Raging Against the Machine

The Republicans threw down the gauntlet. Will Obama pick it up?

I thought when you grew older you were supposed to get mellower with age.  That must only apply to wine because I just turned 55 and I don’t feel the least bit more chilled out.  If anything I’m getting even more radicalized and pissed off over injustice, inequity and stupidity.

It has come to my attention that I don’t think of myself as a Democrat any more.   I still vote Democratic if only because though I find myself  less and less enamored by the way they cave in and accommodate their opponents (yeah, Barack, I’m looking at you), I feel more home with Democratic wimpiness than Republican malevolence.   Given a choice between one political party that too often comes off as weak and another that comes off as mean, I opt for weakness.

I’ve meant to read Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter With Kansas? , his 2004 book the pondered how conservatives have mastered the game of grass-roots populism that was once a hallmark of the Democratic Party and won over the White working class all the while pursing economic policies that totally screw them over.   It’s a strange disconnect how people can be led by the nose to place their trust with politicians who  could care less about them.

My own disaffection with Democrats has only increased over the years as I watch President Obama’s fruitless efforts to “go along and get along” with guys like Mitch McConnell and other Republicans who ridicule and rebuff his overtures.   Why bother, Barack?   You know they hate your guts and are working day and night to make you a one-term president.   That budget the House Republicans just approved would slash some $61.5 billion in spending and among the cuts are $747 million for food assistance for the poor, cuts cash for community health centers, blocks the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide and green gasses, zero out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Planned Parenthood, defunds key healthcare reforms passed by the previous Democratic-controlled House while adding another $8 billion to the Pentagon’s $700 billion budget.

This is your Republican Party:   a party of ruthless bastards who believe Obama wasn’t born here and wants more hungry and sick poor people breathing dirtier air, but at least they can can fuck like rabbits since they won’t be able to go get any birth control from Planned Parenthood.

Welcome to your line in the sand moment, Mr. President.   Hope you’re ready for your close-up.   If you’re not you might be well on the way of becoming that one-termer Mitch McConnell dreams of making you.

The nagging feeling that the Democratic Party is not necessarily the best vehicle of my political philosophy is summed up by Frank when he says, “They aren’t interested in the things I’m interested in. They’re not interested in preserving the welfare state, or preserving the New Deal. They’re interested in something else, in running their political party, and getting their contributions—they’re interested in sort of being Republicans, you know? If you were a man from Mars and you came down and looked at this country, which party would you rather be a hierarch in? Well, duh: the Republicans, they make a lot more money. Who wants to be this other party? You can see why, if the party worked according to the New Deal plan, it’s a party that would win all the time.  That works on paper.  But where’s the payoff?”

Every so often White folks wake up to the reality that their skin color alone does not make them part of the privileged class. They are often oblivious to how they are manipulated and screwed over by the elites until they are smacked in the face by the undeniable truth. White people have often believed being White gave them an advantage over the racial minorities. It still does, but as the pie get smaller they are becoming aware there aren’t enough slices to go around.

The problem is White people in America are often manipulated by the elites to stand and vote against their own interests.

There is this myth that if you work hard, play by rules you had no part in creating and stay in your own lane, you too can rise from poverty to the middle class to eventually, one day you too will be rich.   It is a damn lie.   Not every boy (and certainly most girls) can one day be President.  Not everyone gets to be pretty, sexy, slim and wealthy.   Most of us will never eat Filet Mignon and wash it down with glasses of Dom Perignon.

Most of us certainly will never give millions of dollars to buy politicians who will make sure we don’t pay too much in taxes and push through our little selfish agendas.

But as long as White people and other suckers of color buy into this dishonest myth they will play along  and play the game hoping one day they’ll win at it.   Which they won’t. You’d have better odds if you  took next month’s mortgage payment to Las Vegas and gambled it away.

“It’s a big club and YOU AIN’T IN IT,” George Carlin observed. Working folks in Ohio and Wisconsin are waking up to the cold reality. How many of the rest of usl need to be unplugged from The Matrix?

Carlin was right when he first said it and he’s no less right about it now.   Whose American Dream are we living?   It feels as if we’re not living our own but that of someone else we neither know nor ever see.

One thought on “Raging Against the Machine

  1. Just reading the title of your piece, I thought first of Watson, IBM’s supercomputer that just beat two humans at Jeopardy.

    I agree with most of what you’ve said, but with some reservations: Obama and the Dems had to play along with Repubs to get anything past, from health-care reform to extending unemployment insurance. Rather than take harsh, unyielding stands, they chose to work smartly, to actually get something done within a hostile environment. Don’t forget: Repubs stood fast on just about every item in Obama’s and Dem’s agenda. It was only with the help of a few, and attempting to hold together their strays, Blue dog Dems, were they able to achieve legislatively what they did.

    I’m sure Obama and his advisers are keenly aware of the Repubs pledge threat to make him a one-term president, and to do what’s in their power to emasculate his legislative programs. Dems can choose to fight fire with fire, or they can choose to get what concessions they can garner using whatever power is at their disposal. That power is considerable, but it’s not omnipotent.

    Unfortunately, politics is a game. It’s a game that’s played for the players and not for the spectators, who can find their fortunes reversed and sacrificed so that the players can assure a win.

    The difference between Repubs and Dems is that the Dems don’t play as ruthlessly as the opposing team, they usually follow the rules of the game, don’t foul as often, and believe that the spectators should have some stake in the outcome of the game. But make no mistake about it, Dems are as eager to play for the sake of team, as Repubs, but Repubs are out to play for themselves and themselves only, and the spectators be damned, if they get in their way.


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