US Judge Rule: If You’re Ever Forced to Sentence Immigrants, Apologize to Them for It at Sentencing

Andrew Anglin
Daily Stormer
June 25, 2018

It is a horrible, evil thing for the imperialist government of the capitalist racist slavery nation of America to ever punish any immigrant for any crime.

But, if it comes to it, and a judge has no choice, the very least he can do is be as lenient as possible and also apologize to the immigrants at sentencing.

The very least he can do.

BDN:

The former owner of a Portland halal market who, with his brother, traded $1.4 million in federal food benefits for cash was sentenced Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court to three years in prison.

The federal prosecutor called the case “one of the largest, if not the largest, fraud cases involving [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] benefits in [Maine].”

Ali Ratib Daham, 41, of Westbrook who originally owned Ahram Halal Market, 630 Forest Avenue, pleaded guilty in November to one count each of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, money laundering and theft of government funds.

His brother, Abdulkareem Daham, 23, was sentenced Monday morning to two years in prison. He was convicted after a three-day jury trial in January of conspiracy to defraud the United States, according to court documents.

The older brother was ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution, while the younger was ordered to pay up to $955,000, according to their attorneys. The restitution order states that the men are equally responsible for payments but the younger brother’s payments are capped.

Ali Daham already has paid $80,000 toward restitution, according to court documents.

In sentencing the older brother, U.S. District Court D. Brock Hornby, who himself is a naturalized citizen, said there were “no winners in a case like this.”

“By sentencing two brothers, I realize I’m creating great pain for this family,” he said. “I’m also creating great pain for the immigrant community, as many members have told me he was a great helper to them. Sadly, he was a helper to them by defrauding the government.”

This judge is a long-time immigrant advocate.

Evil fucking boomer cucks who sell out our nation and children’s future so they can feel good about themselves and virtue signal. fuck em all.

He does this shit in his personal time. He’s originally from Canada.

Augusta attorney Walter McKee recommended the former store owner be sentenced to six months in prison in his sentencing memorandum. He said that 72 letters in support of his client had been submitted to the court.

Nearly 60 friends, family and supporters filled the Portland courtroom, several of whom told Hornby that Daham is a kind family man who deserves lenience.

The Dahams are natives of Iraq. The family fled the country in the mid-2000s. They arrived in Portland in 2009 and opened the business two years later.

The elder brother said that he broke the law in an effort to help Portland’s immigrant community.

“I came from a country experiencing different wars,” said Ali Daham through a translator when it was his turn to address the court. “The human condition was different. People had to help each other. … What I did [here] was in the spirit of providing help for people in the community.”

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Chapman argued that by running the welfare-for-cash fraud, Daham harmed those immigrants in need by fueling prejudice against his community and “providing ammunition to those who would seek to restrict welfare benefits.”

The evidence presented at the younger Daham’s trial showed that between June 2011 through April 2016, the brothers gave cash to customers at the market in exchange for benefits from the SNAP and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children plus a fee.

During that period, the market received more than $4 million in SNAP and WIC receipts, at least $1.4 million of which were obtained illegally, according to court documents.

This is probably instructive.

Probably.

Not just in how judges view brown criminals as victims, but in how these communities of brown people view themselves as outsiders effectively at war with White America.

They have no desire to integrate and contribute to our society – only a little baby or a woman could ever take that notion seriously in theory, but we have all of these years demonstrating that it is factually untrue, and still we continue to allow the Jews to tell us this.

These particular immigrants are Iraqi, so on the “war with White America” point, they do sort of have a point. The basic concept of bringing in “refugees” from a country that you invaded and destroyed is so completely insane as to be unfathomable. But this was going on all throughout the Bush years, and up through the Obama years – we were bringing in young men from countries that we had invaded.

But other brown communities behave the same way, whether they are Moslem, African or Latino.

They all view themselves as alien groups in our country, trying to get as much as they can from us, the host. Which is what they are, objectively. It is only the idiot white true believer who is capable of seeing them as something other than that.

We have to get these animals out of our country.

And the very first step in doing that is getting our own people to see them as what they are: bloodsucking parasites who come here to take what is ours. What our ancestors gave to us so that we may give it to our own children.

The wealth of our nation does not belong to us.

We are simply keepers of it, tasked with passing it on to generations to come.

We are stealing from future generations by allowing these evil fucking savages to come and take this from us.

Self-Help Sunday: You Must Forgive Your Boomer Parents

Andrew Anglin

Daily Stormer
June 17, 2018

This is a Special Father’s Day Self-Help Sunday for all my Millennial and Gen X bros with Baby Boomer parents.

A boomer, for those younger amongst you who do not exactly know the specifics, is a person who was a teenager in the period between the mid sixties and the mid seventies, and experienced the height of the post-war Jewish cultural revolutions in the West.

This is only a phenomenon in America and Western Europe. Eastern Europeans do not have this thing.

We talk a lot about boomers on this site. Because they are the first generation of people who gave up what was a hitherto unbroken chain of cultural transference. They did not pass the torch that was passed to them to their children. They did not teach us the values that their parents taught them.

They are defined by their selfishness, which is combined with a lack of self-awareness, which makes it almost cartoonish.

There was a comment on the Stormer forum about boomer parents – responding to an article I wrote about Boomers – which made an impression on me.

I shall post it in full.

As a child, my boomer sperm donor and my incubator, ie, “parents,” told me that I didn’t understand them because I was too young, that when I got older I’d be like them.

Well, I’m now older than they were when they said this nonsense to me, and contrary to their assertions, today I disagree with them more than I did as a “child.”

At the age of 11 I had already surpassed the maturity level of every single boomer in my life. Being mature though, I thought that my observations were hubris, though I did not know that word, and my parents’ assertions seemed very plausible; I was 11, how could I have outgrown them?

Thus I made the biggest mistake of my life.

I listened to these fucking monsters.

It’s taken me decades to undo the damage of listening to my parents and to get back to the level of maturity I had when I was 11, and to then build on that original foundation.

My parents lives have been a Groundhog Day for 60 years.

It’s all about enjoyment. It’s all about what THEY are entitled to for THEIR suffering. They worked so hard, _____ is their only joy in life. How dare anyone suggest that they not indulge. They EARNED it!!!

My parents are sneaking up on 70.

Their days are the same as when they were 30.

Lottery tickets, soda, cigarettes, 8 hours of TV a day, eating out, taking trips, and most disgustingly, trying to get laid.

They are walking caricatures of what they think young people should act like.

This is their empty, wasted existence.

And it would not necessarily be enough for me to absolutely despise them.
I despise them because of their utter lack of awareness and ownership of any single fault in their dead lives.

My parents have the fucking gall to complain about how THEY miss family get togethers and holidays.

Once my grandparents died, suddenly there were no more events. No more family dinners. No more reunions. No more big holiday dinners.

My parents have the breathtaking GALL to whine about missing grandma’s cooking.

Who the fuck are these assholes?!?!

