction, according to scientists | 60 Minutes

Most Extreme Excesses In The Gilded Age

Glass-Steagall crash course

How the Citizens United Decision Changed U.S. Political Campaigns (full documentary) | FRONTLINE

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