Progressives Versus Regressives

Ed Raymond

My daughter bought several grocery bags full of “discarded” books at the Moorhead Public Library the other day for three bucks a bag. What a bargain! She picked out a couple she thought I would be interested in. I have long been an admirer of Garrison Keillor, his fictional hometown of “Lake Wobegon,” and his radio show “The Prairie Home Companion.”

She knew I would love his 2004 discarded book “Homegrown Democrat: A Few Plain Thoughts from the Heart of America.” Published just before the 2004 presidential election featuring Lurch W. Bush and the robotic Al Gore, his book outlines in sometimes angry, often humorous, occasionally censorable, and always-on-message language the differences between Progressive Democrats and Regressive Republicans, sometimes mislabeled as “Conservatives.” Some of the political faces have changed in eight years, but the policy issues and differences have only become more extreme by 2012. His book is more relevant today than ever.

  He gets right after it in Chapter One: “I am a Democrat, which was nothing I decided for myself, but simply the way I was brought up, starting with the idea of ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ I grew up among Bible-believing people in Minnesota, a cold weather state when the jet stream slips and the wind blows steadily from Manitoba; it gets so cold your skin hurts, your innards clench up, and a man’s testes shrink to the size of garden peas....Here we have the democracy of flatness: there simply aren’t so many hills for rich people to live on top of.”  


2012: The Battle Between The Rich And The Poor In The U.S. And World

   The value of unions has been questioned since the first guilds were formed in Europe in the 10th century. Of course, a union or guild will diminish a company’s profits by improving the workers’ share, but economists for hundreds of years have determined that unions have a minimal impact on growth and profits—while building a middle class the rich cannot get richer without.

   Both John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie finally figured out that killing workers who wanted to form unions was, in the end, bad for business. That great hater of unions Henry Ford, smart enough to recognize he had to pay his workers enough so they could actually buy his Model T’s and A’s, doubled the wages of his assembly-line workers. He realized it was a terrific economic investment.

   Republicans have never liked unions because unions bargain for wages, benefits, working conditions, and safety. It would be fascinating for someone to determine how many lives crusty old John L. Lewis, once president of the United Mine Workers Union, saved in his lifetime.

   Perhaps the deaths of 29 miners in the West Virginia Upper Branch Mine explosion in 2010 would have been prevented by a strong union. The Massey Energy Co. run by CEO Don Blankenship violated hundreds of safety rules and made the production of coal a priority over the lives of its workers. It should have been closed down long before 2010 by Bush administration regulators. Blankenship, who bribed many a West Virginia legislator, should be in jail for negligent homicide.