My grandparents tried and tried and tried to hand off to my worthless shit-head parents the torch. My grandmother was singlehandedly making dinners for 20 people up into her late 60’s. She TRIED to teach her children, but they couldn’t be bothered.

When she realized the kind of man I was going to be, she took me under her wing and taught me what she could in the little time left to her.

To this day I’m the best cook I know thanks to the few lessons she taught me as a child.

I HATE you boomers so much that you should be able to feel it through time and space.

I utterly despise you fucking shits, not for your messes, not for your hedonism, not for your arrogance, or your congenital inability to admit fault, no.

I hate you all for the knowledge you refused to accept.

I fucking HATE you God damn mother fuckers for never bothering to learn how my grandmother made pies.

If that was the sole sin of you worthless fucking sacks of shit, it would be enough to guarantee a one way ticket to Hell.

You lost beauty.

It was handed to you, and you tossed it aside for a cigarette and a blowjob.

Boomers. You fuckers are going to burn in Hell.

So, we shall unpack it.

Firstly and most importantly, all of that I do understand. And all of us with boomer parents can relate. Many of us perhaps have not thought about it, and just assumed that this is the way parents behave with their children. But you can think this through – if parents had always behaved that way with their children, society would have collapsed.

That is not sustainable. If generations treated their children like this, society would collapse. It is now collapsing.

But here’s the thing.

Here’s the thing and it’s Father’s Day and it’s a good day for the thing.

I don’t like to get personal, but I have boomer parents. And I had this anger. Same anger.

It was firstly about that they did, objectively, put their own personal “happiness” before the wellbeing of their children. This is a very difficult thing to understand. And it is certainly something that makes a person angry when they realize it.

But, like the quoted post, the real anger comes from the fact that they are unwilling to admit that they did anything wrong.

But here’s the real thing: they are unable to understand that they did anything wrong. They are incapable of grasping the core concept that something they did to feel good could be wrong, because it is hardwired into them that life is a math equation of good feelings.

If you try to break this down, the boomer will simply become confused. There are some that you will see even in the comments sections of neon-nazi websites, getting confused.

That is the mind of the boomer.

Individuals and Society

You cannot stay mad.

You must forgive.

Because an individual lives in a society.

And every single baby boomer did the same thing. They all have this virus of the mind, where they are incapable of reflecting on themselves and their own behavior. Incapable of viewing themselves as having done something wrong.

And if they were all doing the same thing, that cannot be the fault of any single individual among them. They were caught in a wave, a movement of the entire society itself.

So being angry at an individual does not make sense. Well, being angry as a human response makes sense, but staying angry, when you are able to understand it on an intellectual level, does not.

It is a sad thing that our parents did not do what they were supposed to do. It is sad that they did not give us values, or religion, or culture.

It is sad that they gave us horrible advice or no direction at all.

It is sad that they let all of these brown people in, that they sent all the jobs overseas, that they accepted homosexuality, that they normalized casual sex.

It is sad that they are unable to understand what they did, and it is sad that they instead blame their children and claim that there is something wrong with us – that we are “entitled” (a buzzword they use which doesn’t have any clear meaning).

It is all very sad.

But this was a sociological phenomenon. It was not the result of decisions by individuals, and it certainly was not the fault of your individual parents.

It’s our job to deal with it, to fix it.

We should understand what the boomers did.

But the emotion should be pity rather than anger.

Imagine knowing so little, and being so incapable of analyzing yourself that you believe you know everything. Imagine what a miserable state that must be.

So, forgive mom.

Forgive dad.

Give dad a call today, and tell him thanks for what he did. Even if it wasn’t much. He is your father, and without him you wouldn’t even exist.

Life is the greatest gift.

Life is the gift of the fight.

The struggle.

To be is the most important thing of all.

 

It’s on Us

We must take full personal responsibility now for who and what we are. The anti-boomer memes, while useful in understanding ourselves and our position, shouldn’t be used to push away our own responsibility for our own lives and situation.

It is now on us.

We can’t change the reality of where we came from, but we are responsible for what we do with what we have.

And we can change where we are going.

Putting blame on the previous generation in such a way as it takes responsibility away from us is bad memeing.

That is the message of the extremist anti-Semitic exterminationist ideologue Jordan Peterson that resonates with the normies.

Clean your room. Change your oil. Wash your penis.

We were born into a society that is broken, and thus our options are:

  1. Wallow in it
  2. Change it

I think we should change it.

And I know that we can.

Gavin Newsom Elected Governor of California

By

The election in November is just going to be a formality.

No way can a Republican win governor in California in the age of Trump.

CNBC:

Liberal Democrat Gavin Newsom and Trump-backed Republican John H. Cox will face off in the November general election to decide California’s next governor.

Under California’s unusual “jungle primary” system, the top two vote-getters — regardless of party — advance to the general election. In all, 27 candidates vied to succeed Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who was ineligible to run again because of term limits.

Based on 92 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday’s statewide primary results, Newsom had 33 percent of the vote and first place while Cox was second with 26 percent. They were separated by about 286,000 votes.

Newsom, the state’s lieutenant governor and an ex-mayor of San Francisco, had been widely expected to be the top vote-getter since he was the longtime frontrunner in the governor’s race. Cox took the number two spot and had been gaining in most recent public opinion polling following President Donald Trump three weeks ago tweeting his endorsement of the conservative San Diego businessman.

Cox does have the best campaign slogan though:

“Clean Out the Barn.”

Jordan Peterson would be a lot more popular if he would have grabbed that instead of “clean your room,” “fold your socks” and “wash your penis.”

But Cox will get less votes from his borderline plagiarism of Jordan Peterson, as people are likely to take him as a Petersonite agent.

We’re at the point now where the Democrats are ready to start asking every person in any position of power: “are you now or have you ever been a Jordan Peterson Patreon?”

This guy is enemy number one.

Jews do not like clean rooms and penises.

You know what Cox could have won with though.

You know.

Don’t act like you don’t know.

That would have been it.

Even shitlibs can’t resist that kind of call to adventure.

He blew the screws loose on that one.

Ain’t nobody wants to clean a barn.

So yeah I mean, event over, Newsom wins.

And he is a complete shitlib, worse even than old Jer.

He’s gonna implode everything in that shitty state.

I don’t know if he supports secession or not, but he is the type of asshole who would.

He’s like, the type of asshole who thinks “All You Need is Love” is a legit strategy for life and running the government.

Polarization is good, kids.

Embrace it.

Demand it, in fact.

Other Primaries

I’m just gonna be honest here: I didn’t really follow the primaries that took place yesterday.

After Reverend Grass-on-the-Field managed to lose in Alabama, then Steve Bannon went one gin and tonic over the line, then the other weird events, I was just like “yeah okay, nevermind” as far as that whole thing goes.

On the Democrat side I’m more interested, because they are running a bunch of extremists. Who are, I believe, unelectable.

So hopefully some of those won yesterday.

I can’t follow every single event, guys.

The Daily Stormer needs a bigger staff.

Send shekels, please.

I’ve gotta hire Luke O’Brien to stalk and dox Jews, and he’s playing hardball on salary negotiations out of the gate, apparently.

