National Commentary

Insurgencies Driven by Hurt & Pain

nfbenton-mugJanuary 20 this week marked the one-year point from the inauguration of the next U.S. president. With the way things are developing now, it is a chilling thought. I’m sorry, this will not be an upbeat report.

But perhaps this is required, because the American public will truly be put to the challenge over the next 12 months to see to it that the nation, and the world in fact, does not unravel and spin out of control toward unthinkable outcomes.

The Trump campaign came one step closer to the looney bin with its embrace of Sarah Palin this week. Rather than moving away from the lunatic fringe in hopes of embracing a wider constituency in his own party and in the country, Trump has again thumbed his nose at that approach, and has dived further into his more comfortable role as a fanatical flag-waver of the inmates’ revolt at the asylum.

Perhaps Trump brought on Palin because she’s about the only person who is more of a policy airhead than he, himself.

But lest this be cause for levity, it should be noted that the times have changed since 2008 and in terms of the health and well-being of America’s middle class, very much for the worse. The fallout from George W. Bush’s Great Recession, despite the efforts of President Obama to clean things up, have only deepened the consequential rot of average American households.

No little credit for that, too, goes to the ongoing worst obstructionism and barely disguised racist insurgency that the GOP and its Wall Street and “military industrial complex” backers, have wittingly fueled ever since Obama was elected.

If you want a taste of what these moral slugs have in store, try drinking the polluted water the GOP governor in Michigan inflicted on the men, women and children of Flint. (Who needs terrorists poisoning our water?)

In the other party, an insurgency is going on there, too, that Hillary Clinton doesn’t seem to grasp. The last time she ran for president was 2008, but as I just noted, this is not 2008. The country is in much worse shape now.

This is fueling Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign, and as much as Clinton may be able to poke holes in his democratic-socialist (as in, FDR) remedies, she’s missing the point if she thinks this will defuse his momentum, just as the official GOP’s expressions of disdain for Trump are only adding to his popularity.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, Clinton has to recalibrate to fit these tumultuous times or, even if she noses out Sanders, she will be subject to the worst possible consequence for us all, a Trump revolution.

The economic data about the one percent ruling over the 99 percent is not just academic. It is not just a matter of the “rest of us” holding a grudge over the ability of the super rich to be so selfish.

No, it is a matter of a ton of pain and hurt being felt by a majority of Americans.

The death rate is actually on the rise among white male middle-aged citizens. This is truly shocking and should be treated as a national emergency. Most of the rise is due to alcohol and drug abuse, depression and suicide.

A minimum wage at $7.25 an hour makes it impossible to survive. As lives unravel, a drug epidemic of epic proportions is arising from the abuse of powerful pain-killing prescription drugs leading to debilitating addictions. This epidemic is spreading to children. The nature of the opioid drugs is that they do not kill pain so much as to make it feel that the pain doesn’t matter. So, as the cost of these drugs increase, massive numbers are moving to cheaper heroin, with a similar neurological effect.

Now, with its increasingly symbiotic relationship to the nosediving Chinese economy, the U.S. is confronting another major downturn.

The U.S. Dow plunged more than 500 points on January 20, and oil prices are dipping to all time lows, and neither shows causes to see an end in sight. These will trigger not only a new recession, but worse, minus a major public intervention.