Greetings friends, family, and fellow progressives:
It’s been a while since I’ve been with ya’ll but it’s a pleasure to be back home at The Florida Squeeze- a project Kartik, Brook, myself and so many others have put their heart and souls into. As you may have heard by now, I’m back writing for our beloved TFS on a weekly basis under the title Angry Progressive. While I may change the titled of the blog periodically, its theme will not change because I feel it captures the essence and mood of so many of us at this particular moment in our nation’s history.
But that anger did not start nor end with the election of Donald Trump-at least for me. For this first post, I wanted to do something I’ve never done, anywhere, publicly and that’s provide insight and context into the issues I care so deeply about, why I care about them, and most specifically when my political enlightenment really came of age.
So let me start by apologizing. I woke up November 9th sick to my stomach. Sick that not only did this country elect an wholly unqualified man to lead us, but that I didn’t do enough to stop it. I’m sorry that I left ya’ll in the trenches to fight these battles alone. Let it be known that I will never do that again. I’m in this fight for the rest of my life. From this day forth, I pledge to fight along side you in this most dangerous of times. I’m 30 years old and I’ve got a good six decades of fight in me. So let’s get started.
Let me tell you a little about my story. My parents never went to college. My father was a musician, my mother an office worker in the now defunct garment district of New York City. We never had it easy. Of course, there were better years than others but struggle was something we became accustomed to. My sisters and I were educated in public education systems in both New Jersey and Florida, until I attended Stetson University for undergraduate work (more on that later). Why am I telling you this?
The world that my parents grew up in and the one that they raised us is in, is dead- and its never coming back. NAFTA destroyed what was the backbone of this nation’s founding- the textile industry. The public education system that gave my parents the opportunity to move up the socio-economic ladder, reach for the American dream, own a home and raise family is under constant attack. For decades the neoliberal economic policies pursued and enacted by both Republican and Democratic administrations chipped away at opportunities for us, and millions of other families all over the country. Minority groups had it even worse as radical reforms to our criminal justice system, institutionalized racism, and corruption made it infinitely harder for African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans to pursue their dreams as well.
Then came the Great Recession of 2007-08. What I’m about to tell you I’ve never said publicly, but I feel its necessary. My parents’ nearly lost their home and their livelihood. The value of our home plummeted way below what our mortgage was for. Both my parents lost jobs and couldn’t provide the basic needs. As I entered my Senior year at Stetson, the world that I knew crumbled around me. The $120,000 in loans I’d taken out for education, were going to swelter with interest. My parents, now unemployed were struggling just to survive, and not because of anything they did wrong. Bankruptcy was on the only option. And that’s exactly what they did.
As my undergrad thesis research deepened, my political enlightenment came to fruition. The middle class had been purposely squeezed, its wealth extracted and transferred upward. In fact, the 2007-2008 Great recession resulted in the greatest upward transfer of wealth in American history under the guise of a necessary act to prevent a financial calamity- ignoring the fact that families like mine had already faced one for nearly 3 decades thanks to supply side, neo-liberal economics. That was the year I dedicated myself to working as hard I as possibly could for families like mine, like yours, like your neighbors. As Aristotle taught us brilliantly, democracy will only survive if the middle class is the largest and in control. We now for the first time in our nation’s history have seen our middle class drop from largest in the world as the Chinese have become the largest and most prosperous.
Our government decided it would be more advantageous to bail out banks and firms that engaged in criminal activity than those American’s duped by shady and illegal business practices. To this day, these facts remains: our justice system imprisons the poor, protects the wealthy, and our economy privatizes gains and socializes losses. Whats worse, our Democratic Party has been complicit with the Republicans in allowing those facts to become dominant in our society. This cannot, and will not stand.
I joined this fight simply because I know that there are millions of other families that have gone through what my family went through. I know there even countless more that have gone through so much worse. I’ve managed or consulted on races all over our great country, only to realize one thing: the Democratic Party needs fixin’ both at the national level and state level. I used to think that the only way to make change was to use the system as it stands, unfortunately that is no longer a reality. The system itself is what’s preventing the reforms we desperately needs both in the political and policy realms.
So, here again we start anew- a journey and fight for progress from the bottom up. Starting with our local communities, finding and training candidates from the next generation of leaders to build a bench for the forthcoming millennial takeover of the American economy. I look forward to pursuing these much needed political, economic, social, and institutional reforms with you, and very much anticipate your input each and every week on this blog.
Standing United in Resistance