For those of you who don’t understand salary negotiation tactics, I’m supposed to come out with an offer in response to “you can’t afford me.” He’s definitely read Art of the Deal.

Anyway, we need him on full time stalk & dox duty.

And we need someone who really closely follows electoral politics, Fash the Nation style.

A Middle East guy would be good too.

But srsly guys, how much is NYT or WSJ? Like $10 a month. Send that, all of you. We need some fucking money. I’m about to hit burnout here. Take the above article, just as an example.

What is going on here?

Why would I even think of “Paint Your Wagon”?

Overwork is causing my brain to develop irregular neural pathways.

I’ve worked every day for coming on 5 years now.

We need a legit staff.

Decline and Fall of California – what does this mean for the rest of America?

Steve Hilton: Is Loony Left Gov. Jerry Brown killing California? What does that mean for America?

Exuberant Democrats – carried along by the self-righteousness of their authoritarian and puritanical identity politics zealotry, and self-confidence in the supposedly inevitable electoral annihilation of President Trump and Republicans in November – are starting to see a long-cherished liberal dream as an imminent reality: California as a model for the whole nation.

You’ll get the picture if you read a widely-shared article published earlier this year by Medium, written by tech guru Peter Leyden, headlined “The Great Lesson of California in America’s New Civil War.” The article is subtitled: “Why there’s no bipartisan way forward at this juncture in our history – one side must win.”

The article describes California as “the harbinger of America’s political future … a model for America as a whole.”

The fact that Democrats in California now have complete control of all statewide political offices, the state Legislature and local government in cities like San Francisco is touted as great news for “working people.”

The author celebrates the fact that political debates in California involve choices between different degrees of left, with other voices excluded – even though independents and Republicans still comprise a majority of voters in the state, according to the latest party identification data.

The vision of a Californiaized United States is captured in all its glory in the concluding paragraph of the article: “America can’t afford more political paralysis. One side or the other must win. This is a civil war than can be won without firing a shot. But it is a fundamental conflict between two worldviews that must be resolved in short order. California, as usual, resolved it early. The Democrats won; the Republicans lost. The conservative way forward lost; the progressive way forward began. … California is the future, always about 15 years ahead of the rest of the country. That means that America, starting in 2018, is going to resolve it too.”

Lest you think these are just the random ramblings of a Silicon Valley bubble-dweller, let me point out that the article was not just widely shared but publicly endorsed by such luminaries as the founder and CEO of Twitter. And I can testify from personal experience that this is exactly what members of the California liberal elite actually think. It’s just that few of them say so publicly.

So we’d better take this seriously. Democrats, as the old political adage goes, now want to do to America what they’ve done to California. It’s an alarming prospect.

It’s true that California is the world’s fifth-largest economy; possesses (in my view) unparalleled natural beauty and cultural diversity; and has a spirit of openness and adventure – not to mention great weather – that makes it the best place in the world. I’m a proud California resident and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

But increasingly, it seems that many of the Golden State’s extraordinary advantages are being recklessly undermined by a governor who likes to think of himself as a beacon of rectitude – but who has a record of bumbling incompetence, special interest corruption and ideological extremism that places him firmly on the Loony Left.

Let’s start with the incompetence. It’s surely quite an accomplishment for Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown to have presided simultaneously over a massive splurge in public spending and a reduction in public services. Health spending has ballooned, but actual health outcomes have not improved. Meanwhile, California is on the brink of a fiscal crisis.

So where has all the money gone? That’s where the special interest corruption comes in. Brown has repeatedly used public money to reward his – and his party’s – paymasters in the public sector unions.

The generous pensions of public employees remain essentially unreformed – that’s the main cause of the looming fiscal crisis. And while workers in the private sector suffer wage stagnation, Brown has thrown pay raise after pay raise at powerful unions like the prison officers.

In interviews, Brown poses as a responsible grownup holding back the tide of mayhem that his more liberal successors will inevitably unleash. But Brown is ending his California career much as he started it: on the fringes, ideologically extreme and the modern-day symbol of the Loony Left. You see it in his extraordinary position on immigration, pandering to the Democrats’ extremist open borders base with his utterly irresponsible “sanctuary state” preening.

And you see it in Brown’s bizarre championing of Proposition 47, which essentially decriminalized the theft of any item under $950. His stance has been a social policy disaster, giving a green light to drug-fueled crime throughout the state.

Above all, Brown will be remembered for his colossal failures on the economy and poverty. California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, the highest level of inequality – and at the same time, the highest taxes.

The cost of living, particularly housing and transportation, is accelerating out of control for working people. It’s no surprise that the number of people moving out of the state has more than doubled in the last three years, with little compensating inward migration. Per capita, California is 46th out of 50 states in attracting newcomers from other parts of the country.

But the most shameful and vivid symbols of Jerry Brown’s failure must surely be the staggering, Third World-style homeless encampments on the streets of California’s big cities.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the homeless population in California rose by 14 percent from 2016 to 2017 to 134,000. In Los Angeles the increase was even worse – 26 percent in one year. In sharp contrast, the national homeless population increased by only 1 percent in 2017, to about 553,000, driven primarily by the increase in California homelessness.

What a grotesque epitaph for this self-styled champion of the people. The truth is that Brown’s rule has been great for the rich; grim for the rest.

Now it’s rumored that Brown, who will shortly complete his fourth term as California’s chief executive, is eyeing a national future. He has run unsuccessfully for president three times: in 1976, 1980 and 1992. Party insiders are convinced he wants a fourth go at that too. Given his track record as governor, that’s a frightening prospect for America.

Hubristic Democrats may survey their blue enclaves in the Golden State and dream of exporting their Loony Left revolution to the rest of the country. But any serious look at what life is actually like for working people in California should bring that fantasy crashing to the ground.

OUR TAKE

This process of decay which has eaten away at everything great about California at its peak is now spreading to the rest of American, its a demographic issue, racial at its core, a parasite class of mostly non-whites consuming the social capital created by whites decades ago, replacing our high trust society with a 3rd world culture of corruption, low trust, and racial Bolshevism. Without large scale system disrupting mass deportation of non-whites and their citizen-by-birth alone offspring, all we can do is prepare for the inevitable apocalyptic collapse and survive long enough to rebuild.

The Great Lesson of California in America’s New Civil War

Why there’s no bipartisan way forward at this juncture in our history — one side must win

By Peter Leyden and Ruy Teixeira

The next time you call for bipartisan cooperation in America and long for Republicans and Democrats to work side by side, stop it. Remember the great lesson of California, the harbinger of America’s political future, and realize that today such bipartisan cooperation simply can’t get done.

In this current period of American politics, at this juncture in our history, there’s no way that a bipartisan path provides the way forward. The way forward is on the path California blazed about 15 years ago.

In the early 2000s, California faced a similar situation to the one America faces today. Its state politics were severely polarized, and state government was largely paralyzed. The Republican Party was trapped in the brain-dead orthodoxies of an ideology stuck in the past. The party was controlled by zealous activists and corrupt special interests who refused to face up to the reality of the new century. It was a party that refused to work with the Democrats in good faith or compromise in any way.

