Yesterday morning, the Senate enjoyed a rare moment of comradery and bipartisan agreement when prominent members of both political parties united in order to deliver a boon to the people they truly represent.
Seventeen Democrats joined with their Republican colleagues and voted to gut the financial regulations passed by President Obama after the 2008 financial crisis in yet another depressing concession to the oligarchs on Wall Street and a sadly unsurprising indictment of the modern Democratic Party’s dysfunction.
The upcoming bill would not only make it easier for banks in engage in the reckless casino capitalist practices that crashed the global economy but would also make it much easier for banks to racially discriminate against people of color.
Several figures beloved by the #resistance like newly elected Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) joined a host of so-called “moderate” Democrats like Jon Tester (D-MT), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN), many of whom are facing re-election challenges next year.
But the excuse that these Democrats are voting with Republicans to appeal to red-state voters for their re-election efforts is preposterous, because how much interest does your average voter in, say, Montana or North Dakota have in deregulating multibillion-dollar financial institutions?
They’re simply trying to cover up the real reason, which is that they’re appealing to the billionaire donor class for funding for their campaigns, selling their votes to Wall Street in order to receive money to win elections…so they can sell their votes to Wall Street in order for funding to win re-election, perpetuating a cycle of corruption that is sadly legal and extremely destructive to American political engagement and transparency.
Progressive Democrats erupted in fury at the vote, accusing the “yea” voters of enabling the next financial crisis. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MASS) tore into her colleagues in a fiery statement, reminding them that another Great Recession-level crisis would drop be a death blow to an already beleaguered and withering American middle class that still has not recovered from the effects of the last financial crisis.
“People in this building may forget the devastating impact of the financial crisis 10 years ago—but the American people have not forgotten. The millions of people who lost their homes; the millions of people who lost their jobs; the millions of people who lost their savings—they remember, and they do not want to turn loose the big banks again.”
The Great Recession that followed the bursting of the subprime mortgage bubble in 2008 destroyed the lives of millions upon millions of Americans as they lost jobs, housing, and their savings while then being forced to pay to bail out the finance industry in one of the largest transfers of wealth from the middle class to the rich in human history.
Those bankers floated away on their golden parachutes, getting off scot-free while the American people suffered – and they’re back to their old tricks while the rest of us grapple with skyrocketing healthcare costs, a drought of stable, well-paying jobs, exorbitantly expensive housing costs, and crushing levels of debt.
The pundits enjoy their smart quips about how if people want to see improvement in their lives, they must vote Democratic – but there’s a reason the Democrats were wrecked across the board in 2016, and much of it can be traced back to a refusal to acknowledge the deeply-rooted corruption and rot that eats away at every level of American society, a rot that the rise of Donald Trump exposed for all to see.
In this morning’s edition of the Washington Post, Elizabeth Bruening summarized the fundamental problem with the timid incrementalism that the Democratic Party leaders – or perhaps more accurately, their donors, – insist on espousing.
“The notion that everything either will be or already is all right, granted the correct attitude — that “we’re better than this,” as Joe Biden confidently declares on his newly launched political action committee’s website — appears particularly frail.
It’s hard to square the late-Obama-era insistence that “America is already great” with the palpable sense that something — in the climate, in the economy, in society, in politics, in the wellspring of American ideas — is going badly wrong.”
Things are indeed going badly wrong in the United States, and it is beyond infuriating to see so many members of the so-called “party of the #Resistance” fall in line and vote for a bill that Donald Trump will eagerly sign. They could very easily block the passage of this bill, which does nothing but give a free win to Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, and the very people who sent the global economy into a tailspin because they got too greedy.
If Democrats want to really prove that they’re worthy of people’s votes, they must go back to their roots, trade Wall Street for Main Street and begin to offer the American working people something more tangible than earned income tax credits and easily repealable “fixes” to a fundamentally flawed healthcare system.
We must stop excusing the hypocrisies and betrayals of red-state Democrats, many of whom are just Republicans in all but name, and support progressive primary opponents – like Paula Swearengin in West Virginia – in their races against backstabbing hypocrites like Joe Manchin and those that serve the donor class instead of the voters that they ostensibly represent.
It’s time the Democratic Party decided what kind of a party they really want to be, for this constant internal tug-of-war between donor and voter is tearing us apart.