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Revolt Against the Oligarchs, or What's Happening in This Election

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 9/03/2016 Lennard Davis
VOTE USA © pgangler via Getty Images VOTE USA

We are used to reading about popular uprisings against oligarchs. From the Arab Spring to the overthrow of the ruling families in Argentina, we get a warm buzz reading about the way the people can overthrow, if perhaps only temporarily, the ruling elites in other countries.
But what about our own? We have a democracy, right? So there's nothing to overthrow. Well, not so fast. A Princeton University study and some serious commonsense tell us that the USA has lost the right to call itself a democracy. Rather it is, according to the study, an oligarchy. Rich elites call the shots and the average person alone or even collectively has relatively little effect on the government.
In this election cycle, there seems to be something different going on. People are scratching their heads about Trump, but as Thomas Frank points out, Trump is appealing not necessarily to the worst in people, but perhaps the best. His message, according to Frank resounds the most soundly around the issue of free trade, corrupt financial practices around pharmaceuticals and government purchases in a form of crony capitalism. Trump's strength is with blue-collar workers on the right who have awakened to the broken promises of the Republican establishment.
Bernie Sanders appeal is likewise from people on the left who are fed up with oligarchic practices. They tend to be younger and more inspired by the economic messages of the Occupy movement and its remarkably simple and accurate notion of the 1 percent and the 99 percent.
The oligarchs are not happy. On the Republican side, they have come out of their bunkers to launch an 11th hour raid on the rank and file to convince them to vote for anyone but Trump. This move would allow them to pull a brokered convention with its backroom deals, arm-twisting, and nicotine vaping (smoke-filled rooms are a thing of the past) thus bypassing the putatively democratic process. Oligarchs are happiest when they can manipulate from behind while using the smiley face of political conventioneers as cover.
On the Democratic side, as Bernie perpetually points out, the money stream from Wall Street to Hillary's pockets are the most clear and obvious "tell." If you can't tell from following the money, then you can't tell from anything. The oligarchs back Clinton, and why shouldn't they. She would continue the project she and her husband began, funded and propelled by the Democratic Leadership Council (another of those bland names that conceal nefarious intentions) whose goal was to turn the Democratic Party, the party of the people, into a business-positive endeavor. Clinton isn't accidentally a supporter of Wall Street. She and Bill were the prime movers (or prime puppets) of the oligarchs.
Whether either Trump or Sanders gets into the White House, the oligarchs won't rest. Trump isn't the true enemy of the oligarchs anyway, he's probably one of them. Sanders will be limited in what he can do given the makeup of the Congress. And Clinton will slap a few wrists before she quaffs some bubbly with those oligarchs holding champagne glasses aloft with those very wrists.
But let's at least acknowledge that a good deal of American citizens and workers are waking up to a new morning. It's one where the oligarchs can't hide, and it's only a matter of time before their legitimacy will start to crumble. The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote a poem in which he described a wanderer in the desert who sees the torso-less statue of a tyrant with a crumbled inscription on the base that declares: "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" The ruins of the statue lay around it. Like that statue, the oligarchy expects to continue forever. But like the statue, its days are numbered.

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