"I represented Wall Street!" Hillary Clinton proudly proclaimed during the first Democratic Party debate. At that moment it was clear that a great way to frame the divide in the Democratic Party, especially on the Too Big To Fail Issue, is to describe the wealthy former New York senator and her side as Wall Street Democrats. The Bernie Sanders / Martin O'Malley side, both with modest incomes and more progressive ideas about what should be done to rein in the giant financial institutions, should be described as Main Street Democrats.
Hillary and her #WallStreetDemocrats apparently believe that it is okay to continue to have financial institutions that are Too Big To Fail. Her plan is to always have enough complex rules and regulations in place to control their increasingly complex investment schemes.
#MainStreetDemocrats believe in a much simpler and less risky approach to guaranteeing that giant financial institutions will never again be bailed out by taxpayers. In addition to tough regulation of commodities, swaps, shadow banking, etc., they support the new Glass-Steagall Act -- sponsored by Senators John McCain, Elizabeth Warren, Maria Cantwell, and Angus King.
The original Glass-Steagall Act protected America from a financial crisis for over 70 years until it was repealed in 1999 with Bill Clinton's endorsement and signature. Less than ten years later we had the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The new law would break up the giant financial institutions into smaller Not Too Big To Fail companies. Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton is opposed to it.
If complicated regulations (e.g. 2,300 pages in the Dodd-Frank Act) or "revolving door" regulators fail to do their job and large corporations are again in danger of going under as they were in 2008, there would be no need to bail them out again with public money. Being smaller, they could be allowed to die as they should according to free market "survival of the fittest" principles -- without endangering the entire financial system.
That is a huge difference between the two sides of the Democratic Party. In fact, it could be seen as a test of the heart and soul of the Party. After the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and a massive taxpayer bailout, will the Party side with the wealthy Wall Street guys who caused it and are a tiny minority (the 1%) who benefit from having Too Big To Fail companies? Or, will the Democratic Party side with Main Street Americans, the vast majority who do not benefit at all from having giant infallible corporations? Polls have shown that this is one issue on which there is agreement from the far left to the far right.
When Hillary said that her plan "is tougher" than passing the new Glass-Steagall Act to break up the financial giants, CNN moderator Anderson Cooper should have jumped on that.
He should have asked, "As a wealthy person who has been paid millions of dollars by your Wall Street connections -- in speaking fees, campaign contributions, and donations to your family foundation -- why should anyone believe that you will be tougher on them than a candidate like Sanders who is not wealthy, opposed the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and has taken no Wall Street money?" He could have added, "To many hard-working Americans, your collection of $200,000 for a speech at Goldman Sachs looks a lot like taking a bribe or a payoff and they don't think you should be trusted. Do you understand their viewpoint?"
Pushing the Too Big To Fail issue into the election spotlight in 2016 will help Main Street Democrats. Since it is very difficult to defend high paying big bank speeches while saying you'll be tough on Wall Street - or explain why it's good for America to continue to have TBTF banks - more attention to this populist issue may also pressure Hillary to change her position on the new Glass-Steagall Act. With enough media attention, it's even possible that a maverick Republican candidate will also decide to support the proposed legislation since it is co-sponsored by the 2008 Republican presidential nominee.
If Too Big To Fail gets enough attention, it has the potential to be a huge swing voter issue in 2016. Many undecided voters, especially some of the millions who lost jobs, homes, or savings due to the Financial Crisis and Great Recession, could be convinced to vote for a candidate who is serious about breaking up the big banks that caused it. It could even help voter turnout by bringing out voters who believe that both parties are "owned" by big business, so they don't normally vote.
One way to draw attention to this issue, and the Main Street vs. Wall Street divide in the Democratic Party, is with a social media campaign. A Twitter Campaign will be much more effective than an online petition since so many influential people and all the candidates are already using Twitter.
If you believe what happened before, during, and after the Financial Crisis was wrong (e.g. the lies, manipulation, fraud, no one jailed, and the public bailout of giant banks), you can help. Be counted and help bring needed attention to this issue - simply follow, tweet, or retweet @MainStValues - and ask your friends to do the same. With all the attention a presidential election gets, 2016 is the year to build an online grassroots movement to help #DownSizeBigBanks.