Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Robert Reich: Trump + Sanders = Looming Revolt.

Berkley prof, political economist, pundit and served presidents Ford, Carter and Clinton, Robert Reich sees revolt looming in America.

"He can't possibly win the nomination," is the phrase heard most often when Washington insiders mention either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.

Yet as enthusiasm for the bombastic billionaire and the socialist senior continues to build within each party, the political establishment is mystified.

They don't understand that the biggest political phenomenon in America today is a revolt against the "ruling class" of insiders that have dominated Washington for more than three decades.

In two very different ways, Trump and Sanders are agents of this revolt. 

What's new is the degree of anger now focused on those who have had power over our economic and political system since the start of the 1980s.

Included are presidents and congressional leaders from both parties, along with their retinues of policy advisors, political strategists, and spin-doctors.

Most have remained in Washington even when not in power, as lobbyists, campaign consultants, go-to lawyers, financial bundlers, and power brokers.

The other half of the ruling class comprises the corporate executives, Wall Street chiefs, and multi-millionaires who have assisted and enabled these political leaders -- and for whom the politicians have provided political favors in return.

 ...We've witnessed self-dealing on a monumental scale -- starting with the junk-bond takeovers of the 1980s, followed by the Savings and Loan crisis, the corporate scandals of the early 2000s (Enron, Adelphia, Global Crossing, Tyco, Worldcom), and culminating in the near meltdown of Wall Street in 2008 and the taxpayer-financed bailout.

Along the way, millions of Americans lost their jobs their savings, and their homes.

...The game seems rigged -- riddled with abuses of power, crony capitalism, and corporate welfare.

...The resulting fury at ruling class has taken two quite different forms.

On the right are the wreckers. The Tea Party, which emerged soon after the Wall Street bailout, has been intent on stopping government in its tracks and overthrowing a ruling class it sees as rotten to the core.

Its Republican protégés in Congress and state legislatures have attacked the Republican establishment. And they've wielded the wrecking balls of government shutdowns, threats to default on public debt, gerrymandering, voter suppression through strict ID laws, and outright appeals to racism.

Donald Trump is their human wrecking ball. The more outrageous his rants and putdowns of other politicians, the more popular he becomes among this segment of the public that's thrilled by a bombastic, racist, billionaire who sticks it to the ruling class.

On the left are the rebuilders. The Occupy movement, which also emerged from the Wall Street bailout, was intent on displacing the ruling class and rebuilding our political-economic system from the ground up.

Occupy didn't last but it put inequality on map. And the sentiments that fueled Occupy are still boiling.

Bernie Sanders personifies them. The more he advocates a fundamental retooling of our economy and democracy in favor of average working people, the more popular he becomes among those who no longer trust the ruling class to bring about necessary change.

Yet despite the growing revolt against the ruling class, it seems likely that the nominees in 2016 will be Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. After all, the ruling class still controls America.

But the revolt against the ruling class won't end with the 2016 election, regardless.

I expect former pres. Jimmy Carter would agree that revolt might be the last best chance to recover America's democracy. Carter recently denounced the incestuous relationship between corporatism and America's political caste as subverting democracy.

"It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we've just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. ... At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell."
The good news is that America's descent into oligarchy is marked by the rise of a transactional government that closely parallels the decline of the Roman Senate in the years prior to the collapse of their empire.


Toby said...

Donald Trump has the same attraction as Rob Ford, the chance to snub the entrenched powers.

Steve said...

spot on

Ron Waller said...

Before you said I learned about Keynes from a community college course. But actually I learned by reading books from Keynesians like Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz and Robert Reich. (Klein's book "Disaster Capitalism" is heavily Keynesian. Haven't read her latest yet.)

Robert Reich is considered left-leaning by today's standards. But he just wants to return America to the policies and prosperity it enjoyed during the post-war era founded on Keynesian economics. Policies enacted by both Republican and Democrat presidents and Congresses.

Of course, the Keynesian system can be just as effective on green policy as it was on social policy. (The environment was not a concern during the post-war era, not like it is today.) Big government investments in green-energy and mass-transit that make renewable energy cheaper than dirty energy (instead of the other way around, which is obviously crazy) is the only thing that's going to work.

The Mound of Sound said...

"Big government investments in green-energy and mass-transit that make renewable energy cheaper than dirty energy (instead of the other way around, which is obviously crazy) is the only thing that's going to work."

Absolutely right, Ron, and those are the very policies that lie at the heart of the Green Party platform. They're also the only party that isn't solidly behind expanded bitumen extraction. The fact is that our civilization can't survive the continued consumption of the heaviest-carbon fossil fuels.