This post is by: tibblebits
Political theatre in 2016 is turning to be the quite the spectacle. From a 73 year old socialist bringing revolutionary ideals into the democratic discourse, to a real estate tycoon (virtually) single-handedly turning the party of Lincoln and Reagan on its head with extreme race baiting, painfully cringe-worthy tweets, and an astounding lack of policy awareness. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. There are so many questions that this election cycle raises: Will the GOP ever be the same again? Does Socialism stand a chance? Who is in my corner?
In political theatre it is helpful to identify with a candidate. To find someone you can trust, someone who understands. My gut tells me that the majority of Americans vote like this. Here’s the story: they live their lives with occasional updates to their beliefs regarding the future, observe their material surroundings, and if their material reality and expectations for that reality diverge in substantial ways, then they vote for the opposition. If not, they vote for the status-quo. Personally, I do not identify with any of the candidates. My corner is empty aside from my (digital) stacks of Marxist literature.
It’s disappointing that Trumpian politics is too focused on the anti-globalist narrative to take a good, hard look at the state of the Union. His oppositional movement, interpreted as a reaction to neoliberal policies, is right up my alley, but his racism and sincere ignorance shuts me down. Bernie was my man for awhile, but his movement was co-opted by whiny, middle-class white kids looking to stamp “free” on every institution that can reasonably be argued to be a public good, that is, non-excludable and non-rivalrous, such as health care and post-secondary education. The problem is that neither of those goods are public in the formal sense as someone occupying a hospital bed or chair in a university classroom necessarily excludes someone else from occupying that same bed or chair. Hence, health care and education are not public goods in the economic sense. I digress, but my point is that stamping “free” on everything is by no means Socialism, and is no way to build a socialist movement.
I ask again, who is my corner? Who identifies with the weakest? The poorest? The people who build? The people who struggle? The people who weren’t born with a trust fund, a 529 plan, or documentation of their citizenship status? It seems to me that no one is willing to fight for them in 2016. Hillary Clinton might pay lip-service to these groups, and will surely push for “reforms” that address the proximate needs of such groups. Unfortunately, however, Clinton will do nothing to address the root affliction; anarchic production and extreme concentration of capital. These two paradoxes necessarily follow from liberal-capitalist ideology that tells us that “The ‘common good’ of a collective – a race, a class, a state – was the claim and justification of every tyranny ever established over men” (Rand, The Fountainhead). Consider, for a moment, that Rand is correct that collective action for the common good necessarily leads to tyranny. Wouldn’t you rather the tyranny be visible and towards a common good? Wouldn’t the worst type of tyranny be one whose tyrant is an invisible hand?
The meme below very accurately summarizes my feelings regarding this election cycle.