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Our founding fathers worked hard to ensure that a small group of wealthy people would never dominate this country. They’d had enough of aristocracy. They put government to work to ensure a thriving middle class. When the middle class took a hit, beginning in the post–Civil War Gilded Age and culminating in the Great Depression, democracy-loving leaders like Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower revitalized it through initiatives such as antitrust regulations, fair-labor laws, the minimum wage, social security, and Medicare.
So what happened? Thom Hartmann shows that, over the last few decades, we’ve witnessed an undeclared war against the middle class. The so-called conservatives waging this war are only interested in conserving—and steadily increasing—their own wealth and power. Hartmann shows how, under the guise of “freeing” the market, they’ve systematically dismantled the programs set up by both Republicans and Democrats to protect the middle class and have replaced them with policies that favor only the privileged few.
But the middle class is the very thing that makes America great. Thomas Jefferson himself believed that our very democracy depends upon our ability to play referee to the game of business, protecting labor and the public good. It is both our right and our responsibility, Jefferson wrote, to control “overgrown wealth” from becoming “dangerous to the state.”
We must not stand by while our democracy becomes a corporatocracy, serving an elite group of billionaire CEOs. There is another way. Thomas Jefferson knew how to build a middle class. Franklin Roosevelt knew how. We’ve done it before and we can do it again. Following Hartmann’s common-sense proposals, we can re-create a prospering middle class that will ensure our public institutions are not turned into private fiefdoms, meet people’s basic needs—for education, health care, a living wage—and keep America strong.