In 2016, 40¢ of every campaign dollar came from the .001%. That's not to say they work as a team (strange to think people worth that much even co-exist). Yet, they all won, regardless whom they courted.
New research by the Center for Public Integrity shows the rich "lobbied Trump directly and got for the 2.6 points his bill took off the highest tax bracket. Top-tier billionaires increased their wealth by 12% in 2018, alone. To dispel the myth that Trump puts America--much less, Americans--1st, it also found the bill was "foremost a gift to multi-nationals", while workers came in last with less than 6% going to hiring and raises.[i]
Now, with cash in hand, the .001% will likely sidle left, to work more in-depth hustles like interest rates, and to end Trump's trade war. Several have pledged to raise their contribution, and two of their roughly 4,000 members are already running as Democrats.
That said, their voters would already prefer socialism. [ii] And with good reason, since now we've proof the equality gap will get a lot, lot wider.
Last round Hillary spent her wages clearing the field of any candidates that might whittle her support. Ironically, that funneled the vote-against to last-standing Bernie Sanders. Bernie had stayed in the race by avoiding both Hillary's jockeying minutia and her strings-attached funding. Instead, he spoke directly to the public about healthcare, living-wages, debt relief, and, ultimately, political revolution.
Words that win elections (when the DNC doesn't broker otherwise), but words you can't buy with a lot of money. Yet with half of all the money in the world, you can twist them any shape and stand them on their head. Ergo, 2020 promises another fixed-match, with neoliberalism wearing a progressive mask pinning goose-stepping neo-illiberalism in the final round.
No doubt, even Bernie's 'political revolution' will still seep into the Democrats' .001%-approved vocabularies. Yet, hijacking all that energy requires trapping its have and have not discourse on a liberal-right axis, and then that on a legislative plane. Sadly, Bernie's done half that work, already.
Bernie's 'political revolution' was itself a reduction of the broader systemic concerns of Occupy!. Still, it set a clear, if underwhelming, goal in 2016. Yet it would quite-intentionally miss the point to call for a 'political revolution' now. That's because capitalism's unpopularity, even among legislators, has had little bearing on the legislative strength of capital. One need only look at the tax cuts, latest military budget hike, and the further erosion of Dodd-Frank, for prognosis.
To reiterate, Congress just gifted corporations a $1.5-trillion hand-out, largest in history, without first reading the text. Of course, some Democrats voted against it. But that hardly exonerates them. They knew critical analysis was being suppressed. They knew they, themselves, hadn't read it. Where was the fight? Any half-serious representative would have brought it public. Instead, one suspects it was not a fight they were intent on winning.
So much for political revolution. Perhaps Occupy!'s social aims would have made a better horse.But even say it happened. Political revolution was still not good enough. Consider this recent op-ed from the ultra-capitalist Brookings Institute, which the Guardian ran as 'critique' for their series, "Broken Capitalism." Capitalism is failing. People want a job with a decent wage; why is that so hard? By Richard Reeves:
What most people want is a job that pays a decent wage and offers both some satisfaction and security. Harsher critics of the system believe that these goals are incompatible at a deep level with capitalist dynamics. But at least for some, especially for white men, market capitalism delivered pretty well for at least a generation. This is why it was so important to fight to crowbar the doors open for women and people of color. The progressive goal was not to curtail the market, but to open it. [iii]
Reeves shouldn't attempt modesty. Capitalism delivered exceedingly for some, and for well more than a generation. (For measure, not Reeves personally, but Brookings helped write Trump's tax cuts.) And he's correct, progressivism worked to find space within capitalism, rather than attack its contradictions. The point is to make capitalism bearable, which (not all progressives realize) doesn't necessarily entail reining it in.
And he's right, with some success. A few generations ago black CEOs would have been unimaginable. But a quarter of black Americans still living below the poverty-line, should be unimaginable today. Yet it makes sense, because capitalism has never functioned without an under-class.
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