The financial crisis that broke out a decade ago was a long time in the making, and a long time in the playing out. The speed and scale of the initial destruction were breathtaking. It was caused by reckless lending practices, Wall Streeet greed, lax government oversight in the George W. Bush years, and deregulation of the financial sector in the Bill Clinton years. The deepest source, going back decades, was rising inequality.
The Crash wiped out nine million jobs, took away nine million homes, erased retirement accounts, and pushed large numbers of Americans out of the middle class. At first, our American institutions responded with signs of health. But our democracy turned out to be unwell.
Rather than help save the economy that their party had done so much to wreck, Republicans, led by Senator Mitch McConnell, chose to oppose every Democratic measure, including Wall Street reform. In doing so, they would impede the recovery and let the other party take the fall. It was a brilliantly immoral strategy, and it pretty much worked.
The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street rose up as opposite expressions of anti-establishment rage. The left turned its anger on corporations and banks; the right blamed bureaucrats, minority groups, and immigrants.
Economically, our country has changed surprisingly little since 2008. Banks have returned to risky practices. Republicans want to undo Dodd-Frank. The income/wealth distribution is as lopsided as ever. Wages are flat. Corporate profits and stock prices are soaring. All the misshapen economic trends of the previous decade are still with us.
American democracy is ten years unhealthier.