Economics is more about how we value things than it is about money. It's a way of saying "this is what your work is worth." For a long time now, the economy has been telling most Americans that they aren't worth much. It doesn't matter that the economy is actually a terrible judge of a person's value. It told Bernie Madoff he was worth more than almost all of us for years. When you can't buy Christmas presents for your children, you quickly forget that.  

A creeping doubt has insinuated itself further and further into the American psyche since 2007. Americans look at their hard work and their advanced degrees and they question why they still do so poorly. They ask themselves, "Why am I not good enough? What is wrong with me? Why don't I measure up?" That feeling is what op-ed writers and television pundits seem not to be able to quantify, and it explains why so many of their predictions have been wrong. It persists despite whatever improving economic indicator it is that policymakers care about today. President Obama says the economy is strong, but it doesn't feel that way to most of us.

What Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee 2020 Dem contenders travel to key primary states After Florida school shooting, vows for change but no clear path forward MORE (I-Vt.) has accomplished is to tap into that feeling and turn it into a potent political force. He has turned it by looking people in the eye and saying, "You are not worthless. A crime was committed against you, even though that crime seems unclear and ineffable somehow. You were violated by the system and by the corrupted powers that be." In many ways Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA MORE does the same thing, which is part of the reason why I think so many people instinctively compare the two. Both tell the people that their weakness is not their fault, but rather the fault of perpetrators in power. Where they differ is that Sanders promises to loudly acknowledge the crime and to hold the criminals accountable; Trump promises to make people strong, so that they cannot ever be hurt again. Both messages resonate because they fundamentally agree that the fault is with the system, the evidence of which has become more clear as time has passed. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump's SEC may negate investors' ability to fight securities fraud Schatz's ignorance of our Anglo-American legal heritage illustrates problem with government Dems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee MORE (D-Mass.) just recently listed some of the most egregious unpunished crimes of Wall Street. She could very easily have listed many more.

When Taylor Gipple says that young people consider Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWoman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Trump: CNN, MSNBC 'got scammed' into covering Russian-organized rally Pennsylvania Democrats set to win big with new district map MORE dishonest and inauthentic, he's right, and it's a very real problem for her campaign and whatever legacy she might hope to leave behind. The animating force of this election season has been the utter repulsion most people feel towards the establishment. Hillary has tried in recent days to act like more of firebrand who will challenge that establishment. It inevitably falls flat, though, because that system has so obviously worked to her benefit. She cannot possibly express credible outrage at something that has enriched her beyond the imagination of most ordinary people.

In our theory of government, my vote is supposed to count as much as Bill Gates's or George Soros's or David Koch's. How ludicrous that statement sounds out loud speaks to how far diverged we are from the idea of how our country is supposed to work. The point isn't to hate money, and I think Sanders needs to do a better job of conveying that. The point is to hate the many people who have used their immense wealth to project an outsized influence on our legal, political, and economic system, and to hate the way they have built that system to favor themselves at the expense of everyone else. That system is meant to guide our way as a society and to solve our problems. When it is decaying and corrupt, it cannot be relied upon for solutions. Only by first addressing that problem can other political progress be made. Only then can the American people be made whole.

Uebel works in credit risk.