"GameStop" & Donald Trump Are the Same - Both Hijacked a Rigged Game

Thom plus logo Is America Up to the Task of Reforming Both the GOP and the Options Markets?

GameStop and Donald Trump are the same thing.

In both cases, outsiders saw a decaying, billionaire-run and corrupt insider-only system, figured out how it worked, and used that system's own corruption against it.

In the case of GameStop, it was the Robinhood app's relatively small technological innovation, or at least a business innovation, making it easy for average middle-class people to day-trade in the options market with virtually no fees and a friendly interface.

These "average person" outsiders on Reddit discovered that the stock options betting market had been cornered and rigged by a few dozen billionaires and their hedge funds, so they used Robinhood to place massive option bets against the billionaires, swinging the market itself.

Options trading started out as an important part of our economy, particularly for farmers, railroads and food processors. Farmers would sell an option to buy crops they'd just planted in the hopes of predictably getting a decent price for their work when their crops came in in the fall. Such commodity trades let railroads anticipate load and guaranteed food processors the time and price of the raw materials.

That kind of commodity option trading is still done in a few markets, like airlines buying jet fuel before it's even produced, but these days most of the options market (which has expanded from commodities to stocks) is just rich guys gambling.

The hedge fund billionaires' corner of the options market playground doesn't "lubricate the wheels of commerce" or do much of anything else useful in the real world, rarely adding actual value to anything in the economy, all while skimming billions into their own pockets.

The outsiders said, "Screw that!" and marched in and took over their own little corner of the stock options market, hugely upsetting the billionaires' poker game.

Donald Trump essentially did the same thing with the Republican party.

The post-Eisenhower GOP was rotten to its core and mostly an insider's game run of, by and for the billionaire class and the corporations that made them rich.

But being a political party that's principal devotion was to rich people and giant corporations was never a winning proposition; the innovation Richard Nixon brought in 1968 with his "Southern Strategy" was to bring white racists into the party by the tens of millions.

Reagan doubled down on that with his dog-whistle "welfare queen" speeches, and brought in the homophobes and anti-gay bigots by refusing for a full eight years to even say the word AIDS out loud, much less do anything about an exploding national health crisis epidemic.

Meanwhile, Reagan's liaison to the evangelical community, his VP's son George W. Bush, help wealthy televangelists swing conservative Protestants from being majority pro-choice in 1980 to majority antiabortion by 1984, and from politically neutral to identifying with the Republican Party.

During the Clinton years of the 1990s the GOP built strong bonds to the gun manufacturing industry through their front group, the NRA, bringing millions of formerly marginalized "gun nuts" into the party. Roger Ailes and his new, billionaire-funded Fox "News," helped them rebrand themselves as the party of rural America, and they picked up NASCAR and the Confederate flag as totems.

Even though the Republican Party consistently took the side of the billionaires, destroying labor unions, gutting workplace safety and killing off environmental protections, they successfully sold themselves as the party of America's blue-collar workers abandoned by Bill Clinton's "new economy" Democrats.

It was a particularly good strategy to get control the US Senate, because it doesn't take a lot of money or effort to influence just one or 2 million people, and each low-population state they could culturally and politically swing from Democratic to Republican meant two more 6-year-term senators. Low cost, high return.

And when you control the Senate, you control the judiciary, which let them seize another entire branch of government.

But the party was still, essentially, a scam. It had no core values other than supporting the interests of big business and the billionaire class, and even all the antiabortion fanatics, white supremacist gun nuts, and racists and misogynists weren't enough to win national elections.

No Republican president has won his initial election with a majority of the national vote since 1988.

Into this vacuum stepped Donald Trump, bringing actual policy positions to a party that had previously depended on bigotry and regional identification.

Trump said he was going to bring back the 60,000+ factories that Reagan, Bush, Clinton, et al had let the billionaires ship overseas.

He promised to give everybody in America health insurance, and do it cheaper than did Obamacare.

He assured Americans that he was going to "sock it" to the rich by raising their taxes; "It's going to cost me a fortune," he proclaimed.

These were all progressive policy positions that, since the Clinton years, had been marginalized within the Democratic Party. Trump essentially ran on Bernie Sanders' (or FDR's) platform, or at least a noticeable piece of it.

