Now is a scary time for dozens of financially marginalized people in this country.
Bernie Sanders has risen in the polls on a populist, anti-billionaire platform that has sparked concerns of heavy taxation, campaign finance reform and income scrutiny among the small and underrepresented Wall Street community.
His divisive rhetoric has correlated with a sharp increase in passionate Twitter attacks that diminish billionaires’ authority, and has created a general atmosphere of kleptophobia toward the financial elite and oligarch class.
Comprised of such few people, billionaires are an incredibly vulnerable group in our society. The way classist demagogues like Sanders have targeted them makes them even more susceptible to being socially marginalized.
A recent study by MSNBC found that since Sanders launched his first presidential campaign in 2015, 21% of billionaires say they are no longer overtly pandered to, 74% have had their authority publicly challenged by working class people, and 100% fear having their off-shore tax havens raided by the IRS.
As a result, many media elites with a vested interest in the status quo have compared Sanders’ populist rise to the origins of Nazi Germany.
Whether you agree with that assessment or not, it’s undeniable that this is an incredibly frightening time for the billionaires in our communities. But here are some tips on how you can be an ally:
1. Seek out marginalized voices and perspectives
Here’s a question to think about: How many billionaires do you follow on Twitter? How much time do you spend at your local country club or on private planes?
If you’re like many working people, it’s probably not very much. I know I didn’t for a long time, and I had to make a conscious effort to change that.
America is a culture that segregates by class. Social media makes this worse, and by now we’ve all heard of the echo chamber effect. The best way to break free of that is to proactively seek out the voices you aren’t hearing from.
2. Be intolerant of intolerance
Let’s be clear: economic equality, worker’s rights, and social safety nets are no longer values that have a place in America. That means you’re going to have to confront other working people and make them feel marginalized for behaving in ways that do harm to the status of billionaires. For example, if you see someone making anti-billionaire comments on a friend’s Go Fund Me page for their medical bills, call them out and ask, “What the hell is wrong with you?”
You may find yourself in a situation where discrimination against a billionaire is happening right in front of you. If you see a billionaire being harassed by a Bernie Bro at your grocery store or on the subway, it’s your responsibility to defend them and ensure they are treated as an actual human being. More than anything, billionaires want to share the same public spaces as the rest of us, and they have every right to do so!
3. Use your privilege to show solidarity with billionaires
As a working class person, you have a privilege that billionaires will never have: time off. Because billionaires are constantly earning money, that means they are always working.
Make the most of your free time and attend a cigar smoke-filled corporate board meeting, join the Bilderberg Conference, or participate in the Davos World Economic Forum. When billionaires ask what you’re doing there, say “I’m here to support you.” Then ask how you can do that.
4. Give your time and money
There are TONS of companies and organizations that do good work protecting the billionaire class. And there’s ways you can support them in your everyday life, without making any changes to your routine.
As a working class American, you are privileged to have your life generally revolve around working in exchange for wages, so you can pay for your home and the food you eat. However, the more you earn in wages, the less profit there will be for billionaires to enjoy. Instead of expecting to earn more money as your productivity increases, figure out how to minimize your personal needs so you don’t infringe on billionaire’s profits.
Another way you can support the billionaire class is to stop paying off your credit card balances and let the debt revolve endlessly. All the extra interest you pay could even negate what they spend on your wages!
Being an ally to marginalized billionaires is often a thankless job. But this is important, so keep trying. Keep showing up. Keep working. Because remember, without the efforts of millions and millions and MILLIONS of working class people, billionaires would not even exist.