IT’S TIME FOR ALL POLITICIANS TO LISTEN to Nick Hanauer, an American billionaire who actually came out last month to say, “When they (the financial industry) say that the better profits are, the better it will be for everybody, I’m the one who can say ‘That’s a lie. ‘ “
And a lie it is. Those pundits studying the tea leaves to ascertain Donald Trump’s or Bernie Sander’s appeal are looking in the wrong place. They simply have to walk through most neighbourhoods, or sit down in coffee shops throughout America, to figure it out.
Here’s how Leonard Steinhorn from American University laid it out.
- the Great Recession “flatlined” the lives and aspirations of millions of Americans
- comparable jobs just didn’t come back following the financial downturn
- one-third of Americans making between $30,000 – $100,000 per year report that their finances haven’t recovered
- middle-class families saw their median wealth drop by 28 percent between 2001 and 2013
- the middle-class is now effectively on the outside looking in
- the top one percent captured 58 percent of all income growth between 2009 and 2014 – a greater share of the national paycheque than at any time in the last 100 years
- employee compensation is at the lowest level in 65 years
- according to a 2015 Pew survey, 7 in 10 Americans say government has helped large banks, financial institutions, corporations, and the wealthy and done little to help the average family
There we have it – a powerful narrative that doesn’t emanate from some political leader but from the experience and lack of expectations of most citizens in the United States. This is what happens when good people who played by the rules feel out of the loop. Even now the Republican candidates are collectively calling for a relaxation of financial restraints for the big players, and more tax cuts for them as well. And the Democratic Party is seen to be complicit in the present sense of stasis in the nation and have governed federally over the decade of malaise.
Put simply the “jig is up” and Americans from all sides of the political spectrum are railing against a political elite they have come to regard as sluggish at best, uncaring at worst. It is this pressing reality that the media establishment never spotted on the horizon. Now they can’t get enough the populism that is erupting behind Sanders and Trump.
Canada has just been through a pivotal election, but even in this country the political and media elites underestimated just how deep the current for change ran throughout the country. The opposition parties learned to their regret that a makeover of the status quo would suffice to placate this angst in voters. While the Trudeau Liberals caught the wave of change on their way to majority government, the great danger they now face is to lose touch with that raw nerve of a citizenry that brought them power and now appears anxious for something more substantial than they have received in years.
Note: This blog post is also available to be read at National Newswatch here.