Trump saw a rigged game - something he knew well from his time in the real estate game - and stepped in and took it over, just like Reddit's trading outsiders stepped into and rattled the stock options market.

Both the GOP and America's options markets desperately need reform; both are corrupt, billionaire-run insider games. Hopefully America is up to the task.


Originally posted at thomhartmann.medium.com.


Riverplunge's picture
Riverplunge 3 years 21 weeks ago

The GOP:

One train wreck on top of another..

OnaM's picture
OnaM 3 years 20 weeks ago

A country that doesn't protect children and the most vulnerable has become immoral and hedonistic. Unfortunately, we have so lost our way that we need to teach morality and empathy, without that the human experimnent will fail.

cuz's picture
cuz 3 years 20 weeks ago

Good column Thom but you may have it twisted a bit.

It is not Donald Trump and GameStop or AMC that are the same, it is Donald Trump and the reddit bunch of average people that are the same.

You have railed on bloodsucking hedge funds for decades, I agree and I find them very comparable to the power hungry congress critters that pass laws totally created for them by lobbyists. Even Elizabeth Warren rushed to the aid of the hedge funds on Friday reinforcing the fact it was wise to boot her out of the democratic primaries.

The reddit group as you correctly labeled them, average middle class people, is very equatable to the group of early on Trump followers who thought they saw a way to throw sand in the machinery that is sadly in so much in need of repair.

Take your feelings about Trump out of the equation and remember it was running on populism which can bring us a Trump or Reagan every few years and both of whom were in stark contrast to the man currently in the Oval Office signing a record number of EO's put in front of him by people he does not even know. That number is 30 and counting and I would wager he cannot even name a third of what he has decreed as law with a stroke of his pen.

Trump was a loose cannon, Biden is a machine gun manned (pardon the gender identification) by a crew of individuals all with their own personal agendas where race, gender of choice, and being "the first" are a priority and all three trump capability.

Answer me this, your only child is very sick with a life-threatening issue, do you rush your child to,

A. Someone who happens to be the "first" doctor?

B. The most capable doctor?

Don't worry, be happy

cuz's picture
cuz 3 years 20 weeks ago

One more thought,

remember when senators got coronavirus
briefings before the public and sold off
millions of dollars in stocks before the
crash last year and faced no

consequences and no regulation? then
reddit made one stock into a meme and
they're talking about restructuring the
whole market.

rostasi 3 years 20 weeks ago

Doesn't all that spinning make you dizzy?

deepspace's picture
deepspace 3 years 20 weeks ago

spinning = lying

Notice how vicious lies about Biden and his crew are presented as facts as if they should be part of a reasonable discussion.

Notice the lack of sourcing.

Notice the clear pattern.

Legend 3 years 20 weeks ago

Cuz never has facts. It is only opinion.

Notice that we have a Press Secretary that actually gives Press Conferences. Notice that they treat the media with respect. Also no lies! Also they did not spend the first week bragging about the Inaugeration. Instead of keeping meetings with Putin secret, Biden releases the transcript.

Worn out door knobs's picture
Worn out door knobs 3 years 20 weeks ago

President Biden has issued 9 more Executive orders in his first week than the last eight administrations combined. Where is democracy?

Here were the results for the last eight administrations:

deepspace's picture
deepspace 3 years 20 weeks ago

spinning = lying

The sore losers are stumbling through the devastation and carnage all around them, still dazed and in denial after crawling out of the derailed Trump Train -- "The GOP: One train wreck on top of another.." - Riverplunge #1 👍

They haven't yet fully processed the fact they have faithfully supported and enabled a human monster and a traitor these four long, miserable years. And they will always share personal culpability for much of the death and suffering of so many. That stink won't wash off.

But how does one come to grips with something that monumentally stupid and immoral? Most Republicans probably won't. Denial and distraction are the easier paths. "Eyes are the mirror of the soul." It's simple -- just don't look in the mirror.