The solution for the people of California was to reconfigure the political landscape and shift a supermajority of citizens — and by extension their elected officials — under the Democratic Party’s big tent. The natural continuum of more progressive to more moderate solutions then got worked out within the context of the only remaining functioning party. The California Democrats actually cared about average citizens, embraced the inevitable diversity of 21st-century society, weren’t afraid of real innovation, and were ready to start solving the many challenges of our time, including climate change.

California today provides a model for America as a whole. This model of politics and government is by no means perfect, but it is far ahead of the nation in coming to terms with the inexorable digital, global, sustainable transformation of our era. It is a thriving work in progress that gives hope that America can pull out of the political mess we’re in. California today provides a playbook for America’s new way forward. It’s worth contemplating as we enter 2018, which will be a critical election year.

Understanding the Context of the New American Civil War

This is no ordinary political moment. Trump is not the reason this is no ordinary time — he’s simply the most obvious symptom that reminds us all of this each day.

The best way to understand politics in America today is to reframe it as closer to civil war. Just the phrase “civil war” is harsh, and many people may cringe. It brings up images of guns and death, the bodies of Union and Confederate soldiers.

America today is nowhere near that level of conflict or at risk of such violence. However, America today does exhibit some of the core elements that move a society from what normally is the process of working out political differences toward the slippery slope of civil war. We’ve seen it in many societies in many previous historical eras, including what happened in the United States in 1860.

Two Systems at Odds

America’s original Civil War was not just fought to emancipate slaves for humanitarian reasons. The conflict was really about the clash between two very different economic systems that were fundamentally at odds and ultimately could not coexist. The Confederacy was based on an agrarian economy dependent on slaves. The Union was based on a new kind of capitalist manufacturing economy dependent on free labor. They tried to somehow coexist from the time of the founding era, but by the middle of the 19th century, something had to give. One side or the other had to win.

America today faces a similar juncture around fundamentally incompatible energy systems. The red states held by the Republicans are deeply entrenched in carbon-based energy systems like coal and oil. They consequently deny the science of climate change, are trying to resuscitate the dying coal industry, and recently have begun to open up coastal waters to oil drilling.

The blue states held by the Democrats are increasingly shifting to clean energy like solar and installing policies that wean the energy system off carbon. In the era of climate change, with the mounting pressure of increased natural disasters, something must give. We can’t have one step forward, one step back every time an administration changes. One side or the other has to win.

Two Classes at Odds

Another driver on the road to civil war is when two classes become fundamentally at odds. This usually takes some form of rich versus poor, the wealthy and the people, the 1 percent and the 99 percent. The system gets so skewed toward those at the top that the majority at the bottom rises up and power shifts.

The last time America was in that position was in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. We were on the road of severe class conflict that could have continued toward civil war, but we worked out a power shift that prevented widespread violence. Franklin Roosevelt, the so-called traitor to his class, helped establish a supermajority New Deal coalition of Democrats that rolled all the way through the postwar boom. The conservative Republicans who had championed a politics that advantaged the rich throughout the 1920s and promoted isolationism in the 1930s were sidelined for two generations — close to 50 years.

Today’s conservative Republicans face the same risk. Since 1980, their policies have engorged the rich while flatlining the incomes of the majority of Americans, from the presidency of Ronald Reagan through to last December’s tax overhaul, which ultimately bestows 83 percent of the benefits over time to the top 1 percent. Make no mistake: A reckoning with not just Trump, but conservatism, is coming.

Two Cultures at Odds

The differences between two economic systems or two classes that are fundamentally at odds could conceivably get worked out through a political process that peacefully resolves differences. However, culture frequently gets in the way. That’s especially true when pressures are building for big system overhauls that will create new winners and losers.

Two different political cultures already at odds through different political ideologies, philosophies, and worldviews can get trapped in a polarizing process that increasingly undermines compromise. They see the world through different lenses, consume different media, and literally live in different places. They start to misunderstand the other side, then start to misrepresent them, and eventually make them the enemy. The opportunity for compromise is then lost. This is where America is today.

At some point, one side or the other must win — and win big. The side resisting change, usually the one most rooted in the past systems and incumbent interests, must be thoroughly defeated — not just for a political cycle or two, but for a generation or two. That gives the winning party or movement the time and space needed to really build up the next system without always fighting rear-guard actions and getting drawn backwards. The losing party or movement will need that same time to go through a fundamental rethink, a long-term renewal that eventually will enable them to play a new game.

Today’s American Civil War

Trump is doing exactly what America needs him to do right now. He’s becoming increasingly conservative and outrageous by the day. Trump could have come into office with a genuinely new agenda that could have helped working people. Instead, he has spent the past year becoming a caricature of all things conservative — and in the meantime has alienated most of America and certainly all the growing political constituencies of the 21st century. He is turning the Republican brand toxic for millennials, women, Latinos, people of color, college-educated people, urban centers, the tech industry, and the economic powerhouses of the coasts, to name a few.

The Republican Party is playing their part perfectly, too. They completely fell for the Trump trap — and that’s exactly what America needed them to do. The Republican Party could have maintained some distance from Trump and kept a healthy check on him through Congress. Instead, they fully embraced him in a group bear hug that culminated in a deeply flawed tax law in the waning days of 2017. This mess of a law, thrown together without traditional vetting, is riddled with outrageous loopholes that benefit the crony donor class and line the pockets of many of the politicians who passed it. The law is hugely unpopular, and everyone who voted for it is marked for the election of 2018.

Perfect.

Now the entire Republican Party, and the entire conservative movement that has controlled it for the past four decades, is fully positioned for the final takedown that will cast them out for a long period of time in the political wilderness. They deserve it.

Let’s just say what needs to be said: The Republican Party over the past 40 years has maneuvered itself into a position where they are the bad guys on the wrong side of history. For a long time, they have been able to hide this fact through a sophisticated series of veils, invoking cultural voodoo that fools a large enough number of Americans to stay in the game. However, Donald Trump has laid waste to that sophistication and has given America and the world the raw version of what current conservative politics is all about.

The Republican Party is all about rule by and for billionaires at the expense of working people. Trump is literally the incarnation of what the party stands for: shaping laws for the good of billionaires and the 1 percent. His cabinet is stuffed with them.

The Republican Party is the party of climate change denial. Trump is the denier-in-chief, but there are 180 climate science deniers in the current Congress (142 in the House and 38 in the Senate), and none of them are Democrats. More than 59 percent of Republicans in the House and 73 percent of Republicans in the Senate deny the scientific consensus that climate change is happening, that human activity is the main cause, and that it is a serious threat. Another way to say it is that the Republican Party is in the pocket of the oil and carbon energy industry. Trump just cut through the crap and named Exxon’s CEO as our secretary of state to unravel the United Nations climate accords. No beating around that bush for the sake of appearances — Trump burned the bush down.

