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The End of the Establishment?

By       Message Robert B. Reich       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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Reprinted from Robert Reich Blog

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders
(Image by Stefan Molyneux, Channel: stefbot)
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Step back from the campaign fray for just a moment and consider the enormity of what's already occurred.

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A 74-year-old Jew from Vermont who describes himself as a democratic socialist, who wasn't even a Democrat until recently, has come within a whisker of beating Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucus, routed her in the New Hampshire primary, and garnered over 47 percent of the caucus-goers in Nevada, of all places.

And a 69-year-old billionaire who has never held elective office or had anything to do with the Republican Party has taken a commanding lead in the Republican primaries.

Something very big has happened, and it's not due to Bernie Sanders' magnetism or Donald Trump's likeability.

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It's a rebellion against the establishment.

The question is why the establishment has been so slow to see this. A year ago -- which now seems like an eternity -- it proclaimed Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush shoe-ins.

Both had all the advantages -- deep bases of funders, well-established networks of political insiders, experienced political advisors, all the name recognition you could want.

But even now that Bush is out and Hillary is still leading but vulnerable, the establishment still doesn't see what's occurred. They explain everything by pointing to weaknesses: Bush, they now say, "never connected" and Hillary "has a trust problem."

A respected political insider recently told me most Americans are largely content. "The economy is in good shape," he said. "Most Americans are better off than they've been in years. The problem has been the major candidates themselves."

I beg to differ.

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Economic indicators may be up but they don't reflect the economic insecurity most Americans still feel, nor the seeming arbitrariness and unfairness they experience.

Nor do the major indicators show the linkages Americans see between wealth and power, crony capitalism, declining real wages, soaring CEO pay, and a billionaire class that's turning our democracy into an oligarchy.

Median family income lower now than it was 16 years ago, adjusted for inflation.

Most economic gains, meanwhile, have gone to top.

These gains have translated into political power to rig the system with bank bailouts, corporate subsidies, special tax loopholes, trade deals, and increasing market power -- all of which have further pushed down wages pulled up profits.

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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