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Jerry Shenk


Washington's Aesopian Blunder

by Jerry Shenk
 

Once upon a time, in the belief their government no longer represented normal, hard-working citizens, a movement of fiscally-conservative grassroots Americans — Republicans, Independents and some Democrats — became visible, vocal manifestations of public frustration with and anger at an American political class which was bleeding out the wealth and welfare of their children and grandchildren.

Elected Democrats and media allies hated them, because the grassroots spontaneously coalesced in response to Democratic fiscal and policy abuses. Big-government Republicans detested them, because the protesters understood that Democrats weren't alone in impoverishing America.

Grassroots Americans thought physically-able, mentally-sound adults should be self-reliant and personally-accountable. As responsible citizens, they favored safety nets for the disabled and needy but doubted that all of the nearly-half of Americans who received benefits from eighty or more sometimes-overlapping or redundant means-tested federal programs fit into either category.

They thought it unimaginable that a responsible government would enact legislation opposed by most Americans or squander a nearly-trillion-dollar "stimulus" primarily on cronies and the politically-favored.

Most accepted that some intervention may have been necessary to save America's financial system but thought the TARP's massive scale to be excessive. And they were certain that bailing out the United Auto Workers union with taxpayer funds allocated exclusively for the banking industry was neither desirable nor legal.

Rejecting the notion that America had no choice but to enact amnesty for millions of unskilled illegal aliens, the grassroots believed that amnesty would only depress wages at the lower end of the pay scale, especially for struggling young and minority citizens.

They knew that "redistribution of wealth" didn't mean taking money from the wealthy and giving it to the needy so much as it meant confiscating everyone's money so politicians could redistribute it to their cronies, supporters and donors.

Grassroots Americans objected to elected officials having made themselves and government employees a privileged class, overcompensated and exempted from the consequences of their own policies.

Washington was broken by career politicians, massive bureaucracies, a strangling regulatory environment, a byzantine tax code and by revolving doors and incestuous relationships among officeholders, staff members, media and lobbyists. Elected officials and bureaucrats were doing very well, while regular people were stuck paying for their arrogance, contempt, poor judgment and lousy results.

Politicians spoke incessantly, insincerely, often dishonestly, about "the plight of the middle class." Ironically, the grassroots were quintessentially middle-class — nary a plutocrat or oligarch in the lot.
The public costs of cronyism, tax loopholes, regulation and government subsidies fell heavily on the middle class. If elected officials had been genuinely interested in middle-class Americans, they'd have addressed grassroots' concerns.

But officialdom wanted the middle-class grassroots to fail, because fiscally-conservative dissidents who spread discontent among fellow Americans were bad for political careers and Washington's business as usual.
For that, the grassroots had to be silenced. On that, both Democrats and big-government Republicans agreed.

And that's how the worst political class in America's history earned voters' contempt and created an opening for an opportunistic charlatan like Donald Trump.


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