The Republican Party for the past 40 years has mastered using dog whistles to gin up racial divides to get their white voters to the polls. Trump just disposes of niceties and flatly encourages white nationalists, bans Muslims, walls off Mexicans, and calls out “shithole” countries.

Trump is just making clear to all what was boiling under the surface for decades, and that’s exactly what we need him to do. Why? Because America finally needs to take the Republican Party down for a generation or two. Not just the presidency. Not just clear out the U.S. House. Not just tip back the Senate. But fundamentally beat the Republicans on all levels at once, including clearing out governorships and statehouses across the land.

The Dramatic Collapse of Republicans in California

Could such as collapse of the Republican Party really happen? Won’t it take decades of trench warfare to put the GOP on the run? Not at all. A political collapse could happen very fast, as it did in California.

California was a model of governmental dysfunction in the 1990–2005 period, with Democrats and Republicans at each other’s throats and little being accomplished. The political atmosphere became so toxic that Democratic governor Gray Davis was recalled in 2003 and replaced with populist Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, who then proceeded to up the ante on polarization by pushing a series of conservative ballot initiatives in a special election in 2005. They were all handily defeated by the voters, marking the zenith of conservative Republican attempts to control California.

After that point, it was all downhill for the conservative GOP agenda in California. Schwarzenegger understood the sea change early and dumped right-wing populism and became far more moderate, going along with many progressive priorities. He soon started working with Democrats in the legislature on infrastructure, culminating in the passage of Proposition 1B in 2006 ($20 billion for roads and public transportation). Also in 2006, he and the legislature allocated an additional $150 million to stem cell research, supported a successful move to raise the minimum wage, and passed the Global Warming Solutions Act, which targeted a reduction of 25 percent in greenhouse gas emissions in the next 20 years. And in 2008, voters passed Prop 1A, authorizing $10 billion for high-speed rail.

Meanwhile, even though Schwarzenegger remained governor, the Democrats steadily expanded their majority in the state assembly. Then, in 2010, Democrat Jerry Brown was elected governor, and with the 2012 election, Democrats finally attained a supermajority in both houses of the state legislature. This was critical for overriding constant Republican filibusters and passing tax revenue laws (which still required a supermajority by Prop 13 dictates). The supermajority attained in 2012 was the first California legislative supermajority since 1933 and the first one for the Democrats since 1883. This is remarkable considering that in the dysfunctional 1990s, the state assembly and senate were closely divided between Republicans and Democrats, seemingly light-years away from the supermajority Democrats really needed to get things done.

Alongside these developments, Democratic domination of California representation in the U.S. House of Representatives steadily increased. Back in the 1990s, under Republican governor Pete Wilson, there was essentially parity between Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Today, there is almost a 3:1 split (39–14) in favor of the Democrats. Plus, they control both U.S. Senate seats and every single statewide elected office. There are no longer any Republicans able to mount a credible statewide election.

So, going from the zenith of right-wing populism to progressive domination in California did not take very long. That could easily happen in the country as a whole. The national GOP, after the 2016 election, controlled the presidency, the House, the Senate, and a strong majority of governorships and state legislatures. Since then, President Trump has become historically unpopular among American voters and the GOP Congress and its actions have become widely detested. Very quickly, their 2016 triumphs have morphed into a poisonous electoral environment where the GOP in 2018 is probably going to lose control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate, lose governorships and many hundreds of state legislative seats. And while the 2020 election is still a couple years away, an early forecast from political scientist Eric R.A.N. Smith has Trump (assuming his unpopularity continues) netting only 41 percent of electoral votes in that election.

In short, political change is slow until it’s very fast. The fall of the GOP is likely to be no different.

Life on the Other Side of Democratic One-Party Rule

There is life on the other side of that Republican political collapse. There is a clear way forward in the land of Democratic, progressive supermajorities. California is thriving right now, the economy is booming, state government budgets are setting aside surpluses, and the public is happy with its political leaders (as we have laid out in other articles in this series). California is leading the world in technological innovation and creative policies to counter climate change.

What about the need for checks and balances? Many Americans might be wary of trusting a political environment where one party has complete control of political power. How does society process the range of differences in political opinions in elections and in forming policies?

Californians faced those same questions and dealt with that new reality. In 2008, voters passed Proposition 11, which created a Citizens Redistricting Commission to redraw state legislative districts that over time had been heavily gerrymandered to protect incumbents of both political parties. That commission was insulated from politics and changed districts along more rational lines that took into consideration natural geography and longstanding contiguous communities. Then, in 2010, the voters passed Proposition 20, which applied a similar logic to congressional redistricting.

Alongside that effort, voters in 2010 also passed Proposition 14, a state constitutional amendment that established a top-two primary system in which all candidates, regardless of party, are placed on the same primary ballot, and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, head into the general election. The immediate result was to bolster competition within almost all districts. In a district populated by Democrats, the voters still got a choice between, say, a more progressive candidate and a moderate candidate.

Politics in California today still has a range of political differences that get worked out within political bodies. The city council of San Francisco is made up of all Democrats but is often trapped in fierce policy battles between supervisors who are more left of center than their colleagues who are more moderate and supportive of the tech industry. However, everyone on that city council is a Democrat and would be considered a progressive Democrat in the national context. They all embrace creating a diverse society, fighting climate change, etc. The California Legislature holds a similar range of political opinions, from very left to pro-business Democrat, but they almost all operate within a worldview that shares much common ground — a worldview that is not shared by the few remaining Republicans still in the chambers.

In short, California has a supermajority of 60 percent of the population, and thus a supermajority of elected officials, who share a common vision of a general way forward. Their differences are worked out within the confines of that general vision. California Republicans, like their conservative national colleagues, don’t share that general vision, and so they have been pushed out of serious political discourse. They were beaten, and beaten badly. And they almost certainly won’t be part of that discourse until they go through a lengthy process of reform over many years.

The Final Battle Begins in 2018

America is desperate for a functioning political supermajority that can break out of our political stasis and boldly move ahead and take on our many 21st-century challenges. The nation can’t take much more of our one step forward, one step back politics that gets little done despite the need for massive changes.

America today has many parallels to America in the 1850s or America in the 1930s. Both of those decades ended with one side definitively winning, forming a political supermajority that restructured systems going forward to solve our problems once and for all. In the 1850s, we fought the Civil War, and the Republican Party won and then dominated American politics for 50 years. In the 1930s, the Democratic Party won and dominated American politics for roughly the same amount of time.

America today is in a similar position. Our technologies, our economy, our geopolitics are going through fundamental changes. We are facing new challenges, like climate change and massive economic inequality, that must be addressed with fundamental reforms.

America can’t afford more political paralysis. One side or the other must win. This is a civil war that can be won without firing a shot. But it is a fundamental conflict between two worldviews that must be resolved in short order.

California, as usual, resolved it early. The Democrats won; the Republicans lost. The conservative way forward lost; the progressive way forward began. As we’ve laid out in this series, California is the future, always about 15 years ahead of the rest of the country. That means that America, starting in 2018, is going to resolve it, too.