Here's only a glimpse of the horrible mess Biden inherited, the rest of which will take years to clean up:

Taking Trump's lead, his sadsack army of liars and losers are trying desperately to portray Biden as a doddering old fool unaware of his surroundings. That lie will also fail, just like all their other pathetic attempts to stay relevant.

rostasi 3 years 20 weeks ago

Really? You're suddenly concerned about executive orders -
especially when we have a variety of crises that have to be
attended to while facing an intransigent Republican Party?

Again, it is not supposed to "be" democracy,
but a way to restore democracy.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 3 years 20 weeks ago

Cuz #3: "Answer me this, your only child is very sick with a life-threatening issue, do you rush your child to, A. Someone who happens to be the "first" doctor? B. The most capable doctor?"

Ah... C. "Nearest" (n.e.a.r.e.s.t.): No time to rummage through goddamn paperwork, the Yellow Pages, or the internet for fckng credentials, numbers, addresses, etc., etc. (or to leave frantic messages on some computerized phone service because your regular doctor is out playing golf on the weekend and won't pick up). You call a damn ambulance right efing NOW! Go, go, go!

Or... D. Whatever, drive yourdamnself then and hope you pick up a police escort -- worry about the details later. You just rush like hell to the nearest emergency room, and you hand that little crumb-cruncher to the nearest team of excessively trained, more-than-capable doctors and nurses supplied with the latest knowledge, equipment, and technology.

Because this is a liberal democracy, all are widely available throughout America primarily because of, well, liberal Democratic platform policies hardwon over the decades, notwithstanding the devastating effects of overstepping privateers bleeding our lifeblood (literally) for exorbitant profits -- just more-of-the-same blood-money (literally) policies stacked high on the standard Republican platform.

Oh yeah, while on your bony knees bleeding on the hard floor, throw in a little prayer for Bernie, who's running the Senate Budget Committee. Maybe in the near future, all those corporate-slanted, outrageously expensive private insurance plans and supplements riddle full of legalese holes won't be breaking your fragile, paycheck-to-paycheck budget or won't, God forbid, give you a heart attack. Then you'd have to call two ambulances, a budget-breaker for sure.

And don't forget to thank your lucky stars that more COVID economic stimulus is coming down the pike, eh? More of that evil socialism, wink, wink.

E. Don't worry, be happy }:--))

stopgap's picture
stopgap 3 years 20 weeks ago

AMERICANS, WE’VE BEEN HAD!!!!!!! What the hell is the cape for? Why is it that Superman and other Superheroes wear capes? Capes don’t do a damn thing. They certainly don’t help Superman fly. In fact, if anything, they are a liability causing drag that can slow down the Superheroe’s flight. Or his cape could get caught on some sharp object as Superman comes crashing through a wall or window or caught up in some kind of machinery when he’s saving a factory from enemy saboteurs. How embarrassing would that be?

Ok, the skintight leotards, etc have been vindicated and validated by Olympic athletes, but you don’t see any of them wearing capes do you? Could you imagine speed skaters, bicyclists, hockey players or gymnasts wearing a cape. They would be laughed out of the arena.

Maybe Batman can justify wearing a cape when he stretches it out at arms length to look more like a bat. But Robin has no use for a cape at all.

Still, for all these years we’ve been bamboozled into believing that the cape is some special, magical presence that is a necessary piece of Superhero attire.

I say balderdash! Superman, lose the cape!!!

rostasi 3 years 20 weeks ago


Legend 3 years 20 weeks ago

Never wore one myself so cannot comment.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 3 years 20 weeks ago

And, why do superheroes wear their underwear outside of their tights?

Haha, since the new right-wing talking point of executive orders is a meaningless canard and ridiculous distraction, veering wildly off-topic discussing comic-book heroes' attire makes more sense and is more interesting.

stopgap's picture
stopgap 3 years 20 weeks ago

Now that I think of it, Republicans have become the very personification of Comic Book Villains! It’s hard to believe that anyone in real life can be as ridiculous as the current crop of Qanon fools that have taken over the Grand Old Party. Not that they haven’t been crazy for decades. Now they have taken the next step from mentally ill to criminally insane.

cuz's picture
cuz 3 years 20 weeks ago

As the sanity of the republicans is questioned, I wonder how many here actually read their own comments?

A psychology student could do a term paper on some of the ravings here.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 3 years 20 weeks ago

They could teach a whole course on just your comments alone.

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