What a drag it is getting old: I had a pretty good angle in mind for this post, but I seem to have forgotten it. Fortunately, Eleanor Goldfield inspired me with something she said in this week's Common Censored podcast. (Oops, sorry, that should be Eleanor Fucking Goldfield.)
About an hour in, instead of answering an earnest question from a listener as usual, Lee Camp reads a recent comment, posted in tortured English, about how he and Goldfield criticize Clintonites, Democrats, and liberals in general but do not criticize Donald Trump as frequently or forcefully, and concluding they must be Trump fans (or at least Trump apologists). The discussion winds its way to Goldfield reminding listeners that those millions of votes in 2016 Jill Stein and Gary Johnson allegedly "stole" from Hillary Clinton were not hers to begin with, similar to the way nobody is stealing the Supreme Court nomination from Judge Brett Kavanaugh because it isn't his yet.
Goldfield also invites the Clintonites to STFU about 2016 and Russiagate so they can turn their attention to the horrific policies the current administration is implementing—often with help from Democrats in Congress. Democrats, she adds, should furthermore quit kvetching about Ralph Nader "stealing" all those predestined Gore votes in 2000.
I don't know whether the author of the comment grew up in the United States or considers English his or her first language. For all I know, the comment was the product of a troll farm in Belarus. But it certainly illustrates the damage that dualistic partisan politics has inflicted upon Americans.
The Power of Two
We in the USA sure like our team sports, with just two sides going at it and only one of them emerging victorious. (Draws are anathema, which is why in the 1970s the North American Soccer League did its best to eliminate them.) Yeah, a small percentage of us are into golf, because at least that involves a ball and a stick.
We also seem to like business practices that eliminate competition until only two brands of anything remain in a position of dominance: Coke/Pepsi, Bud/Miller, GMC/Ford (with Chrysler rescued by a very unpopular government intervention).
We are conditioned from an early age, through our education and our media consumption, to believe that monopolies are un-American, but duopolies are cool. The NFL is officially not a monopoly; rather, it is a marketplace with 32 competing brands.
There may be hundreds of cable channels available, but media consolidation looks quite likely to narrow the field to two humongous corporate news and information generators within my lifetime. The financial banking sector is chewing its collective nails in anticipation of one of the three remaining mega-banks acquiring one of the others.
So, in the American mind, this country ain't big enough for more than the two political brands. We are programmed to believe that the two factions of the War & Wall Street Party, with names that don't really indicate what they stand for, are sufficient; that anyone who favors or even talks about third parties is just weird; that all votes must go one way or the other, as naturally as the gravity that pulls you down the hill.
Here's the fun part: All that consolidation narrowing consumer choices down was enabled—yea, even encouraged—by the D's and R's. So has the wholesale exportation of the kinds of jobs our post-WWII parents and grandparents could get with a high school diploma and raise a family on. So has the massive upward redistribution of wealth since 1980.
Because...capitalism, I guess.
So don't accuse me of holding out for the ideologically pure candidate of my dreams. At the national level in particular, both heads of the duopoly monster are evil. They just play "good cop, bad cop" on certain issues as a marketing tool. Those two heads have been gaslighting US voters for decades and saying, implicitly and explicitly, "Where else are you gonna go?"
To be woke is to shake off that gaslighting, to assert your personal sovereignty, to declare your independence from people and institutions that behave as if they own you.
Leaving the Donkey Plantation
Two additional bits of DIY media caught my attention today:
- Prof. Richard Wolff's Economic Update interview with some founders of the Black Socialists of America, and
- Mike Figueredo's Humanist Report analysis of Alisyn Camerota's recent focus group of six women who voted for Trump.
The Black Socialists group, like many such recently minted organizations, resulted at least partly from the very public shafting of Bernie Sanders, his voters, and his delegates in 2016. But it also came into existence because some young people noticed how the Democratic Party takes African Americans' votes for granted, as if it owns their votes, and has not acted to help them close gaps in income, wealth, health, education, and access to technology.
Sidenote: Sean and Z's reasons for starting a specifically Black socialist organization, rather than just joining up with existing groups, are instructive. They have found that the existing groups, frequently white-dominated as they are, don't really listen to the concerns of Black members, let alone act on them. Maybe #NotAllSocialistGroups, but it's true enough. Until those groups get more intersectional in practice, BSA can certainly work in coalition with them on issues where their goals overlap.
The one woman of African descent in Camerota's group interview stated flat-out that she became a Republican because, in her perception, local Democratic policies weren't just unhelpful, but were actually making conditions worse for Black America.
Do you recall that special US Senate election in Alabama, in which Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore? Do you recall the resulting narrative, that African American women turning out in huge numbers saved Alabama from being represented in the Senate by a known ephebophile? and how Progressives concluded that the Democratic Party had better start paying attention to the needs of its Black base, lest they sink deeper into the swamp of irrelevancy?
To add insult to irrelevance—and to invoke the venerable political philosopher Kanye West—Democrats' continued neglect of Black America, combined with continued enforcement of binary political thought, may result in even more African Americans voting Republican, convinced that they have nowhere else to turn.