If the crash of 1929 and that of 2008 are similar, then let’s study the voter anger that 1929 kindled to inform our understanding of what is going on today. In the thirties, voters turned sharply against their former Wall Street heroes and the name of big business20became mud for millions who felt misled by greedy financiers and took it out on the Republican Party.
To grasp what happened then and is happening now, look at the first inaugural address remarks of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He gave voice to the angst and anger of the times and gave us a clue to understanding what is going on today.
“Plenty is at our doorstep,” he began, “but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.” Then he assigned blame. “Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the minds and hearts of men.” He continued “true they have tried but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition.” Then, in remarks that could have been aimed squarely at the Hoover-esque bailout bill, he said “faced by failure of credit, they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence.” Then, reaching across the decades to articulate an ancient truth he said “They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision and when there is no vision the people perish.”
Finally, he came to his peroration. “The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths.” In a barb that could have been aimed at the golden parachutes that spread their bounty across Wall Street this month, he said “the measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.”
While our opinion leaders debate how long the markets will remain in flux, those who follow public opinion or run for office must realize that the rupture of faith between the leaders of our capitalist system and the investors who followed them with their hard earned money is deep, bitter, and long lasting. Those who so abused our trust as to lend money to people who could never dream of repaying it and who bought paper, with our money, backed by such shady loans have abdicated their positions of leadership. In their drive to expand home ownership so as to placate an ever larger constituency of minorities and poor people, the Democrats have saddled us with an unbelievable burden of government insured debt. And in their desire to reap profits from these enterprises, the Republican barons of Wall Street have inveigled us all into buying their stocks based on values inflated by fraudulently obtained loans. The natural reaction of voters is to wish for a plague on both the parties. Their animosity and hatred will not soon disappear and any who think themselves exempt are in for a rude awakening.
But all of this anger is being played out against the backdrop of a presidential race entering its last month. How will it affect the vote? In normal circumstances, it would impel a Democratic landslide. After all, the malefactors who made out like bandits were Republicans, the Administration and the regulators were Republican, and for most of the time the Congress was Republican.
But voters face a choice between a Republican Party whose image has been destroyed by its Wall Street allies and a Democratic nominee whose spiritual advisor is Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Whose financial backer is Rezko. The man who provided the money for his first real job was William Ayers. And, now it appears, that the object of his financial largesse and the organization for which he was Illinois general counsel was ACORN, massively implicated in voter fraud, funded, in large part, by Obama’s presidential campaign funds. Are we to elect such a man president? Are we to trust the party of Wall Street with four more years at the till? That is the dilemma that makes this election unstable and unpredictable. May the least worst man win!