Thursday, July 12, 2012

Election Year Blues

This time around, I am not able to participate in the election-year political tug of war on any meaningful level. That would assume there WAS a meaningful level upon which to relate to this entire mess.

Congress remains aggressively ineffective, Obama chides Congress for its idleness, and Romney points at the president and says, “Look! He hasn’t done anything in four years!” The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shocks the hell out of the entire world by deciding that a provision of the Health Care Act is constitutional based on Congress’ constitutional right to levy taxes—so now the conservatives can add “It’s a TAX!!!” to their arsenal of war cries against “Obamacare.”

Congress has become nothing more than a stage for political grandstanding, no longer a legislative body concerned with the business of running the country. I almost wrote “concerned with doing the business of the American people,” but I’m afraid that is exactly what they ARE doing. Because somewhere along the line, finger-pointing, side-taking and refusal to compromise became the business of the people. I am right, you are wrong, and the world will come to an apocalyptic end if we make any attempt to meet in the middle.

Meanwhile, the rich are getting richer, the poor and indigent are standing on the edge of genocide through hatred, greed and neglect, and the Middle Class is sliding down into the ranks of the New Working Poor. What is wrong with us, Mr. and Mrs. America? Why are we not only allowing this to go on, but standing on the sidelines pumping our fists and cheering?

Human history repeats and repeats itself, does it not? At least among “civilized” nations, anyway. The rich WILL have the power. And there is never enough—power or money—to satisfy them. They WILL have it all, at the expense of the rest of the populace. Then the common people revolt, and wrest their sustenance away from the rich. If chaos does not ensue, there might follow a period of prosperity for the Everyman… while the rich connive and scheme to once again hold all the marbles. Which they eventually do. And the cycle begins again.

How can we count the ways that the rich and powerful have historically schemed to hold and enhance their own status while keeping others safely without resources and firmly in their place? Religions, class/caste systems, monarchies—societal models which bestow the right to govern upon the rich simply by virtue of the fact that they ARE rich. And they mean to remain so.

In America, the rich have had to deal with the inconvenient concepts of “freedom” and “the American Dream.” It’s taken them a couple of centuries, but they’ve begun to get the hang of it. Here in the 21st century, they’ve enjoyed great success with the strategy of setting us—the “UN-privileged”—at each other’s throats. First, they tied up and absorbed enough of the nation’s resources to make the Not-Rich feel the pinch. Then, using the wonders of modern instantaneous communication—could there BE a better propaganda-spreading tool?—they’ve contrived to broadcast a poisonous brew of lies, half-truths, fire and brimstone, and irreverent “comedy” that got everyone covering their backs and eying their neighbors suspiciously. Throw on a heavy dose of aggressive nationalism (go abroad and start a couple of wars!) and that keeps the Great Unwashed occupied squabbling among themselves while the rich rob them blind.

And we fall for this…why?

People are just…gullible. Take away some of their comforts, make their lives a little harder, their struggles a little more fruitless, and they become even MORE gullible. They are looking for someone to blame; itching for someone to hate. All you have to do is show up in their living rooms and feed them your version of who’s to blame and whom they should hate and voila! you’ve got them right where you want them. You might even get them to swallow that the richer YOU get, the more excess riches will dribble off and fall on them. (Someone who is a better judge of human nature than I am figured that one out –I never would have believed anyone would be dense enough to buy it—and it seems to be working. Who knew?)

It occurs to me that this is not a new or original strategy.  A version of it, using the same understanding of the baser tendencies of human nature, has been in practice for a while in the Middle East.  A little more than a decade ago, it exploded in our faces.  After 9/11, Americans tried to comprehend why Muslims would conspire to come all the way to our shores and kill thousands of innocent people. Mystified, horrified, shell-shocked, we wailed:

“Why do they hate us so much?!”

The theory: A group of (rich) religious zealots spied an opportunity to become global players by conscripting an army that would march to whatever orders they gave it. All they had to do was appeal to an economically disenfranchised people, point a finger in our direction, and say, “They are the ones responsible for all your problems!”

Poor, broken, desperate people will follow anyone.

Think about this the next time a politician who makes or has inherited more money than you and your hundred best friends will see in a lifetime, or one who is on the payroll of such a person one way or another, points to an immigrant, or a welfare mom, or your unemployed neighbor and says, “They are responsible for all your problems.”

Here is the question we now need to be asking:

“Why do we hate each other so much?”

And when we figure it out, when the light finally dawns, we need to DO something about it.  Because “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good [wo]men to do nothing.” 

Participation beckons, after all...

1 comment:

  1. I find our current political situation extremely discouraging. The amount of money being spent to maintain the status quo is mind boggling. The Citizens United ruling has put even more power into the hands of the few who already have it and intend to keep it, even if it means attempting to buy the house, the senate and presidency. I could not agree more that one of the ploys they use is to appeal to the lowest common denominator - our ignorance and prejudices - to manipulate the masses and maintain control. Its terrible to watch it happening.