This is a diary about the big picture. About things we should not forget as we fend off the daily outrages of the Trump administration.
First, let’s hear from a very large sample of voters who were interviewed on election day 2016, by Reuters/Ipsos:
The poll of more than 10,000 people who have already cast their ballots in the presidential election showed a majority of voters are worried about their ability to get ahead and have little confidence in political parties or the media to improve their situation. A majority also feel that the economy is rigged to mostly help the wealthy.
The poll, which will be updated as additional responses are tallied and votes are counted throughout Tuesday, found:
– 75 percent agree that “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”
– 72 percent agree “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.”
Well, you can’t say the American people are ill-informed when it comes to the relationship between the 1% and the 99%.
Three out of four Americans know the rich and powerful have been eating their lunch. And they went to the polls saying they want to take their country back.
“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
— Warren Buffett quoted in www.nytimes.com/…
If a candidate won anything close to 75% of voters it would be a landslide victory the likes of which we have never seen. Reagan 1984, Nixon 1972, LBJ 1960, Eisenhower 1956, FDR 1936 were all between 57% and 61% of the vote.
Why do three out of four Americans feel this way about the country? Perhaps because they know that the top 0.1% (300,000 people) have captured almost 12% of national income, a level not seen since the gilded 20s.
The last time the wealthy took so much of national income, voters revolted, elected FDR (57.4% in 1932, 60.8% in 1936) and radically transformed the social compact. And yes, there were lots of arguments back then too about how globalization and new telecommunications technologies explained the income disparities and were insurmountable.
In times like this, voters typically turn to Democrats. But, this is where we run into a problem with voter’s perceptions. Again from the Reuters election day poll.
– 68 percent agree that “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me.”
– 76 percent believe “the mainstream media is more interested in making money than telling the truth.”
Why would Americans think neither party is on their side? Well perhaps because they know that they’ve been getting a raw deal from both parties the past few decades.
Here’s how incomes have grown for the poorest people (on the left) and the richest (on the right), since 1980.
The poorest have seen almost no increase, the richest have seen 6% growth annualized. Democrats have held the House for 18 of those years (though 14 of those were before 1994). Democrats have also held the Senate for 18 of those years (including 10 of the past 16). And Democratic presidents have been in charge for 16 of those 34 years.
From the average voter’s perspective, it doesn’t seem to matter whether or not they send a Democrat of a Republican to Congress. The rich just keep getting richer either way, and the rest of us tread water.
Was it always like this? No, not at all. For the 34 years prior to 1980, it wasn’t. That’s the grey line in the chart below.
Why was middle class income growing faster than that of the wealthy? Well, for one thing, taxes were significantly higher. And that happened though a Republican held the White House for 16 years between 1946 and 1980. Democrats controlled the purse-strings for most of that period though, Republicans only had a Senate majority for 6 of those 34 years, and a majority in the house for only 4 years.
The Reuters exit-poll results were analyzed after the election by the NY Times.
One exit poll has been haunting me since I saw it: The Reuters/Ipsos early exit poll found that 75 percent of respondents agreed “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.” Only slightly fewer agreed that “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful,” and — perhaps the kicker — 68 percent believed that “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me.”
There’s a lot to unpack in those statements. They may conceal white resentment of the perceived advancement past them of black and Latino people. But they also reveal the sentiment that has been there since the 2008 financial crisis laid bare the lines of power in the country and the world — when, as the protest chant went, “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.”
The downward trends have been with us for decades: the divergence of productivity gains from workers’ incomes, the substitution of credit card debt for raises, the shift of good union jobs and family wages and pensions into low-wage service jobs, and the attendant slashing of the social safety net. But the past eight years sped all that up and made it impossible to ignore. — www.nytimes.com/…
So, lest we forget the forest for the flaming trees of the Trump administration, here’s what we need to remember going into 2018 and 2020 as we pick candidates, policy and strategy.
- 75 percent agree that “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”
- 72 percent agree “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.”
- 68 percent agree that “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me.”
- 76 percent believe “the mainstream media is more interested in making money than telling the truth.”
If a party and a candidate can speak to those concerns, convincingly, they have a good chance of winning. If a party and its candidates cannot speak to those concerns convincingly, well it may well be another crapshoot.