Skip to main content

The birth of the People’s Party

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | March 8, 2011

Look at the outrage in Madison, Wisconsin. Look at the crowds in Des Moines, Iowa. Look at the demonstrations in Indiana and Ohio and elsewhere around America.

Hear what they’re saying: Stop attacking unions. Stop making scapegoats out of public employees. Stop protecting the super-rich from paying their fair share of the taxes needed to keep our schools running.

Stop gutting the working middle class.

Are we finally seeing average Americans stand up and demand a fair shake in an economy now grotesquely tilted toward the wealthy and the privileged? Are Americans beginning to awake to the fact that our economy now delivers a larger share of total income to the very top than at any time in living memory? That big corporations are making more money and creating more jobs abroad than in the United States?

That this concentration of income and wealth has so corrupted politics that corporations can extort whatever they want from the government — tax breaks, loan guarantees, subsidies — while the super-rich can take most of their income as capital gains (taxed at 15 percent), and the rest at the lowest top rate in 25 years? And that because of this our kids are crowded into classrooms, our streets and highways and bridges are falling apart, and our healthcare bills are out of control?

The Tea Party grew out of indignation over the Wall Street bailout — an indignation shared by the vast majority of Americans. But the Tea Party ended up directing its ire at government rather than at big business and Wall Street. Was this because billionaires Charles and David Koch and their like funneled money to the Tea Party through front organizations like Dick Armey’s Freedom Works, and thereby co-opted it?

Now we may be seeing the birth of a genuine populist movement. Call it the People’s Party. Like the Tea Party, the People’s Party doesn’t have a clear organization or hierarchy or single address. It doesn’t have lobbyists in Washington. It’s not even yet recognized by the mainstream media.

But the People’s Party seems to be growing in numbers and in intensity. And it’s starting to push elected officials — first at the state level — to listen and respond.

Cross-posted from Robert Reich’s blog

Comments to “The birth of the People’s Party

  1. Robert Reich’s book “AFTERSHOCK” is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the dynamics of this global (and USA) economic picture. Simply written, Professor Reich weaves an incredible network of factors that takes us back to WW2 times and the income disparity gap then that brought us to the Great Depression and a similar gap threatening economic security now.

    Thank you, Professor Reich, for writing this book! I did not want to return it to the library!

  2. Tonight, family and friends in Wisconsin are expressing their disappointment with the man who is a constitutional expert and who came to them when he needed their affirmation and confirmation.
    Tonight, when Americas workers basic rights in the work place are under assault by fascist –
    Tomorrow is to far away.

  3. What great insight into the Tea Party movement.
    It is unfortunate you did not hear the 14 minute State of the State of Florida by our new Governor Scott. It took him more time to walk to the dais and then introduce various luminaries, than the time he spoke.
    The governor introduced soldiers and police for whom we have admiration but from which he intends to take money to sponsor the rich. There were four businessmen who have come to Florida, starting businesses with less than a total of 1000 jobs.
    Gov. Scott wants to lower the 12% unemployment rate by (1) reducing unemployment compensation; (2) reduce Medicaid payments; (3) reduce corporate income tax -we already have the fifth lowest; (4) make public employees contribute 5% of their money to a solvent state retirement system and stop state contributions; and (5) reduce funding for education by more than $700/studnet – and then give incentives he has taken from the middle class and made them poor – to help reach corporations make a few low paying jobs.
    This is the Tea party at work. In Gainesville over 100 people demonstrated before and during th estate of the state address. We call Gov. Scott is running Florida like a corporation. When he was head of HCA he stayed out of prison, while some of his lower executives got prison terms and the company paid $500 million in fines for Medicare/Medicaid fraud.
    The two Democratic replies were balanced and fair.

  4. “People’s Party seems to be growing in numbers and in intensity.”

    Yes, R.R., we see where it is all headed:

    ANOTHER OBAMA RECORD… Social Welfare Benefits Now Make Up 35% of US Wages & Salaries. Obama’s deficit spending last month, 1/4 of a trillion dollars, most every in USA history, more than all deficit spending of 2007 — which was the highest on recorded previously. Keep up the good work, hopefull we can have obama give each of us a billion dollars, so we all never have to work again. 😉

    • Obama’s mistake was not spending money to bailout the economy, rather his mistake was sending the bailout money to the Wall Street boys, the creditors instead of the debtors, who promptly used the money to give themselves exorbitant bonuses, fund their cronies, and invest in building businesses in Asia. Once again the Wall Street boys are bleeding the middle class without having produced a product or given the financial markets anything of benefit (except as Paul Volker has said, the ATM machine). They are executing the divide and conquer strategy beautifully against the middle class, and the Tea Party is their unwitting puppet. 🙁

  5. I had already joined the Party, and am glad to hear that Dr. Reich has given a name to this emerging movement. Seems that the Wall Street privileged caused a major crisis by making huge sums of money in a deregulated environment at the expense of the middle class, leading to our current deficit. Now the Wall Streeters want to further bleed the middle class by removing our unions, privatizing our institutions, stripping our benefits, and sending our jobs overseas. Time to stand strong…take it to the streets in the Berkeley tradition as they’re now doing in Wisconsin.

    • I live in Madison, and yes I agree it is time for the rest of the Nation to stand up, speak up and as you said…TAKE IT TO THE STREETS. We are on our own when it comes to getting support from the big parties in Washington. But we can do this! I have NO doubt in my mind. Thank you

  6. This would be so good: to work together rather than against each other. Here’s to the People’s Party. Everyone is invited.

  7. I like this quote from Samuel Adams the “Father of the American Revolution”

    “Were the talents and virtues which heaven has bestowed on men given merely to make them more obedient drudges, to be sacrificed to the follies and ambition of a few? Or, were not the noble gifts so equally dispensed with a divine purpose and law, that they should as nearly as possible be equally exerted, and the blessings of Providence be equally enjoyed by all?”

    To the Father of the People’s Party Revolution

Comments are closed.