Used to be only Republicans used the term “reality-based community” to refer to principled Americans who stubbornly clung to concepts like duty, honor and truth.
However, some Hillary Clinton loyalists also have begun to embrace self-serving lies in the wake of her stunning defeat. Their main source of comfort being the fiction that the same voters who elected America’s first black president in 2008 and 2012 became Klansmen in 2016.
This foolishness is supported by the equally ridiculous thesis that because Hillary and Bill Clinton have been slandered by The Right Wing Noise Machine there can be no legitimate criticism of them by fair-minded Americans.
These dual delusions bode ill for the 2018 mid-term elections. Because you can’t solve a problem until you properly identify it.
Right now, a Democratic Party which screwed itself, failed the American people, and put Donald Trump in the White House is erroneously assigning the blame elsewhere.
The painful truth is that Hillary lost because she was completely insulated from the suffering of her fellow Americans. Especially the faltering middle class in Flyover Country.
So much so that she and the Democratic National Committee actually lauded the ridiculously inaccurate U.S. Unemployment Rate as a sign of prosperity in the midst of a jobless recovery. They attempted this dubious magic trick at a time when more Americans 16 and older were without full-time jobs than had them.
A staggering 131 million Americans 16 and older are without full-time employment, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
That’s 41 percent of the 323 million people who reside in the United States, and 52 percent of the 254 million who are 16 or older. Not the 4.5 percent counted as out of work in the official U.S. Unemployment Rate.
It means that for each of the 123 million Americans who are 16 or older and have a full-time job, there are now 1.1 Americans without one.
Many of the Americans without full-time employment have been laid off since The Great Recession, which officially began in December of 2007 and ended in June 2010. Some more than once.
Most of them don’t show up in the official unemployment rate, which is geared to workers who have lost jobs in the past six months.
The painful truth is that the Recession never really ended for many Americans, who have grown steadily more desperate in the absence of decent jobs. They’ve been draining their savings and running up their credit cards for basic survival for years now.
These are the folks who are killing themselves at rates which rival those recorded during The Great Depression.
Because they’re in worse financial shape every year that goes by without a decent job. Regardless of whether the economists say we’re in a recession or not.
These struggling Americans and their families are all but invisible to our elected leaders because they don’t donate to political campaigns. Unlike the 15 percent of the population who are either millionaires or live in their homes, and are represented by our millionaire Congress.
Hillary repeatedly lauded the low unemployment rate as evidence of her party’s wonderful handling of the economy during the campaign. Thereby souring every voter touched by the more than 200 million layoffs and other firings which occurred from 2007 to 2016.
It was an epic fail, which left the voters she alienated looking for alternatives. They wanted to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who was drawing rock-star sized audiences.
By rigging the primary to favor Hillary, the DNC left those huge crowds with no viable alternative to her but Donald Trump.
Which is how we got a rich fool in the White House, who is even more sheltered and isolated from the real world than Hillary and her fellow members of Congress.
This isn’t a jab at Barack Obama, who inherited a global economy in free fall and helped stabilize it. But arresting a downturn is not the same as reversing the damage done to the faltering middle class.
Case in point, the balky U.S. housing market which once underpinned our economy. It produced 49,00 new home sales in February, the most recorded for that month since February of 2007. This sounds like great news until you realize that a significantly smaller U.S. population averaged 89,800 new home sales – nearly twice as many – in the month of February from 2003 to 2007.
This example illustrates the myth of our present economic vitality in a nutshell.
The poor and middle class in the U.S. have been devastated since The Great Recession. Only the rich are prospering and they see themselves as citizens of the world now.
Hillary is an iconic member of an insular political aristocracy which has lost all legitimacy in the eyes of the people they claim to represent. These self-appointed royals have turned our Congress into a giant protection racket for big business, whose obsession with growing bribery revenue is rivaled only by the Fortune 500’s obsession with annual profit growth.
Our so-called elected leaders wash their pay-to-play bribes clean via excessive speaking fees, gifts of foreign real estate, insider trading tips, donations to their family charities, foreign junkets abroad, political appointments for business leaders, free rides on private jets, and low-show jobs for their friends and relatives.
