A Little Light in the Election Darkness
I was wrong. It’s feels good to admit that once in a while. The universe just gave me a dose of humility to help round out my soul. I was all wrong about the election. I thought for sure that Hillary was going to win in a landslide. Of course I did not want Hillary to win. I didn’t want Trump to win either. As most people who know me are aware, I don’t vote in Presidential elections as a matter of principle. Democracy breaks down the greater the number of participants. And I don’t see the point in voting for people rather than policies. In my opinion, it’s a great big charade. It’s a friendly competition between two teams of oligarchs to see who gets to screw over the underclass for the next four years. Since both teams of oligarchs have been steadily applying the same policies for the last thirty years or so, it really makes little difference which party wins. This country needs a non-violent economic revolution, not another ruler to love or hate on the tv screen. Nevertheless, I thought for sure Hillary and the democrats had it in the bag. How in the world did the crazy clown pull it off?
For many years I have been fascinated by the intersection of economics and politics and this year’s Presidential election is an amazing demonstration of my theories on that intersection. I was dead wrong about the result but my underlying analysis was more or less on target. I simply misunderstood one little variable and that screwed up my conclusion.
First, the basics. Aside from the 01% who rule things, and the other 01% who are not even allowed to play (incarcerated or homeless), America has two distinct economic classes. It helps to realize what class you are in because the day to day lived experience of the two classes is dramatically different. Indeed, I would suggest that the two distinct classes have such different day to day realities that they do not understand each other at all.
At this particular time in history, approximately 70% of US citizens live survival check to survival check. Their survival checks come from minimum wage jobs or part time jobs or “free lance” jobs or some minuscule government subsidy or private pension survival ration. They have less than a thousand dollars in savings, very little home equity, no stocks or bonds and very high mortgage payments or rent to keep a roof over their heads. In other words, they are one unfortunate mishap away from seriously desperate circumstances. Their day to day existence is one of anxiety and work and more anxiety and more work. They don’t have the time to research detailed articles on politics or economics because they are too busy trying to make ends meet. No doubt they are exposed to large doses of mass media and they have their favorite source of news and information but politics is not something they focus on. I call this class, “the precariate” because their economic reality is so precarious. The majority of the precariate does not usually vote. And when they do vote it is based mainly on instinct and the superficial background information provided by the mass media. They do not vote based on detailed analysis of economics or policy.
The other 30% of US citizens do not live survival check to survival check. They have decent paying jobs, money in the bank, some home equity, and a few stocks, bonds or investments. Although they too suffer through tragedy, anxiety and stress because they are slaves of the corporate organizational structure, they are not one step away from seriously desperate circumstances. They have some leisure time to read the intellectual magazines and to study detailed analyses of economics and politics. They also have time to attend protests and rallies and to participate in the political process. They don’t necessarily understand politics or economics but they have lots of information and ideas to support their misunderstanding. I call this class, “the prosperiate” because their economic reality is fairly prosperous. The overwhelming majority of the prosperiate do vote. Generally speaking, they vote for one of the two teams of oligarchs (democrats or republicans). Their intellectual magazines and detailed economic and political analyses always convinces them that the two political teams are the only “realistic” options.
Generally speaking, it is the prosperiate who decide elections in the US because they are the ones that vote. They believe they are being good citizens by participating in a governmental process. Some people even get very patriotic and proud about it. But, in reality, their individual votes are statistically irrelevant and their opinions and analyses are ignored by the oligarchs. For the most part, the prosperiate vote is divided equally between the Democrats and Republicans with a little fluidity depending upon circumstances on the ground. The single most important variable that controls the outcome of elections is the day to day economic reality of the prosperiate.
I thought for sure that Hillary and the Democrats were going to win in a landslide this year because the facts on the ground are that Barack Obama and the Democrats have been quite good economically for the prosperiate. The economic world was on shaky ground even for the prosperiate at the end of George Bush’s term. The Republican team had fucked things up so bad that Capitalism itself was on the ropes. As such, Barack Obama had a unique opportunity to transform things. But he didn’t transform things. Instead, he just proved himself to be a remarkably good manager of the capitalist system. His team of bankers and Wall Street insiders got the money flowing again. If you are a member of the prosperiate, then you are probably aware of this economic reality. Life is way better at the end of Barack Obama’s term than it was at the end of George Bush’s. If you combine this truth with the fact that the Republican candidate presented himself as a mysoginistic, racist asshole, it seemed obvious to me that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats would win in a landslide. But I was wrong.
