(A well dressed man and woman sit on a bed in an expensive hotel suite. The man appears to be a bit nervous and talkative as he looks around the room and occasionally at his new companion. )
Here’s the plan, just over ten years ago we took our nation into two wars, all the while cut the taxes on big business and the richest 5% of Americans. Then, when the nation spiraled into massive debt, we cut all the social programs that provided middle-class Americans with a safety net and drove the majority of Americans into poverty. We then got rid of all those ridiculous regulations that hamper the rich and created a class system that will ultimately do away with democracy, and install in its place a benevolent Republican corporatocracy. As our Founding Fathers believed it should be. This is the dream. This is what we’ve been working for all this time. That’s that plan. What do you think?
(Girl #1 moves in close to John on the bed and loosens up his tie.)
You’re shitting me. You want to wipe out what’s left of the middle class and create a permanent ruling class?
(A big broad smile comes across John’s face.)
Hey, that’s pretty good; you grasped the concept right off the bat. We tried it before during the Gilded Age, but do to the Progessives we failed; or shall I say socialists like Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. But this time, with me, President Boehner on board, I believe we can make it happen. This is our time.
(Girl peels off John’s jacket and shirt and begins to unbutton her blouse.)
Whatever Baby, quit your yapping. You’re not on the campaign trail anymore. Am I going to grasp your bat or what? $1000 bucks. And between you and me, for another thousand I’ll throw in a lay. I gotta pay the rent.
Scene from the work in progress play, Mugwumps Go to Washington, by Dean Walker
During the 1884 presidential election between Republican Senator James G. Blaine and Democrat Stephen Grover Cleveland, a group of prominent Republican elites scorned their own party’s political policies, which called for the regulation the railroads and other businesses along with strong tariffs. The mugwumps were champions of free trade and highly suspicious of what they considered “excessive democracy.” The term Mugwumps was first used by a New York Sun editor who barrowed the term from the Algonquian word meaning self-important chieftain. At the time, it was said that the mugwumps would sit on the fence with their mugs supporting the people and their wumps on the side of big business.
Today, a new breed of Republican mugwumps have taken power and are trying to accomplish what they failed to do during the Gilded Era. The modern mugwumps are actively working toward the unraveling of one hundred and fifty years of Progressive progress that has protected Americans from the ravages of unregulated free markets and gross corporate abuses.
In order to understand Progressivism in the U.S. you really need to go back to the Reconstruction Era. After the Civil War, a flurry of social remedies was called for in order to address the injustices of slavery. The “Radical Republicans” controlled both houses of Congress, as well as the state governments, while the more moderate Republicans controlled the White House. Together, they raised taxes on businesses and banks with the Morrill tariff and the Nation Banking Act and established the Freedmen’s Bureau, a state school system (which enrolled some 600,000 blacks by 1877), provided federal aid to the poor, built orphanages, asylums, and institutions for the deaf and blind.
As the Reconstruction Era gave way to the Gilded Age, social justice movements became more widespread and began to organize on a national level. In particular, labor movements were formed in response to the ill treatment by Robber Barons and their ilk. During this time, it was not uncommon for people to work 12 hour work days seven days a week with two days off a year. Nor was it uncommon for children to be sent off to work in factories instead of school. Working conditions were horrible and this lead to volatile strikes and human disasters like the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire in 1911. Across the country, human beings were being chewed up and spit out by their employers. After reading Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle, about the sickening conditions in the nation’s meatpacking industry, America’s first Progressive president, Theodore Roosevelt, staked his political fortunes on righting the injustices being perpetrated by the industrialists, corporatists, newly gilded Laissez-Faire capitalists, and their mugwumps holding positions in government. Folks that were treating American workers worst than the British had treated colonial Americans.
Like a vast majority of the Progressive movement, Teddy Roosevelt rejected both socialism and Laissez-Faire capitalism. He called the communists and anarchists on the left the “lunatic fringe.” He also called for a “square deal,” which enforced strict regulations on big businesses and solid anti-trust laws in order to prevent the manipulations of the markets by ideologues of Laissez-Faire capitalism. In 1902, Teddy Roosevelt famously declaired, “Of all forms of tyranny, the least attractive and the most vulgar is the tyranny of mere wealth.”
Franklyn D. Roosevelt, like his cousin Teddy, has long been falsely labeled as a socialist by the Laissez-Faire liars. Of course it is common knowledge that FDR extended the Progressive agenda by balancing the interests of the free markets with sound regulations and social justice, with his New Deal reforms. Progressives delivered to America, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, the Department of Education.
That said, the Laissez-Fiare liars also called American war hero President Dwight D. Eisenhower a socialist and communist sympathizer, because he expanded many of the social programs FDR put into place. All of these programs the neo- mugwumps and Laissez-Faire liars would like to eliminate in America. In return, their plan is to extending tax cuts to the ultra rich and further deregulation of business.
On November 2, 2010, Republican mugwumps, with their self-important ideology, took control of the House of Representatives. With the help of hundreds of millions of secret donation dollars, the mugwumps and Laissez-Faire liars plan on cutting off health care for millions of Americans, in order to enforce their deficit creating, corporatocracy driven ideology. A false ideology built upon the sanctimony of the free-market and an endless barrage Laissez-Faire lies. A barrage of lies meant to confuse every day Americans and strip away middle-class freedoms in order to enslave them in the old Laissez-Faire “British System,” which Americans have long fought against.
In the final part of this series, we will look at what the world’s leading economists think about both the Progressives economic policy approach, of balancing sound social programs with fair taxes and smartly regulated free-markets, alongside the mugwump Republicans and Laissez-Faire liars approach to deregulate businesses and tax cuts for the ultra-rich. If you like economic drama played out on the political stage, you wouldn’t want to miss part three.