Newspaper article International New York Times

Voters Revolt against the Status Quo

Newspaper article International New York Times

Voters Revolt against the Status Quo

Article excerpt

The New Hampshire primary victories of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are rooted in decades of failure by politicians to improve American lives.

A backlash has been building gradually among American voters for years against "stagflation," "the middle-class squeeze," cross- border trade deals and Wall Street bailouts.

This week, they let out a primal scream that was heard around the country. The democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and the Republican billionaire Donald J. Trump recorded smashing primary victories in New Hampshire, and even if neither candidate reaches the general election in November, their supporters will shape the selection of the next president. The populist revolt is rooted in decades of failure by politicians to improve the living standards to which Americans became accustomed during post-World War II boom times.

The United States' receding economic dominance was masked for years by a surge in two-paycheck households as women entered the work force, an expansion of consumer credit and government borrowing, and surging stock and real estate values that inflated household wealth. Those props have now eroded.

Mr. Sanders translates stagnant middle-class incomes and rising inequality into outrage against Wall Street "millionaires and billionaires" who prosper in a global economy under rules they've written. His message is attractive to liberals, especially young Democrats facing large college debt and lackluster earning prospects.

"Tonight we serve notice to the political and economic establishment of this country that the American people will not continue to accept a corrupt campaign finance system that is undermining American democracy," he declared in New Hampshire. "We will not accept a rigged economy in which ordinary Americans work longer hours for lower wages while almost all new income and wealth goes to the top 1 percent."

Mr. Trump voices similar sentiments, his own wealth notwithstanding. He invokes his experience as a donor to highlight campaign finance corruption, accuses hedge fund managers of dodging taxes and joins Mr. Sanders in denouncing various industries for what he says are undeserved profits. …

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