How Baby Boomers Broke America

By Steven Brill

May 17, 2018
IDEAS
Brill, the author of Tailspin, is the founder of Court TV and the American Lawyer

ONE

Lately, most Americans, regardless of their political leanings, have been asking themselves some version of the same question: How did we get here? How did the world’s greatest democracy and economy become a land of crumbling roads, galloping income inequality, bitter polarization and dysfunctional government?

As I tried to find the answer over the past two years, I discovered a recurring irony. About five decades ago, the core values that make America great began to bring America down. The First Amendment became a tool for the wealthy to put a thumb on the scales of democracy. America’s rightly celebrated dedication to due process was used as an instrument to block government from enforcing job-safety rules, holding corporate criminals accountable and otherwise protecting the unprotected. Election reforms meant to enhance democracy wound up undercutting democracy. Ingenious financial and legal engineering turned our economy from an engine of long-term growth and shared prosperity into a casino with only a few big winners.

These distinctly American ideas became the often unintended instruments for splitting the country into two classes: the protected and the unprotected. The protected overmatched, overran and paralyzed the government. The unprotected were left even further behind. And in many cases, the work was done by a generation of smart, hungry strivers who benefited from one of the most American values of all: meritocracy.

This is not to say that all is rotten in the United States. There are more opportunities available today for women, nonwhites and other minorities than ever. There are miracles happening daily in the nation’s laboratories, on the campuses of its world-class colleges and universities, in the offices of companies creating software for robots and medical diagnostics, in concert halls and on Broadway stages, and at joyous ceremonies swearing in proud new citizens.

Yet key measures of the nation’s public engagement, satisfaction and confidence – voter turnout, knowledge of public-policy issues, faith that the next generation will fare better than the current one, and respect for basic institutions, especially the government – are far below what they were 50 years ago, and in many cases have reached near historic lows.

It is difficult to argue that the cynicism is misplaced. From matters small – there are an average of 657 water-main breaks a day, for example – to large, it is clear that the country has gone into a tailspin over the last half-century, when John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier was about seizing the future, not trying to survive the present.

For too many, the present is hard enough. Income inequality has soared: inflation-adjusted middle-class wages have been nearly frozen for the last four decades, while earnings of the top 1% have nearly tripled. The recovery from the crash of 2008 – which saw banks and bankers bailed out while millions lost their homes, savings and jobs – was reserved almost exclusively for the wealthiest. Their incomes in the three years following the crash went up by nearly a third, while the bottom 99% saw an uptick of less than half of 1%. Only a democracy and an economy that has discarded its basic mission of holding the community together, or failed at it, would produce those results.

Meanwhile, the celebrated American economic-mobility engine is sputtering. For adults in their 30s, the chance of earning more than their parents dropped to 50% from 90% just two generations earlier. The American middle class, once an aspirational model for the world, is no longer the world’s richest.

Most Americans with average incomes have been left to fend for themselves, often at jobs where automation, outsourcing, the decline of union protection and the boss’s obsession with squeezing out every penny of short-term profit have eroded any sense of security. In 2017, household debt had grown higher than the peak reached in 2008 before the crash, with student and automobile loans staking growing claims on family paychecks.

Although the U.S. remains the world’s richest country, it has the third-highest poverty rate among the 35 nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), behind only Turkey and Israel. Nearly 1 in 5 American children lives in a household that the government classifies as “food insecure,” meaning they are without “access to enough food for active, healthy living.”

Beyond that, too few basic services seem to work as they should. America’s airports are an embarrassment, and a modern air-traffic control system is more than 25 years behind its original schedule. The power grid, roads and rails are crumbling, pushing the U.S. far down international rankings for infrastructure quality. Despite spending more on health care and K-12 education per capita than most other developed countries, health care outcomes and student achievement also rank in the middle or worse globally. Among the 35 OECD countries, American children rank 30th in math proficiency and 19th in science.

American politicians talk about “American exceptionalism” so habitually that it should have its own key on their speechwriters’ laptops. Is this the exceptionalism they have in mind?

Perhaps they should look at their own performance, which is best described as pathetic. Congress has not passed a comprehensive budget on time without omnibus bills since 1994. There are more than 20 registered lobbyists for every member of Congress. Most are deployed to block anything that would tax, regulate or otherwise threaten a deep-pocketed client.

Indeed, money has come to dominate everything so completely that the people we send to D.C. to represent us have been reduced to begging on the phone for campaign cash up to five hours a day and spending their evenings taking checks at fundraisers organized by those swarming lobbyists. A gerrymandering process has rigged easy wins for most of them, as long as they fend off primary challengers–which ensures that they will gravitate toward the special-interest positions of their donors and their party’s base, while racking up mounting deficits to pay for goods and services that cost more than budgeted, rarely work as promised and are seldom delivered on time.

Ross MacDonald for TIME

TWO

The story of how all this came to be is like a movie in which everything seems clear only if it is played back from the start in slow motion. Beginning about 50 years ago, each scene unfolded slowly, usually without any sign of its ultimate impact. The story of America’s tailspin is not about villains, though there are some. It is not about a conspiracy to bring the country down, nor did it spring from one single source.

But there is a theme that threads through and ties together all the strands: many of the most talented, driven Americans used what makes America great–the First Amendment, due process, financial and legal ingenuity, free markets and free trade, meritocracy, even democracy itself–to chase the American Dream. And they won it, for themselves. Then, in a way unprecedented in history, they were able to consolidate their winnings, outsmart and co-opt the forces that might have reined them in, and pull up the ladder so more could not share in their success or challenge their primacy.

By continuing to get better at what they do, by knocking away the guardrails limiting their winnings, aggressively engineering changes in the political landscape, and by dint of the often unanticipated consequences of their innovations, they created a nation of moats that protected them from accountability and from the damage their triumphs caused in the larger community. Most of the time, our elected and appointed representatives were no match for these overachievers. As a result of their savvy, their drive and their resources (and a certain degree of privilege, as these strivers may have come from humble circumstances but are mostly white men), America all but abandoned its most ambitious and proudest ideal: the never perfect, always debated and perpetually sought after balance between the energizing inequality of achievement in a competitive economy and the community-binding equality promised by democracy. In a battle that began a half-century ago, the achievers won.

The result is a new, divided America. On one side are the protected few – the winners – who don’t need government for much and even have a stake in sabotaging the government’s responsibility to all of its citizens. For them, the new, broken America works fine, at least in the short term. An understaffed IRS is a plus for people most likely to be the target of audits. Underfunded customer service at the Social Security Administration is irrelevant to those not living week to week, waiting for their checks. Except for the most civic-minded among them, corporate executives are not likely to worry that their government doesn’t produce a comprehensive budget. They don’t worry about the straitjacket their government faces in recruiting and rewarding talent or in training or dismissing the untalented because of a broken civil-service system. Civil service is another great American reform that in the last 50 years has become a great American moat, protecting incompetent or corrupt workers, like those who supervised the Veterans Affairs hospitals where patient waiting lists were found to have been falsified.

