As this endless election limps toward its last days, while spiraling into a bizarre duel over vote-rigging accusations, a deep sigh is undoubtedly in order. The entire process has been an emotionally draining, frustration-inducing, rage-inflaming spectacle of repellent form over shallow substance. For many, the third debate evoked fatigue. More worrying, there was again no discussion of how to prevent another financial crisis, an ominous possibility in the next presidency, whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton enters the Oval Office—given that nothing fundamental has been altered when it comes to Wall Street’s practices and predation.
At the heart of American political consciousness right now lies a soul-crushing reality for millions of distraught Americans: The choices for president couldn’t be feebler or more disappointing. On the one hand, we have a petulant, vocabulary-challenged man-boar of a billionaire, who hasn’t paid his taxes, has regularly left those supporting him holding the bag, and seems like a ludicrous composite of every bad trait in every bad date any woman has ever had. On the other hand, we’re offered a walking photo-op for and well-paid speechmaker to Wall-Street CEOs, a one-woman money-raising machine from the 1 percent of the 1 percent, who, despite a folksiness that couldn’t look more rehearsed, has methodically outplayed her opponent.
With less than two weeks to go before E-day—despite the Trumptilian upheaval of the last year—the high probability of a Clinton win means the establishment remains intact. When we awaken on November 9, it will undoubtedly be dawn in Hillary Clinton’s America, and that potentially means four years of an economic dystopia that will (as would Donald Trump’s version of the same) leave many Americans rightfully anxious about their economic futures.
None of the three presidential debates suggested that either candidate would have the ability (or desire) to confront Wall Street from the Oval Office. In the second and third debates, in case you missed them, Hillary didn’t even mention the Glass-Steagall Act, “too big to fail,” or Wall Street—while in the first debate, the subject of Wall Street came up only after she disparaged the tax policies of “Trumped-up, trickle down economics” (or, as I like to call it, the Trumpledown economics of giving tax and financial benefits to the rich and to corporations).
In this election, Hillary has crafted her talking points regarding the causes of the last financial crisis as weapons against Trump, but they hardly begin to tell the real story of what happened to the American economy. The meltdown of 2007–08 was not mainly due to “tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy” or a “failure to invest in the middle class,” two subjects she has repeatedly highlighted to slam the Republicans and their candidate. It was a byproduct of the destruction of the regulations that opened the way for the framework that allowed “too big to fail” to thrive. Under the presidency of Bill Clinton, Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era act that once separated people’s bank deposits and loans from any kind of risky bets or other similar actions in which banks might engage, was repealed with the Financial Modernization Act of 1999. In addition, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was passed, which allowed Wall Street to concoct devastating unregulated side bets on what became the subprime crisis.