Friday, February 26, 2016

It's Not About Us -- Yet

We Dems worry a lot.  I know I have been all but losing sleep over the idiots who are running for president on the republican side.  Who hasn't, really?  But yesterday I (accidentally) slipped into the shoes of a republican voter, and suddenly all this insanity became clear.

Imagine that you have over the past thirty-plus years, after having been knocked around by everything from oil embargoes and gas shortages to war, unemployment, underemployment, unaffordable housing, loss of health insurance, and on and on.  Overwhelmed?

Now suppose that you had a work ethic that taught you that with a hard day's work you would be paid fairly, you would be able to raise your children in health and comfort and with the potential for an even better future, and that you would be able to retire someday without worry, to enjoy whatever years remain.

And then think about how little free time most people have.  And how exhausted they all are.  And worried.  And disappointed -- no, angry.

Imagine that there are people who have had wealth and power, and imagine that they are angry too.  They are angry because they feel under constant threat of losing that power, and resent that they may not be allowed to create more wealth, with no restrictions.  It only took a few evil geniuses to convince others that there are ways to "persuade" the American people that this small group is entitled to all that wealth and power.

From Carnegie to Rockefeller to the Kochs to Art Pope,  that has been the goal.  They formed clubs and foundations and think tanks where the best and the brightest could strategize.  They threw many millions of dollars into these groups and into every aspect of our lives where they could influence us with their newspeak, where freedom really means the freedom of the wealthy to pillage and plunder, but we learn that it means the freedom to be angry at those who might take our jobs.  Liberty means corporations enjoy no regulations, no taxes, no obligations, but we believe it means Andy Griffith's "America."  Corporations are not just "job creators," but, so we are told, are people.

These great greedy minds have not only figured out how to turn themselves into heroes, but also how to focus our rage away from the oligarchs to those of us who are in their way, and those who are disposable.  They have bought much of the media and threatened the rest of it.  They have dazzled us with distractions, celebrities and electronic toys, convinced us that we need whatever they have to sell and raised the cost of living so that we are never able to feel secure and end up living in a constant state of worry.  We are too exhausted to look at the problem and work at the best solution, and we are all too happy to grab at the solution they have fed us.

This is the message of the plutocrats:  the answer to our problems is to rage at the minorities;  the answer is to control the behavior of those whose values are different than ours;  the answer is to give it up to the leaders who will carry out our rage for us.

In other words, give the power to the likes of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, all the others that have occupied the clown car.

One Trump supporter said it feels like giving the finger to the government.

And who is the government?  These days the government is the Congress that has popularity ratings lower than syphilis.  The guys whose only goal over the past eight years was to block Obama.  The ones who shut down the government in an attempt to deny people health care.  On some level republican voters know this, but this is not the message they keep hearing.  

Republicans in America know they are angry.  They know they are angry at government.  They know their Congress has done nothing for them.  They feel the anger, but they don't know the details.  So they blame Obama and they blame "government."  Basically, they are blaming exactly who they have been told to blame for decades.  Imagine Ted Cruz' surprise to find out that he is the government he has been telling people to hate.

I once had a conversation with someone as he repaired my washing machine.  It circled around money:  repairing rather than buying a new machine, pinching pennies after retiring, working as long as possible.  And at one point he exclaimed about people on food stamps who are ripping us off.  I countered that there are so few, and it is so much less than the corporations that are stealing from us.

His answer:  "But we can't do anything about them."

Our republican friends and neighbors know things aren't right.  And they are listening to the loudest voices in the room who are happy to give a shape to their anger.  Under the guidance of Kochs et al, the Rubios and Cruzes point the finger at Obama, as they have for eight years.

But what is interesting, is that so many of those republican voters know that there is something that doesn't smell right about the Rubios and Cruzes either.  They have all too well internalized the message that government is bad and politicians should not be trusted.  Trump supporters may not know that Trump has maximized his wealth by ripping off the government, or they may just give him kudos for succeeding at it.  What they do know is that Trump is not government and he is not a politician.  They know that he is angry at everybody,  except for them, because he has told them he loves them.

So that is my little foray into the minds of the republican voters.  Their support of Trump and the other idiots isn't about us just yet.  And hopefully Bernie and Hillary will be well equipped to offer the less crazy republicans a better choice come November.  And we have to remind ourselves that turning out to vote for one or another of the republican clown car isn't really about us.  Just yet.

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