Around 1978, when I had started my career in engineering, I remember hearing men talking that the solution to not having enough workers was to get women into the labor force. Today, we see that two salaries are required to survive and be able to feed one's children. We still hear men talking about poor people being lazy and not going back to work because of the $300 per week unemployment, that there are plenty of jobs. But these aren't jobs that pay well and certainly do not cover the costs of child care. Without affordable child care a low paying job brings home next to nothing. I'm feeling very scared that if the For the People Act isn't passed we're on our way to having a rebellion. I will join the resistance if that happens. Hearing that in 1986 they were using the words "ballot integrity" for voter suppression sounds so much like today's "voter integrity" it is truly frightening. Hearing that Republicans are actually saying the United States is "not a democracy" .. and that they don't want democracy anyway is doubly frightening. The Heritage Foundation and ALEC writing all these horrible bills. I think we no longer have a democracy -- it's an oligarchic kleptocracy -- but I differ from the Republicans in that I want democracy back! The majority of the People do too and will show it if they are allowed to vote. This time I what We the People to mean All of Us This Time!

Expand full comment

Morning, all!! Morning, Dr. R!! It makes me cringe every time Dr. R reiterates the sentiment that having a government that regulates business, maintains a social safety net and solid infrastructure is "a redistribution of wealth from hardworking white men to African Americans who want a handout." IMHO this idea is...POPPYCOCK!!!

The way I see it is if you take the year 1619 as the beginnings of slave (free) labor for the "hardworking white men" and multiply that number (4 million give or take?) by 246 years (give or take) what you've got is a HUGE debt owed to the former slaves AND their descendants for wages never paid. I leave factoring in the Jim Crow era to others.

So my point is the next time we hear a Republican (in this era) railing about socialism, maybe we should point out that it was the "hardworking white man" who wanted and received a handout.

Expand full comment

“radical socialist Democrat agenda”

I thought about that phrase off and on all day yesterday, and if that’s what being concerned about the rights of ALL Americans is, then yes, I’m proud to be a “radical socialist Democrat”.

My definitions don’t come from a book on economics, but “capitalism” puts money first, since “capital” is the root of the word. Bezos makes more than $3,000/second (!) but Amazon’s workers are supposed to survive on $13-15/hour. “Socialism” derives from “social”—as in social life, social security, socialize, etc. We could use a lot more “socialism” in the US! Family leave, child care for all, health care for all, a minimum wage that covers all your bills—and the right for everyone to vote.

So yeah, I’m a proud radical socialist Democrat.

Expand full comment

Republican efforts to suppress voting rights should not cause Democrats to surrender. The struggle over the right to vote has been continuous since our country’s founding. Our history is a shameful one of singling out one group after another to deny access to the ballot. In every case justice and democratic principles eventually prevail. However, each time the struggle has required persistence and effort both by those discriminated against and people of good will.

Do not despair that the situation is lost and our Constitutional Republic irreconcilable broken. Effort and persistence are once again required from people of good will. So roll up your sleeves and get to work electing better choices. Get into John Lewis’ good trouble. Vote. No matter how many barriers are erected, no matter how Republicans act to control election outcomes, Vote. Volunteer as an election official. It is important that election workers are bipartisan. Insist on your voice being heard and your vote matters.

Expand full comment

”I swear to the Lord I still can’t see why democracy means everybody but me.” —Langston Hughes

“The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.”

—W.E.B. Du Bois

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Nelson Mandela

“We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers. Our abundance has brought us neither peace of mind nor serenity of spirit.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

—Frederick Douglass

“Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face.”

—Carol Moseley-Braun, politician and lawyer

“Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.” —Jackie Robinson

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.” —Rosa Parks

“Life has two rules: number 1, never quit! Number 2, always remember rule number one.” —Duke Ellington

“Make a difference about something other than yourselves.” —Toni Morrison

Expand full comment

"And so, Republicans began to say that the United States is 'not a democracy,' as Utah Senator Mike Lee tweeted in October. 'Democracy isn’t the objective,'

he continued, 'liberty, peace, and prospe[r]ity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.'"

Thank you, Prof. HCR, for this excellent thread explaining the GOP's "unique" definition of "socialism." Their terminology fails to resemble an academic understanding of a veritable political system. Like all other GOP theoretical and political inventions/lies it is rooted in colonialism, white supremacy and racism, a racism that connotes a deeper, more venomous hatred and destructive

Expand full comment

Thanks for the historical perspective that this isn't a new fight, that it's the same fight we've been having since before the country was the country.

