The American left will lose major elections again in 2018 and then disappear into oblivion if it doesn’t conduct a scathing review and evaluation of how the United States came to inhabit its current illiterate socio-politico space.
The real question is not how do we decipher Donald Trump’s latest buffoonish outrage or even the specifics of the 2016 election and its pending investigations, but how do we explain the historical trajectory that created and gave rise to the Trump phenomenon and its fascist principles.
By only parsing the mundane, the banal and the immediate, the most visible members of the left create a huge vacuum into which pours our decaying culture and all its accoutrements, from Twitter to Facebook to cable television to the lies of all forms of advertising, which represent the platforms and methods deployed by the current authoritarian presidential regime to seal its corrupt power and wreak havoc on the republic.
The left participates in its own demise when it works within a corrupt system to supposedly fight a corrupt system.
The culture creating the mythology of Trump has its roots in the lies of American hucksterism, tempered by World War II, but then fully embraced by both political parties by the 1980s. In this country, it’s not only valid to lie but it’s also a mandate for certain types of employment. Capitalism, the foundation of American hucksterism, demands belief in the untrue for its existence; it denies reality so it can function to reward the rich.
Overall, it’s the capitalistic system and the mindless participation in it that created Trump. It’s the obvious, glaring error but doesn’t receive the focus it deserves. Under this frame, the clown is not an aberration but a logical consequence. The corporatization of every aspect of our lives creates the adulation that feeds the erratic, mentally ill buffoon. The failures of a now fragmented media to maintain any type of truth threshold was foretold by the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression and had become manifest and ascendant once again by the Ronald Reagan era. Capitalistic fervor, which has historically relied on crimes against humanity for its implementation, has led to the glorification of stupidity—a perfect example is Trump’s former television show The Apprentice—and the acceptance of outright lying as normative behavior.
The culture’s largest lie, of course, has been in its systemic denial of the horrors of American slavery and the country’s racist and misogynistic past.
Meanwhile, the presidential system of governance, especially since John F. Kennedy, has become based on the cult of personality rather than competence, egged on by a relentless bombshell-seeking media, long before buffoon Trump was exalted by the masses. Many people still adore Trump because he entertains them with all the frivolity they crave and, more importantly, can understand and embrace. The U.S. capitalistic system, under its immoral health care structures, provides the actual opiates to prohibit political awareness.
A short and abbreviated history of this country includes its victory of independence and establishment of constitutional law, the horrific treatment of African slaves for several decades in the advancement of a barbaric capitalistic system in which human life remained expendable, the removal of indigenous people from their lands, the Civil War, an ongoing racist and misogynistic system privileging a white patriarchy, an American “Gilded Age” in which the wealthy openly bought and exercised political power, the Great Depression, a leftist correction under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that lacked staying power and then over the last few decades the unbridled intensity of late-stage capitalism, creating the conditions for an impending implosion.
The signs of such an implosion can be seen everywhere. The stock market is racing to unbelievable highs based on sheer speculation and greed, the deregulation of huge corporations and new tax cuts for them now make them the most powerful political force the world has ever seen, the planet’s very existence is now threatened by immediate environmental degradation and a bonafide liar and an emerging fascist is at the helm of the United States, the planet’s military super power.
The American left makes fun of Trump’s hair on Facebook and its leaders plot election strategies under the capitalistic rubric, but it never advances the intellectual arguments that will ensure electoral victory and prevent the demise of democracy in this country. In fact, the current leadership of the national Democratic Party possesses no ideas or intellectual center beyond political calculation. It asks for money but gives no sustenance in return. The two major political parties in this country exist to ask for money so they can spend it to buy advertising to support a dysfunctional media system that now includes the brainwashing and capitalistic algorithms of Facebook. We should ask who has done more damage to this country so far this century. Is it Donald Trump or Mark Zuckerberg?
That this system is rigged to benefit the obscenely wealthy, such as Trump and Zuckerberg, at the expense of the masses of people in this world is a given. What isn’t a given is how long the system can endure and maintain order for the wealthy few without a major uprising among the masses.
This is not a call for people to support any particular “wing” of the Democratic Party. Rather, it’s a call for the leadership of the American left to start unapologetically advancing ideas associated with socialism and based on a morality rooted in the celebration and advancement of basic humanity. It’s long past time for the left to open up more visible critiques of capitalism beyond academia. That is the only way the left will win major elections or, perhaps, prohibit a potential capitalistic implosion that will strand millions in poverty as Trump, his family and the wealthy like them continue to live in the splendor most people can’t even imagine.
These issues are not listed in order of importance but universal health care, a major hike in wages, free college tuition, student loan forgiveness, the protection and strengthening of government programs such as Social Security and Medicare, decent and affordable housing for all people, equality for all people, large tax increases on the wealthy and the rigorous implementation of environmental protection are some of what the American left needs to embrace if it wants to stay relevant.
Most of the Democratic Party leadership and the media privately mock such lists and dismiss them, just like they dismissed Trump’s chances of winning the presidency, but until we do a ruthless inventory of how we came to live under a corrupt, authoritarian regime and determine what we should stand up for specifically in the public square we all remain at great personal risk. Democracy can’t survive under the prevailing political conditions in this country.