The Bernie Trump Factor

Back when the Tea Party began, I was thrilled. It was around the same time as Occupy Wall Street began, and at their roots, both groups wanted the same thing: Stop letting the Big Banks and Big Business do anything they want! No bailouts for businesses that screwed over the average guy! Let’s give government back to the people!sanders and trump

Finally! Consensus! Something might actually get done!

We all know how well that worked out. The Tea Party got co-opted by every right-wing issue out there (gun rights, abortion, religious extremism), none of which had anything to do with the real issue for which the Tea Party was formed. And the Occupy Wall Street became this generation’s hippie fest, with drumming and tie-dye and demands that we stop eating animals.

It’s almost as if the rich bankers and corporations that actually run this country had planned it that way. Hmmm.

But the underlying anger hasn’t gone away, and it manifests itself now in the “Bernie Trump Factor.”

When you speak to supporters of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, they say a lot of the same things about how terrible it is that government can be bought by the highest bidder. Both discuss how they “can’t be bought”.

Supporters for both exclaim, “He tells the truth!” — because neither Trump nor Sanders take public opinion polls or surveys to decide what their position on the issues should be.

And this rebellion on both sides is a good thing. It is indeed time that something is done about our country’s descent into oligarchy.

Of course, that’s about all these two have in common — on every other issue, they’re polar opposites. But the Bernie Trump Factor is the reason you have people on the left and people on the right jumping for joy for the outsider, the guy no one expected to do well.

We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more.

The Real Reason there are So Many Republican Candidates (Hint: $$$)

A few weeks ago, I speculated as to why there were so many declared candidates for the Republican nomination. Seriously, there have never been this many in the history of our country. Never. What is different about this year?

The answer is, of course, money.DC-Misc-Cartoon-Simpsons-Quimby-w-Money-Bag

Previously, there were laws limiting how much money an individual could contribute to a campaign. In order to run a legitimate campaign, you’d need lots of money from lots of different people. If you couldn’t raise that, you just couldn’t compete.

Now, thanks to the Supreme Court handing our democracy over the super rich (in the Citizen’s United case), there is no limit.

And now we’re seeing the result of that terrible decision. You no longer need to appeal to a broad base of supporters to be a legitimate candidate. One billionaire with enough money can keep your campaign going.

They’re buying the election. A very small percentage of Americans are choosing their candidates, betting on their favorite to win. Those who are trying to appeal to a larger segment have to work twice as hard.

And so what happens? You got it — the candidates say whatever the billionaires buying them want them to say. No need to try to get the support of the majority of Republican voters. All you need is Sheldon Adelson or the Koch Brothers to like you and you’re in.

So you can suck it up and just admit we are now living in an oligarchy instead of a democracy…

Or you could fight to elect a Democrat who will hopefully be able to change one vote on the Supreme Court to reverse that awful decision, or even convince enough states to pass an amendment saying “money is not speech.”

See? I wasn’t exaggerating.

A few weeks ago, I argued that America had become an oligarchy, run by the rich.

I also pointed out that this pretty much started under Reagan.   oligarchy

A recent study by Princeton confirms both of my points — that our government is now run by and for the very rich, and this has been happening since Reagan drastically reduced taxes on the 1% and got rid of regulations that prevented the kind of abuses that have led to the wealth in our country being divided in a way it hasn’t been in a hundred years.

We can fix this.  We outnumber them.  We can outvote them all.

But this won’t happen until we make it happen.  And that means telling both parties that we won’t put up with it any more.



When we became an oligarchy

An oligarchy is a government run by a small group of elitists;  in our case, the very rich.  (In which case, perhaps the better term is a plutocracy.)  Today’s Supreme Court ruling was the final deciding factor.

How did we get here, in a place that Teddy Roosevelt warned us about?    money

1.  Reagan’s tax cuts.  It started under Reagan when the tax rates on the super rich were dropped tremendously.  Soon after this, we started going into great debt (unnecessary wars didn’t help any).  Infrastructure started falling apart, education was cut, opportunities started vanishing, and they took the middle class with them.  And the rich got even richer and, therefore, more powerful.

2.  The removal of regulations.  Reagan again.  From the very beginning, our economy went through periods of prosperity and crash, on the average of every seventeen years.  There was the Panic of 1819, the 1837 Crisis, the Panic of 1873, the Panic of 1893, the 1907 Banker’s Panic, and so on up to the Great Depression. Then Franklin Roosevelt put in controls and restrictions on Wall Street and banking and lo and behold, no depressions and no recessions for fifty years. Reagan comes in and removes those and bang! The S&L crisis, the 2001 recession, the 2007 Mortgage crisis, and the 2008 Bush collapse.  But more importantly, the lack of regulations produced less competition as huge businesses and banks gobbled up smaller ones and created monopolies.  This gives us great income inequality, where the vast majority of wealth in America is concentrated in the very few at a level comparable to the period before the French revolution.

3.  Gerrymandering.  This isn’t new, but it has gotten so absurd that it keeps those in power there, with hardly any challenges to incumbents.  Therefore, there is no one “stirring up the pot” and bringing in new blood to change things.  In certain districts, it is impossible for the other party to challenge the incumbent party.  This is terrible for democracy, which — like capitalism — needs competition to survive.

4.  The removal of campaign contribution limits.  With Citizen’s United and today’s McCutcheon decision, the Supreme Court has vested power in the filthiest rich at the expense of the rest of us.  You have to be daft to deny that money is power, and what these decisions do is to create the two great fictions that “corporations are people” and “money is speech.”  This means those in power now have even more means to keep themselves in power, by being able to spend unlimited, uncontrolled, and unregulated money in politics.

Because, according to the Supreme Court, if you bribe a politician quietly behind the scenes, it’s a crime.  But if you do it as a campaign contribution anonymously, it’s protected speech.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say on this latest nail in democracy’s coffin but for now I am just too angry to think.