Seven months ago, I penned a post noting that I thought it was absolutely absurd that Donald Trump could actually be elected President. While he still has a long way to go to be elected, he’s come a lot further than I had thought. Seven months ago, I figured he’d be long gone by now, and predicted the Republican race would come down to…Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.
I’ve done some digging on why I was so wrong about Trump.
Why Trump and Sanders Are In The Race
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are two politicians, that in many years past, would have not come anywhere near making it this far. Trump is loud, brash, offensive, and really has not dictated much of a plan if he were actually President. Bernie Sanders is as close to a socialist as you can be without actually calling yourself one.
These are not the types that would strongly be considered President.
So why are they in it? Well, in my opinion, it boils down to one thing, it’s all about the middle class and what they want from a President. Actually, no, that’s not right. It’s about what they don’t want from a President.
The Middle Class Is On The Decline
Since the mid-1980’s the middle class has pretty much been in a rut. The middle class itself has shrunk and those left in the middle class have pretty much seen wage growth match or even come in under inflation.
I’ll even take it one step further. Many people say that we’re in jeopardy of current generations being worse off then their parents. I don’t think we’re in jeopardy. I think we’re already there!
People doing effectively the same jobs are earning roughly the same pay as they did 30 years ago. At first glance, this doesn’t seem all that bad, but then start to consider:
- Pensions were in place for many workers in the mid-1980’s. Now, most workers do not have a defined pension plan and must contribute a larger portion of their income to retirement than their 1980’s counterpart, just to keep pace.
- Health care premiums and co-pays were often picked up in full or in large part by employer offered insurance. Now, employees must contribute more both out of their paycheck to cover the plan, and at each doctor visit.
- The stock market has gone up a lot, but the middle class hasn’t reaped the gains on par with their rich counterparts. Consider that after the 2008-09 stock market crash, the market doubled, the rich, who had certainly lost money on the downswing, were able to recover their losses and then some, because they had a cushion of wealth that allowed them the opportunity to stay in the market. Many middle class families lost their money on the way down, but were not able to get back in as they needed every cent just to try to keep afloat during the Great Recession.
The X-Factor: Redistribution of Wealth
So, from the items above, you can see that the middle class is getting squeezed. That’s not the worst part, though. The worst part is that the middle class is taking the brunt of it, but the rich have not.
During the entire period where the middle class continues to get squeezed and see a flat if not declining standard of living, the rich have seen their wages, their wealth, and their position continue to increase.
Effectively, many in the middle class see that there has been a redistribution of wealth, where money has flown from the middle class and to the rich.
The Middle Class Is Sick Of It (a.k.a. Why Trump and Sanders Are Here)
So, how does this tie into the presidential election and how Trump and Sanders are still legitimate candidates to become President?
Simple. The middle class is sick of it.
The stagnation of the middle class has gone on, if you look at the mid-1980s as the widely believed starting point, for roughly eight presidential terms. In that time, a Republican will have served 16 years and a Democrat will have served 16 years. Every Presidential candidate has promised to take care of the middle class, and each party has had equal time to do so, yet over the last 32 years it hasn’t happened. The middle class is sick of it.
The average person works for roughly 30-40 years before retiring. That means that most of the work force in place today has gone through their entire careers with this stagnation of the middle class in place. Entire careers from start to finish have gone by. The middle class is sick of it.
Real wage growth in the middle class is largely stagnant. But it’s not for the rich. How many CEOs and executives and other rich folks get huge raises and big bonuses, while the middle class gets a puny increase or none at all? Do people realize what message this sends? I’ll tell you. When Henry Ford effectively created the explosion of the middle class, the workers and people were made to feel important. It was by their hard work that the country grew and there was recognition by the rich that, in fact, their prosperity would not have been possible but for the hard work of the middle class. There was appreciation and with appreciation came the middle class being made to feel important. Come time to divvy up the fruits of their labors, the middle class had a seat at the table. Now, when the rich get the rewards and the middle class get scraps, it sends a message that the middle class is unimportant. The middle class has effectively been marginalized and is sick of it. That was not Henry Ford’s dream.
People don’t know whether Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders and their outrageous ideologies could actually work. Most people actually don’t believe they will. But, at least they’re different. The middle class is getting desperate. They know that these last 32 years haven’t been great to them. The can read the tea leaves enough to know that there is more of the same ahead. They know that Trump or Sanders probably won’t really be able to change all that much, but at least there’s a slight chance, right? Otherwise things just stay the same. And the middle class is sick of the same. Look how desperate the middle class is for change that even this type of crazy is now the chance we’re willing to take.
It’s Anyone’s Guess, Now
I read a lot about the election and all of it makes me cringe a little, at least in what all the experts say. I’ve heard that the Democrats would love Trump getting nominated because that would mean a clear path to the White House for their candidate. They forget that Trump has overcome the odds to get this far. I’ve heard that the Republicans loved the idea of Sanders getting nominated because no way would the general election see a socialist get elected. Again, have we not learned so far from this election season that darn well anything is possible?
I really don’t know what’s going to happen now. No idea. I know whatever it is, it’s likely going to be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Buckle in for the ride!
Readers, what do you think? Do you think that some of the candidates have made it this far simply because they’re outside the box of what we’ve gotten for the last 30 years or so? Let me know what you think in the comments below.Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.