News Release

What Economic Realities Mean for the 2016 Election


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THOMAS FERGUSON, thomas.ferguson[at]
Ferguson is professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, senior fellow of the Roosevelt Institute and the author of Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Politics. Jacobian magazine just published an interview with Ferguson, “Defying the Investors,” about the 2016 election. Some highlights:

“[Trump’s] money gave him both the means and the confidence to break the donors’ cartel that until then had eliminated all GOP candidates who didn’t begin by saluting the Bush family for starting the Iraq War, incessantly demanding cuts in Social Security and Medicare, and managing the economy into total collapse via financial deregulation. He could even mock the carried-interest tax loophole and sneer at Wall Street. …

“My tentative judgment is that unlike 2008 and 2012, when the Obama campaign clearly encouraged donors to break up their contributions into smaller amounts to create the appearance of a mass movement, the Sanders campaign pretty much is what it appears to be: a movement swept along by a vast array of small donors. No wonder Democratic elites were so nervously petulant at Sanders for staying in the race and continuing to propagate his views.

Ferguson argues that what we see now was foreshadowed in 2014. It was after that election that Ferguson co-authored an article “Americans Are Sick to Death of Both Parties” that noted: “The drop off in voting turnout from the presidential election of 2012 to 2014 is the second largest of all time: -24 percentage points. … Though Republicans jubilate now, the trend is probably as threatening to them as it is to the Democrats. The reason is stark: Increasing numbers of average Americans can no longer stomach voting for parties that only pretend to represent their interests.”

In his recent interview, Ferguson said: “The system hasn’t worked for many Americans for at least a generation, and vast numbers of them now realize this. …”

“[The Democrat’s] major problem is the weak economy. … Money from Wall Street to the Democrats fell off steeply in 2012. Obama had to make it up with funding from what we can epitomize as Silicon Valley, in the face of massive opposition from industries like coal, oil, chemicals, and other heavy polluters. Clinton is plainly aiming to heal that breach. The refusal even to say what she told Goldman Sachs in those famous speeches is part and parcel of her campaign to reaffirm the old ties her husband furthered so much. …

“Clinton’s strategy for winning votes is now very simple: you go to women and say the magic word: ‘Trump.’ You go to African Americans with the same mantra: ‘Trump.’ And you go to Latinos, just pointing and repeating ‘Trump,’ while the media plays ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ 24/7.

“With Trump carrying on as he has, it may be all Clinton needs. After the election, though, we will all wake up to discover that little in the campaign will have addressed the problems that the primaries so memorably revealed.”