Maureen Dowd says that the rise of populist politicians like Trump is due to the failure of the American political system and Barack Obama to punish the Wall Street bankers who wrecked the economy and the lives of millions of people in 2008. She says, “We let the corrupt bankers who ravaged our economy roam free with bigger bonuses, more lavish Hamptons houses and fresh risky schemes. The big banks are bigger than ever and prosecution of white-collar crimes is at a 20-year low. And, cherry on the gilded cake, we put white-collar criminals in charge of the country — elevating epic grifters to the presidency and powerful cabinet posts. Reading all the recent stories about the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis, it’s easy to see the neon line leading from Barack Obama’s failure to punish Wall Street scammers to the fact that Republican scammers are now infecting the entire infrastructure of government.”
This political failure gave political space to people like Trump and the Tea Party. [We could say that in India in 2013-14, Narendra Modi spotted a similar opportunity.]
“In his 2016 book, “Listen, Liberal,” Thomas Frank wrote that “the hope drained out of the Obama movement” at the meeting between the fledgling president and Wall Street C.E.O.s in March 2009: “After warning them about ‘the pitchforks’ of an angry public, Obama reassured the frightened bankers that they could count on him to protect them; that he had no intention of restructuring their industry or changing the economic direction of the nation.”
The political opportunity created for Trump by the cowardliness of the Democrats has been used by Trump in a very interesting way.
“Donald Trump scooped up “the forgotten,” promising to punish Wall Street for “getting away with murder,” and pledging to break up the big banks and force bankers to pay higher taxes.
But it was just another Trump con. His administration, The Times reported, “has presided over a sharp decline in financial penalties against banks and big companies accused of malfeasance,” sparing corporate wrongdoers billions in fines….Trump’s White House started off like a branch office of Goldman Sachs, as Elizabeth Warren noted. Gary Cohn, Trump’s former economic adviser from Goldman, showed that Wall Street’s arrogance shines bright when he recently told Reuters that borrowers were just as responsible for the 2008 crisis as lenders.
“Who broke the law?” Cohn asked, adding: “Was the waitress in Las Vegas who had six houses leveraged at 100 percent with no income, was she reckless and stupid? Or was the banker reckless and stupid?””
We don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that the continuing failure of democratic politics in countries like USA and India to deliver even what looks like a semblance of justice opens the door for right wing fascists to enter mainstream politics.
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