As a 60 year old, lifelong Southern Liberal (I call myself The Dixie Dove) I am dumbstruck by the state of the presidential race today. For thirty years I have tried to raise public awareness of our taxation history in the US and the great things we afforded from 1940-80 with tax rates on the most wealthy at double to triple today's rates. I was thrilled that president Obama opened up the conversation on this subject and talked about 'spreading the wealth', but very disappointed that public opinion has not been greatly swayed.
The state of today's presidential race leaves me dumbstruck and cautiously optimistic.
On the one hand, Bernie Sanders is voicing my opinion on the tax rate issue perfectly and being successful with it! On the other hand, even Donald Trump seems relatively progressive (by today's standards) on the tax issue and they both agree with me completely on the trade issue and the need to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US.
I was a volunteer for Senator Tom Harkin in the New Hampshire primary in 1992 and I still remember vividly the night of the Democratic debate on WMUR in Manchester. The Harkin volunteers had gathered in a bar down the street from the station. Having just cheered and booed the various candidates as they arrived at the debate, we sat with our beers and pizza to watch the televised debate, eagerly anticipating seeing our man Harkin. Tom had won his home state Iowa Caucus, but received anemic press for the 'homer' win. Behind in the polls, we knew Harkin needed a great debate performance.
Then came THE QUESTION. Harkin was asked about 'free trade' and China. Harkin said, in essence, 'I will never sign legislation giving away American jobs and our manufacturing base to a totalitarian regime. That would be like re-inventing slavery by having our goods produced by people whose government does not value human rights or the environment!'. Home run, we thought, because Clinton was a well known 'free trader'. But when Bill was asked the same question he started his response with 'Tom, I agree with you 100%' and proceeded to co-opt the issue.
I was enraged and I turned to one of the Harkin paid operatives sitting next to me and I said 'Clinton's done, he's lying, he can't do that!' The Harkin staffer said, 'No, he just won the election'. Bill became the 'comeback kid' with a 2nd place finish, Harkin came in 4th and the rest is history. Clinton won it all and did indeed sign legislation (written by Republicans in congress) to, in effect, hand China the keys to the US manufacturing base.
While I have far more respect for Hillary than Bill Clinton, it is an amazing irony to see this political powerhouse couple crushed in New Hampshire by a candidate who sounds a whole lot like Tom Harkin did, lo those many years ago. And to see a Republican nominee also crush his opponents with the same message.
As I said, I am dumbstruck.