• I Voted For…

    November 4, 2020

    Posted in: Democracy

    I’m voting for change. But I’m playing the long game.

    Short term issues can be important — petty overseas wars tend to freeze progress at home and tax policies can feed growth or failure — but I am keeping one eye further down the road. But I believe the fundamental issue facing the United States is economic inequality. It controls or influences pretty much everything else. You know the numbers; over the last 30 years, wage inequality in the United States increased substantially, with inequality now approaching the extreme level that prevailed prior to the Great Depression. CEOs in 1965 made 24 times more than the average production worker, whereas in 2009 they made 185 times more. There are 750,000 homeless Americans. Some 21 percent of American children live in poverty. Households in the top 10 percent own 90 percent of the stock market, similar for real estate and other assets. We are two different nations.

    This is a long-term trend, untethered to Republicans or Democrats. It exists independent of Roe, LGBT rights, and while you can tease out racial and other factors (blacks remain the poorest of the poor, women fare worse economically than men) those are distractions, misdirection a magician uses so you’re looking the wrong way when he hides the card. The real action is the accumulation of capital by fewer people who acquire it from those below them. Until slavery ended human beings were considered capital resources, just like owning stocks today. Now we’re “human resources” so everything’s better. Bringing up race just hides the real story of how long this has been going on and how deeply it is a part of our way of life. The line between controlling someone with a whip and controlling someone through debt and low wages gets finer and finer over time. The perks are still better on one side of the line but the fundamentals continue to narrow the gap.

    Stock ownership was at its peak in 2002 when 67 percent of Americans owned stock. The Great Recession drove the earnings of those below the median household income down to where the typical household now owns essentially zero financial assets. Many who once owned their homes now rent. The rich got richer, and will continue to do so. We are on the threshold of a fully disengaged sub-society, one so rich it has its own schools and airplanes, lives literally hundreds of feet in the air above us in apartment towers built like castles for defense, has its own health care system and private security, and its own tailored political and tax structure. It has the ability to abandon the rest of us for self-sustaining yachts and private islands when something like COVID arrives suddenly. Absent a few hobbyist-celebrities and so-called philanthropists who emerge periodically like cicadas from their burrows to scold us, or offer solutions they profit from emotionally if not financially, what happens to roughly 90 percent of Americans is irrelevant to the other 10 percent. The ratio is headed toward 99.9 and .01 percents. They don’t know and they don’t care. That is not a democracy or even a good way to run a bowling league. It is an apartheid of dollars.

    The only mainstream modern-times candidate to emerge since perhaps Henry Wallace who understands this would have been a poor president. I voted for Bernie Sanders in 2016, and would have liked the chance to do so again; his being crudely swiped left offstage twice by the Democratic party establishment is as much proof as anyone needs to see how none of what is happening to our country is by accident. It is as scripted as a soap opera.

    Bernie might have beaten Donald Trump in 2016, and gone on to fail nearly completely. Bernie has spent his entire career being a pain in everyone’s political *ss, the guy when everyone is tired and just wants to vote and go home and the chairperson says “So if we’re all in agreement…” stands up to play devil’s advocate. Bernie had no mechanism to enact much of anything beyond maybe a piece or two of showpiece legislation along the likes of Obamacare, looks good on paper, does little in reality. Sanders would have been overwhelmed by foreign events, crushed in his midterms, tired and bitter at the end of his term. He would have been an imperfect, maybe terrible, president, but a necessary step, same as those awful nights that lead to redemption in detox.

    Instead the desire for change bubbled to the surface with Donald Trump. A privateer who knew to tell injured people who to blame, basically anyone but him or themselves. You choose, it doesn’t matter because it is all symptoms not disease. The Mexicans, or hell, all immigrants, the blacks, the liberals, the Chinese, whatever. It wasn’t your fault, and I see you out there in pain. Trump was the ultimate politician, zero ideas and 100 percent commercialization of people’s rage. In this sense he was more Obama than anyone wants to admit, albeit selling Anger instead of Hope, but selling selling selling and nothing much more nonetheless. A man of his times. Talk about being the right guy in the right place. He wasn’t a fluke, he was inevitable.

    Though the media’s abandonment of any commitment to objectivity in favor of ideological activism has clouded the reality of Trump, history will see him as remarkably mediocre. Not much happened. Not much changed. All the essays about America at civil war will be forgotten. Trump will get some credit for dialing back war abroad. Picking three Supremes may matter or may not in the long run. Perspective will show there wasn’t really all that much absent some nicer messaging anyone could have done with COVID, a global phenomenon with over 38 million cases in countries not presided over by Donald Trump. Most of the rest of Trump’s “accomplishments,” things like immigration reform via executive order, will be overturned at some point same as Trump overturned those which came before him. On the fundamental issue of economic inequality, Trump was Obama who was Bush who was… Faced with an economic crossroad, each made the rich richer and widened the gap. Every. Single. Time.

    But I can’t vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. They would not be a bad president in the sense that Trump, Obama, et al were not bad, just status quo. Biden, either by dying in his term or not really giving a whit, will allow bad decisions on feel-good identity politicals. There will be lots of posing, lots of chest pounding defenses of settled things like various civil rights, constant accusations of racism everywhere without any resolution, intellectual Sudoku to pass the time. Oh the ernest op-eds which will be written!

