What it means, in this case, is that major presidential candidates of both parties are aligned in their commitment to blocking the United States government from enacting any policies that would lead to a diminution of the wealth of the very rich and a consequent increase in the wealth of the middle and lower classes. Whether you vote for a Democrat or for a Republican, you, the top 0.1% of America's wealthy, can rest assured that your candidate of choice will voice soothing platitudes about the grave importance of economic inequality as an issue while simultaneously standing in the way of any attempt to pass a law that might negatively impact the net worth of you, The Real Ruling Class. The American oligarchy is still in perfect working order.
This is the only accurate takeaway from this New York Times story about the odd vague unanimity of candidates on inequality—a story with a very thin veneer of objectivity covering its obvious exasperation. It is perhaps not shocking that a ghoulish human like Ted Cruz "proposed lowering taxes and loosening regulations" as a solution to America's widening inequality, which is like proposing arsenic as a solution to poisoning. But it is vital for all the sober upright Democrats out there who consider themselves progressive defenders of the poor to keep in mind that holy anointed candidate Hillary Clinton, a human-shaped receptacle for soft money, is equally full of shit on inequality. In a great, snide passage, the Times notes, "She alluded only elliptically to 'hard choices' that her husband's administration had made... Asked whether those hard choices she referred to were tax increases, a Clinton spokesman said he was not sure."
The Republican Party exists with the more or less explicit mission of protecting the rich and resisting any economic policy that could be construed as "socialism," which is to say, economic policies designed to shrink the gap between rich and poor. The Democratic Party, though, implies quite strenuously that it exists to protect the interests of the much-discussed but rarely seen "middle class." And where is the evidence that the Democratic Party's likely presidential candidate will pursue policies that will actually protect the interests of the middle and lower classes, even at the expense of the rich? There is no evidence. In fact, Hillary Clinton's silence on this point thus far should be taken as evidence that she will not do that.
America's economic inequality problem will not go away unless acted upon with force. The past 30 years have demonstrated that. Deregulation and lower taxes are the very things that got us here in the first place. Through good economies and bad, inequality has risen. To change that means cutting the share of the pie held by the rich. It cannot be accomplished simply by economic growth. Any presidential candidate who implies anything different is taking you for a sucker, while winking at their moneyed supporters on the sidelines.
Until we institute real campaign finance reform, presidential candidates will be funded by the very rich. They will therefore represent the interests of the very rich. And the very rich are not keen on giving up anything at all, unless they think the pitchfork-wielding mobs are at their front gates. As the campaigns begin in earnest, and the media begins writing thousands and thousands of stories about the differences between the candidates, remember this: until they prove otherwise, they all work for the rich, and not for you. Talk is cheap. Taxes aren't.
[Photos: AP, Getty]