The noise of kah-ching deafens the hacks to the sounds of the street
The sound of its own failure has not yet drowned out the Plutocrats' Happy Noise: KAH-CHING! -- blj
The latest Gallop Poll on voter preference, from the second week of July, 2015, is 29% Republican, 42% Independent, and 28% Democrat. - http://www.gallup.com/poll/15370/party-affiliation.aspx
The Revolt Against the Ruling Class
“He can’t possibly win the nomination,” is the phrase heard most often when Washington insiders mention either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.
Yet as enthusiasm for the bombastic billionaire and the socialist senior continues to build within each party, the political establishment is mystified.
Political insiders don’t see that the biggest political phenomenon in America today is a revolt against the “ruling class” of insiders that have dominated Washington for more than three decades.
In two very different ways, Trump and Sanders are agents of this revolt. I’ll explain the two ways in a moment.
Don’t confuse this for the public’s typical attraction to candidates posing as political outsiders who’ll clean up the mess, even when they’re really insiders who contributed to the mess.
What’s new is the degree of anger now focused on those who have had power over our economic and political system since the start of the 1980s.
Included are presidents and congressional leaders from both parties, along with their retinues of policy advisors, political strategists, and spin-doctors.
Most have remained in Washington even when not in power, as lobbyists, campaign consultants, go-to lawyers, financial bundlers, and power brokers.
The other half of the ruling class comprises the corporate executives, Wall Street chiefs, and multi-millionaires who have assisted and enabled these political leaders – and for whom the politicians have provided political favors in return.
America has long had a ruling class but the public was willing to tolerate it during the three decades after World War II, when prosperity was widely shared and when the Soviet Union posed a palpable threat. Then, the ruling class seemed benevolent and wise.
Yet in the last three decades – when almost all the nation’s economic gains have gone to the top while the wages of most people have gone nowhere – the ruling class has seemed to pad its own pockets at the expense of the rest of America.
We’ve witnessed self-dealing on a monumental scale – starting with the junk-bond takeovers of the 1980s, followed by the Savings and Loan crisis, the corporate scandals of the early 2000s (Enron, Adelphia, Global Crossing, Tyco, Worldcom), and culminating in the near meltdown of Wall Street in 2008 and the taxpayer-financed bailout.
Along the way, millions of Americans lost their jobs their savings, and their homes.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has opened the floodgates to big money in politics wider than ever. Taxes have been cut on top incomes, tax loopholes widened, government debt has grown, public services have been cut. And not a single Wall Street executive has gone to jail.
The game seems rigged – riddled with abuses of power, crony capitalism, and corporate welfare.
In 1964, Americans agreed by 64% to 29% that government was run for the benefit of all the people. By 2012, the response had reversed, with voters saying by 79% to 19% that government was “run by a few big interests looking after themselves.”
Which has made it harder for ordinary people to get ahead. In 2001 a Gallup poll found 77 percent of Americans satisfied with opportunities to get ahead by working hard and 22 percent dissatisfied. By 2014, only 54 percent were satisfied and 45 percent dissatisfied.
The resulting fury at ruling class has taken two quite different forms.
On the right are the wreckers. The Tea Party, which emerged soon after the Wall Street bailout, has been intent on stopping government in its tracks and overthrowing a ruling class it sees as rotten to the core.
Its Republican protégés in Congress and state legislatures have attacked the Republican establishment. And they’ve wielded the wrecking balls of government shutdowns, threats to default on public debt, gerrymandering, voter suppression through strict ID laws, and outright appeals to racism.
Donald Trump is their human wrecking ball. The more outrageous his rants and putdowns of other politicians, the more popular he becomes among this segment of the public that’s thrilled by a bombastic, racist, billionaire who sticks it to the ruling class.
On the left are the rebuilders. The Occupy movement, which also emerged from the Wall Street bailout, was intent on displacing the ruling class and rebuilding our political-economic system from the ground up.
Occupy didn’t last but it put inequality on map. And the sentiments that fueled Occupy are still boiling.
