Weaponizing anger is a dangerous game. Bernie Sanders tried it in the last Presidential election and so did Donald Trump. Trump did it better and he remains a beacon for those who feel disenfranchised. What both candidates did was tap into the residue loathing still with us from the 2008 financial debacle, a time when Wall Street won and homeowners lost.
Eight years later, people remember that no one from high finance went to jail after the crisis; that TARP money, dedicated to save America’s banking system, became generous bonuses to Wall Street perpetrators or golden parachutes for those who chose to retire. They remember that countless innocent people lost their homes, their jobs and/or went bankrupt. Some of them are beginning to see the last budget cuts continue to reward the elites.
From Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party, ordinary citizen agree they paid too high a price to drag the country out of its financial crisis while the wealthy paid too little. They applaud a slogan like “Make America great again,” not because they admire Trump, but because they believe the country is lost.
Upcoming political aspirants should be wary of fanning the flames of discontent, however. Anger never satisfies anger. It tears things further apart. If we want to heal this nation, we need leaders with new ideas, not pie-in-the-sky promises. Before we talk of a college education for everyone, let us talk of a universal living wage, a universal health plan and a way to redistribute the nation’s wealth.
For a start, we can begin by giving serious thought to Elizabeth Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act. She is right. If corporations can claim the rights of personhood, they must accept the moral obligations that pertain. Let us have more new ideas. Not empty promises and old anger.