This post is an ending as well as a beginning, and it took me longer than I would like to admit to find the proper wording and explanations for the arguments I make. It marks the conclusion of the 4th New Federalist series concerning identity politics, but will combine themes from past discussions in order to show the ways America’s systems have devolved into their current desperate states. This serves as an introduction into the next two series; dissecting the machinations of our political parties to fully understand how they’ve come to look and act the way they do.
The litany of issues looming over America (climate change, police brutality, mass disenfranchisement, economic inequality to name some of the biggest) are all being exacerbated by one crucial overarching point; American democracy is under duress, facing its biggest challenges since the birth of our nation. We are not a country that legislates for the people, we are a country for corporate interest being directed by an aging plutocracy that has predictably lost its handle on the reigns after constant accelerationist tactics needed to keep people distracted from demanding change to the oppressive status quo. The rickety foundation that the mirage of American capitalist success has built ever higher upon is crumbling underneath it.
With that mouthful of an introduction, let’s explore the now established and credible fascist threat to our democracy that has risen over the last decade and analyze its link to the suffering and exploitation that America’s systems have reinforced for millions as a proverbial Atlas supporting the burden and harsh consequences of infinite growth for a few.
We’ve already talked a bit about the combination of propaganda, ignorance, focus on personal responsibility, and calculated decisions by the upper class that uphold a specific status quo and hierarchy. Within these elements there is a fetishization of future prosperity and potential successes ordinary people will come across if they live the ‘right’ lifestyle. But until then you have to work as hard as possible to make money for the wealthy while they pay pennies in return, (doing everything possible to compensate workers less and hoard more of the profits those workers create). Denying workers and ‘average Joe’s’ a say in their living conditions has been accepted as the norm in America because our culture devalues people until they have money or status.
So we’re left with this paradox. Americans have it ingrained from a young age that they must sink hundreds of thousands of dollars and tens of thousands of hours into school and a career while simultaneously living paycheck to paycheck without more than a couple thousand in the bank at any given time. Despite its hardships, if you follow this path its the best chance that in 30 – 40 years you’ll be able to meet all of your needs without deciding between a doctor’s visit or ramen for the month.
This is the reality of life for the majority of Americans, especially the tens of millions of young people just graduating high school or college and setting out on their own: renting for years (or a lifetime), sometimes working multiple jobs to make ends meet, signing yourself into tens of thousands of dollars in debt at age 18 before you have much, if any, world experience, and struggling to play catch up from there. And it is only going to get exponentially harder for every new generation as inflation continues to outpace wage growth by 5% or more each year.
When younger people realize this truth they feel betrayed. Their parents, teachers, and every other adult told them that to have a successful and happy life there was a path to follow. The idea of a stereotypical American dream that was formulated in the 50’s and 60’s off the back of a booming war economy no longer exists. The structures that only serve to enrich the top are more and more apparent yet working folks are stuck without being able to do anything besides voting or potentially getting more involved in politics. Prior to Obama’s presidency, the monster of fascist ideology that is inevitable from preaching racism and prejudice lay dormant. Hatched by the Southern Strategy and nourished by the right’s exponentially increasing mobilization the beast lay mostly docile, but with a strong foundation to spring into action whenever it was awoken. Heightened right wing activity was due to an influx of local organizations popping up in response to Democrat’s implosion and lack of grassroots organization after Lyndon B. Johnson and their all-mighty New Deal coalition, and following the rise of Reagan, Gingrich’s Contract with America, massive funding from interests like the Kochs, and a sudden infatuation with personalities like Rush Limbaugh, a vibrant conservative ecosystem was making the necessary connections to disseminate its ideology among a wide and ever expanding audience.
As Obama took office and the world economy collapsed under the weight of Wall Street’s greed in the Great Recession, people were disillusioned with our systems and sought answers, even if those answers were coming in the form of calls for violence or radical conspiracies (many of which were inherently antisemitic). People who are disenfranchised and feel slighted are likely to find angry reactionaries appealing. As Democrats fell into complacency and continued drifting firmly to the center right during Obama’s tenure (which began under Clinton), they heightened performative rhetoric but ground to a halt on actual legislative actions that uplifted vulnerable communities.