Expand full comment

"They (Republicans) are standing firm against “the radical Socialist Democrat agenda,” making sure that no wealthy person’s tax dollars go to schools or roads or social programs." This is the part that dumfounds me. What kind of wealthy person benefits from a poorly educated population? What kind of wealthy person benefits from lousy roads, poor unreliable transportation, and crumbling bridges? What kind of wealthy person benefits from destitute seniors, a sickly and unhealthy population, and prisons bursting at the seams with the same poorly educated, sickly citizens as criminals? Are Republicans saying the wealthy do not need healthy will educated workers? Business owners big and small endlessly complain about paid sick days. They complain about new parents who need time off to take care of their infants and the riggers of new parenting. In a world where every business that I know of needs healthy well educated worker. Workers who can focus on doing their jobs to a high standard rather than worry about their children and parents are a great benefit business their managers, owners, and their investors. Providing good public education, affordable health care, not health insurance, and a properly funded Social Security System is of great value to the wealthy and the non-wealthy alike. Do the wealthy and big businesses believe good workers grow on trees like oranges and all they have to do is harvest them when they need them? Why are businesses clamoring for workers right now after the COVID shut-downs and the COVID recession? They need them to re-staff and get up and running and re-open. If having a healthy, well educated, and socially supported population is a radical Socialist Democrat agenda, then what is the Republican social agenda? Is it wide spread sickness like the COVID epidemic that Trump allowed to happen? Is it crippling public education in favor of expensive religious oriented schools in wealthy neighborhoods like Betsey DeVos envisioned? Is it destroying the postal system in favor of an expensive private system? Is it seniors living out their last years in sickness and destitution dying way before their wealthy neighbors? Is the Republican social agenda the same as Ebenezer Scrooge thought was best for his wealth? If so, I take my chances with the Democrat social agenda. I don't think Americans want to become Mr. and Mrs. Bob Cratchits and their children Tiny Tims.

Expand full comment

The good news is that Republicans are coming out of the closet, as it were, and showing their true face. No more dog whistles, wink wink, nod nod, thin public facade barely hiding their real intentions. Voters have the choices nakedly before them.

Paraphrasing Mr. Franklin, we are a republic, if we can keep it.

Expand full comment

Joe Manchin's opposition to the For the People Act, one of the nation's most important pieces of legislation in generations, is troubling. HIs thinking goes that the bill does not have bipartisan support therefore he won't vote for it. What planet is he on? Does he not believe that if the situation were reversed and Republicans had the advantage they wouldn't pass it without a single Democratic vote? Did they not shelve the nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court and rush through their own nominee days after Justice Ginsburg passed? One must question his motives. What is his true agenda? Is he a Dino?

Expand full comment

Just to be clear: sometime last year, when you were asked if you intended to continue writing "Letters from an American" after the election, you replied, "at least through the new administration's first 100 days." We are at 115 days, I believe, but here's the thing: We need you now more than ever. Today's letter is a perfect example of why. We need your wealth of facts, your keen insight, and your ability to provide historical context. I realize that your are working the equivalent of two or three full-time jobs, and I'm sure your university students need you too, but please don't even think about stopping *Letters*. You are my lifeline in this turbulent era.

Expand full comment

The Rs have been framing the narrative for a long time - Bill Barr told us there's nothing to see in the Mueller Report then falsely stated that the Report exonerated Trump and showed no evidence of obstruction of justice. He then redacted it so severely that even Congress never saw the whole report. Now, it's McCarthy et al labelling Dems as the Socialist, Radical Left and Republicans as the Populist Party of Inclusion - a "Big Tent" with room for all Americans.

It's time for Dems to take control of the narrative and hold Rs feet to the fire. How about starting with this? Require all US Senators and Congressmen to sign a document affirming that Biden won the popular vote and his Presidency has been certified by the Electoral Collage and is legitimate. Those unwilling to sign the document should be tried for Treason.

Expand full comment

Mike Lee talking about democracy: “Democracy isn’t the objective.... “liberty, peace, and prospe[r]ity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.” resembles Xi Jinping's China seeks a similar measure of liberty, peace, and prosperity through is "social credit" system. The Guardian wrote in October, 2020: "Every Chinese citizen receives a literal, numeric index of their “trustworthiness and virtue”, an index which unlocks everything. This single number will determine the opportunities citizens are offered, the freedoms they enjoy, and the privileges they are granted." Follow Mike Lee's opposition to democracy and we get Xi Jinping's social enforcement of allegiance and conformity.

Expand full comment

Excellent "Letter" from Dr. Richardson today, cutting through the noise and striking at the heart of the Trumpian Republican false thesis of "socialist" goals of the Democratic Party. As Trumpian Republicans complete their casting-out of all naysayers, this claim now becomes as central to their Big Lie as the "stolen election." Again, Dr. Richardson's voice clearly and eloquently speaks the truth.

Expand full comment

Professor, thank you for continuing to bring to life our American history with each story. Wealth distribution has long been the Boogie Man Republicans keep trotting out to scare Americans. It reminds me of the old joke which I’ll paraphrase:

A CEO, a union representative and a worker meet around a table with a plate of 10 cookies. The CEO takes 9 cookies then leans over to the worker and tells him “you better keep an eye on your cookie, the union representative looks like he wants a piece.”

We can easily imagine expanding this story to include a Black woman who also wants a piece of that cookie.

What’s amazing is how well this tactic works.

Expand full comment

Dr. Cox Richardson, I read you every day, and every day I am more convinced that your words and your message must be put in front of young people, especially teens. I work in schools all over the country. My focus areas are reading, writing, and US History. How can I arrange to begin using your work here in schools and providing teachers and kids across the country with materials that afford them the opportunity to learn about the true history of their country in the context of current events? Kind regards, Steve Peha

Expand full comment