The precariate doesn’t usually decide elections because the precariate don’t usually vote very much. They understand intuitively that the process is bullshit and they can’t be bothered wasting their time. Every once in a while, however, a particularly persuasive orator with the right marketing plan will con the precariate into participation. I will call this, the rock star effect.
Ronnie Reagan was probably a rock star but I was too young to be aware of it. The first rock star candidate that I witnessed was Barack Obama in 2008. Since ethnic minorities make up a high percentage of the non-voting precariate, he had a unique advantage in convincing them to play in the election game. By 2012, of course, the jig was up. The precariate was painfully aware of the fact that Obama and the Democrats were full of shit and they went back to their non-voting well justified cynicism. They did not turn around and vote for Republicans, they just did not vote at all. Obama won in 2012 by winning the votes of the prosperiate.
This is the thing that baffles me. Most but not all of my regular social contacts are members of the prosperiate. They still do not seem to believe that the big con happened because they did not really have to suffer the consequences. Indeed, in some respects, they were secondary, minor beneficiaries of it. The precariate, however, is painfully aware of the consequences even if they don’t understand exactly how it happened. What is the economic truth?
Financial engineering. In the last eight years, the oligarchs engineered the largest transfer of real world wealth upward from the lower classes to the oligarchs in the history of the world. Most of the prosperiate class was lucky enough to get their hands on some of that wealth as it passed its way upward so they are still doing pretty good. But a significant percentage of the prosperiate class fell into the precariate class and the precariate class as a whole got slammed.
I don’t blame Obama personally. He was merely the smiling front man. The brain trust at Goldman Sachs probably came up with the concept. Republicans and democrats were both in on it but it was a democratic administration that implemented it. The primary mechanisms they used to pull this maneuver off included TARP, bank bailouts and quantitative easing. They also did not prosecute bankers for obvious fraud. But this is not the place for a detailed analysis of their little economic magic trick. If you have the time to research politics and economics you can probably figure it out. My point is a simple one. The prosperiate class seems blissfully unaware that the magic trick happened. At most they might mention it as one issue among many. But the precariate class has to live with its consequences in their day to day economic reality… Full time “jobs” are now part time “jobs”. The “jobs” available are minimum wage part time jobs in the service sector. The cost of shelter is going through the roof. The only food that is affordable is chemically laden genetically modified corporate garbage. It now costs money to drink water. Indeed, it now costs money to do anything and money is just not available. In other words, day to day economic reality for the precariate class really really sucks. They may not know how or why the system has fucked them over but they do know that it has.
Which is why I assumed that the precariate would not vote. After all, a vote is an affirmation of the system. A republican is just the same as a democrat. Only a rock star conman could convince the precariate to go out and participate in the election game. Which is why I was wrong about the election. I didn’t think Trump was a rock star conman. I thought he was an absurd clown and obvious conman. I even thought he and Hillary were in on it together. He was there to make the opposition look bad so that Hillary could generate momentum for her more aggressive war in Syria. Apparently, the Trumpster was a much better con man than I gave him credit for. The democrats took the bait and responded to his rather unusual candidacy in the stupidest way ever.
In retrospect, it seems obvious to me that Hillary lost the election the day she referred to Trump’s supporters as “a basket of deplorables”. And it wasn’t just her, it was the entire Democratic campaign. They did not debate, discuss, and intelligently criticize candidate Trump’s various policy proposals, instead they insulted the citizens who were “stupid” enough to vote for him. If you have social media or you watch television you were exposed to the barrage of memes and insults. Fascists, nazis, racists, bigots, crackers, white trash, losers, meth heads, stupid people, morons. They would capture an image of the most absurd example of a Trump supporter doing something stupid and splash it all over the news feed. Half of them were probably actors. It all makes perfect sense to me now. The democrats had a lock on the people who usually vote. Donald Trump was entertaining to people who don’t vote. They probably would have just laughed at Trump’s obnoxious character and stayed home like they usually do until the Democrats started egging them on. When the entire media and political establishment joined in the pile on against Trump, a tidal wave of condescending was directed towards his supporters. Action therefore reaction. The entire establishment was telling them not to vote for this guy. Their attitude is; fuck the establishment. So, of course, they voted for him. In other words, President Trumpster is Karmic Payback to Democrats for pissing on the precariate class.