In neoliberal capitalism the ‘left’ is still right of center, advocating for markets and the ability of businesses to exploit however they see fit. Thus Democrats have become what the Republican Party used to be 40 years ago, so neither is going to introduce serious social welfare legislation because they ‘don’t believe in handouts.’ Establishment politicians like Manchin or Clinton will say that they can’t allow social welfare because it’s ‘fiscally irresponsible’ while they simultaneously turned a blind eye to Wall Street causing the Great Recession. We have two parties that stand for the same things economically, upper class interests, but two vastly different methods of attaining power so that they can further the savage capitalist tenets of infinite growth.
The people that Democrats promised to protect saw America’s system for what it was, even if they didn’t fully grasp what was happening; the only group that matters to our elected leaders is the wealthy capital holding class. Many who had either voted for Obama or considered themselves independent found themselves losing faith in government. They got exposed to right wing media and found solace in the angry calls to action against an encroaching and ‘evil’ left that acted purely in the interests of a shadowy elite cabal. As the segment of the right that is inherently racist and infuriated by a black man being president merged with a new and disillusioned crowd who was being offered answers on a conspiratorial platter, the fascist monster that had been birthed and tended to so carefully by the GOP for decades was ready to be unleashed. An ecosystem of shared information that pulled viewers into its echo chamber and trapped them there, relying on fear and paranoia to stoke the flames of hatred and coax out violent emotional reactions.
As debt piles up, jobs make them work harder for less, and the government blatantly ignores their calls for help, many people feel that the only aspect of their lives they do have control over is identity. Who they idolize and follow, their appearance, their interests. And for many who are fed up with the corrupt and futile systems of America the party that appeals to those feelings of hopelessness is emotionally reactive, desperately tries to make their audience feel strong by proxy, and promises to vanquish a labelled enemy of ‘evil deep state leftists’ that are actively ruining lives. When Democrats do nothing to improve people’s lives they push them even further to the right, since in American politics that’s all there is. The Democratic Party is right of center, remember, and under a two party system in which the options are right or ultra right (due to the success of constant and intense savage capitalist propaganda for decades), people fall down rabbit holes quite easily.
Victimhood tropes that the right spouts also appeal to its followers, the vociferous minority. By making conservatives feel like they are losing status or privilege, as though they are under attack, it is easy to draw out violent calls to action among them. Despite the noise that conservatives make I label them the vociferous minority because I truly believe (and desperately want to believe) that a majority of Americans still hold love in their hearts and want to help their countrymen thrive in the limited Earthly existence we have. The well funded platforms and brazenness of the right only makes it seem as though a majority might want to execute liberals and disenfranchise everyone outside of white heterosexual families when in reality its only an annoyingly loud subset. However within the population of Americans who aren’t actively racist and prejudiced, there are a good many who don’t understand the necessity of standing up to hatred and fighting back against the growing agitation among an exponentially accelerating right wing.
Much of the ignorance as to how dire our country’s situation is comes from the distractions that the American system has created, perpetuated by the upper class to maintain a population that is just comfortable enough to stay working but simultaneously in enough need that they will spend most of their time doing that work or stressed and won’t have the ability to critically think about politics and how the country could be changed for the better. At the same time as these distractions we have an extremely neglected public education system that has come under attack recently as fascist organizations like Proud Boys or Patriot Prayer show up armed to school board meetings ensuring that the ‘evil leftist’ agenda can’t infect their children. A LITTLE MORE HERE then go into the idea that we’ve devalued our democracy. basically just some points about how trump obviously spit in the face of democratic values.
We have to choose between fascism and corporatism essentially, and people are losing hope and turning to solutions offered by things like that fascism because it gives them hope maybe one day the “enemies” holding them back will be vanquished and they can finally live a fulfilled life with all their needs met. The only problem is that in the GOP’s dream state there would be absolutely no worker’s protections and corporations would be free to crush anyone under their boot. Note the slippery slope that we are already heading down with a packed conservative judicial system and a Supreme Court that is chipping away at bodily autonomy and now worker’s rights in ruling that OSHA cannot use scientific data to mandate safety precautions. Capitalist and zero sum societies can’t run successful democracies once it hits a certain point of greed because the only voices politicians hear are those of the highest bidder.
