From the gilded age to the gilded cage
Greetings C99'ers. I know it's been a while from a resident ranter, reason being i had to pretty much disconnect. After Trump's victory my now rather estranged friends (and unfriends) on the left have well... I guess not changed is a diplomatic turn of phrase. And trying to get through to them has been draining. And with my personality politics has a habit of becoming all consuming, it turns me into a person I'd rather not be.
But looking back at my last couple essays It's depressing exactly how little has changed. From Russians in the closet to Nazis under the bed, to punching left on everyone from the greens on down, to having fully forgotten it feels like the values the party I once believed in once held...
It hurts, it really does... I still haven't gotten over the betrayal I witnessed during the primaries. That cemented a mistrust starting at the Dean scream in stone. Fairly certain I never will get over it either. If one thing hasn't changed it's my belief that both parties are hopelessly corrupt. As I see ACO gracing the cover of vanity fair while walking back every primary position? Controlled opposition is too nice a term. And let's not forget Howie either, as these days he's little more than a shill for insurance companies lined up at the taxpayer trough for those yummy ACA handouts. As a feckless party did squat for single payer despite having ample chance to do so. Didn't have the votes? Yeah right. Two heads, one snake, and I treat both equally as my enemy. Much to the consternation and confusion of said Democrat friends (Though these days I differentiate between Democrat and Liberal)
So what has me back now? It's an election year of course, and the vote shaming, the blue wave, the guilt trips, the MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF OUR LIVES!!!!! is hitting the mailers flooding my mailbox like the 275,342 most important elections ever before it. And my cynicism is in full swing as well as my opposition to voting period, I honestly don't see the point of replacing one bomb dropping banker puppet with another, when the only thing that changes is the letter in front of the person screwing us. Far as I'm concerned it's...
Republicans: You're screwed and so is the planet.
Democrats: You're screwed and so is the planet, but you get LGBT rights on the way down.
And as I've told friends, your gender, orientation, social status, race, all of it is pretty much pointless when you can't drink the water or breathe the air, dead is dead. And dead from recent reports looks to be 12 years away at best. And the dems response?
useless as ever.
But don't tell that to the assist...ahem "Resistance" Can't you see it Jesse, see the threats we face! Look at Kavanaugh for instance, and the trampling of women's rights!
As Schumer fast tracks federal appointments so dems can go home and pretend to care.
And the DNC says they would still support any dem that voted for him
Me: Do you plan on talking at any point how Kav has a HORRIBLE record on the 1st and 4th amendments? How he had his fingerprints all over Bush era torture memos? His pro corporate stances?
Dems: CAUSE WOMEN!
Dems: We have to get them mad, get them to the polls! Get them to stand up against Trump and the sexism in the GOP!
Me: . . . Because that worked so well the first time. By any chance do you plan on actually say addressing wage inequality? Or any actual issue that might actually help women?
Dems: Wait you mean actually do something besides bank on anti trump sentiment to win? But ID pol is the way to win!
Me: And when you get Trump out, what have you won?
Dems: As another recent post put it you get the stare, then, "...BUT WE HAVE TO VOTE THEM OUT!"
And that's the part I have yet to get an answer on, it's a fun game though I invite others to try. Ask them that if they get everything they want, Trump gone, a blue wave in congress, a majority for the Democratic agenda. What have they won? They took back control? Control of what? What's the point of getting a shot at driving the bus when the seat belts are busted and the wheels are falling off? Who cares who controls a corrupt to the core system when the system itself is the problem? Who cares if you vote out the noisy Nazism of the Republicans if you replace them with the quiet Orwellian police state of the Democrats? With a side of endless war regardless?
Yes yes Trump bad, but what makes you any better? After all lets take a look at some of the things Bombs and bailouts . . ahem . . hope and change actually did.
* Assassinate US citizens with drone strikes. And their children
* Repeal the Propaganda ban, making it legal to spread government propaganda via news outlets.
* Use the Espionage Act to prosecute more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. Including the prosecution of Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning
* Brokered $278 billion in weapon sales, double that of Bush, a majority of which are backing the Saudis
But remember, only Trump has blood on his hands from a Saudi connection.
* Despite campaign pledges, worked to modernize and increase America's nuclear arsenal
* Drop bombs on 7 Muslim countries.
(Too many links to count)
* Initiated, and personally oversee a 'Secret Kill List.'
* Deploy Special Ops to 138 countries in 2016 - nearly double than under Bush.
