Why Wall Street worries
Richard Drew / AP

The stock market is humming, the billionaires hold record assets and have gotten massive tax cuts, regulations on businesses are being trashed, and unions are under unprecedented siege, but Wall Street is worried.

A July 3 opinion piece by Gerald Seib, one of The Wall Street Journal’s main columnists, is entitled “The Dangers of Losing Faith in Democracy.” For Seib, “democracy” means only bourgeois elections needing reform, but the article actually makes clear that the problem is far deeper.

Seib cites Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who found that participants of all political persuasions in focus groups throughout the country “have now shut out the whole system,” adding, “No one talks about elections. (They say) we have to take to the streets.”

He reports that one of Luntz’s recent polls found that 65 percent of respondents believe “the system in America is rigged against everyday, ordinary Americans.” This included 75 percent of Democrats and nearly 60 percent of Republicans.

The only solution Seib offers to solve this problem is to end gerrymandering of congressional districts, which is certainly a good idea, but hardly gets to the heart of the mass discontent with “the system.”

The discontent certainly had its electoral reflection in 2016, when millions of normally Democratic voters stayed home and some fell for the demagogic promises of Donald Trump. Trump’s victory, however, did not mean there was a huge upsurge in support for right-wing extremism. It reflected anger and frustration with “the establishment,” or, more deeply, with the status quo created by both political parties. Voters were protesting “the whole system,” as Luntz found. That’s what alarms Seib and The Wall Street Journal.

“The whole system” goes far beyond a flawed electoral process. It is the system of monopoly capitalism. It is a system based on the exploitation of workers and the oppression of racial and religious minorities, women, immigrants, and LBGTQ people.

These are the people against whom “the system” is rigged. From the day Trump was elected, they have by the millions indeed taken “to the streets” to protest the direction Trump and his Republican cohorts are taking the country. That is what worries the pundits and ideologues on Wall Street who totally support that fascist-like direction.

It is hard to imagine that Seib and his fellow scribes really believe ending gerrymandering, as important as it is, will quell the anger and resolve the grievances of the “everyday, ordinary Americans,” who are the great majority of the people in our country.

Trump, the Republicans, and their backers on Wall Street pretend to ignore and dismiss the mass grassroots movements, but these movements have made their grievances crystal clear. The people want affordable quality health care and education. They want economic security and an end to the obscene concentration of wealth. They want an end to racist police violence

and voter suppression. They want equality and respect for women. They want fair and humane treatment of immigrants and a sensible path to citizenship. They want an end to gun violence and the reckless profiteering by arms manufacturers. They want protection of the world environment. They want peaceful relations with other countries and an end to the danger of nuclear war.

And, more and more, they question whether the whole monopoly capitalist system can satisfy these fundamental wants and needs. The writers at the WSJ know full well the system cannot. They know that what the people are searching for requires a different system altogether—one where working people, not billionaires, are in charge. That system is socialism.


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Rick Nagin
Rick Nagin

Rick Nagin has written for People's World and its predecessors since 1970. He has been active for many years in Cleveland politics and the labor movement.