March 22, 2018–With 1.7 viewers tuned in to his online town hall March 20, “Inequality in America: The Rise of Oligarchy and Collapse of the Middle Class,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, joined by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others, missed a golden opportunity to rally progressive Democrats and independents to fight for real solutions to the grave economic/financial calamity the nation faces. While both Senators have been leading voices in the effort to restore Glass-Steagall banking separation, whose overturn in 1998 led directly to the 2007-08 crash, not a whisper passed their lips this night about it.
The several guest speakers delivered a dizzying and somewhat disheartening array of statistics documenting the ongoing decline of the American middle class, particularly in the manufacturing sector, while filmmaker Michael Moore pointed hopefully to the recent success of the teachers strike in West Virginia as an “amazing victory.”
Picking up on this theme, guest speaker Cindy Estrada, vice president of the United Auto Workers, underscored the crucial role of labor unions in building the middle class, in the period before 1980 (when Reagan busted the Air Traffic Controllers, and implemented “trickle-down” economics); and how the crushing of the organized labor movement since then has been synonymous with the collapse of wages and manufacturing. Michael Moore, who touts his origins in Flint, Michigan, added with a note of pride that his uncle had participated in the great Flint Sit-Down strike of 1937, an historic turning point for the labor movement.
The biggest applause of the evening occurred when Senator Warren followed up Estrada’s remarks by forcefully recalling that it was the union movement that built American’s middle class, and it will take the restoration of unions to rebuild that middle class.
Clearly the huge turnout for this Sanders’ event, which shocked even the organizers, shows that a large section of the electorate is ready for dumping for pro-Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, and going for FDR-style solutions like Glass-Steagall and a national infrastructure bank.