Outside of violent crime, one of the worst things a person can experience is betrayal; that is believing in someone or something and then being hurt by the sincere belief.
Up until a few weeks ago, millions of hard working Americans who play by the rules thought they were doing the responsible thing by investing in U.S. companies. Many of these folks were saving for retirement or for their child’s education by buying stocks and bonds from what they thought were responsible institutions. No one mentioned that a massive fraud was occurring in many of these brokerage houses and banks. No one told the folks that the system was rigged.
So, when their investments suddenly vanished in the chaos of sub-prime mortgage corruption, many Americans felt the sting of betrayal and it has left them bitter. After all, they did the right thing and got punished because corruption and greed was allowed to go unchecked by the federal government which is supposed to provide strict oversight.
That is the backdrop of the Presidential vote this year. On September 21st, John McCain was tied with Barack Obama in many national polls and running ahead of Obama in most battleground states. Three weeks later, McCain was well behind.
It’s not that Senator Obama is picking up steam. According to the Gallup Daily tracking polls, Obama’s numbers have stayed about the same since mid-September. But McCain’s polling has totally fallen apart. He’s getting pounded primarily because he’s a Republican and the party holding the White House when the economy implodes always gets hammered. Just ask Jimmy Carter and Herbert Hoover.
What is somewhat inexplicable is that neither McCain nor Obama seem to understand the betrayal factor. Neither of them mentioned it in the debates. They both campaign as though the financial chaos is just another in a long line of problems. But it’s not. People will remember this debacle as long as they live. It’s like their money was stolen from them.
And in a way it was. When a guy like Stanley O’Neal can run Merrill Lynch into the ground and walk away with $100 million while stockholders see their investments evaporate, that is a moral crime. When Congressman Barney Frank, the House financial committee chairman, tells the country in July that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are “fundamentally sound” and two months later they collapse, that needs to be investigated.
When Senator Christopher Dodd, the chairman of the Senate finance committee, accepts a sweetheart mortgage from Countrywide Credit and, shortly afterward, that company implodes, well, maybe some legal authority should investigate. Or am I wrong?
Betrayal is a terrible thing and the folks were badly betrayed by the American financial system. My question is: Who’s gonna do something about it?