Take a look at the below picture:
US is sliding back to a ‘developing world’ status: While a very tiny minority lives in extravagant luxury, hoarding billions of dollars of wealth which they can never reasonably spend on this planet, a majority is suffering in 3rd world conditions which are speedily racing towards the conditions of the poor majority in those nations.
These are not ‘challenges’. They are society-level dangers, they are threats to the very fabric of the society.
It totally breaks the society after a certain point, creating a chaos which can only be stabilized by a popular movement which would shuffle all the cards. This may or may not be something that everyone can agree with.
But ironically the biggest threat is to the extravagant rich, who sociopathically try to hoard even more at the cost of the lives of their compatriots: After a while, that majority will seek a way out – and they will back whichever movement that gives them actual hope and results. Even if it is led by those who are actually radical, religiously extreme, psychopathic, who may risk World War 3 – it doesn’t matter – these people do need to find a way out.
A religious extremist movement is also an option – religion may easily fill in the vacuum by aiding people like it does in many countries with such inequality. Or it may even only sell religious relief, and even if it doesn’t address the inequality and suffering, it may help ease the mental burden people are suffering due to those.
In such an environment such rich elite find themselves in the outcast, hated minority – their lifestyle does not fit with the increasingly extreme religious atmosphere. Seculars, Atheists, people who live ‘promiscuous’ lives, people who are ‘too modern’, people who don’t look ‘pious enough’ – they end up to be the first ones to get thrown under the bus.
The rising religious elite takes over not only the control from the old elite, but also the wealth – through prosecutions for tax evasion, through economic measures, discrimination, the old elite in such countries find themselves persecuted, impoverished and totally cast out.
Its an“Either you are with us, or you are with them” situation – if you don’t play along with the rising religious extremism, you are persecuted as ‘other’.
There is no exception to this phenomenon – religious or ideological, in every country which went to extremes in economic inequality, this happened. From the Islamist revolution in Iran to all kinds of minor religious extremist takeovers in Middle East, to the increasingly radicalizing nationalist atmosphere in India, to Nazi Germany: All follow the same pattern.
The most ironical is the state of the conservative elite – these people, normally seen in the conservative or religious spectrum in normal times, increasingly become marginalized and seen as ‘not religious enough’ due to increasingly radicalizing religious atmosphere. If they do not comply and become more extremist, they are persecuted as well.
And it’s not a phenomenon in future either – it is already happening:
Former US House Speaker, Boehner, who was considered far to the right, had to quit his speaker position, citing that ‘in this environment of extreme radicalism, he could not keep serving as speaker anymore’. Paul Ryan, who came there on a tide of rising extremism which was spearheaded by tea party, took over the position.
The main driving force of recent GOP resurgence has been Tea Party, which since then became mainstream, and the main force in that movement were extremist evangelists who believe things that are disturbing not only for everyone among US elite, but also entire world: Atheists must be jailed, or even killed, homosexuals the same, even the ‘leftists’ (liberals, actually anyone who doesnt go along with them), earth is flat, and for the 2nd coming of Jesus of Nazareth, Israel must be propped up first and then destroyed by Arab states.
Boehner couldn’t tolerate it. He couldn’t fit in.
None of the current American elite, liberal or conservative, will fit in either. Except a very tiny minority who are already extreme. The attempts to appear to fit in don’t work either – either your past history is dug and you are outed and persecuted, or you are expected to totally fit in with ever increasing extremism, and when you can’t keep up, you are outed and persecuted.
Most furtive are the attempts to keep the status quo by pushing same neoliberal types and policies through whatever means:
Like in the case of Harris, Warren et al, who are open or closet neoliberals with neoliberal history, neoliberal backers, who would either water down or outright abandon any fix they may promise – if they promise anything at all – upon bidding of vested interests…
These are most dangerous in that they only exacerbate the situation by keeping the status quo, and as the wound festers and starts to boil, they keep a facade of normalcy or at least a false promise that things will keep going as they are.
Things don’t go as they are. Even if the status quo is kept through outright fascism and repression, things eventually boil and fester. It ends up worse, because by trying to artificially keep the status quo going for 5–10 years more, the dynamic caused by inequality gets ever stronger and the resulting explosion is much more devastating.
What we are seeing in the current ongoing primaries of Democrats is that the vested interests and the minority elite are heavily pushing the status quo via status quo candidates. By nook or crook, they are trying to keep things as they are.
They don’t want to part with a few percent of extravagant, trillions of dollars of hoarded wealth, even if it will cost total breakdown of their society and their own way of life. Which, in the case of US, a country with over 4000 nuclear warheads, may even bring about a world war and end entire civilization.
That’s not an ideological behavior, that’s not something economic, that’s not even something sane – this behavior comfortably fits in spectrum of obsessive-compulsive disorders, namely, hoarding.
So, Sanders is indeed understating the danger.