Wow. Well said. I lived through all that you described and still remember the before times. May those times return, made even better because of the wisdom gained from what we almost lost. May we be smarter and more compassionate. If you were a woman, person of color, LGBTQ, those times were not quite as good as they were for the straight white men. We know better now. Let us make it so.

There’s a lightness in the darkness, and a little bit of darkness in the light. (Butch Hancock)

Expand full comment

"We’re over it, Republicans. A new America is being birthed from the ashes of the Reagan Revolution and you can’t stop it much longer."

Wish it were true. Hard to believe when the speaker of the house of the people supports insurrection, supports the leading candidate who channels Adolph Hitler, and when apparent criminals legally "investigate" the Justice Department.

The only hope for redemption is that the younger generation trend 70% Democratic. Need to motivate and empower them.

Expand full comment
Nov 21, 2023Liked by Thom Hartmann

You are correct that we tried it the Republicans’ way, and it doesn’t work.

My concerns are that the Republicans’ damage is irreparable, and there are enough discouraged and disillusioned voters who may decline to vote and in refusing to turn out, will hand the government to sociopathic Donald Trump and make him dictator for life. Trump is definitely a compulsive liar, but I think he is telling the truth about what he will do if he gets into the Oval Office. We must save ourselves, no one else will do it.

Expand full comment

Absolutely true. I lived this and watched it all unfold. I remember seeing our business based economy devolve into being one which is totally financial. Businesses are now oriented only to Wall Street. Hedge funds have bought up all our newspapers so we no longer are even told how all this affects us.

Expand full comment

Thom, love your insights. I try to share far and wide!

Expand full comment

A brilliant summary of the Republican policies that have created the financial insecurity that is the grounds for today’s fascism.

Another insight is to replace the GDP as a sign of a healthy economy with the Gini coefficient that maps the sharing of the GDP with the salaried classes. As you point out once a single wage earner could afford a house and a comfortable lifestyle. That began with the FDR reforms and improved substantially with a high taxation rate during and after World War II.

Have a look at the pattern in the Gini coefficient, link below. You will see that from the time of the reforms after 1933 the economic inequality curve dips until the 1970s (Powell memo) when it begins its climb upwards. From 1933 to the 1970’s, the Gini Coefficient shows there was a fairer sharing of the GDP (at least for the white community).

The Gini coefficient also proves that tax cuts do not result in a trickle down benefit. And for that, and other reasons, the media never publish the Gini coefficient when speaking of the state of the economy.


Expand full comment

"A new America is being birthed from the ashes of the Reagan Revolution and you can’t stop it much longer."

I hope you are correct, though I tend to think the die has been cast and was...long ago.

Expand full comment

"t the 1970s was a pivotal decade, and not just because it saw the end of the Vietnam War, the resignation of Nixon, and the death of both the psychedelic hippie movement and the very political (and sometimes violent) SDS. Most consequentially, the 1970s were when the modern-day Republican Party was birthed."

It was also a decade when that Catholic bishops of America declared war against women and American democracy. That is when the bishops bribed , to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, many of the leaders of the Evangelical and televangelical movements in the United States to become anti-abortion anti women and anti-American - all by the way while they were sexually assaulting or blowing priest to sexually assault young Catholic boys.

You may say well but the Republicans... The Republicans that's true. But the Republicans were being fully supported both financially and in the way of votes by the evangelicals who were bribed by Catholic bishops. Approximately half of a Catholics were also voting republican. Where is the problem? Someone please tell me.

Expand full comment

It appears the evangelicals and Catholics and FBI and CIA and police and Congress and the Senate and the supreme Court and the White House will almost all sell out for money. They're currently trying to steal all of our stuff and make us into their slaves.

Expand full comment

Thom Hartmann - 2 pieces in as many days - surgically peeling back layer upon layer of the GOP's cracking and flaking facade of chalky patriotic colors.

Paint on paint on paint on paint - 50 years of paint on paint. That's it. That's what the GOP has done for America. They have relentlessly slapped a cheap coat of paint on American society to spruce up the rotting and crumbling structure within designed exclusively of, by, and for their own.

