Increasingly, America is becoming two separate societies. As the middle class collapses, a massive underclass is emerging, where people struggle to feed their families, working two or three jobs (if they’re lucky enough to find employment), with no time for entertainment and no money for frills, often finding life too crowded to leave time to vote.
There is still a professional/technical segment of society where a middle class life is possible. But automation, outsourcing and global trade practices are inevitably eroding their ranks. They are becoming politically irrelevant.
Inevitably, America’s government will be tasked with reconciling the interests of the two disparate societies. And you can bet it’s the super-rich who will have the advantage, not the increasingly disenfranchised poor.
One reason is the vast expense of political campaigns. Only the super-rich and those with super-rich patrons can assemble the kind of wealth required to run for office at the state and federal level. And there have been alarming incursions of big-money sponsors like the NRA and the Koch brothers into local politics across America.
Meanwhile, many Americans are being barred from the ballot box by carefully crafted provisions – reduced early-voting periods, onerous voter identification requirements and overloaded voting facilities, for example.
Increasingly, Congress and the White House are reserved for the very rich. And the few non-rich who manage to get elected usually become rich very quickly.
As an example of this inevitably plutocratic trend, Forbes Magazine calculated the wealth of this election’s presidential candidates and came up with an average net worth (excluding Donald Trump) of more than $13 million. Trump, as he keeps telling us, is worth billions.
That’s their personal worth. Their campaign chests are far deeper. I read recently that a Jeb Bush Super PAC has already spent $50 million – with $50 million more to go.
It seems natural to me that the politicians who are supposed to be representing “the people” would identify with the rich, not the rest of us.
In such a political environment, Bernie Sanders is a startling anomaly. With a net worth of about half a million dollars, Bernie is the poorest of the presidential candidates. And his campaign chest is filled with the nickels and dimes of the poor, not donations from the super-rich.
This could be the last chance for everyday Americans to put a true representative in the White House., someone who is actually in touch with their hopes, dreams and real-life struggles.
And this might be what so many Americans recognize, the hundreds of thousands who are flocking to support Bernie’s campaign.