In Jeffrey Sachs' latest op-ed in the New York Times, he declares: "A new generation of leaders is just getting started. The new progressive age has begun.”
Like Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson who cleaned up unfair labor practices and busted business tycoons during the Gilded Age, and FDR who instated New Deal practices to not only to save us from a recession, but also to undo corruption and greed rampant during the Roaring Twenties, a third movement following the downfall of the global financial meltdown is upon us.
But unlike the Occupy protests, which has been heavily criticized for lacking direction, Sachs outlines three clear goals for the newly brewing era: 1) Restore public service programs such as education, public investment and environmental protection; 2) Put a stop to fraud on Wall Street, and 3) "Re-establish the supremacy of people votes over dollar votes in Washington.”
The next step, says Sachs, is to get out of the parks. “The whole range of other actions — shareholder and consumer activism, policy formulation, and running of candidates — will not happen in the park.” With the help of inexpensive social media and modern technologies, Sachs believes the next generation can make their political voices heard.
Are we witnessing a new progressive era? Can Occupy protests tweet their way onto a new political agenda, even when there is no defined leader? Are we seeing similarities to past social movements?
Jeffrey Sachs, director, the Earth Institute; professor of Sustainable Development and Health Policy and Management at Columbia University