Behind the GOP's crumbling mess of a million worthless Norman Rockwell ripoffs lies the very tangible and untenable reality of their making - one far more akin to the writings of George Orwell. The GOP have shamelessly pulverized and sold off America, piece by piece for half a century. It's well beyond time for all of us to stop buying from their platter of bullshittery:

Expand full comment

I wholeheartedly agree Thom. Unfortunately, what the Democratic Party is selling--oligarchy, imperialism, nationalism, Zionism and their brand of geopolitical and economic xenophobia--is not working either. And we've tried that for 50 years now which is one major reason a fascist like Trump is able to rise to power. Fronting for party leaders who are guided by the likes of AIPAC and the war industry ultimately brings us to the same void of humanity and moral integrity practiced and preached by the Republicans. The dark cloud of perpetual war looms over us all as liberal and conservative media sources do their best to point their finger at the other without ever looking in the mirror. No good end will come of the trajectory set by either political party.

Expand full comment

Great post! Operation Phoenix begins . . . not like the phony one during the Vietnam war, but a new legitimate effort that drives the rise of Democracy from the ashes of neoliberalism and the restoration of American politics to sanity. Viva La Revolution!

Expand full comment

All those hippies telling people to "let your freak flag fly" have prevailed. No one is going back into a closet or hiding their true gender to please the Republicans. BIPOC folks are going to keep demanding their seat at the table. Women, with the help of men, will state by state restore their reproductive rights. In fact, women are the majority in college now. They will make their own opportunities.

The conservatives and religious zealots have not gotten the memo. It says "F-OFF". It's exactly what we told them in the sixties, even the ones in our own age group. This is one thing that did trickle down. It led to this new generation that knows what is RIGHT, and they don't need the 2020's version of Republicans telling them WHO they are!

Expand full comment


Historians are less likely to see the world too exclusively in terms of their own personal experience. Yet I believe it is difficult to think in terms of the experience of those who came before us. The idea of every child wanted and every marriage happy, a chicken in every pot, and that in the forty years before Reagan the right-wing, the uber-wealthy, and the religious fanatics held no sway is a wee bit glorified.

Unfortunately, an amorphous and hopeful faith can likewise deceive us. Like Garrison Keillor, we also sometimes tend to think of the past as a place like Lake Wobegon, where “…all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all of the children are above average.” He might have added something about the golden age of schooling, when all the teachers were wonderful and extraordinary and all the schools were havens for innocent children.

Liberal/progressives and those who value science and the scientific method all pride ourselves, I believe, in being agnostic if not atheists. If we carve out any great faith and optimism, it is in human potential or in some manifestation of the natural universe. Therefore, it seems incongruous and disturbing to me at least when some of us or most of us put inordinate faith in one person, one philosophical approach, or one institution.

A week or so ago, when reminiscing with some fondness and gratitude about the special enrichment programs for gifted students which were available when you were in elementary school, you noted how much you benefitted and how those extraordinary programs of which you were a part contributed to your generation and to the entire nation. We should all be grateful for the experiences, insights, and educational advances which gave us your talents and the talents of others whose excellence and intellectual acumen have made this a measurably better country.

It is a shame when the potential of students who are so very bright, or in cases such as yours who function at the level of genius, is squandered and diminished. That is certainly happening now much too often. However, as always, it falls to me to ask the difficult questions about causation and to look beyond the obvious.

I had entertained suspicions that your school experience was very atypical and that you may have been insulated from, and somewhat oblivious to, the daily existence of students whose IQ’s were far below 140 and who were not singled out for such advanced study and instruction previously. This appears to me to finally adequately explain how you must have come to have such a distorted idyllic or glorified view of traditional schools and a total blindness to the common glaring negative experiences of and effects on millions of less gifted students (such as I was). I do not use the word “millions” rhetorically or carelessly.

Thom Hartmann and his best friend with an IQ score of 142 probably did learn a great deal about civics, history, national and international affairs, etc., etc. either in school or as a consequence of attending and having inspirational and brilliant teachers and relatives. However, I would bet dollars to donut holes that 92% of the other students in your classes who were not so gifted did not leave there knowing anything of real substance about ANY of those things whether they graduated or not. Many, in fact, knew precious little about the three branches of government. And if you could test their knowledge today, I guarantee they would still not be able to cite accurate facts or answer essential questions on those topics. Many of them are likely Trump supporters. You must know this.

