After the Deluge

It seems to me that after the surprise result of the presidential election, there are two aspects of the situation that no one—or hardly anyone—is talking about. Two important aspects I would like to point out.

Let me make clear before I begin that I am simply talking off the top of my head. I make no claim to special knowledge or authority. Yet until the First Amendment is repealed, I intend to mount my soapbox and rant.

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A main driving current of the election—perhaps the main current—was a feeling by large segments of society that they did not count. That no one with power was listening to them. To use socio-speak, many people felt marginalized.

Now the first aspect of the election to which I wish to draw your attention is that the marginalized consist, broadly speaking, of two large groups and these groups do not feel they have anything in common.

The first of these, the group which everyone has now begun to recognize—though it is uncertain if much will be done for them—is what we might call the blue collar class, the working men (and women) of the nation, the angry white men (and women) who have fallen further and further behind in the economy of the last decade or so.

The second group is, roughly speaking, those with some college education; the people who frequent coffee shops, have environmental enthusiasms, and make youtubes or at least have favorite ones. They too have fallen behind, though not as much as the first group. But they can see the writing on the wall.

In brief, we have a conservative and liberal wing of the disaffected. In the election, the wings tend be distinguished by who supported Trump and who supported Sanders. The demarcations are, of course, rough, and there are many people who could be placed in both groups.

It is the labels that tend to separate the groups: conservative and liberal. Those of a conservative cast, the blue collar types, think of those in the liberal wing as tree huggers, sexually deviant, irreligious, and socialist if not communist in political leanings. Those of the liberal wing, the artists, writers, programmers, social workers, etc., see the conservative wing as racist, xenophobic, close-minded, fearful of change, and given to violence. Each side looks down on the other.

It is true, of course, that in both these groups, there are persons who are not snared by these illusions. And in their daily interactions, most people, of whatever wing of the dispossessed, are a great deal more courteous and charitable to one another and to the world at large than their prejudices would suggest.

Be that as it may, practical politicians give thanks every night in their prayers that there is this sturdy barrier between those dispossessed who, on the one hand, have the rough hands, restless spirits, and the energy to bring ideas to life and, on the other hand, those who can wield words as swords, paint visions, and organize crusades.

However it may someday come to pass that these two sets of the dispossessed will come to realize that they do indeed have two things in common: First, that they have little share in the riches they have helped create. Second, that they have no share in the power to set society’s course.

Should that day come, it will be as disastrous to the established order as bringing together two separated blocks of uranium, and it will leave more wreckage than the last election.

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A root cause of the dispossession, the marginalization of large parts of society is that Congress does not work for the people at large.

Why should it? After all, the average congressman (or congresswoman) is much more indebted for his seat to the large donor (megacorporation, super PAC, billionaire, etc.) than he is to the voter who pulls a lever or fills out a ballot. And he is also keenly aware that if ever he leaves Congress and wants a lucrative job, he had better have a record of having been a good and faithful servant of those with all the bucks.

Thus we see the second aspect of the political situation that I would like to call to your attention:

A key reason why we have so many of the dispossessed and angry in the land is the great rivers, indeed tsunamis of money that pour through politics. It gives us government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich; and we the people amount to nothing more than an annoying squeaking in their ears.

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There are those who will say that to pay so much attention to these issues overlooks great problems of the day with which people are really concerned. A moment’s thought easily produces a list—certainly incomplete—of such: terrorism, the status of Muslims, immigration, LGBQT issues, healthcare, infrastructure, environment, abortion, etc.

These are all worthy issues, but two things occur to me: First, they will be settled—or not—as dictated by the interests of the wealthy, not those of the people at large. Second, they have served and will serve as an excellent means of diverting the attention of the public from what seems to me an even more important question: Who is really in charge of this country?

Our leaders have been corrupted from their role of servants of the people to servants of the few, and they have made such corruption perfectly legal. What sustains this state of affairs is that no one talks about it or looks too closely; they nervously avert their gaze and quickly raise their voices about other matters. Congress does not want to act, the party leaderships do not want to act, and the media talk loud and long of shoes and ships and sealing-wax, of cabbages and kings.

For after all, if corruption be exposed to public view, the harder it will be to maintain it.