In 2015, too many American families struggle with stagnant wages, precarious work, insecure retirement, crushing college debt, and more. We look at the yawning income gap and we know it is wrong and it is unsustainable. Our shared values tell us so—no matter where we fall on the political spectrum. But this next truth is less clear to many: the economy is not like the weather; it doesn’t just happen to us and it is not out of our control. Elected leaders make deliberate decisions about what this economy will be like. Elected leaders determine who wins and who loses.
Politics can play a valuable role in American life as a tool for justice and the common good. But so much money is flooding into the political system from the very rich that our democracy is in danger. We risk becoming a nation whose leaders areselected rather than elected. Meanwhile, the politics of division has spurred suspicion and anger among America’s working people. As a result, too often we engage in culture wars instead of uniting to put all our strength into harnessing change to benefit us all.
In other words, we face a classic American dilemma. As Benjamin Franklin put it, we must all hang together or we will surely hang separately. That’s the crossroads.
More from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.