This is intended for Trump voters, especially those making less than $150,000 a year and the millions who believed they were extending the middle finger salute to the establishment.
Let me begin by recounting a Hillary Clinton fundraising campaign speech from 2016 in which she made some deeply disparaging comments about half your number, calling them “deplorables.”
She also spoke about another “basket” of Trump supporters she described as “people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, … nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. … These are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.” This second basket of Trump voters would amount to some 37 million in 2020.
The issue here isn’t that this description of your plight is wrong but that there wasn’t a scintilla of sincerity and conviction behind it. As they shed their crocodile tears, neither Clinton, Obama before her, nor Biden now, has ever had the slightest interest in solving any of your real problems.
Recall Biden’s recent assurances to Wall Street funders that “nothing will change” under a Biden presidency. As you certainly realize, other than for pandering for your votes, the corporate Democrats have zero respect for you, can’t believe you’re still falling for their con job and laugh at you behind your backs.
Now — and this will be a sticking point for many of you but please hear me out — the attitude I’ve just described applies equally to those who fund and control the Republican Party. All the evidence suggests that Trump’s policies helped the rich get massively richer while not addressing your real-life daily grievances, the ones caused by obscene economic inequality and narrowly concentrated wealth and power.
The harsh reality is that neither the Schumers nor the McConnells are on our side. While local elections allow some citizen input, the higher the office the more one encounters a bipartisan phalanx peeing on our shoes and telling us it is raining.
The attitude of Wall Streeters, big business owners, the leisure class, those with immense inherited wealth and those highly compensated for serving them is this: “We’ve got ours. We want things to stay this way — unless of course, we can get even more.” Meanwhile, the standard of living for ordinary citizens continues to plummet.
Every four years they let us choose between two candidates who have already been carefully vetted to guarantee their fealty to the existing order of things. And it’s important to have two candidates because otherwise people might begin to suspect we live in one of those one-party states they’ve always warned us about.
The late George Carlin, one of the greatest social critics ever — really the Mark Twain of our time — often spoke about the real owners of the system, the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. He sagely said, “Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give the idea that you have freedom of choice … The real owners spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. … It’s a big club and you ain’t in it. … They don’t care about you at all — at all — at all.”
The only thing these people would lose sleep over is if the rest of us, some 80% of the population, began to grasp that we have more in common with one another than we previously realized.
And the elites’ ultimate nightmare is that out of that realization would emerge first, a mass movement and then a new political party to bring about the changes we so desperately need and deserve. We should begin in earnest to make their nightmare a reality.
Finally, in addition to yourselves, combinations of the following groups will also continue to be shafted by both parties: former Bernie Sanders’ supporters; Black, Hispanic and Indigenous people; rank-and-file union members; unemployed, under-employed and soon-to-be unemployed; younger millennials; white workers in rural America; nonbelievers and some evangelical Christians; the one-third of voting age population that didn’t vote because they’ve become too discouraged; working class immigrants; low-wage service workers, and seniors struggling on fixed incomes and fearing the loss of Social Security and Medicare.
Race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality and nationality are just some of the scams and scapegoats that the Lords of the Universe deftly deploy to divide us and divert our gaze from economic and political reality in the United States.
I submit that if we could see through and beyond their devious tricks, we would be virtually invincible. It’s too long for a bumper sticker but “Our rulers and their enablers have two parties to advance their interests. We need one to look after ours.”
Gary Olson is professor emeritus of political science at Moravian College. He wrote this column for the Morning Call.
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