Slithering into the 2012 elections, American politics are all about class warfare but on the scariest scale. In the space of seven years the needle has moved from Thomas Frank’s 2004 haunting query on why our working class chooses against its natural economic interests (‘What’s the Matter with Kansas?”), to pre-purchased revisionists like George Will (“Burning Down the House” – July 1st, 2011, Washington Post) blaming the ongoing economic recession on Fannie Mae and government policies without including Wall Street’s insider trading, client betraying financial punks front and center.
In this context, the 2012 Romney presidential campaign slogan, “Obama Isn’t Working”, highlights how relative truth has become manipulated caricature in America as the nation grinds to a self-inflicted halt. Instead of liberating Lady Gaga’s “Little Monsters”, our body politic has morphed into a deadlocked “Frankensteinian” monster-mashed, existential dilemma over “what’s not the matter with all of us”?, that is disfiguring our lives and warping any further reason to believe.
When in power, both principal political parties have shown a marked preference for scoring hard core ideological points on the backs of those who didn’t vote their way instead of reaching to the middle to create community sustaining jobs. As a result, the American working class is on life support while we still debate the unalienable right to equal healthcare for every tax-paying resident, or whether cleaning up our environment through lower carbon energy independence is a national security priority, or whether those who have too much should give more as opposed to taking more from those who don’t have enough to begin with, or whether we should blame those who choose public service for our greed-induced societal foibles. Like a dysfunctional national gyroscope or radar, we’ve lost the ability to right ourselves and come back to our identity and location in the middle of the universe we used to inhabit in the dreams of our founders.
We’ve reached a national tipping point between defending the participative democracy we were envisioned to be or solidifying the extended insider financial oligarchy we have become, between practicing and defending economic patriotism based on individual ownership of land, hearth, and manufacturing our own employment – to giving up and giving in to a new form of indentured servitude where personal sovereignty yields to renting our lives, leasing our time, and choosing between gas or food to assemble our outsourced way of life while others fly off to gated lives of multi-vacation homes and private aircraft paid for by taxpayer bail-outs.
Despite tangible bipartisan anger, we have informally sanctioned a national marketplace of abusive “casual corruption” (George Packer, The New Yorker, “A Dirty Business”, June 27th, 2011) in high places while formally exacting retribution and tribute from victims. The global financial class thunders from Davos-type summits that it’s time to let their masters of the universe out of post-tsunami-recession penalty boxes feebly erected to provide intermittent societal shelter from non-stop incoming rounds of documented systemic abuses paid off as “civil fines without admitting guilt”. This is at least morally and hypocritically wrong even if outright criminality is frustratingly elusive to prove.
Bipartisan, predatory capitalism betting against America has resulted in 24 million under or unemployed of our fellow citizens and practically $9 trillion in “now you see it, now you don’t” vanished household wealth since 2007. Meanwhile, the nation has spent countless human treasure in lost middle and working class lives defending our values and homeland sanctity in this decade’s two wars. Not a pretty patriotic juxtaposition.
The epitaph for these first eleven years of this century in this country is that the system worked to steal our equity while the wars we were led into killed our sons and daughters and transformed us into national debtors and squatters in our own land. Betrayed by the hard-over ideological posturing of our leaders’ inability to put the people’s interests first, we’ve even lost our will to register shock while drowning in a morass of bait and switch political symbolism and endless mixed metaphor campaign messages that culminate to keep the monthly bills coming, the homes foreclosing, and the company store oligarchies humming.
Message confusion is bankable. That leading corporate bundler of political contributions, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hangs flags outside their headquarters facing the White House across Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. spelling out “JOBS” in capital letters and underneath the site, “freeenterprise.com”, for pedestrians, lobbyists, tourists, and policymakers alike. What the flags don’t state is whether these jobs are American jobs or not, and whether these jobs are in the United States or elsewhere. Not surprising omissions when fronting for multinationals whose global interests are squarely focused on jobs anywhere and everywhere with each non command-and-control hosting country acting like dependent nodes in a worldwide matrix that can be activated or deactivated at will depending on how private profit flows are influenced and captured. This Chamber should drop the “U.S.” from their name because it violates truth in advertising.
Unless we transition in real time from the “Shareholder Economy” to the “Stakeholder Economy”, our own Little Monsters will show us organically how to eat our young.