Concentrate on American Dream not Trump Nightmare

Rather than fuss, fume, and fester about the Trump phenomenon, we need to analyze the situation that brought us to this sad point in time, including what motivates his many supporters. Most have issues that anger them. They may be only slightly bruised financially by the conditions wrought by a culture hijacked by conservatism, or fed-up with no voice in how this country is run. Others are perplexed by the deteriorating comfort and well being it has brought into our midst.

At any rate, the real source of our abuse is well hidden or shielded by a compromised leadership, most especially the Wall Street crew and the vulture capitalists who continue to benefit.

We, perhaps, are more in tune with where we are now as a nation. We feel more in a high state of insecurity. It’s like legal gambling where the house rules, and the house is not us. It is controlled by a syndicate, in this case, the very rich, who have 20,000 registered and unregistered lobbyists serving corporate interests in Washington.

Eight years of George W. Bush had saddled average Americans with the infrastructure of an oligarchy, a stricture Koch brother efforts tightened in 2009, even right under the then idealistic nose of Barack Obama. Under the ominous shadow of Wall-Street-inspired financial breakdown, billionaires had secretly gathered at Indian Wells, CA, in 2009 in collusion against the duly elected president, weeks after Obama’s inaugural, even as they do now two times a year, planning the demise of middle class affluence.

The long-range success of the conspiratorial actions of the Koch brothers and friends is seen in the demise of middle class America. By 2015 the middle class, with an income range (in 2014 dollars) of some $42,000 to $126,000, declined by more than 11% to below 50%. In terms of changes in wealth in 2013 dollars over the last 30 years, the median net worth of upper class families doubled, up to $650,100 while the wealth of the middle class increased 2% and the wealth of lower-income families dropped 18%.

The agents of the rich in Congress, the Republican majority can only speak of reduced taxes for the rich, ravaging entitlements, and dumping regulations that protect the people, whether consumer protections, banking regulations, EPA protections or the right to sue corporate oppressors. All is done under the guise of protection against big government.

Even Democratic president Bill Clinton did little to halt the minimum wage decline of lower income families in the 1990s. When Clinton left office, the minimum wage was still 35 percent below its real value in 1968, even though the economy had become 81 percent more productive over the same period.  The welfare reform bill Clinton signed in 1996 helped reduce poverty in Clinton’s full-employment era but helped erase the safety net for the poorest of the poor in 2016.

In our own Obama years, the Kochs, with the relentless support of a network of super-wealthy conservatives, have successfully piled money into nothing short of a revolutionary Republican takeover of state governments. It has meant corporate tax reductions, public funding of corporate projects, voting disenfranchisement for minorities, and dismantling of unions in most states Republicans control. Today, only 11% of American workers belong to a union, compared to well over 50% in most Scandinavian countries, for example. To the benefit of Koch and friends, Union weakness depresses wages.

Of course, presidential candidates like to brag of small business opportunities – part of the American Dream — but the truth is that almost a quarter of American start-ups are founded by somewhat desperate men and women who can’t get a decent job, solo ventures with zero payrolls. George Carlin once said, “The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

Pile this on the backs of workers in states where free trade (NAFTA, now TPP) moves businesses outside the country. Of course, such phenomena helps the growing strength of billionaires like the Koch brothers and corporate chieftains, pushing profits to epidemic proportions, even while jobs and pay tank.

Also of epidemic proportions is the number of middle-aged, working-class white Americans who are, in effect, killing themselves in the last 30 years.  The death rates from poisoning (includes drug overdoses), suicide, and liver disease are increasing for every working-class white age demographic between the ages of 30 and 64. Such desperation speaks of the oppressive force of the rich few in our society, whose actions impose low wages, lost jobs, and oppressive living conditions, at the same time squelching opportunity for a losing middle class.

Trump is speaking to these people, people who have been treated like a lost tribe. They’ve been battered by layoffs, wage cuts, poor schools, lost services, and unresponsive politicians. Some have been retrained for new jobs, too many times in unmarketable skills. They’ve been lied to. They have seen prospects for their children and grandchildren diminish.

Thus, these Americans have good cause for anger and angst, sentiments that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are addressing, Trump vents anger on the negative side of the spectrum, self-serving but destructive for our country. Bernie Sanders on the left pushes policies that offer hope for fracturing the oligarchic hold on our government, relentlessly established over the past 40 years.

Republican operatives wring their hands, worrying about destruction of their party. They spend no resources to gauge the needs of their party followers and the reasons for their Trump allegiance. For that matter, the needs of all Americans have not been in their partisan scopes for at least a generation.

We must find an antidote for the economic pestilence brought upon us by our corporate overlords. Heaping condemnation upon Donald Trump and ignoring Bernie Sanders, who has a constructive challenge to the billionaire class, seems to have media support. But that billionaire class owns much of the media that dismisses and neglects Bernie’s message. Accordingly, Media Matters charted 234 total network minutes news coverage for Donald Trump in 2015 to Bernie Sander’s 10 minutes.

The focus on change will not come through such a media, and certainly change won’t happen through wishful thinking or through the self-aggrandizing machinations of a Donald Trump.

It’s has always been on us.

James Hoover is a recently retired systems engineer. He has advanced degrees in Economics and English. Prior to his aerospace career, he taught high school, and he has also taught college courses. He recently published a science fiction novel called Extraordinary Visitors and writes political columns on several websites. Read other articles by James.