In his last address to the nation, Dwight Eisenhower warned Americans of the threat posed by what he called the "military-industrial complex." Last night, Barack Obama told his fellow citizens that they would have to work hard to protect their democracy from the threat of global Right Wing Populism. There have been several reasons for the rise of the Right Wing:
A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the spectre of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but our democracy as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids, and create good jobs, and protect our homeland.
He warned that, if Americans do nothing about their dysfunctional economy, they will court disaster:
Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles. While the top one per cent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind – the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and health care worker who struggle to pay the bills – convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful – a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.
And he offered his prescription for their economic ills:
So we must forge a new social compact – to guarantee all our kids the education they need; to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from the new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their success possible. We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.
Opportunity for all. Easy to say. Hard to accomplish. Time will tell if his words ring -- like Eisenhower's -- through the decades.