Wed, Jul 29 at 8 p.m. | 75 minutes
Olios: Drop-in classes led by professors
Throughout the Covid crisis, polls have shown that most Americans believe saving lives is more important than protecting the economy--but federal and state governments have reversed those priorities. This isn’t a new Trump Era phenomenon. For decades, majorities have favored policies that expand health care access, fight climate change, and tax the wealthy--few of which have happened regardless of who they vote for. Numerous studies show that American democracy exists more in form than in content: we have lots of campaigns and elections, but it’s the rich and powerful who get their way on almost every important decision.
We are raised on the belief that democracy and capitalism are natural partners, but in fact they make a miserable match. Political equality is impossible alongside extreme economic inequality. But our strange version of democracy isn’t just weak, it’s often part of the problem. Because most of our elections are limited to two corporate-approved candidates, the endless campaigns that are unique to American democracy are actually less about giving us a real choice than in getting us to accept the narrow spectrum of options that have already been decided for us--and to therefore take ownership of the outcomes that almost always disappoint.
In this Olio, based on my book Why Bad Governments Happen to Good People, we’ll take up three questions:
Why do our democratic processes consistently lead to oligarchic outcomes?
How does American democracy get us fighting one another rather than those in power?
In what ways has our strange version of democracy been challenged by Trump’s election, the Covid crisis, and the anti-racist rebellion?
Danny Katch is an activist and humorist often accused of not knowing the difference. He is the author of Socialism... Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation and has contributed chapters to Occupying Wall Street: e Inside Story of an Action that Changed America and 101 Changemakers: Rebels and Radicals Who Changed US History. He writes regularly for Socialist Worker and Jacobin.
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