Unless you’re an alt-Right bigot, you’ll see the presidency of Donald Trump for exactly what it is: a national disgrace, and a global disaster. As he imposes one fascist executive order after another, in an unprecedented cascade of tyranny, who does not fear for the future? But to see that future clearly, we need to cast our eyes over the past; and when we do, we are reminded it is a past replete with progressives who have given their all to make a difference, and who, despite setbacks, ultimately succeeded.
Looking back at the struggles of these earlier generations of Liberals, we are filled with admiration and empathy. But history is written by the victors. And the victors have, until recently, been White men of Privilege. We all know that without herstory, “history” can never be more than halfstory, so it’s unsurprising that, even now, many of us remain unaware of many leaders who have given everything for the betterment of the United States.
But even before the birth of our Nation, community organisers were instituting progressive policies in their bid to bring prosperity to ALL their members. The first settlers of Jamestown, for instance, suffered years of starvation as the inevitable byproduct of laissez-faire capitalism; there really cannot be a better illustration of “free markets” than the widespread use of indentured servants, whereby privileged men are “free” to own all the products of other people’s labour! Even White male historians admit that something like 80% of the settlers starved under this brutal free-market regime, and were actually considering abandoning the township altogether. But a new governor, Thomas Dale, was something of an economist: he realised socialism was the answer. He allotted every household – not just the most privileged White males – the use of three acres of land, and productivity exploded. Jamestown was saved… thanks to government intervention.
But for every success, there has been a setback; for every triumph, a tragedy.
Take, for example, the life of Progressive hero Alexander Hamilton. This deeply ethical man had a plan to liberate Black slaves. Hamilton’s bold, moral idea? For government to buy them from their cruel private owners, and employ them directly as public servants. But Liberal hopes across the land were dashed when his plans were thwarted, and people of colour were obliged to continue the oppressive work of picking cotton and starching collars, rather than be given exciting new jobs as government conscripts fighting British soldiers in the Revolutionary War.
Hamilton did succeed in his attempts to bring abundant money to the economy via the institution of a National Bank; but again, social progress stumbled when he was unfairly killed by the pugnacious coward Aaron Burr in a duel in 1804, and again, when his bank’s charter was not renewed in 1811.
Realising their mistake, the government reinstated the National Bank in 1816. Surely now, thought relieved progressives, our currency would be blessed with the stability that only central banks can confer? But it was not to be; a mere 17 years later, “President” Andrew Jackson withdrew its charter, despite knowing – and publically admitting – that this would “ruin ten thousand families”!
Work towards a progressive utopia has endured one setback after another; the assassination of that tireless advocate of minority and Federal rights, Abraham Lincoln; the reinstatement of the ruinous gold standard in 1923; the death of FDR, whose relentless central planning brought a swift and conclusive end to the Great Depression, the 12-year economic disaster caused by unbridled capitalism that plagued his administration until his death.
But let us remember our triumphs: the election of Woodrow Wilson, for example. A modern Constitutionalist through-and-through, he signed into law not one but two beloved, all-American institutions: the Internal Revenue Service, and the Federal Reserve System, quiet guarantor of our money’s purchasing power. Here, indeed, was an exemplar of everything we stand for: a man wise enough to admit the unimportance of his isolationist campaign promises, and brave enough to order other American men to march into battle against German tyranny, alongside freedom-loving conscripts from other lands desperate to spread democracy: the British, French, Belgian and Russian Empires, for instance.
In the last decade alone we have seen the election of Barack Obama, a Black man, to the highest office of our land, and Hillary Clinton, a womyn, come within a whisker of becoming our president too. Yes, she (we!) lost, but it’s important to remember why. Her (our!) hopes of seeing a Madame President finally grace our dollar bill were dashed by Republican gerrymandering, not by actually losing the election; she won the popular vote by more than 3 million, surely a triumph for freedom-minded people everywhere, as many of those votes were cast by Americans evading tyrannical citizenship requirements.
Though it is tempting to see the “election” of Donald Trump through the terrifying lens of today, as progressives it behooves us to remember history, and examine just how far we’ve come. It is we who staff the universities, the community colleges, the public schools and kindergartens. It is we who staff government departments. And it is we who staff the accredited media, bringing the correct analyses to world events, and keeping the public constantly aware that Trump is, in fact, a mind-controlled stooge of Vladimir Putin. Unlike greedy capitalists, who think only of the next quarter’s return on “their” money, we are the producers, and we are the intellectuals: we are on government salaries, and we can take the long view. Look at our glorious history, and feel re-assured that the climb upwards – though temporarily stayed – will continue in 2020. And if not 2020, then 2024; as our calm and dignified anti-Trump demonstrations are showing across the land, we are nothing if not patient!