What’s Behind This Year’s Political Upheaval?

Trump - Sanders  (Salon.com)

What’s going on with the 2016 Presidential race? Voters are rallying behind political outsiders, both Republican and Democrat. Campaign front-runners have never been so extreme in their views, leaving the more mainstream candidates scrambling to connect with the voters.

It’s easy to think that we’re seeing something unusual, that this is some sort of perfect storm of voter frustration and fear.  Actually, this year’s unprecedented political maneuvering is a logical continuation of economic trends that started over 40 years ago.

I was doing a study for Universal Studios, looking into how Americans are working more and taking less vacation time.  I noticed that when average wages were adjusted for inflation, the American worker had actually been earning less and less each year since 1973.

Wage_stagnation

“For most U.S. workers, real wages — that is, after inflation is taken into account — have been flat or even falling for decades, regardless of whether the economy has been adding or subtracting jobs.” (Pew Research Center)

So for more than 40 years, Americans have been struggling just to stay even, let alone improving their standard of living. This period corresponds nicely with the increase of political acrimony and dysfunction. This is also echoed by new books which propose that the American Golden Age stretched from 1920-1970, and then hit a wall of technological and economic stagnation.

Even the recovery from the 2008 recession has been spotty with most of the gains going to large corporations, the wealthy and the well-educated. It’s no surprise that the U.S. electorate has grown increasingly angry and is searching for new political players which promise to restore America’s luster.

Looking at the arc of the U.S. economy over the last four decades and the current state of the global economy, I predict that voters are going to be increasingly attracted to candidates who would previously be classified as “fringe”, and political parties are going to continue to morph to attract these angry and anxious voters.

If you think this Presidential election has been crazy, hang on because it’s only going to get wilder.

1 thought on “What’s Behind This Year’s Political Upheaval?”

  1. Nicely put Bert. I know that the middle class is erasing. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on that. I am also interested in a theory that a large reason it is erasing other than the typical class warfare arguments is because of technology. Wallmart has been hammered on for their treatment of employees for as long as I can remember. And cities would not let them in because of their anti union stance.

    Now they are leaving the retail business. My guess is they see the writing on the wall with Amazon instant. And maybe they have a better distribution method not sure. But plenty of folks will be or are out of jobs. Replaced by technological -can we call it-“advances”. Leaving a giant gap in my town , on one of the most expensive strips of commercial real estate in the US. That most likely will sit empty a long time. The other relic that I predict will be difficult to fill is just down the street. An Albertsons got bought by Haagens which is now out of business. Leaving another cavity on the Blvd.

    A similar store is down the street. Empty. Both I believe have a hard time competing against a store that is not closing. Wallmart grocery market.

    They interestingly have those pesky self service kiosks at the front. I remind my wife to get used to those. As those are training us sheep to use them when they get rid of them. Pointing to the nice cashiers.

    I think we are in for great disruptive times. What does those events just mentioned do to real estate and other economic markets locally in any town?

    Crazy new ways to deliver and consume are coming. The in between is going to scare the hell out of many, make many ask for help, and as usual make some rich. And then hated lol

    And I do not think any candidate is prepared to talk about that.

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