It wouldn’t even be a news story if the United States was a functioning democracy that offered true equality and real voting rights to its citizens.
Yet news headlines screamed in sympathetic unison in recent days—after yet one more mass school shooting with more sure to follow—that a rich real real estate developer was going to stop buying politicians who continued to support the sales of assault weapons.
The point of the stories was to at least implicitly laud the capitalist and Republican fundraiser Al Hoffman Jr., a former ambassador to Portugal, and perhaps to show us that even the country’s oligarchs can occasionally muster some morality and even grant a modicum of sympathy to the minions whose lives he and other oligarchs systematically destroy so they can enrich themselves and their families.
The disconnect with the implied empathetic nature of these stories hinges on the unsavory fact that Hoffman and his fellow immoral oligarchs truly own politicians and, in essence, tell them what to do and how to vote. None of the stories about Hoffman’s grand pronouncement even begin to question the reality of how money from rich people determine our political reality in this country on the right or the left. People literally live or die—think about how rich people like Bill Gates or the Koch brothers deny masses of people health care in this country—based on how capitalism distributes political money. Why doesn’t Hoffman stop giving money to right-wing politicians who support gerrymandering congressional districts so that millions of votes don’t even count in any given election? That won’t happen, and thus the killings will proceed unabated.
So it goes in the U.S. these days that after yet another mass shooting at a school that left 17 dead this time around, a 70-year-old oligarch openly makes his demands without a hint of irony or with any sense that he’s obviously the problem or a symptom of a disease and is not now or will likely ever be the answer. The more poignant message in all this political absurdity, which Hoffman would never see, is how his money and the money of other rich oligarchs work to not just degrade but also to dismantle democracy. Capitalism has completely normalized this truly non-democratic method of our political system, but normal is not the same thing as something that is moral.
Unfortunately, there are more than enough oligarchs and more than enough immoral politicians, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, to ensure the child killings will continue on a regular basis. The National Rifle Association is not going to change its agenda or relent in its open purpose to arm a nation and create civil strife and division with gun violence. This country could have a mass shooting at a school on a weekly basis and the NRA would still distribute its immoral propaganda. In fact, the suffocating mantra of “now is not the time to talk about gun control laws” and “thoughts and prayers” are not only the NRA’s perpetual operating statements but also have become the organization’s de facto mottos.
Let’s be clear that capitalism embraced by rich oligarchs like Hoffman is the opposite of freedom and equality. Capitalism is also an AR-15, the type of assault rifle that mowed down 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last week. It’s made by capitalists and sold by capitalists in a country that no longer has a functioning democracy. All the capitalists got their blood-money cut from the violent deaths of children and their protectors last week just like they will with the next school mass shooting and the one after that.
Until the ideas of socialism and real equality and real voting rights are allowed to enter into the mainstream political discourse, our children will continue to be murdered at their schools. Capitalism needs carnage for its existence.