Reposted from Kevin Vecchione by PhilJD
By definition Syriza means Coalition Of The Left. Today's American left might do to take a lesson from the sudden emergence and successes of Syriza within the Greek Left. Today's American left, after 30 years of Republican attacks is in shambles. It could be said that the Democratic Party is still a viable one, but one look at the party's map and one can see losses on every front from local elections and governorship's to the more recent loss of the Senate and the 2010 loss of the House.
It's easy to scapegoat the President or the poor group of candidates in the last election but when considering the very dwindling base of the Republican Party, it's a wonder how we got to this point. Republicans now have power on every level from the statewide to the Federal level. Everything except the Presidency and the Democrat's power will only diminish if we don't find a way to regain some of the lost ground before the next census. If we don't, there's a good chance Republican's will gerrymander us out of existence or at least out of relevance.
Meanwhile in Greece, Syriza, the newly empowered Left Coalition, has taken a large portion of the Greek Parliament and are now sharing power with the far-right group, Independent Democracy.
Remember when the supposed "Cromnibus" bill was being negotiated and both "Moderate" Democrats and Republicans were willing to roll back parts of Dodd-Frank in the negotiations?
While pro-business members of both parties were capitulating to the needs of Citi-Group, only Elizabeth Warren and some of the Progressive caucus along with a hand full of tea-party far right Republicans showed any sign of balking from the Citi-Group alliance.
What Syriza has taught us is that to truly fight the powerful influence of big banks, dark money and corporate causes is too band together.
America is the richest nation on this earth. We are not going broke. Let me repeat that point: WE ARE NOT GOING BROKE! We have the ability to pay for new roads and bridges, to fix those that are crumbling, to strengthen and expand Social Security, the Welfare state ie. Temporary Assistance, expand (not cut) Food Stamps for the working poor, expand high-speed rail and Public Transportation, Unemployment insurance, worker training programs, and yes, even make Community College free. Not just through tax credits, but to truly fund and pay for 2 years of Community College for every citizen in the United States.
Of course these programs would require some tax increases along with the closing of many tax loop-holes. (including those very popular among special interests) America is currently 32nd in Taxes per GDP among OECD countries. We are just below Turkey and just above Chile. (So when you hear your conservative brother in-law complaining about his taxes, just remind him of this fact)
America has been obsessed with individual income tax rates ever since the Reagan years. Granted the top tax bracket was near 92%, doubtlessly many wealthier people used tax loop-holes and ended up paying far lower rates but no where near as low as they pay now. Meanwhile, our political leaders tell us that our country is broke. Though we never seem to be short on cash to spend on foreign wars.
Take for example the the seemingly never ending project to build the F-35 Military Aircraft. The idea behind the plane was to create one jet plane that could serve every division of our military. It would be able to take off vertically, fly at super-sonic speeds, drop bombs in Syria and could take off from and land on aircraft carriers. So far, the plane has succeeded in none of these things. It is far behind schedule and is now running a budget of well over one and a half TRILLION dollars as recently reported in The Atlantic. Excessive maybe? Even the Pentagon has suggested that this project isn't worthwhile. Yet, our politicians keep plugging away at it, even Senator Bernie Sanders (one of my favorite politicians) has lobbied in favor of these wasteful jets.
But none of these things are my point. My point is that many on the left are appalled by this kind of wasteful spending when we can't even get that pothole on the end of the street filled. Yet, the left in America, though having made some organizational strides recently, just can't seem to coalesce around a specific set of goals nor a politician whom we support. Democrats are looked on with scorn for capitulating to the right by Greens and Socialists, and Centrists have been so brainwashed by Fox news into believing that Democrats have moved too far to the left.
In Greece, similar issues were pitting various factions of the left against each other for years. Meanwhile, Center-Left and Center-Right Parties had control of Parliament. In return for Bailouts from both the European Central Bank and the IMF, they agreed to a brutal set of austerity measures requiring Greece to privatize various sectors of the economy that had been previously been under municipal control.
Faster than you can say, "bankrupt" Greece's economy went into an almost unrecoverable tailspin. Austerity measures imposed on the country by its creditors drove the unemployment rate above 25%, where it still stands today. Thousands of public sector jobs were lost, interest rates skyrocketed, and Pensions all but disappeared. In no time at all, a second round of bailouts were necessary just to pay the interest on Greece's debts.
Granted Greece was a municipal mess of over spending and unfair tax collection practices. The lower classes paid their fare share but the wealthy got away without paying much if any taxes at all. Sound familiar? It should.
In America, the Working and Middle classes pay their taxes with few if any deductions Meanwhile the rich use foreign tax havens and tax loop-holes to avoid paying their full tax bills. Our system is becoming more and more regressive.
But there are some areas where the far-right and progressive left do agree. Seven times far-right Republicans and Progressive Democrats have tried proposing bills for criminal justice reforms such as eliminating Mandatory Minimum sentences. Seven times "moderate" and "establishment" Republicans and Democrats wouldn't even allow these bills to come to a vote.
As crazy as we may see tea-party Republicans, some of them truly believe in their pseudo-libertarian ideologies. There are areas where they could be an ally to Progressive Democrats. Remember, the Tea Party started as a revolt against the "too-big-to-fail" bank bailouts. Some of them truly believe this was unfair to American tax-payers. This is the kind of resentment Progressives could and should use to block further deregulation of Wall-Street. Don't allow our differences to blind us to the issues that we agree upon. Elizabeth Warren has seen this and used it to her advantage when she saw fit. Rand Paul is very much against foreign intervention. Why shouldn't we use that to build a coalition to end foreign war in the middle-east?
The reason true Progressives have lost power over the years is because the pro-business wings of both parties have taken over. What Greece shows us is that if a broad coalition of the Left is brought together, our power would be formidable, and if that's not enough, we bring in some of the far-right on issues we can agree upon. We'll never agree on everything, but why sit back and let the pro-business wings of both parties hold our nation hostage to big money causes like the Koch brothers and their allies?
We can take a stand, but we can't do it alone.