Hillary and her husband have engaged in almost all of these indefensible behaviors, and done so far more successfully than many of their fellow political hookers. They generated more than $153 million in speaking fees from 2001 to 2016 in what may be the single largest example of pay-to-play bribery in U.S. political history. Their biggest donors were the Too Big to Fail banks which precipitated the global financial crisis and wrongly forced millions of American families out of their homes.
The Clintons also snagged a $600,000 low-show job from MSNBC for daughter Chelsea. That’s how much the silver spoon was paid each year from 2011 to 2014 to serve as arguably the most incompetent national reporter in U.S. history. The New Yorker memorably described the position as “an unbelievably cushy fake job.”
Chelsea declared this month that she will not be running for president in 2020. Just in case you were wondering on the basis of her other experience running the Clinton family charity, which peddles political influence to big banks and foreign countries.
The Clintons’ unprecedented success in generating legalized bribery has singlehandedly inspired a generation of private sector con artists, like Donald Trump, to transition into the public sector.
Have the Clintons been unfairly pilloried in the public forum?
Does that mean all criticism of their behavior is frivolous and unfounded?
If you were laid off and a rich crook told you the economy was booming what would you do?
Vote for her?
I think not.
I wouldn’t vote for Trump instead, but a lot of people did.
Mostly because he challenged the incumbent party’s economic narrative at the right time, by saying the true unemployment rate was closer to 40 percent. That was the statement which got him traction with the struggling families Democrats ignored.
However, it was Hillary and her handlers who created the opening by being deaf, dumb and blind to the suffering of a huge segment of the electorate they wished to represent. At a time when U.S. employers are making our jobseekers compete with the best, brightest, and most docile workers from around the world for jobs here at home.
Our idled workers see these new Americans in Costco and Sam’s Club. Living the good life they once enjoyed.
It’s hard for older American workers to compete with news grads and overseas job-seekers in an automated world where computer programs score every layoff as a negative event. Even more so in a U.S. workplace which has institutionalized age discrimination in the quest for lower health insurance premiums.
Trump appealed to these laid off voters when he recognized their suffering, instead of ignoring it. At least relative to Hillary.
They didn’t vote for this billionaire silver spoon because he was one of them, they did it because the alternative was even worse. A painful truth which is part of the systemic dysfunction that is America today.
We embrace a knowing fiction in this nation about the president having control of our economy. This nonsense is akin to pretending quarterbacks are the sole reason football teams win and lose.
Being the most influential player of the 80 or so who step on a football field is not the same as being the only player. Likewise, being the most influential newsmaker in a global economy is not the same as controlling it.
Our presidents influence both the U.S. economy and global economy. That’s all.
However, in our deeply flawed political system the party which controls the White House habitually pretends the economy is better than it is and demands their supporters do the same. The other side pretends it’s worse.
The painful truth is that the economy is pretty terrible right now for the poor and faltering middle class outside the Washington D.C., New York City and San Fran privilege bubbles. Especially the labor market.
It’s about to get a lot worse. The new self-driving technology is likely to put 4.4 million people out of work by 2025. That’s the number of people with commercial driver’s licenses in the U.S.
Amazon’s impending win in the retail sector means that sales are shifting online from brick and mortar stores, threatening 41 million jobs in that sector.
When those jobs go away the number of Americans with full-time work could shrink to one in four.
U.S. jobs are being destroyed by unregulated automation and globalization, and the insane corporate quest for forever profit growth. The current version of globalization is occurring in a world with no global government and no global labor protections.
These factors are manageable in a representative democracy, but not one with the sheltered multimillionaires who now inhabit the U.S. Congress, Supreme Court and executive branch. These privileged “public servants” do not lead by example.
They’re created a kind of economic apartheid by favoring expensive gated communities, prep schools, costly country clubs, and vacation communities. And erected a poll tax for public office by pushing the cost of mounting a campaign beyond the rest of us.
Their first-hand knowledge about how life has changed outside those walls and gates since 2007 has been severely limited by those choices.
All of which raises a simple question: How high can the true jobless rate rise before the educated fools in our privilege bubbles figure it out?
Victor Epstein previously covered the U.S. unemployment rate and more than 20 other economic indicators for a global audience as a staff writer for Bloomberg News, The Associated Press, and Gannett.