What makes Trump and the radical new GOP (along with neofascists) so successful in America is the facade Democratic party hides behind making false promises that they have no plans of implementing. They claim to be for the working class but do everything possible to harm them and help corporations maintain complete dominance. We’ve slowly lost the value of our democracy over the last few decades as American culture turned it into a commodity, a tool. During and immediately after the Cold War the establishment turned democracy into something that we could beat our enemies with, as Jordan Klepper says, a ‘bullet to put in the gun.’ Then following Reaganism and a shift to neoliberalism by both parties (hence why our right wing party has slid all the way to the fascist end of the scale, the need to constantly up the ante in undermining what the supposed ‘left,’ actually center right, is doing) the idea of personal responsibility emerged while the establishment attacked any form of social welfare or governmental regulation that would protect citizens from corporate greed. Thus we no longer place value on what it means to be part of a democratic society, instead internalizing issues as ‘me versus the world’ since our culture has ingrained that there won’t be any helping hands reaching out to you in life, you have to earn it. There is no notion of coming together to solve our problems because the ruling class has so successfully convinced the people that they should hate each other for superficial differences; when we are too busy fighting ourselves we don’t take the time to pause and establish that as Americans many of our goals, lived experiences, and ambitions are similar no matter race or location.
We must collectively use our intellect to solve America’s crises in the best ways possible, but first more people need to realize that it is not an issue of left v. right, but an issue of the working class versus an establishment that wants to legalize the maximum amount of possible exploitation. Rather than presenting a legislative idea or solution and debating the merits of why it would be good for society as a whole we’ve sunk into a generalized status quo that purely benefits the upper class. Two parties masquerading as having different platforms the public can choose between. In reality Biden is going to forgive student debt as much as Trump would have raised taxes on the wealthy; neither is going to happen because the corporate ruling class has decided it can’t, and their interests are the only ones that matter in this country. Do not be mistaken; America is as much of an oligarchy as Russia, we simply have more distractions in place to keep the public from fully realizing this fact. We are only fed what the corporate media wants. Calculated misinformation such as the Russiagate hoax that Clinton pushed to save face after losing an election, Trump’s big election lie – these stories serve to mask the truth and keep us questioning who, or what, is our real enemy as behind the scenes Biden maintains grossly inhumane Trump era sanctions on countries like Iran or Yemen and refuses to do anything that would jeopardize profits for student loan or healthcare providers.
Fascism is making a rise in America because people are angry at a government they know doesn’t care about them. I don’t think we would see as much success among the right to whip up violence, hatred, and intolerance if the Democratic Party didn’t give them lies to argue against with their bigger lies like Russiagate, false promises for years about social welfare, and performative bullshit that exposes them as being just as out of touch and elitist as the conservative base thinks Democrats are. We are the United Corporations of America and people realize that whether they fully accept it or not; it’s plain to see that the establishment only cares about profits and monetary gain rather than crafting legislation that actually helps people. Savage capitalism, and the identity politics that keep us from revolting against an in tensionally inequitable system, have led us to lose the value of democracy. We don’t care about our neighbors health, only how they can help us profit or how we can be more successful than them.
Identity politics is one of the most important tools in the establishment’s box, always available and always seductive for people to fall prey to. The reason for this is that people have an innate desire to be a part of the winning tribe, to be on the strong side and laugh while looking down at the weaker losers. There is a strong rush of dopamine and satisfaction when we perceive this. As such the parties have found different ways to tailor their messaging and achieve these feelings of tribalism; Democrats have called for social reforms, putting weight on outcomes of apparent equality for different identities and utilizing a bleeding heart schtick to make their audience feel as though they’ve achieved some great moral victory when Dem politicians win a race. Notice how in many campaigns Democrats elevate a marginalized group to the forefront with a message of ‘vote blue to help this community,’ or a slogan that this is the ‘most important election in history.’ Then if they win there’s a big scene made about how their promises hinge on one piece of legislation which, unsurprisingly, rarely makes it out of Congress. But it doesn’t matter; that performative action has satisfied its purpose and the largest bulk of democratic voters (young – middle aged white people in urban areas), can go about posting to social media about how they’ve helped so and so with their vote, living in ignorant bliss and believing they’ve actually done something to help the country or community. They aren’t truly struggling, or at least they weren’t until a couple years ago, and they could live in that sweet ignorant bubble.