On the other side are the unprotected many. They may be independent and hardworking, but they look to their government to preserve their way of life and maybe even improve it. The unprotected need the government to provide good public schools so that their children have a chance to advance. They need a level competitive playing field for their small businesses, a fair shake in consumer disputes and a realistic shot at justice in the courts. They need the government to provide a safety net to ensure that their families have access to good health care, that no one goes hungry when shifts in the economy or temporary setbacks take away their jobs and that they get help to rebuild after a hurricane or other disaster. They need the government to ensure a safe workplace and a living minimum wage. They need mass-transit systems that work and call centers at Social Security offices that don’t produce busy signals. They need the government to keep the political system fair and protect it from domination by those who can give politicians the most money. They need the government to provide fair labor laws and to promote an economy and a tax code that tempers the extremes of income inequality and makes economic opportunity more than an empty cliché.

The protected need few of these common goods. They don’t have to worry about underperforming public schools, dilapidated mass-transit systems or jammed Social Security hotlines. They have accountants and lawyers who can negotiate their employment contracts or deal with consumer disputes, assuming they want to bother. They see labor or consumer-protection laws, and fair tax codes, as threats to their winnings–which they have spent the last 50 years consolidating by eroding these common goods and the government that would provide them.

That, rather than a split between Democrats and Republicans, is the real polarization that has broken America since the 1960s. It’s the protected vs. the unprotected, the common good vs. maximizing and protecting the elite winners’ winnings.

Ross MacDonald for TIME

THREE

I was one of those elite winners. In 1964, I was a bookworm growing up in Far Rockaway, a working-class section of Queens. One day, I read in a biography of John F. Kennedy that he had gone to something called a prep school. None of my teachers at Junior High School 198 had a clue what that meant, but I soon figured out that prep school was like college. You got to go to classes and live on a campus, only you got to go four years earlier, which seemed like a fine idea. It seemed even better when I discovered that some prep schools offered financial aid. I ended up at Deerfield Academy, in Western Massachusetts, where the headmaster, Frank Boyden, told my worried parents, who ran a perpetually struggling liquor store, that his financial-aid policy was that they should send him a check every year for whatever they could afford.

Three years later, in 1967, I found myself sitting in the headmaster’s office one day in the fall of my senior year with a man named R. Inslee Clark Jr., the dean of admissions at Yale. Clark looked over my record and asked me a bunch of questions, most of which were about where I had grown up and how I had ended up at Deerfield. Then he paused, looked me in the eye and asked if I really wanted to go to Yale – if it was my first choice. When I said yes, Clark’s reply was instant: “Then I can promise you that you are in. I will tell Mr. Boyden that you don’t have to apply anywhere else. Just kind of keep it to yourself.”

What I didn’t know then was that I was part of a revolution being led by Clark, whose nickname was Inky. I was about to become one of what would come to be known as Inky’s boys and, later, girls. We were part of a meritocracy infusion that flourished at Yale and other elite education institutions, law firms and investment banks in the mid-1960s and ’70s. It produced great progress in equalizing opportunity. But it had the unintended consequence of entrenching a new aristocracy of rich knowledge workers who were much smarter and more driven than the old-boy network of heirs born on third base–and much more able to enrich and protect the clients who could afford them.

After college, I went on to Yale Law School and graduated in 1975, at a time when demand for lawyers in the flourishing knowledge-worker economy was exploding. By the mid-1980s, in terms of dollars generated, the legal industry was bigger than steel or textiles, and about the same size as the auto industry. The new lawyers were increasingly concentrated in fast-growing firms that served large corporations and were prepared to pay skyrocketing salaries to attract the best talent. Soon, the gap between pay in the private and public sectors was too large to attract enough talented young lawyers to government or public-interest law–a change described by Stanford law professor Robert Gordon in 1988 as “one of the most antisocial acts of the bar in recent history.”

I played a role in this “antisocial” movement. In 1979, I started a magazine called the American Lawyer, which focused on the business of law firms and the intriguing questions lurking behind their elegant reception areas. Which ones were best managed? Which offered the most opportunity to women or minorities? Which were more likely to promote associates to partnership? Which had the fairest or most generous bonus systems? And, yes, which provided the highest profits for partners?

That last question resulted in the American Lawyer launching a special issue every summer, beginning in 1985, in which we deployed reporters to pierce the secrecy of these private partnerships so that the magazine could rank the revenues and average profits taken home by partners at the largest firms. When the first survey was published, I received a call from a former classmate who practiced at a large Los Angeles firm. He was outraged because he–and his wife–had found out that another classmate who worked at a seemingly fungible L.A. firm made about 25% more than he did. Until then, they had been perfectly happy with his six-figure income.

The fallout from this report and those from similar trade publications was significant and double-edged. The new flow-of-market information about these businesses made those who ran them more accountable to their partners, their employees and their clients, but it also transformed the practice of law by the country’s most talented lawyers in ways that had significant drawbacks. The emphasis was now fully on serving those clients who could pay the most.

Ross MacDonald for TIME

FOUR

The Meritocracy’s ascent was about more than personal profit. As my generation of achievers graduated from elite universities and moved into the professional world, their personal successes often had serious societal consequences. They upended corporate America and Wall Street with inventions in law and finance that created an economy built on deals that moved assets around instead of building new ones. They created exotic, and risky, financial instruments, including derivatives and credit default swaps, that produced sugar highs of immediate profits but separated those taking the risk from those who would bear the consequences. They organized hedge funds that turned owning stock into a minute-by-minute bet rather than a long-term investment. They invented proxy fights, leveraged buyouts and stock buybacks that gave lawyers and bankers a bonanza of new fees and maximized short-term profits for increasingly unsentimental shareholders, but deadened incentives for the long-term growth of the rest of the economy.

Regulatory agencies were overwhelmed by battalions of lawyers who brilliantly weaponized the bedrock American value of due process so that, for example, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule protecting workers from a deadly chemical could be challenged and delayed for more than a decade and end up being hundreds of pages long. Lawyers then contested the meaning of every clause while racking up fees of hundreds of dollars per hour from clients who were saving millions of dollars on every clause they could water down.

They deployed litigators to fend off private-sector unions in the South and to defend their firings of union supporters and other blatant violations of law, for which they happily paid fines equivalent to 1% to 2% of what they saved by underpaying their workers.

Deploying the First Amendment right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” thousands of achievers began in the 1970s to turn Washington into a colony of lobbyists. Through the power of the campaign cash increasingly wielded by their clients, much of which they helped raise and distribute, the hordes of lobbyists were able to get riders or exemptions worth billions inserted into legislation governing trade, the tax code, job safety or industry subsidies. Although labor laws were routinely being violated by employers in highly publicized fights, and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, they were able to block legislation introduced by President Jimmy Carter that would have toughened penalties for violations and helped level what had become a lopsided playing field when it came to organizing unions in the private sector. As private-sector unions continued to dwindle, the achievers made sure that no similar legislation even came up for a vote in the four decades that followed.

