Graph: what might have changed to motivate the migration from Ronald Reagan’s hoax that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ to the Democrat’s focus on Wall Street and the technocrats who serve it and Silicon Valley? Money, the ether which holds the American system of legalized graft afloat, is the fungible form of concentrated wealth. ‘Nature’ was no more prevalent a factor in wealth distribution in 1963 than it is today, suggesting that specific political arrangements explain this concentration of wealth. In this context populism is an emotive, and therefore materially ineffective, way to assuage growing class antagonism. Source: Emmanuel Saez.
Cynical posturing, the stock-in-trade of national Democrats, currently finds the Senator from Wall Street, Chuck Schumer, fresh from crafting Orwellian tactics to crush BDS, putting forward the Democrats’ ‘Better Deal’ as if the poorer 85% of the populace doesn’t know who is gauging them on their rent / mortgage, their car loan, their grocery bill and at the doctor’s office. As the (very) top graph illustrates, the crazed crack-head holding a loaded gun to their heads (Wall Street) was given time and a few trillion dollars to right itself but the debts owed it never went away. Around 60% of the country is but one lost paycheck or a ¼ % rise in the Federal Funds rate away from complete economic ruin. In 2017.
The 15% (yes, the same 15%) of the country that finds the ‘Russia stole the election’ story relevant is undoubtedly the target audience for Mr. Schumer’s ‘Better Deal’ talking points. Reminder: when Democrats last held the White House and both houses of Congress they passed a Republican health insurance sales scheme while bailing out Wall Street. To wit, Hillary Clinton earned $21 million giving speeches to Wall Street after Wall Street killed the global economy. Unless national Democrats are suggesting that Russian operatives wrote Mrs. Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street, the ‘lesser’ classes appear to understand this corruption and who does, and doesn’t, benefit from it just fine.
The West is deep into a political crisis that has been fifty years in the making. To state the cliché du jour, Donald Trump is a symptom, not the cause. Before there was Donald Trump, Bill and Hillary Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill differentiated institutional outcomes by race linking it in ignominy to Nazi law. This virulently anti-immigrant speech given by Bill Clinton in 1995 presaged Donald Trump’s petulant xenophobia by more than two decades. Millions of Americans live in extreme poverty today because the Clintons ‘ended welfare as we know it.’ And by reviving Wall Street Barack Obama empowered the forces crushing the working classes of the West.
Charges to ‘get the money out of politics’ run up against the myriad institutional changes made to give the wealthy more control over political outcomes. The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), pushed by Barack Obama even after the Democrat’s loss to Donald Trump, had covenants intended to increase the power of corporations to resist environmental, public health and labor regulations imposed under civil law. Bernie Sander’s funding model for his faux-presidential run funded a campaign he left Democrats holding the power to crush— and crush it they did.
The dominant political parties in the U.S. have assumed absolute control over electoral processes at a time when the power of concentrated wealth has been solidified. The result is an all or nothing political process where who it is that perpetuates this system of upward distribution is the only open question. For those who forgot, Bill and Hillary Clinton attended Donald Trump’s wedding and they consider each other ‘friends.’ The food-fight over ‘Russian interference’ is political theater for gullible loyalists, I mean an outrageous assault on our sacred democratic institutions.
A central challenge for reformers is that ‘the world,’ including the dispossessed plurality within the U.S., doesn’t have another fifty years to work current political dysfunction out. A political system that can only support the upward distribution of social resources at ever-rising social costs will fail more people at an increasing rate. As fact and metaphor, Barack Obama’s program to combat global warming was insufficient on its face and a cynical dodge when combined with his program (TPP) to give corporations the ability to override environmental regulations aimed at resolving it.
When global warming is tied to dead and dying oceans, misery-inducing and toxic industrial agriculture, poisoned air and seemingly unstoppable militarism through the profit motive a systemic driver comes into focus. Add in that only a small sliver of humanity takes the wealth produced by this system while all of the rest of us partake in its toxic excrescences and the outline of a class war becomes visible. The political choice is to leave this system in place or to not leave it in place. Everything else is to rearrange the proverbial deck chairs.
Finally, on the ‘historical communism’ front, I haven’t seen one of these pieces since I was in high school. Here’s a brief recap of the glories of capitalist imperialism. The link provides further links to smallpox blankets, the trail of tears, slavery, convict leasing, various coups and interventions to prevent democratic revolutions from succeeding and more details regarding three centuries of industrial-scale slaughter to promote ‘de-centralized’ economic interests. The internal / external distinction loses relevance when domestic economic interests drive militarized foreign policy.