Why Bernie and Trump Are Important Regardless

This stupid eight-year election process is shaping up as confirmation of more-of-the-same. That means the very rich will control every important aspect of our lives as they do now. Clinton’s heart is in the right place, and she will likely be a very good president with strong international credentials, but with net worth of a hundred million dollars, she is a de facto representative of the very rich, when the domestic achievement we need most is to save our democracy from the very rich.

Neither Trump nor Sanders is likely to be the next president, but their presence and their campaigning is nonetheless valuable because both, in very different ways, draw our attention to the sleeping disaster our democracy has become.

Bernie Sanders has devoted his entire public life to justice for the non-rich. For most of this time he has been a voice in the wilderness. But not today, when everyone realizes that something is terribly wrong. He routinely draws tens of thousands of people to his appearances, people who understand his message. This has not earned him the nomination, but I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that as an independent he has been locked out of all closed primary elections.

Donald Trump is a bigoted, sexist loudmouth with an unsurpassed ego, utterly unqualified for the presidency. Indeed, he has been almost completely unsuccessful in all of his high-spending egocentric ventures, virtually all of which have gone bankrupt. But he has tapped into the uncritical anger of people who feel they have been cheated out of the promise of our democracy. Which they have.

The trouble is that Trump wants them to believe this came about because of various people he proclaims to hate, such as Mexicans and Muslims. He doesn’t draw attention to his own role as rich hypocrite, nor to the complete domination of American life, politics, and wealth by the billionaire class, who are the ones actually responsible for almost everything wrong.

Trump has absolutely no idea how to make things better. Certainly it won’t be by wasting billions on a nuevo Maginot Line on our southern border, nor by deporting multiple millions of people, no matter who they are. Nor will it be by disallowing the immigration of Muslims, or immigrants in general.

So the average Trumpster, particularly those not very astute, wants to blame everyone but those actually responsible for what he has suffered. Some women, routinely abused, vilified, objectified, and denigrated by Trump and Republicans, think he’s just swell, someone who “tells it like it is” (he tried to tell us Californians there is no drought). Even some among Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos, and every other group Trump has denigrated and lied about, have flocked to his incoherent message. They seem immune to the plain and simple facts of his endless lies and ignorance (all proven by independent sources), and the plain and simple fact that he hasn’t a clue about how to run the country. Trumpsters want the guilty to suffer for what they did to them, but they don’t know who the guilty are, since their ears are stopped to everyone but Trump.

The average person in the US is pissed about what the rich are doing to us. The trouble with Trumpsters is that they don’t understand where the problem comes from. But liberals know that none of the criminal Wall Street billionaire banksters responsible for the disastrous 2008 crash have spent even a day behind bars. Recent revelations of tax avoidance via thousands of shell companies in Panama are piled on top of years of revelations of tax avoidance by the very rich who hide billions in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, and elsewhere. Meantime, they control Congress, which passes laws to suit them. 

These are the people who create woes for the rest of us, particularly the poor. These ultra-rich people claim to create jobs, but dark money hidden in tax avoidance schemes creates no jobs. Trumpsters don’t seem to know this, and Trump isn’t telling them.

The rich would have us believe that the taxes they would be forced to pay on their amorally hidden money are excessive and unfair. So instead, it is we who must pay for the public services they enjoy at no cost, and it is we who must make up for the hidden billions.

One can argue endlessly about how much each of us should pay in taxes, but one cannot reasonably claim that anyone worth multiple millions should pay none at all. Indeed, one can’t reasonably claim that someone with income of millions should not pay more. After all, nobody can actually work for a million dollars. Huge incomes are gained by manipulating other people’s money, and such easily gotten riches can only come from many thousands of the non-rich, who rely for justice on government that is now controlled by the ultra-rich for their own endless enrichment. There’s not much left of our democracy.

This is what the tens of thousands at Bernie’s rallies understand, and this is what they want to change. They don’t necessarily want to be rich. They just want justice, and the promise of equality restored. They want an end to the dark money that circulates untaxed through thousands of shell companies established for the purpose of laundering it for tax avoidance and control of our government. They want the rich to simply be rich, and not to control our lives as they do now.

Trumpsters want essentially the same fairness, but they don’t seem to understand who stole their dreams along with their money. Worse, they think Trump will do something to improve their lives, whereas every indication is that he would make them much, much worse.

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