It’s 2016 and we’re deep into another political season in the United States. It’s fun, isn’t it? Like the Olympics.
It’s actually not fun. It’s a four year reminder of why I have so little hope for the future of this once great nation. And this year’s political season is worse than ever. I believe we expend entirely too much energy on politics when we could be using that energy for more productive things that affect our lives, and the lives of those around us.
But hey, let’s play along shall we?
I stopped voting in 2013, after realizing that my vote in 2008 for a revolution was total bullshit. Yes, I realize how ridiculous, stupid, hypocritical, and counter-intuitive this is in a nation where we have the freedom to elect our leaders. Except, it seems to me that most of our elected leaders do not have our best interests in mind. Instead, they’re playing us against ourselves while the temples of our republic crumble. In modern-day America, we can barely stand to live next-door to people who aren’t like us in the most important ways–ethnically, religiously, educationally, economically, and most importantly, politically. For the record, I’m unaffiliated. So this post comes to you directly from a person who loves freedom. Just not politics. Hell, I even voluntarily served this country in the USAF.
But let’s not get personal. My site statistics tell me that if you’re reading this, there’s a 90% chance you’re a citizen of the United States of America. That’s our common ground. Our starting point. When you strip away all the buckets that divide us, being an American is what’s left. You’re no more an American than me, and vice versa.
As Americans, in a few months we’ll choose our next President. Now before you think it’s that important, I’ve been informed by many people involved in government that the votes you make locally are WAY more important to you and your community than voting for POTUS. But POTUS is sexier. And more widely covered in the media. You see, the media covers things that matter to the largest number of people. Because when they get you to watch, click, engage with them, those things help justify to brands why they should spend their advertising budget with these media outlets, and sets the rates it takes to advertise there. Please take a second to try and fully understand this concept, because it’s important and will play a role later in this post.
So we have a group of politicians representing two different political ideals (Republican and Democrat) fighting for our votes. Fighting hard. Tooth-and-nail. Getting you to vote for them and their ideas is the first step to helping direct our country in a certain direction. Later this year a leader will emerge from both these parties to go toe-to-toe against each other for the most powerful office in the free world. Currently, it looks like a celebrity billionaire businessman is poised to represent the Republican party, while on the Democratic side Bernie Sanders and (mere millionaire) Hillary Clinton are battling it out as its party’s nominee.
I don’t like Trump. I just don’t. I think he’s dangerous. That doesn’t mean I don’t like Republicans. I do. I was one for a long time. I served under Reagan and voted Republican until the 90s when I voted for a dude who I thought had better ideas (Perot). I just don’t trust Trump, I mean, he got his start in casinos. CASINOS. You are aware of how casinos work, right? Anyway, I am fascinated at his ability to mobilize people with simple, demeaning, and non-specific rhetoric.
I also don’t trust Hillary Clinton. She’s way too political for me. I don’t see any change coming from electing her. I mean, sure, she might push through some things that might have an impact, but her tactics and pitch are so refined that I find them inauthentic. It has nothing with her being a woman. Or a Democrat. I just mostly see her as the status quo where cronyism is policy.
I like Bernie Sanders. But he’s a Democratic Socialist. Note, this does NOT mean he’s a Communist. There was once a time in my life when I would have thought that too, but the fact is–Communism and Socialism are not the same things. The Greek philosopher Epictetus once said, “Men are not worried by things. But rather by their ideas about things.” This couldn’t be more accurate regarding the idea of Socialism.
I get it, Socialism is a scary word in America. But Socialism is just a concept in which resources are distributed equitably so that all citizens have the opportunity for the pursuit of happiness. It’s also not a system to bilk from hard working people to give to the lazy. It’s based on fairness. And whether you accept it or not, things aren’t very equitable in America right now. Here’s a good post that lists lists the 12 things Americans are most concerned about–most which are related to economics, and politics. Two things that our current political system simply can’t touch because of the divisions among us. We need to get over the idea of Socialism as being “bad.”
