Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Plutocracy wins big

Above: Franklin Roosevelt in New York, 1928. In 1938, President Roosevelt said that the "the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism - ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power." Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.

Hillary Clinton and her Wall Street backers whipped Bernie Sanders and his call for a better democracy, winning four out of five primaries last night. Billionaire Trump had a big night too. Plutocracy, or Fascism, or Oligarchy, or whatever you want to call it, won big.

We know that the voices of the middle-class and the poor are drowned out by the policy preferences of Wall Street, Corporate America, and the super-wealthy (see, e.g., "It's Official: In America, Affluence Equals Influence: A new study shows policy caters  to the desires of wealthy Americans," U.S. News & World Report, April 22, 2014). We also know that Hillary Clinton received far more money from Wall Street, Corporate America, and the super-wealthy than Bernie Sanders. Yet, that hasn't stopped millions of middle-class and poor Americans from supporting Clinton. I don't understand that at all, but it's certainly not a surprise either. We have a very rich tradition of voting against our interests - which is why so many children are homeless, so many people are killing themselves, wages have been stagnant for decades, and college graduates are mired in $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. We just can't stop ourselves from voting for people who have little or no interest in our well-being.

And so, whether it's Clinton or Trump who ends up in the White House, we must now mentally prepare ourselves for 4-8 more years of winner-take-all capitalism - and all the fraud, greed, selfishness, war, suicide, homelessness, incarceration, debt and poverty that such an economic system demands.

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