Americans today are living in similar lifestyles as the First Gilded Age, 1870-1900. We have rampant income inequality, workers revolts, and corporate influence all the way to the White House. Our Senate is dubbed the millionaires club while the voters are making an average of $45,000 a year. Are we adhering to our Constitutional rights to make our American Dreams come true in this new century? Or is history repeating itself?
In 2020 jobs are plenty if you are willing to make minimum wage. You better hope you live in a state with a decent minimum wage because Southern states have the lowest wages. Similar to the First Gilded Age, Americans migrated to the cities-84% of Americans are now urban dwellers. They’re moving for jobs, schools and to avoid rural poverty. That’s not working out so well as demographic inversion is turning gentrification into a new status symbol for the upper-classes reversing White Flight in cities. Neighborhoods that have been historically minority areas are now urban tech hubs, nightlife strips, and cafe central business districts. The suburbs are becoming poorer, minority-based and jobless. The Second Gilded Age is eerily as poor as the first.
Unions have a rich history in America making a middle-class other nations envy. We have re-entered the age of revolt. There have been more worker strikes in the past few years than since the 80s. We witnessed teacher strikes across the nation from Oklahoma to Chicago and throughout suburban districts. As poverty rises in the suburbs their schools now need more resources similar to cities. Similar to the First Gilded Age, workers’ rights and wages are important for economic stability beyond the national GDP. You see our nation’s GDP is one of the highest in the world but if we were to divide it and analyze it per household, we are a poorer nation than thought. The First Gilded Age’s workers’ revolts led to the FDA, NLRA and child labor laws. If we aren’t careful we might be sending the kids back to the docks and warehouses. Workers’ rights are all of our rights.
The political millionaires club is an uncanny similarity. Congressional members are now some of the richest people in your state. When’s the last time these political millionaires went to Wal-Mart? When’s the last time they had to sit down and actually budget out their groceries, turn the heat down in the house in the winter to avoid a large bill or pack a lunch for work to avoid astronomical food prices? They haven’t so how are they representing We the People? The more money we elect, the less we make.
These similarities remind us that we can learn from history to Make America Great Again. We can reinforce the anti-monopoly Sherman Act against corporate tyrants controlling prices on our food and housing. We can reinforce our rights by joining workers’ rights strikes and campaigns. We can pass ballot measures to control rents while expanding ballot options through Ranked Choice Voting. These are a few options that we can repeat in the years that followed the First Gilded Age. We can learn the changes that were made to make America profitable for everyone after the struggle of a burgeoning America in post-1900. If we want this to be the American Century it’s up to the American people to support changes that will increase our prosperity. If the definition of insanity is to do the same thing and expect a different result, then we may be an insane nation. Find over 100 policy solutions to make your America great here.