But alas my dear friends who are Democrats, things are not as bad as it seems on this time of election darkness. This was not a cout de tat. The Donald is not a Dictator. Those scary people you saw on television and in Facebook memes are not taking over the government. Team Republican of the oligarchs just beat out team Democrat in a marketing contest. The well-mannered, smooth talking, ethnic minority figurehead is about to be replaced by a rude, obnoxious, clown figurehead. The oligarchs will move a few seats around and the system and the Empire will continue. If you voted for Hillary, you are probably a member of the prosperiate class. Since team republican generally pursues the same economic policies as team Democrat and those policies sort of benefit the prosperiate, your life will probably continue pretty much the same as it is now. It may even get a little bit better. Hopefully, though, with an obnoxious clown on the nightly news every night, you will be inspired to learn about and criticize the dreadful things your government does to others for the sake of your economic benefit. The massacre in and wholesale destruction of the once prosperous nation state of Libya comes to mind. Not to mention the economic warfare waged against your fellow citizens through the aforementioned magic trick.
So anyway, I am finding myself strangely optimistic in the face of the Trumpster’s presidency. Not because I think he will adopt good policy. There is no such thing as good policy in a capitalist empire. No doubt about it, the clown is going to kick the precariate constituency that put him in office right in the head just like Obama did to his precariate constituency. They will probably have a good laugh about it during their Oval Office meeting. Obummer did it as soon as he named his Goldman Sachs cabinet and I will bet you dollars to donuts that the Trumpster names a bunch of old hands from team republican to run his show as well. After all, it is not as if the clown has a plan to run the government. The Trumpster dumpster full of wacky policy ideas he tossed out during the campaign was not even a coherent ideology. Perhaps he will shut down the TPP and improve relations with Russia. That would be good. But I won’t hold my breath.
I’m optimistic about the Trumpster’s reign because I believe his presence will inspire people to act in opposition to empire. I know the media is trying to spin the election result as some sort of manifestation of racism, misogyny and lurking cultural backwardness. But the media is full of shit with a not so hidden agenda. They are trying to incite a culture/race war in order to fend off an economic revolution that is becoming more and more possible all the time. The election of the Trumpster clown to the highest office was a rejection of the globalized capitalist economic system, it was not the choosing of a race-based mysoginist tyrant. And when the Trumpster clown governs just like other republicans, the precariate who put him in office will reject him too.
That’s right, the times ahead look interesting and entertaining as well. Yeah, I know, my democratic friends who are members of the prosperiate are afraid of real revolution. What can I suggest to appease their fear? Try not to worry too much because it probably won’t happen. There is at least a 30% chance that the BS wing of the Democratic Party will co-opt the revolution with a promise of cookie crumbs for the precariate and Capitalism will continue on it’s merry way until it destroys the planet in a climate meltdown or nuclear conflagration. There is also probably a 30 % chance, the Trumpster and his republican team will save capitalism by providing the precariate with decent jobs in the ever growing “homeland security” and “world conquest” industries. How many serfs does it take to build a wall? In which case, Capitalism will continue on it’s merry way until it destroys the planet in a climate meltdown or nuclear conflagration.
That leaves about a 40% chance for economic revolution. It’s not quite probable but it is possible. I will takes those odds. Way better than years passed. I guess it is also possible that the revolution will be violent but it certainly doesn’t have to be. When the European descendants in the precariate become disillusioned with their clown President, the situation will be ripe. The mass media is trying to ignite a culture war between the two sides of the precariate in order to distract them from focusing on the Oligarchs. Don’t feed the media’s fire. Reach out to the precariate no matter what their race or how “stupid” their superficial politics. Love trumps hate. Try to empathize with the desperation a broken economic system has imposed upon them. They were so desperate, in fact, that they voted for a clown. If the opposite sides of the precariate culture war can unify to fight for their common economic interests, the oligarchs will lose. All they need is a plan or theory or concept to get behind.
Reverse financial engineering
DEMOCRATIZE THE MONEY SUPPLY
Quantitative ease the precariate class!
Viva la Revolution
And have a very wonderful day.
This essay is not copyrighted. Please feel free to share it with anyone and everyone.