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Tue Nov 5, 2019, 06:14 AM

The Real Divide, By Robert Reich

The Real Divide, Nov. 1, 2019.

In the conventional view of American politics, Joe Biden is a moderate while Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are on the left and Donald Trump is on the right. This conventional view is rubbish. Today’s great divide is not between left and right. It’s between democracy and oligarchy.

There are no longer “moderates.” There’s no longer a “center.” The most powerful force in American politics today is anti-establishment fury at a rigged system.

Four decades ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, the left wanted stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads and research. The right sought greater reliance on the free market.

In those days, a general election was like a competition between two hotdog vendors on a long boardwalk extending from left to right. To maximize sales, each had to move to the middle. If one strayed too far left or right, the other would move beside him and take all sales from the rest of the boardwalk.

This older American politics is now obsolete. As wealth and power have moved to the top and the middle class has shrunk, more Americans have joined the ranks of the working class and poor.

Most Americans – regardless of whether they were once on the left or right – have become politically disempowered and economically insecure. Nowadays it’s the boardwalk versus private jets on their way to the Hamptons.

As Rahm Emmanuel, Barack Obama’s chief of staff and former mayor of Chicago, told the New York Times: “This is really the crack-up. Usually fights are Democrats versus Republicans, one end of Pennsylvania versus the other, or the left versus the right. Today’s squabbles are internal between the establishment versus the people that are storming the barricades.”

In 2016, Trump harnessed many of these frustrations, as did Sanders.

The frustrations today are larger than they were in 2016. Corporate profits are higher, as is CEO pay. Markets are more monopolized. Wealth is more concentrated at the top. Although the official unemployment rate is lower, most peoples’ incomes have gone nowhere and they have even less job security.

Meanwhile, Washington has become even swampier. Big corporations, Wall Street and billionaires have flooded it with money and lobbyists. Trump has given out all the tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks and subsidies they have ever wanted. The oligarchy is in charge.

Why hasn’t America risen up in protest? Because American democracy was dysfunctional even before Trump ran for president. The moneyed interests had already taken over much of it.

It’s hard for people to get very excited about returning to the widening inequalities and growing corruption of the decades before Trump. Which partly explains why Biden is foundering.

At the same time, Trump and his propagandists at Fox News have channeled working-class rage against the establishment into fears of imaginary threats such as immigrants, socialists and a “deep state.”

But a large majority of Americans – right and left, Republican as well as Democrat – could get excited about moving toward a real democracy and economy that worked for the many.

This is why the oligarchy is so worried about Warren’s rise to frontrunner status in some polls.

Politico reports that Democratic-leaning executives on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley and across the corporate world are watching her with an increasing panic.

“Ninety-seven per cent of the people I know in my world are really, really fearful of her,” billionaire Michael Novogratz told Bloomberg.

These Democratic oligarchs hope Biden, or perhaps Peter Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar, can still take Warren out.

In just the third quarter, Buttigieg raised about $25,000 from executives at Wall Street firms including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan and hedge fund giants like Bridgewater, Renaissance Technologies and Elliott Management. And another $150,000 from donors who described their occupation as “investor”.

If Biden implodes and neither Buttigieg nor Klobuchar takes the lead from Warren, Wall Street and corporate Democrats hope former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg will ride into the primary at the last minute.

It won’t work. The stark reality is that Democrats cannot defeat Trump’s authoritarian populism with an establishment candidate who fronts for the oligarchy.

The only way Democrats win is with an agenda of fundamental democratic and economic reform, such as provided by Warren and also by Sanders.

Unless Democrats stand squarely on the side of democracy against oligarchy, the risk on election day is that too many Americans will either stand with Trump or stay home.

https://robertreich.org/post/188745257830

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Tue Nov 5, 2019, 06:20 AM

1. If they are worried about Warren then they aren't Democrats and never really were.

I guess they dont want those fat cat bonuses up ended a little so the rest of the country can be a little better off. Its too damn much to ask for doing nothing but playing with the extra money big biz has because it pays zero taxes. Ensuring that the bulk of everything is STILL being paid for by the increasingly poorer masses.

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Response to Afromania (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 5, 2019, 06:45 AM

2. The imbalance can't be sustained, anyone with a brain knows it.

Forty years of Reagnomics

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Response to appalachiablue (Reply #2)

Tue Nov 5, 2019, 07:13 AM

3. I don't get it. Who exactly is going to buy all the shit they try to sell us when we cant afford

anything other than increasing housing, groceries and travel expenses to get to these jobs that don't pay enough? Who's going to buy all that plastic fantastic crap after they ask us to pay in even more?

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Response to appalachiablue (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 7, 2019, 08:07 AM

12. What Is Oligarchy: Robert Reich



'What Does Oligarchy Mean?' America's imbalance of power and wealth is increasingly incompatible with democracy. By Robert Reich, June 4, 2019. Oligarchy” means government of and by a few at the top, who exercise power for their own benefit. It comes from the Greek word oligarkhes, meaning “few to rule or command.” Even a system that calls itself a democracy can become an oligarchy if power becomes concentrated in the hands of a few very wealthy people—a corporate and financial elite.
Their power and wealth increase over time as they make laws that favor themselves, manipulate financial markets to their advantage, and create or exploit economic monopolies that put even more wealth into their pockets. Modern-day Russia is an oligarchy, where a handful of billionaires who control most major industries dominate politics and the economy.

What about the United States? According to a study published in 2014 by Princeton Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern Professor Benjamin Page, although Americans enjoy many features of democratic governance, such as regular elections, and freedom of speech and association, American policy making has become dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans. The typical American has no influence at all...
https://prospect.org/economy/oligarchy-mean/ , https://www.democraticunderground.com/1017558285

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Response to Afromania (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 5, 2019, 10:23 AM

6. And president's need Congress to enact any meaningful change. Even Elizabeth can't do it alone.

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Response to Afromania (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 5, 2019, 10:31 AM

7. MSNBC (with their nonstop Pharma and insurance ads) are terrified of Warren.

They are constantly tearing her down for proposing long-overdue structural reforms to health care.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Tue Nov 5, 2019, 07:47 AM

4. The rich, no matter the party, don't want a President that migh keep them from raking in the money.

But it goes deeper than that. Most Americans don't want others to have what they have. It's surprising that some Democrats that I talk to who are on Medicare are worried about Medicare for all because they think they might lose what they have. In America we hate socialized health care until you turn 65.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Tue Nov 5, 2019, 09:10 AM

5. Agreed. Good post.

The depth and intractability of wealth inequality today can only be addressed with systemic solutions. Warren and Sanders know this and speak up about it. But risk aversion runs so deep among mainstream Democrats that we stand in our own way and cannot even imagine building a consensus for change.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Tue Nov 5, 2019, 10:51 AM

8. Is America Becoming A Third World Country? Robt. Reich.



2019

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Tue Nov 5, 2019, 11:07 AM

9. Robert Reich is spot on.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Tue Nov 5, 2019, 03:49 PM

10. I Disagree

I disagree with Robert Reich on this issue. The divide is still Republican vs. Democrat. The vast majority of the policies of the Democratic Party attempt to help working class people, while the vast majority of the policies of the Republican Party seek to help the Wall Street types. Anyone who wants policies that will help the middle class should vote for Democrats.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Wed Nov 6, 2019, 05:46 PM

11. This whole "establishment" trope needs to fucking DIE

Along with any bullshit notion that Trump is somehow "anti-establishment"...

It's tired, meaningless and completely without substance. Four years later, not one person left, right or center has EVER given me a coherent definition of what makes one candidate "establishment" and the other "anti-"...

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