    But a Biden/Harris win would more than anything else confirm not changing, locking in forever the current spiral of economic inequality. A reset to 2015. One-term Trump will forever be dismissed as a fluke, a novelty act in favor of Biden, the same as it ever was pol, Harris the Gumby of not-so-strongly held beliefs and a cynical nod to identity politics. A woman! Of color! Sort of an immigrant! It’ll be a long four years for anyone still thinking about when it used to be wrong to judge people by the color of their skin. Race is just a marketing tool for votes, fruit flavored vape to bring in the kiddies. I otherwise have no idea what Biden/Harris stand for or will try to accomplish and that’s a poor grounds for my support.

    Some 60 percent of Americans tell pollsters the nation needs a viable third party but then turn around and won’t vote for one because, in a self-fulfilling prophecy, voting third party somehow means the worst two party candidate ends up winning. Third party fails because we don’t trust it enough to give it the votes it needs to succeed. I hear loud and clear Democrats, from the Obamas on down, telling me I would be wrong to vote third party again, naive, a closet Trump or even Putin supporter. The wrong guy will have the nuclear codes, so I will literally be responsible for Armageddon. Hard to build a movement around possible responsibility for ending all life on earth. We might as well write “better of two evils” in Latin on our coins.

    I guess I can stay home, the functional equivalent of hiding out in the monastery coloring in manuscripts while medieval society devolves around me. Hmm, sounds like another plague out there, better close the window. But if I vote Biden/Harris I am endorsing the trumpet call of the Democratic Party against change. It would be comfortable; as long as you don’t change channels, everything makes sense.

    When I vote Trump I am telling the Democrats they failed, again, and they may realize they must become something of a third party in 2024 or they will functionally no longer exist, pretend opponents like those teams who played against the Harlem Globetrotters years ago. A Trump win could be a wake up call to the Democratic establishment that they have to deal with real desire for change, not ignore voters, or try to scare us into abandoning our conscience and principles by trading (again) short term goals for long term progress. Dismissing such a vote as only sending a message dismisses the importance of the message.

    For those who support Biden for some perceived short term gain, please, vote that way. But don’t disparage the rest of us for believing we can do better. Too many have accepted, election after election, the long con. Give an even longer view a chance.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

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  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...

      1

      I guess the message here is continue the ruse of voting your preference whether it be Trump, Biden, third party or even a write in but don’t expect socialism to be anything other than the dreaded third rail of politics. Everybody wants America to remain the land of ‘get rich quickly and easily’. Without that lure who would want to be here or even sneak in? The poor, marginalized, persecuted, and disadvantaged aim to be rich not socialists.

      11/5/20 1:14 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      2

      Where should the Trump team cenotaph eventually be erected? What about right in the middle of 5th Avenue? Their individual deaths 40 years from now perhaps in a scattering of remote Paraguayan villages would be a logistics nightmare.

      11/8/20 11:37 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      3

      On second thought: there should be a cenotaph right in the middle of 5th avenue honoring the needless Covid casualties of the incompetent Trump administration.

      11/8/20 3:00 PM | Comment Link

    • Marcus Mehlmar said...

      4

      Well said and well done. I have no criticism of either the topic as presented or the writing style, which rocks.

      11/9/20 11:16 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      5

      I voted for Biden because I hoped Biden in his geezerhood would be even more cautious in military interventions than Trump even though that could be a naive miscalculation.

      I don’t know who PVB voted for or if he abstained as a viable protest. He can say it is none of my business or anyone else’s business. I’d like to know. Remaining secretive would be discretionary but not courageous in my opinion. I sense we need more courageous public writers today instead of cautious ones.

      11/11/20 9:18 AM | Comment Link

    • Joe said...

      6

      Interesting results. My takeaways:

      1. It cracks me up that Democrats are puzzled that Trump and his supporters are not accepting Biden’s victory; didn’t the Dems do that for four years after 2016, with all their crapola about Russiagate etc.??? Hypocrisy at its finest! (Not saying that the Republicans aren’t hypocrites too, they are; just that the Dems expect us to believe they’re the ones who walk on water, or well … whatever it is “people of science” who are never wrong walk on.)

      2. So I guess it’s all gonna come down to the GA Senate races; who woulda thunk? On the one hand most Dems are hoping they’ll take both seats as you’d expect, and thus control the Senate. But others … Well without the Republicans controlling the Senate, how will the DNC be able to blame Mitch McConnell for any failures of the Biden administration? Sure they’ll try to pin any and all failures on Anti-Christ Trump for the next century, but if by the mid-terms the economy isn’t better and COVID hasn’t gone away, will swing voters buy that? And if the Dems also control the Senate, what excuses will they be able to give to progressives within their own party for why things are probably going to be back to “business as usual” under Joe. My guess if that happens? Chickenhawk Joe will flex his muscles in some overseas adventure to show what a “tough guy” he is, and also make nice with the MICC. The more things change …

      11/14/20 5:41 PM | Comment Link

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