Sunday, May 15, 2016

Where's OUR Political Party?

What we're experiencing this year is a wave of righteous anger at the perversion of our democracy.

But let's focus on why we're angry, rather than on where that anger takes us. 

Yes, it takes us to fervid support of a 75 year-old socialist and a narcissistic reality-TV figure who'd be comical in any other context. (I don't equate them: Sanders has a clue, while Trump cares only about Trump.)

The secret to their appeal ain't a secret. Trump shouts, “I'm pissed off!” Most people are, and many flock to support him. Desperate, voters don't notice that the billionaire is acting angry and that if he truly were angry it wouldn't be for the same reasons we are. People who aren't racist or xenophobic ignore those qualities in him. Christians ignore his obvious misogyny and profanity – and even rationalize supporting him by saying that God is using Trump for His own good purposes. 

“At least he's getting everyone disturbed,” a local Tea Party leader remarked recently. Voters are screaming for an end to business-as-usual.

Our “democracy” has become more and more of an oligarchy in recent years. Inequality has risen steadily, as the wealthy have used their influence to make it that way. “Carried interest” loopholes, union-busting, “privatization” of public functions, extraordinarily low taxes on the wealthy, “free” trade agreements, corporate “incentives” and tax dodging, Citizens United, etc. It's a strong web woven without your welfare or mine in mind.

And the “program” is to widen the gap: still-lower taxes; a government too weak to defend us from price-fixing shenanigans; false advertising; unhealthy products and dangerous financial games approved by revolving-door watchdog agencies staffed by folks fresh from Wall Street or Big Pharma; and a steady combination of voting restrictions and gerrymandering to weaken our electoral voice. 

We feel the economic squeeze. But the oligarchy is adept at convincing us that its goals are ours. “Libertarianism” sounds great when it's about smoking dope, loving whom you please, owning guns, or belching and farting loudly, but what it really means is freeing the Kochs from those nagging penalties for dumping mercury in the water. 

Small government sounds like more money for each of us (and fewer speeding tickets), but it likely means less money, with corporations even more free to price-gouge, sell us worthless stuff, and poison us in myriad ways. 

The oligarchs are also great at convincing us that it's all the fault of welfare mothers and people with unconventional sexuality. While corporations rob us blind and feed us poisonous food and drugs, the news is full of bathroom wars. 

Both parties deserve blame. The Republicans represent rich folks and corporate ownership. The Democrats represent a managerial / bureaucratic / technocratic class that's also doing well. Neither represents the poor, or the average working-class schlump (of whatever color and faith) sitting in a favorite chair watching network TV and drinking Budweiser. 

Make no mistake: in our current situation, I see a real difference: Democrats will nominate better judges, be more open to folks who look or act differently, and even, when it's convenient, push for economic equality. Republicans will hew closer to the über-rich agenda. Democrats at least recognize a human component to climate-change. Environmental concerns used to be a bipartisan issue, but Republicans have declared all-out war against science.

In a more perfect world we'd have a party for us. Not a party for Big Oil and Big Pharma and McDonald's and Walmart. A party for us plain people who don't hate anyone or need to be filthy rich, but want a just and healthy world.

[The above column appeared this morning, Sunday, 15 May, in the Las Cruces Sun-News and will appear later this morning on the KRWG-TV website under News --> Local Viewpoints.  I invite comments and criticism at either or those sites, or here.]

[I kind of anticipate that this column will piss off a lot of local readers who frequently agree with me: there's a significant difference between the two parties, it's important to elect Democrats this year, so where's the appreciation for the Democratic Party?   Fair enough; but one needs to try to speak the truth, as one sees it, even to friends.  Perhaps particularly to friendsIt would be fair to ask why I assume Bernie Sanders won't be the Democratic nominee, and/or don't express more appreciation of him.  And I don't mean to lump him together with Donald Trump.   But I do mean to express empathy with folks who are tired of both parties.]

[A friend re-posted a Facebook message that “When a faithfully married black president who was the son of a single-mother, the first black editor of Harvard Law Review, and a professor of constitutional law is considered unintelligent, immoral, and anti-American by the right while a xenophobic, misogynistic, “serially philandering,” trust-fund kid who quotes from the National Enquirer, peddles conspiracy theories, routinely calls women ugly and fat, calls McCain a loser for having been a prisoner of war, and who has advocated torture and the bombing of women and children has captured the hearts of a majority of Republicans, this is white-supremacy, folks. Plain and simple.”
There's some merit in that: and in many ways I think the Obamas have been a breath of fresh air, serious and graceful people whose ambitions are mixed in with a healthier portion of good intentions and intelligence than we find in most recent presidents; but I also heard from folks pointing out that we've continued to fight wars in the Middle East, and assassinate people there, and the huge economic inequality has continued to increase during recent years.  Some folks who say "A plague on both your parties" aren't racist and aren't repeating what they heard on hate radio.
I never forget that my first vote for president was cast for Eldridge Cleaver.  The huge sores in the U.S. Government didn't seem to me small enough to be covered by the bandaid Hubert Humphrey seemed to be.  We got Nixon.  Years later, admittedly older, I thought a Gore Presidency would be sufficiently better than a Bush Presidency that my daughter's campaigning for Ralph Nader was unfortunate.  Now?  I sympathize with the desire to sit this one out, or vote Libertarian (although as noted above, the Libertarians, who once ran a Koch brother for national office, are not the answer: express your distaste for spending all our money on unnecessary foreign wars and corporate tax-breaks, and get a government that would diminish our protection from corporate malfeasance and appoint reactionary corporate pawns to the Supreme Court?), but race go to the polls to vote for the Democratic nominee against a Trump or a Cruz or a Ryan.  The differences between the Democrats and the Republicans are too significant for me to waste my vote protesting the definite imperfections of the Democratic Party.]


  1. Sitting it out needs to be coupled with a mass uprising.

    As for Trump's seemingly unstoppable juggernaut, I've posted this before...

  2. Your last sentence says it all, cuz.

  3. Your last sentence says it all, cuz.