What Tuesday's election results really mean.
Image from Wikimedia Commons via Bill de Blasio
By Robert Reich
By arrangement with Robert Reich
Pundits who are already describing the victories of Terry McAuliffe in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey as a “return to the center” of American politics are confusing the “center” with big business and Wall Street.
A few decades ago McAuliffe would be viewed as a right-wing Democrat and Christie as a right-wing Republican. Both garnered their major support from corporate America, and both will reliably govern as fiscal conservatives who won’t raise taxes on the wealthy.
Both look moderate only by contrast with the Tea Partiers to their extreme right.
Americans are catching on to the scourge of the nation’s raging inequality, and its baleful consequences for our economy and democracy.
The biggest game-changer, though, is Bill de Blasio, the mayor-elect of New York City, who campaigned against the corporatist legacy of Michael Bloomberg—promising to raise taxes on the wealthy and use the revenues for pre-school and after-school programs for the children of New York’s burdened middle class and poor.
Those who dismiss his victory as an aberration confined to New York are overlooking three big new things:
First, the new demographic reality of America gives every swing state at least one large city whose inhabitants resemble those of New York.
Second, de Blasio won notwithstanding New York’s position as the epicenter of big business and Wall Street, whose money couldn’t stop him.
Third, Americans are catching on to the scourge of the nation’s raging inequality, and its baleful consequences for our economy and democracy.
Robert B. Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Futureand The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism. His latest, Beyond Outrage: Expanded Edition: What has gone wrong with our economy and our democracy, and how to fix it, is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, “Inequality for All,” is now in theaters.