One hundred years ago, at the dawn of the last American Progressive Era, the United States was a very different place– a place of inequality, discrimination, and wealth disparity, author and historian John Nichols told a gathering of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) in June.
Although slavery had been abolished in 1865 (#13), the rights of citizens were established in 1868 (#14), and the right to vote for all men was established in 1870 (#15), the majority of Americans could not vote.
At the turn of the last century, women and adults 18-21 years of age were barred from voting, and because of racist, state-level machinations and poll taxes, many African Americans and poor Americans of any color also were kept from voting. In addition, citizens didn’t have representation in the US Senate, since Senators were chosen by robber barons in back room deals (not elected by the people).
This sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it? Are Republicans trying to take our country back to 1900? Consider these current scenarios:
- The passage of voter suppression laws in Arizona and at the state level nationwide,
- Today’s supreme court decision striking down the formula that guides the Voting Rights Act of 1965,
- Ownership of the US Senate, the House of Representatives, and most state legislatures by the military-industrial complex and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),
- The ongoing war on women and minorities.
The energy and activism of the Progressive Era (1900-1929) brought many positive changes and new Constitutional Amendments; it’s up to those of us in the New Progressive Movementto fight back against new regressive and discriminatory laws to save our country.
Videos and details after the jump.