Despite being a lifetime politician, Sanders is like an outsider. His ideas attack core issues with almost no regard to the status quo. He’s not a Democrat, but has to run as one because he understands how politics work. I’ve heard Democrats say they won’t vote for him because he “isn’t really in line with the party” or “he won’t get anything done.” The former is due to dogma, and the later due to politics. To which I say to those Democrats, get a grip.
I like a lot of Sanders’ ideas. Most specifically, getting big money out of politics, and getting big money to pay its fair share to make America a more equitable place in terms of hope for all its citizens.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the super rich paid a 90% tax rate. Today it’s closer to 40%. Back then, families could afford to have one parent stay at home and raise a family while the other worked. And you know what? The nation flourished.
So what happened? Oh, that’s right, President Reagan. Somehow, Ronald Reagan convinced the middle class that lowering taxes on the rich would cause the middle class to thrive. The joke was on us, however, as the concept of trickle-down economics didn’t work. It’s why we’re in the mess we’re in now. Anyway, Reagan won the Cold War so we decided to make his policies the standard with which we should model all current and future economics.
Bernie Sanders is saying let’s bring back PART OF the model from the 1950s and 1960s with concern to taxation of the 1% when their tax rate was up near 90%.
I don’t understand how the middle class isn’t rallying around this concept. Hell, I’d say lower the tax rate to 20% for the middle class while we’re at it, and make the super rich pay more for their privilege of thriving economically in our great nation.
Wait a minute. Yes, I do. John Steinbeck once said, “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” We’re just proud idiots who, besides fearing the word Socialism, are deathly afraid that the lazy among us will somehow take over. Meanwhile, what we’re really doing is supporting the opposite end of that spectrum (the greedy) by helping them flourish. It’s enough to make you just shake your head.
Another of Bernie’s major issues is getting big money out of politics. Next to education, I believe this is the most important thing for our country going forward.
You see it’s like this–the super rich control the masses because they find politicians who side with their interests in mind. Politicians, like most men, desire power (Tolkien was no dummy), so getting elected to the highest position in the world is what they really want. Only, how do they go from aspiring politician to positions of power? They strike deals with the rich to do them favors once they’re in office and in exchange the rich pump massive $$ into their campaigns. That money is then used to create and distribute messaging that manipulates the voters into believing that the politicians have THEIR best interests in mind. Because frankly, we’re too busy busting our asses making ends meet to go crazy with researching who should lead us.
As a result, we’re easily manipulated by dogmatic messaging (advertising) aimed at separating us into manageable buckets so that it lights a fire in us to vote a certain way. The more yard signs we see, the more likely we are to vote for the person who buys and distributes the most yard signs. It’s the NASCAR advertising theory (seeing Tide on the hood of a car for 4 hours = ROI). And it works. I honestly don’t know how people fall for this, but they do. They have binders of data to prove it.
Remember earlier how I mentioned that the media gives you want you want to see because it affects their advertising revenue (which pays their bills and provides juicy bonuses)? Same thing here. Politicians tell you what you want to hear so that you vote for them. They don’t care about us as Americans, but rather as specific constituents. Buckets. They want power. And the 1% wants control. They use advertising to advance their agendas because humans are easily manipulated. Trust me, I’m in advertising. I know the man behind the curtain personally.
Anyway, if you really want to see a government FOR the people BY the people, the first step is to close off campaign contributions from the super rich. Yes, there will always be advertising and manipulative messaging, and, because we’re fallible, we’ll always be subject to manipulation. But at least we’d have candidates who truly represent the best interest of 99% of America. Only then would I trust my fellow Americans to make the best decisions for us. Because right now, we just look like a room full of idiots with guns and big mouths.
They’ve got us fighting each other instead of the real problem.
Wake up, America. You are not them. You are better than that. And bigger.
Maybe I’ll vote this year. I don’t know yet. I am nothing if not a man of principle. But please, by all means–you should. I promise not to bitch about your decisions. I just really hope that if you do vote, you come to your senses first. #DownWithDogma