When George W. Bush took America into never-ending wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, I asked the question, “Where is the outrage?”
When it became clear that the wars were motivated by the military-industrial-governmental complex’s greed for oil and military contracts—think of Halliburton and Blackwater—I again asked the same question, “Where is the outrage?”
When, after eight years George W. Bush’s reign, the financial industry brought the world to the brink of collapse, I again asked, “Where is the outrage?”
Why weren’t people marching in the streets, I wondered.
The answer, I think, was that my children and their generation got accustomed to an unpromising economy so very insidiously that they didn’t realize what they were missing.
Until Bernie Sanders came along and told them.
And suddenly, income inequality took center-stage in the 2016 election.
I am glad the outrage is finally here, against the exploitation of the powerless by the powerful, against a system that doesn’t care if Americans get educated and find good jobs or not, against the political dynasties who take money from the rich and bend over backwards to accommodate their agenda.
It is not purely coincidental, I think, that the Panama Papers were leaked this year, right when the American primary season was heating up. The papers once again reminded us of how billions of people around the world were being exploited by a handful of oligarchs, be it in Russia, Britain, or Latin America.
Pundits thought the 2016 election would demonstrate the influence of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which gave corporations carte blanche to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections.
What happened instead was that the public turned against big money, so much so that after squandering over one hundred million dollars from his Super Pac, Jeb Bush won only four delegates. And Bernie Sanders collected twenty and thirty dollars from average citizens to outdo Hillary’s fund raising from Wall Street.
With perfect timing, Verizon workers went on strike just as the primaries in New York neared, protesting the more than two hundred and twenty million dollar compensation packages their CEOs got, while they faced cuts in health care, pensions, and wages.
To top it all, as I write these words, the government issued a report saying that the five biggest banks, including Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo, were inadequately protected against bankruptcy and would need a bailout again in case of another crisis.
There was definitely change in the air.
Even as Western Europe directs Syrian and Afghani refugees to sub-human camps in Turkey and the world bursts at its seams, common people like you and me realize that such unstable conditions cannot be sustained indefinitely.
The Republican dominated Congress remains paralyzed by its sexist, racist, and free-market—read sucking up to the rich—ideology however, denying not only climate change but basic science. And citizens around the world take solutions into their own hands, implementing the Paris accords city-by-city and state-by-state, in a desperate bid to save our planet.
2016 is a year when the election of a president propounding an American system of European style socialism has suddenly become possible.
Newton’s third law says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So it is that Donald Trump’s popularity has risen too, as if to counterweight Bernie Sanders. Donald is the leader of the “poorly educated,” whom he professes to love. Donald’s candidacy not only proves that elections cannot be bought, but that people are discontent and will do anything to jilt the seasoned politicians.
But the outrage is finally here, even if, at times, it finds outlets in strange ways. One encouraging way in which the outrage is finding an expression is through big data leaks, bringing us information the one percent would never share with us.
And I am hopeful that perhaps a revolution in our political system is at last possible.
People have wondered why the Panama Papers have not exposed any Americans. Americans don’t need Panama, experts have explained; we have our own Panama, called Delaware, the state Vice President Biden represented for many decades.
So, I wonder when we will learn what is hidden in the tax shelters of Delaware? Of course you can bet your life that the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, and who knows what other government entity, is doing its best to keep us from getting our hands on the secrets that might just topple our home-bred oligarchs.
But in my fantasies, I imagine an Edward Snowden or a John Doe—a la the person who sent an encrypted email to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung—to tell us how the one percent is keeping its grip on money and therby power.
Come on Delaware, give us the goods.
Sarita Sarvate (www.saritasarvate.com) has published commentaries for New America Media, KQED FM, San Jose Mercury News, the Oakland Tribune, and many nationwide publications.