The New Republic – July 13, 2017
Written by Matt Stoller
With Amazon on the rise and a business tycoon in the White House, can a new generation of Democrats return the party to its trust-busting roots?
On July 15, 2015, Amazon marked the twentieth anniversary of its founding with a “global shopping event” called Prime Day. Over the next 24 hours, starting at midnight, the company offered special discounts every ten minutes to the 44 million users of Amazon Prime, its members-only benefit program. The event was astonishingly successful: Amazon made 34 million Prime sales that day, nearly 20 percent more than it had on Black Friday, the traditional post-Thanksgiving buying bonanza. The company received almost 400 orders per second—all on a single, ordinary day in the middle of summer.
Prime Day is now an annual event; last year it marked the largest sales day in Amazon’s history. The sale has become a secular holiday, akin in its economic wallop and social ubiquity to Super Bowl Sunday or the Fourth of July. Today, nearly half of the nation’s households are enrolled in Prime. That’s more Americans than go to church every month. More than own a gun. And more than voted for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton last November. …
The Democratic Party’s about-face on monopolies wasn’t just bad for citizens and communities—it led to the disintegration of the party itself. In 1994, two years into Bill Clinton’s first term, Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives, which it had held more or less continuously since 1930. Today, Republicans not only control all three branches of the federal government, they also hold majorities in 32 state legislatures, along with the governorships of 33 states. As monopolization has returned in full force, the Democrats now hold less power at the state and local level than they have at any point since the 1920s—the very decade that sparked the rise of the chain store and the onset of the Great Depression. By turning their back on the Progressive-era philosophy of Brandeis and his fellow reformers, Democrats have effectively rendered themselves indistinguishable from pro-business Republicans.
“Today, while liberals and conservatives may argue about the size and scope of the federal government,” anti-monopoly activist Stacy Mitchell has observed, “support for breaking up and dispersing economic power finds expression in neither of the major parties.”