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What I learned from Richard Nixon

Here's an amazing moment from the heart of the Cold War:

In 1959, Vice President Nixon gave Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev a tour of the American National Exhibition in Moscow.

As they walked through a model American home, they debated which system – communism or capitalism – could provide the greatest prosperity for its people.

The debate's defining moment came in the kitchen filled with everyday gadgets and little luxuries, where Nixon boasted that our system was building a broad middle class and empowering any American family to afford that level of comfort and convenience.

Of course, that wasn't exactly true – our union was plagued by segregation and our policies imbued with racial discrimination, barring millions from sharing in that prosperity.

But, in spite of its shortcomings, American capitalism once valued not just billion-dollar paydays and private jets, but a basic level of economic security for average families.

Then came a profound shift. In the 70s and 80s, technology and global competition changed the game for American corporations and they lurched toward self-preservation – cutting costs, wages, benefits, and jobs. The Reagan administration celebrated the idea of a shining city on a hill, while at the same time making the hill steeper and steeper.

American capitalism has done great good for a great number of people. It has given our average citizen a better standard of living than anywhere else in the world, lifted millions out of poverty, and powered the globe.

But American capitalism's current iteration is badly broken – skewed away from the public interest in favor of frenzied, ruthless pursuit of profit. And the sooner we admit that, the sooner we can strip it to the studs and build something better.

Thanks for standing with me,

Joe

Posted on May 9, 2019.

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MEET JOE

Joe Kennedy III represents Massachusetts' 4th District in Congress. A principled and passionate advocate for economic, social, and racial justice, Joe is working to improve access to quality, affordable health care, and is determined to fight for all who call this country home.

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