Bernie Sanders personifies them. The more he advocates a fundamental retooling of our economy and democracy in favor of average working people, the more popular he becomes among those who no longer trust the ruling class to bring about necessary change.
Yet despite the growing revolt against the ruling class, it seems likely that the nominees in 2016 will be Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. After all, the ruling class still controls America.
But the revolt against the ruling class won’t end with the 2016 election, regardless.
Which means the ruling class will have to change the way it rules America. Or it won’t rule too much longer.
Record-High 42% of Americans Identify as Independents
Republican identification lowest in at least 25 years
by Jeffrey M. Jones
PRINCETON, NJ -- Forty-two percent of Americans, on average, identified as political independents in 2013, the highest Gallup has measured since it began conducting interviews by telephone 25 years ago. Meanwhile, Republican identification fell to 25%, the lowest over that time span. At 31%, Democratic identification is unchanged from the last four years but down from 36% in 2008.
The results are based on more than 18,000 interviews with Americans from 13 separate Gallup multiple-day polls conducted in 2013.
In each of the last three years, at least 40% of Americans have identified as independents. These are also the only years in Gallup's records that the percentage of independents has reached that level.
Americans' increasing shift to independent status has come more at the expense of the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Republican identification peaked at 34% in 2004, the year George W. Bush won a second term in office. Since then, it has fallen nine percentage points, with most of that decline coming during Bush's troubled second term. When he left office, Republican identification was down to 28%. It has declined or stagnated since then, improving only slightly to 29% in 2010, the year Republicans "shellacked" Democrats in the midterm elections.
Not since 1983, when Gallup was still conducting interviews face to face, has a lower percentage of Americans, 24%, identified as Republicans than is the case now. That year, President Ronald Reagan remained unpopular as the economy struggled to emerge from recession. By the following year, amid an improving economy and re-election for the increasingly popular incumbent president, Republican identification jumped to 30%, a level generally maintained until 2007.
Democratic identification has also declined in recent years, falling five points from its recent high of 36% in 2008, the year President Barack Obama was elected. The current 31% of Americans identifying as Democrats matches the lowest annual average in the last 25 years.
Fourth Quarter Surge in Independence
The percentage of Americans identifying as independents grew over the course of 2013, surging to 46% in the fourth quarter. That coincided with the partial government shutdown in October and the problematic rollout of major provisions of the healthcare law, commonly known as "Obamacare."
The 46% independent identification in the fourth quarter is a full three percentage points higher than Gallup has measured in any quarter during its telephone polling era.
Democrats Maintain Edge in Party Identification
Democrats maintain their six-point edge in party identification when independents' "partisan leanings" are taken into account. In addition to the 31% of Americans who identify as Democrats, another 16% initially say they are independents but when probed say they lean to the Democratic Party. An equivalent percentage, 16%, say they are independent but lean to the Republican Party, on top of the 25% of Americans identifying as Republicans. All told, then, 47% of Americans identify as Democrats or lean to the Democratic Party, and 41% identify as Republicans or lean to the Republican Party.
Democrats have held at least a nominal advantage on this measure of party affiliation in all but three years since Gallup began asking the "partisan lean" follow-up in 1991. During this time, Democrats' advantage has been as high as 12 points, in 2008. However, that lead virtually disappeared by 2010, although Democrats have re-established an edge in the last two years.
Americans are increasingly declaring independence from the political parties. It is not uncommon for the percentage of independents to rise in a non-election year, as 2013 was. Still, the general trend in recent years, including the 2012 election year, has been toward greater percentages of Americans identifying with neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party, although most still admit to leaning toward one of the parties.
The rise in political independence is likely an outgrowth of Americans' record or near-record negative views of the two major U.S. parties, of Congress, and their low level of trust in government more generally.
The increased independence adds a greater level of unpredictability to this year's congressional midterm elections. Because U.S. voters are less anchored to the parties than ever before, it's not clear what kind of appeals may be most effective to winning votes. But with Americans increasingly eschewing party labels for themselves, candidates who are less closely aligned to their party or its prevailing doctrine may benefit.