* Mandate the Insider Threat Program which orders federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues.
* Sign a new the Patriot Act extension into law.
* End his term with 26171 bombs across the middle east, after 8 years of endless war
And of course lets ask out Democrat friends to have a moment of honesty. If not even HALF of that were being done by Trump how fast would (or should) they be actually resisting?
But I guess a winning smile and a cool personality makes the snake oil go down easier? This is the problem right here, Democrats and others unable to realize Trump isn't an aberration. He's business as usual. The only difference is he's the skin pulled off to see the alien reptile overlords underneath. (points for the sci fi fans who get that reference) He's not the disease, he's the end result.
Meanwhile the complete utter lack of accountability, the fact Democrats are pathologically incapable of facing themselves in a way that would make Dorian Gray blush, is beyond infuriating. But what can you expect from a party that tries this brand of twisted logic to Justify calling Ivanka Trump a "c-word" When going off the deep end about that term being used by the right?
The fact that this mind warping excuse for the inexcusable is being uttered by the author of the Obama boys and Bernie bro hit pieces, someone who has made a history of turning any criticism of the party and her highness into sexism makes it all the more hilariously hypocritical too. How she could write this with a straight face is beyond me.
Lord knows I've tried to point his and others out too, and I've been called every name under the sun, but it's never really bothered me much until this week, call it the trigger for this rant. And I didn't have words for it until a comment from Can't Stop the Signal that resonated perfectly with what I'm facing.
This is done to make it near impossible to voice a genuinely left-wing opinion in this country, because you can either cheer on the distorted versions of left-wing beliefs and causes--which means that you're supporting the current homicidal, and indeed psychotic power structure--or you can critique those distortions--in which case, you're liable to look like you disagree with the old liberal verities about race, gender, and sexual orientation. If you choose the latter, you will be called a bigot or at least a right wing sympathizer, and some of the people who see you that way will genuinely believe it. Which is the worst of all, because it divides people of good will. The sockpuppets and trolls, especially the paid ones, can fuck off; the real damage they do does not lie in their insults but in the ways their discourse effectively sets good people at odds, making it seem that one cannot pursue the old left-wing goals AND be against bigotry of all kinds.
Or as I call it this week. When the second closest person to me in my life, a friend of 20+ years and I nearly derailed that friendship over my refusal to participate in a rigged voting process.
Now granted I can understand her reasoning and her fear. Since I've known her she's come out as Trans, she sports a hammer and sickle tattoo, and she's Jewish. So you can imagine how Trump declaring himself a nationalist went over with her. On top of his recent anti trans policy statements.
As she put it, "DON'T YOU ******* DARE SIT THIS ONE OUT!" And my attempt to offer a rational explanation of my viewpoint, "I don't think my voting out Trump is saving you, it's just turning you over to a different jailer." withered in a firestorm of fear fueled rage. Complete with being told that I was putting my principles ahead of the lives of her and other trans friends, and what if she was right and "We all end up in camps"
Now we have since (thank goodness) made up over this. Because again we both had tempers running high, I don't respond to guilt trips very well, guilt trips about voting even less. At the time I just wanted to fire back.
So let me get this straight, you want me to vote out Trump to make you feel safe...
So I have to accept another war monger neolib spreading death around the world, we're good with American made bombs blowing up Yemeni kids so YOU feel safe?
So I have to accept that my wife and I are going to stay paycheck to paycheck while trying to figure out how to pay a maxed CC (recent stretch of job hunting for us both) on top of her $600 ER visit and $4000 surgery because no one is addressing inequality or health care costs, but hey, least you are "safe"?
So I have to accept this planet is 12 years from being hopelessly cooked as I try to figure out if I even want to start a family, no one cares, but you're safe?
So I have to accept the same tired lesser evils that gave us Trump in the first place, I have to settle for solving this mess later because we have to get him out, I have to accept that nothing changes in our one party system so YOU feel safe?
We have to put everyone else on the planet to one side because you're scared?
I'm not sure if that price is worth it. Actually I'm sure it's not
Not to mention the short sighted selfish cowardice of it.
But it's the paradox CSTS perfectly highlights because of how we've been divided. You can't fight the system, because by doing so you come out as not supporting your friends. And it's not the first time I've found myself exposed to it now that I think about it. Many other trans friends in the support chat I'm a part of feel the same. They settle for getting rid of the R's because as one put it, "Dying on the hill alone for your ideals doesn't solve anything." attempts to point out the flaws in the party are "false equivalence" or "not caring about getting these racists out" Cue more self censorship on my part even though I want to scream, "And hiding in the castle living off crumbs from the nobles may be staying alive but is it living? The guy on the hill wouldn't be alone if you had the courage to stand with him!"
