Is incrementalism now a bad word?
I have been the epitome of incrementalism. As an engineer I know that large gradients can lead to catastrophic failures. President Obama has been as transformational a President that incrementalism allowed. That is not a knock on the President. It is just a fact.
President Obama has gotten many laws that Americans wanted passed. He has navigated the political waves to get as much done as incrementalism would allow.
President Obama’s signature accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act likely saved my life. The Affordable Care Act afforded my wife, who has Lupus, a preexisting condition, the right to purchase health insurance under the same terms of any healthy American. Why? The President made the incremental choice to remove preexisting conditions as a part of insurance companies’ risk management. That one move helped millions and in the process likely saved millions of lives.
Incrementalism was necessary because neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party would run the risk of of upsetting their wealthy benefactors or the corporatocracy. Americans got expanded access to healthcare while insurance companies ensured they maintained the biggest fraud on the American population, collecting a hefty fee to pay a bill at best or deny care at worst.
Incrementalism in solving the student debt problem provided some relief for some. However those with private loans were left in the cold. They cannot even get the relief of bankruptcy in the aggregate.
The American middle-class had been asked to accept incrementalism for decades. Why? To make change palatable for the wealthy, for the oligarchy, for the plutocracy. That one-sided compromise was bearable as long as the trajectory of the middle-class followed some modicum of upward mobility.
I am no longer an incrementalist. Politicians preaching incrementalism as pragmatism have failed us all. Incrementalism isn’t pragmatism. It isn’t a logical acceptance of the possible. It is the coercion of a population paralyzed by fear. It is mental enslavement of a people who simply cannot visualize their innate collective power. In effect incrementalism has turned into virtual suicide.
The Democratic Party is currently faced with a fork in the road. The party will take one of two paths, the status quo where incrementalism will continue to reign or a political revolution where the middle-class rises up and asserts its worth.
Most reading this likely agree that the middle-class has been in decline for the last 40 years are so. Most also know that much of the perceived middle-class prosperity in the 1990s was built on the quicksand of personal debt and speculation as opposed to growing wages and wealth.
When Ronald Reagan cut taxes he was not incremental. When insurance companies raise prices they are not being incremental. When a barrel of oil increases in price, the pump shock that immediately follows is not incremental. Incrementalism in the Affordable Care Act means that insurance companies continue to be a wealth transfer engine from the taxpayer and the masses to executives and a wealthy few.
America is rarely incremental when using it’s military might to attain a desired outcome. Ultimately it is always successful in one form or the other. The military industrial complex remains fed and sometimes the military action ensures a region is left ripe for capitalism to effect its ultimate goals. Why should the middle-class continue to accept a suicidal incrementalism?
It is clear that a Republican takeover in 2016 will have no problem dissing incrementalism. They are telegraphing their Randian policies. Of course they are great marketers who are able to sell many on a false and destructive unattainable self-sufficiency as their policies feed the greed of the plutocracy with the excess labor and the pilfered capital of the masses.
The Democratic Party created a huge vacuum in order to ensure an entitled candidate would win. Most of that vacuum was filled with an unlikely progressive candidate whose policies are much more appealing to the middle-class. That candidate was deemed unlikely to realistically contest because he is a democratic socialist. Unfortunately for the democratic establishment, not understanding the plight of the middle-class as many sit in their ivory towers, is shaking up the entire democratic primary. Insularity is dangerous for any party.
So what are Democrats to do? I cannot tell you what to do. I know what I am going to do. I will be writing, talking, preaching, engaging, enlightening, and educating every single person I encounter to first encourage them to assert their worth as citizens. I will ask them how successful our incrementalism in policies has been for their financial and medical well-being and the well-being of their families in the aggregate. I will tell them there was a time when incrementalism was the only pragmatic answer. I will tell them that reality proves it has outlived its usefulness. I will ultimately urge them to follow the path of fork that proposes the policies they want.
Most importantly, I will remind them that electing those who represent the policies they want is only the beginning. Total fearless engagement and demands must follow. Lastly, I will urge them to replicate themselves to ensure a critical mass that creates a sustainable chain reaction is maintained, the political revolution.