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It took the Roman Republic five centuries to devolve into a centralized despotism. It may take ours roughly 240 years to get to the same place, but with decidedly less upside.
In an election year in which the top likely candidates come from New York, big cities arguably dominate American politics more than at any time since New Deal. The dynamics of urban politics, which are characterized by high levels of inequality and racial tensions—may be pushing Democrats ever further to the left and Republicans toward the inchoate resentment of Donald Trump.
The real winners in election 2016 are going to be the new-economy oligarchs who are among Clinton’s biggest donors.
This presidential election may have been driven by populist fever in both parties, but at the end, the campaign has left the nation’s oligarchs in better position than ever. As Bernie Sanders now marches to his own inevitable defeat, leaving the real winners those oligarchs—notably in tech, media, urban real estate and on Wall Street—who are among Hillary Clinton’s most reliable supporters.
Yes, wealth concentration is insane. But the ways in which wealth is shifting are surprising—and give reason for a little optimism.
In an age of oligarchy, one should try to know one’s overlords—how they made their money, and where they want to take the country. By looking at the progress of the super-rich --- in contrast with most of us --- one can see the emerging and changing dynamics of American wealth.
America’s baby boomers, even as they increasingly enter retirement, continue to dominate our political economy in ways no previous group of elderly has done. Sadly, their impact has also proven toxic, presenting our beleaguered electorate a likely Hobbesian presidential choice between a disliked, and distrusted, political veteran and a billionaire agitator most Americans find scary.
Throughout the campaign, boomers have provided the bedrock of support for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders may have devastated Clinton among millennial voters, by almost 3-1, but she has more than offset that gap by winning overwhelming support from older voters.
California may be the country’s most important and influential state for technology, culture and lifestyle, but has become something of a cipher in terms of providing national political leaders. Not one California politician entered the 2016 presidential race in either party and, looking over the landscape, it’s difficult to see even a potential contender emerging over the coming decade.
Until now, the presidential campaign largely has been dominated by issues of class, driving the improbable rise of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. But as we head toward Super Tuesday – which will focus largely on Southern states – racial issues may assume greater importance.
The religious right, once a major power in American politics, is entering an uncomfortable dotage. Although numerous and well-organized enough to push Ted Cruz over the top in Iowa, the social conservative base, two-thirds of them born-again Christians, was of little use in New Hampshire, one of the most secular states in the Union. In the Granite State, Cruz did best among evangelicals but still slightly trailed Donald Trump among this one-quarter of New Hampshire Republicans.
The rising cost of housing is one of the greatest burdens on the American middle class. So why hasn’t it become a key issue in the presidential primaries?
There’s little argument that inequality, and the depressed prospects for the middle class, will be a dominant issue this year’s election. Yet the most powerful force shaping this reality—the rising cost of housing—has barely emerged as political issue.
n this hyper-political age, perceptions about virtually everything from the weather to the Academy Awards are shaped by ideology. No surprise then that views on the economy and its trajectory also divide to a certain extent along partisan lines.
This could be how our experiment with grassroots democracy finally ends. World leaders—the super-rich, their pet nonprofits, their media boosters, and their allies in the global apparat—gather in Paris to hammer out a deal to transform the planet, and our lives. No one asks much about what the states and the communities, the electorate, or even Congress, thinks of the arrangement. The executive now presumes to rule on these issues.
At a recent breakfast in Washington, D.C., a rising young Republican senator explained the divisions in his party in a particularly succinct manner: a conflict between the donor base and the GOP rank-in-file.
“The donor class,” this senator told me, “really cares about one thing: lower taxes. Most in the party don’t see this as the most crucial issue.”
To some, particularly in the green movement, this month’s Paris climate change summit represents something like the great synods of the early Christian era, where truth and policy, for example, on pastoral celibacy, were determined by the princes of the church. Some others, largely marginalized on the fringes of the Right, insist the whole extravaganza is part of a vast left-wing conspiracy to delude people into accepting a world government.
Lost in translation is that the Paris conference is largely a sideshow camouflaging a potentially epic struggle among national, regional and economic interests. This mundane reality is often lost amid the apocalyptic rhetoric, such as employed by Gov. Jerry Brown, that insists draconian action is necessary to avoid the species’ imminent “extinction.”
The Paris Climate Conference, convening this week, takes place in the very place where, arguably, the most dangerous exemplar of hysteria, the Islamic jihadi movement, has left its bloody mark. Yet the think tank mavens, academics, corporate shills and endless processions of bureaucrats gather in the City of Light not to confront the immediate deadly threat, but to ramp up their own grisly scenarios and Draconian solutions.
At the site of real and immediate tragedy, an old man comes, wielding not a sword to protect civilization from ghastly present threats but to preach the sanctity of California’s green religion. The Paris Climate Change Conference offers a moment of triumph for the 77-year-old Jerry Brown, the apogee of his odd public odyssey.