Political costs of inequality

George Gresham | 12/10/2015, 11:32 a.m.
As we approach year’s end, justice and equality advocates can point to important gains.
George Gresham Contributed

The political costs are equally damaging. With the Supreme Court’s gutting of campaign finance restrictions in cases such as Citizens United, the billionaires and those who do their bidding are able to exert outsize influence on the political process. The Koch brothers, for example, have budgeted the incredible sum of $889 million for the 2016 elections.

That money and power would be used to turn the back the clock on our rights and hard-won gains and reforms extending from President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal up to President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

The antidote to such retrograde power is an enlightened, organized electorate and mass movement buttressed by a broad coalition of progressives, labor and other allies. The stakes next year are extremely high. We will be electing a president, every member of the House, one-third of the Senate and most state legislatures. The next president also may select several Supreme Court justices.

The fight against income inequality must remain at the center of our political campaigns. The $15 minimum’s time has come, and our unity and organization can make it happen. It was Obama who reminded us, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”