Background Briefing: October 27, 2021


An Open Letter by Prominent Progressives and Conservatives to Save American Democracy From Trump’s GOP

We begin with an open letter published simultaneously today in The New Republic and The Bulwark by Todd Gitlin, Jeffrey Isaac and William Kristol, “An Open Letter in Defense of Democracy: The future of democracy in the United States is in danger.” Joining us is Todd Gitlin, a sociologist, political writer, novelist, cultural commentator and Professor of Journalism and Communications at Columbia University. He is a former president of Students for a Democratic Society and helped organize the first national demonstration against the Vietnam War, as well as the first civil disobedience directed against American corporate support for the apartheid regime in South Africa. His books include Letters to a Young Activist and the forthcoming The Opposition and he has just co-authored this open letter signed by a diverse group of progressives and conservatives that range from Noam Chomsky to Max Boot, Katha Pollit to Mona Charen. We discuss how the U.S. is already at the second stage of what historian Robert Paxton referred to as The Five Stages of Fascism as the Republican Party under the cult-like spell of Donald Trump, is furiously rigging the electoral playing field to make America a permanent one-party state. In their urgent appeal to save American democracy the signatories conclude with …”we urge all responsible citizens who care about democracy—public officials, journalists, educators, activists, ordinary citizens—to make the defense of democracy an urgent priority now. Now is the time for leaders in all walks of life—for citizens of all political backgrounds and persuasions—to come to the aid of the Republic.”


Manchin Boasts to a Billionaire Tax Cheat That he Stopped the IRS From Taxing Them

Then we examine the latest objections by Senator Manchin to investing in the middle class and working Americans by making the rich pay their fair share of taxes. Speaking at an event on Tuesday staged by the Economic Club of Washington, Manchin boasted to the billionaire and leading tax cheat, the Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein, that he had single-handedly vetoed a key Democratic proposal to increase tax revenues by making banks increase their reporting on financial activities to the IRS, denying the government a powerful weapon against tax evasion that would raise hundreds of billions. Joining us are Morris Pearl, a former managing director of BlackRock and currently the chair of the Patriotic Millionaires, a group of 200 high-net-worth Americans who are committed to building a more prosperous, stable, and inclusive nation and Erica Payne, the founder and president of the Patriotic Millionaires and the author of The Practical Progressive! We discuss the 71% majority opinion of Americans that the economy is rigged in favor of the rich and the new book they co-authored, just out, Tax the Rich!: How Lies, Loopholes, and Lobbyists Make the Rich Even Richer.