A landmark 1976 Supreme Court case brought by lawyers for consumer-rights activist Ralph Nader gave corporations that owned drugstores a First Amendment right to inform consumers by advertising their prices. In the years that followed, lawyers for the protected morphed that consumer-rights victory into a corporate free-speech movement. The result has been court decisions allowing unlimited corporate money to overwhelm democratic elections and other rulings allowing corporations to challenge regulations related to basic consumer-protection issues, like product labeling.

As government was disabled from delivering on vital issues, the protected were able to protect themselves still more. For them, it was all about building their own moats. Their money, their power, their lobbyists, their lawyers, their drive overwhelmed the institutions that were supposed to hold them accountable–government agencies, Congress, the courts.

There may be no more flagrant example of the achievers’ triumph than how they were able to avoid accountability when the banks they ran crashed the economy. The CEOs had been able to get the courts to treat their corporations like people when it came to protecting the corporation’s right to free speech. Yet after the crash, CEOs got prosecutors and judges to treat them like corporations when it came to personal responsibility. The corporate structures they had built were so massive and so complex that, the prosecutors decided, no senior executive could be proved to have known what was going on.

Meanwhile, the lobbyists for the big banks swarmed the often invisible process under which the thousands of pages of regulations were drafted to implement the Dodd-Frank financial-reform act, which was passed in 2010 to address the risks and regulatory gaps that precipitated the crash. As a result, about 30% of the 390 required regulations had not been promulgated as of mid-2016, according to the law firm Davis Polk. Under the Trump Administration and continued Republican control of Congress, efforts intensified to roll back the rules that were already in effect even as the big banks–which had argued that Dodd-Frank would kill their businesses–were enjoying record profits and market share.

It may be understandable for those on the losing side of this triumph of the achievers to condemn the winners as gluttons. That explanation, however, is too simple. Many of the protected class are people who have lived the kind of lives that all Americans celebrate. They worked hard. They innovated. They tried things that others wouldn’t attempt. They believed, often correctly, that they were writing new chapters in the long story of American progress.

When they created ways to package mortgages into securities that could be resold to investors, for example, it was initially celebrated as a way to get more money into the mortgage pool, thereby making more mortgages available to the middle class. But by 2007 it had become far too much of a good thing. As the financial engineers continued to push the envelope with ever-riskier versions of the original invention, they crashed the economy.

Thus, the breakdown came when their intelligence, daring, creativity and resources enabled them to push aside any effort to rein them in. They did what comes naturally – they kept winning. And they did it with the protection of an alluring, defensible narrative that shielded them from pushback, at least initially. They won not with the brazen corruption of the robber barons of old, but by drawing on the core values that have always defined American greatness.

They didn’t do it cynically, at least not at first. They simply got really, really good at taking advantage of what the American system gave them and doing the kinds of things that America treasures in the name of the values that America treasures.

And they have invested their winnings not only to preserve their bounty, but also to root themselves and their offspring in a new meritocracy-aristocracy that is more entrenched than the old-boy network. Forty-eight years after Inky Clark gave me my ticket on the meritocracy express in 1967, a professor at Yale Law School jarred the school’s graduation celebration. Daniel Markovits, who specializes in the intersection of law and behavioral economics, told the class of 2015 that their success getting accepted into, and getting a degree from, the country’s most selective law school actually marked their entry into a newly entrenched aristocracy that had been snuffing out the American Dream for almost everyone else. Elites, he explained, can spend what they need to in order to send their children to the best schools, provide tutors for standardized testing and otherwise ensure that their kids can outcompete their peers to secure the same spots at the top that their parents achieved.

“American meritocracy has thus become precisely what it was invented to combat,” Markovits concluded, “a mechanism for the dynastic transmission of wealth and privilege across generations. Meritocracy now constitutes a modern-day aristocracy.”

The frustrated, disillusioned Americans who voted for President Trump committed the ultimate act of rejecting the meritocrats – epitomized by the hardworking, always prepared, Yale Law – educated Hillary Clinton – in favor of an inexperienced, never-prepared, shoot-from-the-hip heir to a real estate fortune whose businesses had declared bankruptcy six times. He would “drain the swamp” in Washington, he promised. He would take the coal industry back to the greatness it had enjoyed 80 years before. He would rebuild the cities, block immigrants with a great wall, provide health care for all and make the country’s infrastructure the envy of the world, while cutting everyone’s taxes. Forty-six percent of those who voted figured that things were so bad, they might as well let him try.

FIVE

It seems like a grim story. Except that the story isn’t over. During the past two years, as I have discovered the people and forces behind the 50-year U.S. tailspin, I have also discovered that in every arena the meritocrats commandeered there are now equally talented, equally driven achievers who have grown so disgusted by what they see that they are pushing back.

From Baruch College in Manhattan to the University of California, Irvine, more colleges are working to break down the barriers of the newly entrenched meritocracy. Elite Eastern institutions such as Amherst, Vassar and Princeton are using aggressive outreach campaigns to attract applicants who might otherwise be unaware of the schools’ generous financial-aid packages.

Entrepreneurs like Jukay Hsu, a Harvard-educated Iraq War veteran who runs a nonprofit called C4Q out of a converted zipper factory in Queens, are making eye-opening progress with training programs aimed at lifting those displaced by automation or trade back into middle-class software-engineering jobs. “Some of the smartest, hardest-working people I’ve ever met were soldiers who didn’t graduate from college,” says Hsu. (Disclosure: I am an uncompensated board member of C4Q.)

Even Washington is poised to benefit from the new wave of achievers. Issue One, a nonprofit ensconced in an office on lobbyists’ row on K Street, is fighting for campaign-finance reforms and pushing legislation that would limit the influence of lobbyists by reining in their checkbooks. The group is supported by a growing band of disillusioned politicians from both parties. Better Markets, a well-funded lobbying organization that squares off against the usual lobbyists and is filled with people whose meritocracy credentials match those of their adversaries, is going after continuing abuses and lack of accountability on Wall Street. Two other organizations, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Partnership for Public Service, are preparing blueprints for civil-service reform, tax reform, better budgeting and contracting, and infrastructure investment–all of which can attract bipartisan support if and when our elected officials finally get pushed to act.

Although their work is often frustrating, the worsening status quo seems to energize those who are pushing back. “My kid complained the other day that he still couldn’t play the violin, even though he’d been practicing for two days,” says Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service. “Well, yeah, that’s true, but you have to keep at it. Persistence is an underrated virtue.”

Stier and the others believe that the country will overrun the lobbyists and cross over the moats when enough Americans see that we need leaders who are prepared and intelligent, who can channel our frustration rather than exploit it, and who can unite the middle class and the poor rather than divide them. They are certain that when the country’s breakdown touches enough people directly and causes enough damage, the officeholders who depend on those people for their jobs will be forced to act.

The new achievers are doing what they do not because they are gluttons for frustration, but because they believe that America can be put back on the right course. They are laying the groundwork for the feeling of disgust to be channeled into a restoration.