A new authoritarian axis demands an international progressive front

There is a global struggle taking place of enormous consequence. Nothing less than the future of the planet – economically, socially and environmentally – is at stake.

Bernie Sanders

At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, when the world’s top 1% now owns more wealth than the bottom 99%, we are seeing the rise of a new authoritarian axis.

While these regimes may differ in some respects, they share key attributes: hostility toward democratic norms, antagonism toward a free press, intolerance toward ethnic and religious minorities, and a belief that government should benefit their own selfish financial interests. These leaders are also deeply connected to a network of multi-billionaire oligarchs who see the world as their economic plaything.

It should be clear by now that Donald Trump and the rightwing movement that supports him is not a phenomenon unique to the United States. All around the world, in Europe, in Russia, in the Middle East, in Asia and elsewhere we are seeing movements led by demagogues who exploit people’s fears, prejudices and grievances to achieve and hold on to power.

This trend certainly did not begin with Trump, but there’s no question that authoritarian leaders around the world have drawn inspiration from the fact that the leader of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy seems to delight in shattering democratic norms.

We must understand that these authoritarians are part of a common front. They are in close contact with each other, share tactics and, as in the case of European and American rightwing movements, even share some of the same funders. The Mercer family, for example, supporters of the infamous Cambridge Analytica, have been key backers of Trump and of Breitbart News, which operates in Europe, the United States and Israel to advance the same anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim agenda. Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson gives generously to rightwing causes in both the United States and Israel, promoting a shared agenda of intolerance and illiberalism in both countries.

In order to effectively combat the rise of the international authoritarian axis, we need an international progressive movement that mobilizes behind a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all people, and that addresses the massive global inequality that exists, not only in wealth but in political power.

The Guardian

Anna Langthorn: The 24-Year-Old Elected to Run the Democratic Party in Oklahoma

From The 24-Year-Old Elected to Run the Democratic Party in Oklahoma

By Mattie Kahn

In the beginning, Anna Langthorn was just another Democrat with a broken heart. True, like most progressives, she’s spent the last six months in emotional turmoil. But this—the very beginning of her political career—was before all that. Langthorn, who at 24 was recently elected to be the youngest ever Oklahoma State Democratic Chair, hadn’t lost an election or seen her candidate concede. She’d never even voted.

That was almost a decade ago, and she was only 17—still in school and recently dumped. “This isn’t a very feminist story,” she cautions, laughing. But, she explains, she’d been broken up with and was “incredibly distraught.” In desperate need of a distraction, Langthorn picked a new hobby almost at random. Sure, she figured, why not politics. “I already read the news and was politically aware—probably more than the average 17-year-old,” she says. “But I wasn’t very involved or proactive.” She immersed herself in local campaigns, places where passion, even obsession, were not only considered normal, but rewarded. Langthorn got involved with the local Democrats and volunteered, landing internships during her last two years of high school with candidates and the state party apparatus itself. She skipped most of the pomp and circumstance of her own high school graduation to attend the Oklahoma State Democratic Convention (“I couldn’t miss it!”) and worked on campaigns throughout college.

I believe, deeply, that we have to be leading on women’s issues and LGBT issues and the issues that are affecting communities of color while we drill down on that economic populist message. We need to fight for fairness, but we need people to know that we’re fighting, which isn’t happening in the state now.

But I don’t think we have to temper our message or water down progressivism to appeal to older voters. Voters want good health care and they want good housing and good education. They may say, in rural Oklahoma, that they’re less concerned with black lives, but there are black rural voters that need to be reached and engaged too. They may say they don’t care about abortion, but plenty of women are getting abortions and even more are getting access to birth control under our current laws.

Elle

Republican Congressional Candidate Touts Progressive Minimum Wage Fix

GOP nominee in FL-13 David Jolly CREDIT: AP

An unlikely advocate for one of the most progressive minimum wage proposals emerged last week: Republican congressional candidate David Jolly.

Democratic nominee Alex Sink supports raising the minimum wage to $10.10, as is currently being considered in Congress, while Jolly opposes it. However, in explaining his position to the Tribune, Jolly actually advocated another progressive proposal: indexing the minimum wage so it automatically increases every year.

“Minimum wage should be indexed to inflation or subject to a cost-of-living adjustment like any other federal income program,” Jolly said. “That means some years it may go up, other years it may stay static. Barack Obama is not an economist, neither is the Congress.”

The purchasing power of the minimum wage has significantly lagged the rate of inflation over the past four decades. In 1968, the federal minimum wage was $1.60 per hour. Had it kept up with inflation since then, it would currently be set at $10.50, 45 percent higher than its current rate of $7.25.

In addition, if Jolly preferred tying the minimum wage to increases in worker productivity, it would currently be $18.30 per hour, according to a study from the Economic Policy Institute.

Indexing the minimum wage is a strongly progressive proposal because it would give low-income workers a raise every year without having to rely on Congress, which has only voted for an increase once in the last decade.

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