I recall attending a meeting once when my kids were in school in a crowded room at a school board or similar meeting where the topic of inadequate programs for gifted students was being discussed. Although I have always been extremely shy and awkward in public groups and situations, I uncharacteristically spontaneously blurted out from the back of the room when a complaint had been registered about the neglect of gifted students, something to the effect of a question asking if ALL students are not gifted or special in some way. I got a response that I remember as akin to a standing ovation. Yet I do not remember any acknowledgement beyond that moment that there might be undesirable effects of such special programs, such as depriving average students of the influence and brainpower of exceptionally bright students, as the over-emphasizing or over-valuing of academics, as harming the self-concept of those who are not selected for elevated classes, and risking conceit or a sense of privilege of the high performers, etc.

To believe that traditional schools were pure as the driven snow before the Koch brothers started their aggressive and malicious campaign against what they portrayed as mediocre schools promoting a liberal and secular orientation is incredibly naïve and unrealistic. To believe that, until Reagan and Bill Bennett eviscerated the civics and current events curriculum, teachers were fully autonomous and highly respected or that students were sufficiently learning about how governments are structured and the fine points of politics is to ignore or depreciate decades of statistics and studies and to dismiss hundreds of highly credible liberal/progressive critics who slammed the schools as being oppressive and bastions of conservative doctrine and dogma. I can name names, many of which you know.

While you were in the clouds with advanced and more independent or self-directed programs steering you toward highly stimulating intellectual pursuits, ordinary students were being religiously rewarded for blind obedience and routinely punished for the slightest deviation from the prescribed course and behavioral protocols. Unfinished homework or assignments well-known as meaningless drudgery and memory work meant degradation and insults, along with low or failing grades and a heavy diet of demoralization and cynicism. You were lifted out of the humdrum boredom and never looked back. Your perspective is elitist and your refusal to be honest about the literature and science reflects an indifference that tarnishes your otherwise shining excellence.

It is astonishing to me that someone who demands scrutiny and honesty from everyone in every other field is willing to keep accepting and falling for the endlessly repeating cycle of failure and promised reform in schools! The record is not just broken; it is shattered into pieces on the floor.

Still, I have just looked at an ostensibly new formula for fixing schooling posted on a relatively new website with the same tired old BS gobbledygook and academic lingo, absent the slightest relevance or meaning to the real world. My inbox today has a forward-looking article reframing traditional schooling for the six-millionth time (“Why have NCLB and High-Stakes Reforms Failed? Reframing the Discourse with a Post-colonialization Lens”.) Someone with an IQ of 141 has to know how irresponsible all this foolishness and recycling of false hope is and how completely it undermines democracy and progress toward peace, justice, love, and true enlightenment.

When we separate our honored traditions of appreciating education, intellectual rigor, and knowledge acquisition from our pedestrian traditions of schooling and training we see a wide disparity. The thing that distinguishes liberal/progressives from reactionaries is precisely our willingness and ability to face that kind of disparity openly and with courage. The conflation of education with school is mistake and illogical mythology. Our schools do not and cannot transform society as imagined. Forcing attendance magnifies that issue exponentially. Facts do not lie. Reality sometimes bites. Repent and sin no more.

Expand full comment

Thom, I wrote a book, you may like it and use it. I'm writing another at this point and time. Hint, an individual should have 5 issues I call the big 5, honesty, truth, compassion, love, and responsibility. Hope this helps. If you do not possess the big 5, then you aren't an adult. Our Constitution does not say adult. I feel your 18 or older (I'm certainly older) you are an adult regardless of gender, religion, etc. My newer book also deals with "We the People", along with the big 5.

Expand full comment

Yes, the first problem is to get the correct information out. I’m writing a book on the various methods that the wealth class uses for the upward transfer of wealth that are little understood by the average voter. I put up the draft chapters on my blogs on medium.com and sub stack. I need to find 10,000 followers so a literary agent will represent me to a publisher. So if you know people of a like mind, please pass on the reference. Here is an earlier one relevant to our discussion.https://medium.com/@janweirlaw/where-have-all-the-rational-voters-gone-e3ab0f98ca54

I see some reason for optimism in that there are swing voters who once voted for Obama, were disappointed (Obama’s reforms did nothing to reduce the Gini coefficient) and are looking for a savior. The key point is their financial precarity. That can be removed by returning to some of the reforms that FDR put in after the great depression, which included a higher tax rate after World War II, with some policies re the financial system that can be taken from the Canadian banking experience.

Expand full comment