A big part of the election was about money. So is fighting back.
The national polls that showed Hillary ahead of Trump also showed solid single digit numbers for Gary Johnson and no one ever seemed to talk about that. It seemed to me that Johnson, as a libertarian, would be siphoning numbers off of Trump, while it’d be a progressive candidate taking away from Hillary’s. If you added Johnson’s numbers to Trump’s numbers, you had more people polling against the establishment than for it. Whether Democratic voters ultimately rallied around the candidate who stood for equality, social justice, and the climate, independent voters motivated by economic issues were still left out. In the primaries, Bernie raised millions of dollars in small donations from regular people, and won in open primaries where independent voters had a voice. The anti-establishment threat should have been clear, and heeded.
The big news for me ahead of the election was not the Comey letter. It was all the news about health insurance premiums going up dramatically. “Insurance Premiums Rising: What’s in it For Me?” articles always seemed to point out that the increases would mostly affect 10 million or so Americans who buy insurance directly, and that many of those receive subsidies. I’m an independent contractor web developer. Those 10 million Americans are my friends, colleagues, and subcontractors. They’re people I’ve seen give up on years of freelance work to take a full-time job because they couldn’t keep up with health insurance. They’re people making an upper-middle class income that still doesn’t stretch far enough who just saw their premiums go up $250–500 per month, and they don’t qualify for subsidies. That’s real money. That’s the weight of the status quo bearing down on people struggling to keep up.
I’ve always said that the best thing either party could do for small businesses would be single payer healthcare. No one starting and running a business should have to spend as much time as we do managing things like healthcare, time that we don’t spend on our products and services, staff, or marketing. If time equals money, all that overhead adds up to real money, too.
In the wake of the election I, like many of you, lined up monthly donations to causes that need our help more than ever. That’s real money. I clicked a link to sign a petition voicing my support for Keith Ellison as chair of the DNC because the party needs to emphasize progressive values. The next screen hit me up for a donation for an internal DNC campaign. I’m now getting emails asking for more money from that campaign. That’s also real money.
Trump had his share of donations from his supporters, but I suspect he didn’t spend as much time begging them for money — real money — as other candidates. He had his methods of manipulating the system to generate appeal that didn’t put a price tag in front of regular people. Now that regulation is on the chopping block, regular people will be paying the price for their vote in many ways, but in the context of the election, they got change on the cheap. The struggles of regular people will continue unabated, while the ruling class goes after stereotypical enemies and rewards corporate pals with plum positions in the interest of cementing popularity within the base and consolidating power.
Online I’m compelled to keep up with all the news and echo the latest concerns, but I can’t sustain that. I can’t make more donations or buy more subscriptions. I can’t take time away from making household income — real money. I see a path ahead where it’s going to be even harder for regular people to keep up, that’s even costlier to fight. Undoing the damage of an election that, in large part, came down to money is going to cost money. That’s a future that’s as unsustainable as the status quo.