A lot has been made over the last decade of “The 1%”, the top wealth earners and owners in the nation. From Occupy Wall Street to the Sanders campaign there has been a call for a revolution of sorts to overthrown them and put the nation on the right path. The other 99%, the theory goes, cannot remain slaves forever.
As time has gone on, however, something strange happened to the calculus that went into describing the revolution. Those at the top of the wealth pyramid? They know there’s something wrong. Many are more than a little sympathetic, and most seem to be at least resigned to a more progressive system.
Meanwhile, genuine American fascism has risen in a boisterous and orange form. Who is the real enemy? Who do we need to rise up against? If you’re paying any attention it’s not necessarily the rich.
The net popularity of Donald Trump is dropping like a stone, but his core was never all that large. Rarely polling much over 40% of the 24% who call themselves Republican these days, the core is running something under 9% of the population. As of now those who view him favorably is at about 31%. It’s not clear whether it will keep dropping given that those who favor him now must have heard something they like with all the attention he’s getting.
They are the ones we need to worry about. They’ve heard the rambling, narcissistic fascism and don’t have a problem.
It’s much harder to “target” this group than the very wealthy, of course, so I doubt the wannabe revolutionaries among us are going to change their tune. In the name of party unity I won’t go down a laundry list of my own problems with Sanders’ schtick or his supporters, but there is something about their target that seems far off the mark, even if the pressure they put on is necessary.
Consider this long piece published by one of my favorite financial writers, John Mauldin. He’s a successful bond trader and a man who is very much worth paying attention to. A good friend of Newt Gingrich and a Born-Again Christian, he is also deeply concerned about the plight of working people and the lack of opportunity in this nation. He turned his column over to a piece by Ray Boshara of the St Louis Fed recently – which included this quote:
Millions of families remain economically vulnerable; in some ways, they are now even more fragile, given growing economic penalties on less-educated and minority families. Therefore, broad, ambitious efforts to invest in these families must not only continue but be strengthened.
It’s a strong, data driven analysis with solid policy recommendations. It’s worth a read, especially if you think that the 1% really is at war with the rest of America.
But if the 1% is at least resigned to the fact that something has to be done to invest in the greatest resource of this or any other nation – our people – what is preventing this? What, indeed, is propelling the do-nothing Congress that stands in the way of any progress at all?
Enter the angry white people who support Trump. As the brilliant comic Mike Yard has observed on Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show, “At least we know who the racists are now. They’re out in the open.” Indeed, melaninically challenged pale people can no longer claim that racism isn’t a problem. Free Speech is an amazing thing in its own way.
So what do we make of those racists who are now, indeed, out in the open? If the very rich aren’t the ones standing in the way of progress, they are. If anyone ever though that White Privilege was going to end easily, without a struggle, they were pretty naive. There are a lot of racists in this nation and a lot of people deeply invested in the racist structure that puts white people on top – even white people who have nothing else in particular going for them.
Who, then, is the enemy? We saw at the last Davos Conference that those at the very, very top know what’s wrong and are willing to solve it. They aren’t the problem. We have seen the enemy and he is us – not some mysterious other. Ordinary voters with an extraordinary amount of rage that is stunningly easy to mis-direct are the ones being pandered to and tolerated by a dying mainstream media in a wave made for a reality show star. Fear the 31%, not the 1%.