On a crisp autumn day in 2012, I joined a group of pastors and community leaders from the Illinois-Indiana Regional Organizing Network (IIRON) at a church on the south side of Chicago. We talked about the way corporations and the wealthy systematically hoarded political power over the last forty years to make our country work for them–instead of people like us. They built elite think tanks, bought the media, and took over universities.
They fought back against the wave of pro-equality reforms that had been achieved in the 1950s and 1960s, and turned the tide in their favor.
That corporate-conservative movement transformed our political and economic landscape over the last 40 years, and the resulting shift has left us with growing economic and racial inequality, a broken democracy, and a planet on the verge of catastrophic climate change.
Government, after all, is the prize, not the problem.
Together, that day we recognized that the solutions our elected leaders had proposed were wholly inadequate to the scale of the crises we faced: We’d seen massive bailouts for banks, while thousands of homeowners in our neighborhoods faced foreclosure and were getting little help staying afloat; We faced a massive jobs crisis without a proposal for the kind of public jobs program we needed.
So, we began thinking about the transformations that could serve as the pillars of an economy that worked for people in our communities, instead of simply padding the pockets of bankers and shareholders.