Another friends says "We have vote Dems, we can sort the mess out later, the R's have gone too far," Sort it out when? After the 275,372nd time I've heard this refrain too? We can reform the party next time because this election is "too important" News flash, every election is! And nothing changes as long as we keep playing the game by their rigged rules. Rigging made all the more obvious during the primaries, but again we can't protest it. After all do you want Trump?!
Cue another friend informing she's "Sick of male allies of convenience" While Bringing up Sophie Scholl and how she stood up for her belief no matter how hopeless it was. Yet somehow I don't think miss Scholl would have fought to replace one dictator with another. And I don't think she would have added to "Stand up for what you believe in, even if you are standing alone."*
*Unless it upsets the status quo and might interfere with my sides political goals.
It's why Trump calling himself a nationalist is meaningless in the big picture, nationalism is already here and both partisan cults are pushing it!
And to quote Orwell, a quote I found by accident while looking back through saved items, and I wasn't even planning to use yet fits so well.
“All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral color when it is committed by 'our' side . . . The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them”
But can you get that point across? Not against the entitlement, and the fact Democrats still think their farts are lavender scented (to use a more polite term) While they can't understand why someone may want to vote them out too. To move it into current events and the overarching theme. How could you oppose us when the other side supports rapists! Don't you believe women?
Two articles I suggest sharing on this front.
Ted Rall on how this backfired by unifying the Right against a common foe.
Medium blogger Meghan Daum
Who sums it up with one simple sentence that fits the entire landscape as it is.
#MeToo is important. #BelieveWomen is hollow sloganeering that will ultimately set us back rather than move us forward.
And this is my big fear, we've seen what hollow slogans with nothing behind them got us. And this is the best plan we have still? This is the plan that is going to "save" us from Trump and the right? This is what I have to vote for because we don't have any other options? It amazes and confuses me, why is this where we are?
And I go back to what my friend said at the end of our fight for the answer.
"Know this, I'll choose the jailer that feeds me three times a day and lets me exercise in the sun. Over the jailer who beats me and wants me dead."
This while she's posting links to do you hear the people sing and clamoring for revolution. And I'm screaming in my skull "How the HELL do you have a revolution when you just locked yourself in the cage!"
A pretty cage it may be, a cage that may keep you alive, but a cage is still a cage. And my vote would just add another bar to it when I want to smash the whole thing down. And I wonder how many people realize it too, how many accept it, how many (to quote the esteemed capt Reynolds) think that playing by the rules will buy them a nice life, even if the rules make them a slave. Because its the system we have, because we have to be pragmatic, because trying to change it means we are spoilers, because we can't right now because the repubs are worse...
Sigh... I wish I had an answer to this, to be honest the whole rant feels pointless as voting, if cathartic to put pen to virtual paper. As I look for answers not coming and find myself on the outside looking in, no one left to fight for because no one is willing to put up an actual fight. We limit ourselves to our cages, our "acceptable limits of debate", and we sing so sweetly from inside, thinking we're resisting, and the thought that people aren't blind to the bars but willing to accept them as the price of "winning"? That's the most depressing thought of all.
On an odd side note, when i searched the phrase "A gilded cage is still a cage." wondering where I had heard it or a possible origin I came upon a UK Supreme court case involving deprivation of liberty for patients suffering mental health issues. It was the president of the court, Lady Hale, who used it as part of her ruling. One piece on it here (https://www.brownejacobson.com/health/training-and-resources/legal-updat...)
I would personally apply her point to current events too, "It is axiomatic that people with disabilities, both mental and physical, have the same human rights as the rest of the human race."
Just go one step further in saying that everyone regardless of who they are should have the same rights as anyone else, gay straight trans, woman, man, black, white, purple with yellow polka dots, whatever and more to the point wherever. We have one race, human, end of discussion.
Now all we need to do is figure out a way to realize we aren't going to get to that point if we keep accepting lesser evilism as the cost. To throw one more cheesy sci fi reference in, the revolution people want isn't going to happen so long as they're willing to stay hooked up to the machines.
A prison is a prison is a prison. Sadly I am not holding out the hope enough people realize that and break free before it's too late.
See you in 12 years, if we even make it that far...