The major issue the public is reacting to isn’t terrorism or racism. We didn’t see these numbers after 9/11, or even in the late 1960s, when cities were torn by riots and the Vietnam War was raging.
It’s the rigging of our economy — the increasingly tight nexus between wealth and political power. Big money has been buying political clout to get laws and regulations that make big money even bigger. As Clinton said in her acceptance speech, “I believe that our economy isn’t working the way it should because our democracy isn’t working the way it should.”
She’s correct, but she didn’t finish the logic. Democracy is not working the way it should because it’s being corrupted by big money. That big money is altering the rules of the game to generate even bigger money.
Americans now pay more for pharmaceuticals than the citizens of any other advanced nation because Big Pharma is setting the rules — extending the life of drug patents, prohibiting Medicare from using its bargaining power to get lower drug prices, and blocking consumers from buying cheaper drugs from Canada.
We pay more for Internet service, health insurance, airline tickets and banking services because the increasing market power of key players in these industries lets them raise prices. Antitrust enforcement has been systematically weakened.
The biggest Wall Street banks continue to reap the financial benefits of being too big to fail. Hedge fund partners make bundles from confidential information, trading on which used to be illegal.
CEOs cash in their stock options and grants just when they pump up the value of their company’s stocks with buybacks. It’s allowed because laws and regulations have been loosened.
Trade agreements are now designed to protect the intellectual property and foreign assets of giant corporations, but nothing is done to protect the incomes of Americans who lose their jobs to foreign competition.
This is business as usual in Washington.
Clinton has a long list of good proposals for helping average working people, but none of them will go anywhere if Washington stays the same and the economic game remains rigged.
Instead, Americans will become even more angry and cynical. That’s the real reckoning — hers and ours.
Trump didn’t come from nowhere. He is the loudest and clearest warning shot across the bow of the current American political economic system.
Hopefully he’ll lose in November. But unless that warning is heeded, the dark anger that has produced him will produce another homegrown demagogue, possibly far worse.