We are in this bind where we’ve become so brainwashed by propaganda that we fail to see the class divide causing our problems. Loans, undervalued labor, lack of protections against encroaching corporate greed, a collapsing environment; all causing millions of Americans to suffer (and millions more globally, for that matter) can all be tied back to one consistent. The establishment has bought our political system and for decades purposefully stonewalled any progress towards helping our people meet their needs while flooding our brains with propaganda and misinformation that turns us on each other. These things have been allowed to happen because America’s culture has intentionally preached to us that we want the person next to us to fail so that we can have some veneer of success in comparison.
America can’t seem to shake the noose of identity politics dragging it down despite the seeming commonalities we could find as citizens of this nation, and it is taking our society to the grave with it. The wealth of U.S. billionaires rose nearly 62% during the pandemic to date, going from $2.9 to $4.1 trillion while the working class bled out $3.7 trillion. That is an awful lot of money being swindled from the American workforce. Crises like this are only going to worsen if we continue to feed into narratives pushed by individuals for their own individual gain, all to the detriment of society. The wealthy have been able to slide under the radar while anti-vax headlines and BLM protestors are plastered across our timelines, enticing conflict. Nobody notices the true reality of what is happening across the country, every event is turned into a controversy for reactionaries to pick apart, and we are numb to the constant drone of bad news. Tucker Carlson definitely isn’t going to talk about how easy it is for wealthy people to avoid taxes or how the wealth gap is out of control because bringing awareness to those would shine a light on how rigged our system is and put an uncomfortable spotlight on him and the business interests funding his rhetoric. Instead people like Carlson feed into the fake outrage by questioning if trans women should be allowed to play in women’s sports or telling his viewers that the COVID-19 vaccine will kill them. While Americans are spoon fed these narratives to focus on, horrifying realities beneath the surface go unnoticed while we slowly lose individual autonomy to an encroaching ruling class.
We are distracted and kept hating each other because it prevents us from seeing the truth; there is a ‘deep state’ but not in the way that Qs believe. Think of the economic structures I’ve outlined in previous New Federalist posts, and how prisons and police are installed to control us further. Identity politics is hard to approach without bias, but if we don’t acknowledge its influence and try to unravel its insidious threads we are doomed to repeat a grim history. Great societies such as Rome have been brought to their knees by economic inequality and similar pitfalls our society is succumbing to. I am seeing increased mobilization and awareness among young folks of the failures our late stage capitalism is bringing upon us and it makes me hopeful, though sad because these people are often seeing through establishment obfuscations due to real life struggles or loss.
When the Dems lose in 2022 the GOP will have Congress and because of Trump’s admin, the courts. Biden wouldn’t have a hope of signing any progressive legislation, even if he wanted to. We need to present a strong leftist populist alternative to the fascist threat we are facing, not a weak and pitiful donation grab from corporate stooges in the Democratic Party. If an administration could actually pass policies that helped Americans we wouldn’t need all the identity bullshit, we would have debates over what is actually the best course of action to take instead of who is a vaguely defined enemy to either party. This would take educating folks on the true stakes we are faced with and the true corporate drivers behind governmental action. What Bernie did with the Democratic Socialists of America is a great example for potential future candidates to emulate; a pure populist mindset without bending to corporate will.
Our school boards have become the next target of fascist takeovers right in our own neighborhoods. After the GOP has courts, Congress falls next year, and a 2024 election looming what will we do? How will we as the American people who value freedom and think with empathy outside of our own experiences react? We need to craft a movement around this, create a movement of having faith in each other attempting to create the best America we can and take it back for the people. We must cut through the distractions of identity that keep pulling us apart and preventing us from seeing the establishment threat to the working class and our rights. Remember that we the people have the ultimate power, for without our cooperation in a social contract corporations and the government are powerless to profit and continue the cycle of exploitation and division.
I hope you enjoyed this discussion, thank you for reading.