CAN A MOVEMENT SAVE THE AMERICAN DREAM? There was a time when the American dream was more than just a lofty ideal. After World War II, it was a reality for millions of Americans—broadly shared prosperity that offered good jobs with decent wages, accessible and affordable healthcare, good education and the promise of a secure retirement for all. Though the promise often exceeded its performance, the possibility at least provided a way up. But as Institute for America’s Future President Robert Borosage and I explain this week in “The American Dream: Can a Movement Save It?” today’s failed economy and corrupted politics have imperiled every element of that dream. While the richest 1 percent absorb nearly a quarter of the nation’s income and control 40 percent of its wealth, hard-working middle-class Americans struggle to find decent jobs and pay for soaring costs of education and healthcare. Meanwhile, pensions are gutted, home values continue to plummet, and the cornerstone of America’s safety net—Social Security and Medicare—lie on the chopping block. And there’s little help from Washington: partisan bickering, gridlock and influence have saturated and stifled our politics.
Like the progressive battles fought over the last century—from the trustbusting days of the robber baron era to the New Deal, and more recently the civil rights, antiwar, women’s, gay rights and environmental movements—it will take a truly popular uprising to save the American Dream, one unlike the faux populism of the corporate-backed Tea Party Movement. Van Jones of Green For All has joined MoveOn.org, the Campaign for America’s Future, The Center for Community Change and dozens of other progressive organizations to challenge the reign of private interests under the umbrella of the American Dream Movement to mobilize energy for widespread progressive organizing. On October 3, activists from across the country will gather in Washington at the Take Back The American Dream Conference to push for an agenda that has broad support and represents the real priorities of America’s middle class: jobs, growth, investment in infrastructure and education, tax reform and the rebuilding of our basic social contract and safety net that once gave a path to prosperity for millions of Americans. As Reverend King once said, “I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American Dream.” The time has come to make his dream, our dream, a reality once again.
LETHAL INJUSTICE. On Wednesday, September 21, the state of Georgia executed Troy Anthony Davis for a murder of a police officer in 1989 that witnesses now say he did not commit. As we argue in this week’s lead editorial, the tenuous case against Davis—an African-American man convicted of murdering a white police officer in a Southern state—has awakened Americans to a vicious system that thrives on racism and condemns the innocent to die. It is a relic of injustice that must be abolished once and for all. As our collective attention was focused on Jackson, Georgia that tragic night, The Nation’s executive editor Richard Kim was live-blogging the dramatic developments at TheNation.com late into the evening. Be sure to read the compelling account of the events here. And associate editor Liliana Segura’s article about Georgia’s cruel use of sodium thiopental to kill Emmanuel Hammond earlier this year is a must-read. She joined Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Thursday night to explain why Davis’s execution should change the way we conceptualize the death penalty, law and justice.