Last Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked -- for the third time -- the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill proposing to close the pay gap between men and women. The goal of the bill -- the attainment of equal pay for equal work -- seems like a no-brainer, right? Women with the same job, and same qualifications, as men deserve to be paid the same. They do not deserve to be discriminated against in salary on the basis of gender. Seems obvious. And yet not a single Republican voted in favor of the Act, and many Americans no longer know what to think, either. The problem is that the message has been greatly muddled, twisted, and usurped, mostly for political gain.
The greatest danger currently facing all of us in America, and particularly progressives, is one of drift. As an economy, the United States is drifting along a low-growth path that is acclimatizing all of us to levels of unemployment which only a decade ago would have been treated as an outrage. As a society, the United States is drifting towards levels of income and wealth inequality so large that, if left unchallenged, will soon become irreversible. And as a political system, the United States is drifting towards a Republican sweep of both the House and the Senate in November unless the democratic left acts now to reverse what is in truth a carefully orchestrated and heavily funded great moving right show. Those of us of a progressive predisposition are drifting towards a political defeat of historic proportions -- one underpinned by an economic and social settlement of a highly conservative kind -- and we are doing so with what would appear to be only the slightest sense of alarm.
Congress is now doing what it normally does, in an election year. This is not intended to sound cynical, as I actually think it is a good thing for a divided Congress to stand up for its divided beliefs -- even while knowing that almost none of the bills it now votes on have a prayer of becoming law before the election.