America Must Radicalize – But in the Correct Direction

Over the last three or four decades, our nation has steadily declined. Furthermore, the fire sale of our country – and of the democracy that we need so badly to take it back – is not slowing down but reaching a feverish frenzy. We, the people, must therefore act quickly and with resolution. In other words, any clinging to the false hope of gradual improvement, with a small reform here and a tiny tinkering there, is a most stupid stance which ignores the ongoing fire sale and which we no longer have the luxury to believe in. Gradualism has proven itself a false promise, an insincere voter pacification, over the course of those dismal decades that saw our country go down the drain as our politicians from both major parties talked a good game but sold us out to wealthy special interests behind closed doors. Instead of hoping for gradual change-for-the-better to come from the people who have been selling us out, we must go after the root problems, which is to say: we must radicalize.

Unfortunately, radicalization can go in one of two directions: the correct direction (towards solving the root causes of our troubles) and the exact opposite: scapegoating, hate mongering, strong-man worship and mob think — in other words the things we have seen with Donald Trump’s unearned adoration and the so-called alt-right, a euphemism for things we used to call fascists, Nazis, and the KKK. The latter direction is attractive for many folks because it presents an easy outlet for venting all the built-up fury that is tearing us apart inside. The fury is fully justified, but running towards self-appointed, false leaders who resemble used cars salesmen in matters of hate and prejudice is the wrong move. It can give susceptible people feel-good moments, but it doesn’t solve our problems. Rather, if we are to solve our problems, we must use our anger intelligently, not stupidly, as a source of energy to carry us through the steps we must take to retake our country and our lives.

The steps themselves require that we use our brains in addition to our hearts and guts. We need to inform ourselves and think well in order to do the correct things. Simply blindly swallowing snappy slogans and fake solutions that don’t really solve anything, is not the way towards solutions. Simply placing blind trust in someone who postures and makes false promises, playing the role of a “strong leader,” merely invites catastrophic beings like infamous Adolf Hitler into our lead positions. A presidential candidate simply promising that, when we elect him, all will be w.o.n.d.e.r.f.u.l without presenting any workable plan is a fake who simply wants to abuse our votes for his own ends.

Candidates who deserve our support are candidates who prove that they understand our problems as well as the roots of our problems, and who propose workable solutions that will truly solve our actual problems. For example, undocumented immigrants are not the folks behind our profiteering private health insurances or the price-hiking pharmaceutical companies which bleed us dry using our health as a hostage. They are also not the ones who lowered our wages so much that both parents of a family (and possibly some of the kids) now have to work paid jobs to try and feed their family, when in the past a single income was enough. Undocumented immigrants don’t sit in our CEO positions and fix our wages or move our jobs overseas. They are also not the ones who pour money into politics. They are simply being scapegoated by the far right to give people a target against which to vent their anger — a false target which deflects our anger from those who are actually responsible for our troubles and who the right-wing leaders seek to protect from our wrath: the incredibly overpaid and unscrupulous CEOS who actually sit in the top management offices that send our jobs overseas; the political officials who rig the laws, taxes, and government agencies against us; or the robber billionaires who wallow around their swimming pools in their luxurious palaces from where they pull the strings.

Acting without thinking has never been a good recipe for problem solving, no matter how angry we are. We all have plenty of reason to be angry, furious in fact. Fury is totally justified when we lost our homes, when both parents in a family must go to work and we still can’t make ends meet, when one has to hold down two or three part-time jobs and still cannot pay the month’s rent or electric bill, when getting a professional education places you so deeply in debt that you may be paying it off for the rest of your life, even as the jobs for which you qualified never come around, when you have to hop from job to job and city to city to survive but never get your foot on dry ground, when refusal of healthcare puts you in a bad place or delivery of surgery drives you into bankruptcy. Oh, yes, we have good reason to be furious. But to find the true culprits we must follow the money.

The money doesn’t lead us to the poorest of the poor (of whom undocumented immigrants are part), but to the robber billionaires who own the companies and banks that screw us, to their 42,000+ highly paid lobbyists and corrupt politicians who implement the robber billionaire’s wishes, to the equally bountifully paid talking heads in the corporate mass media who spread the oligarchy’s lies to manipulate us, and to the think tank members who invent the lies and psychopathic strategies to make the rich richer and the rest of us poor and ever poorer with every passing year.

Many of us are like frogs sitting patiently in a pot slowly being heated, never jumping out until it is too late. In recent years, more and more of us have finally woken up to realize that our lives have been getting worse and worse and that the promises from our traditional hoped-for sources of remedies (like this or that political party) have been empty.

As we wake up we must shrug off the long-held beliefs which kept us ignorant and blind all this time. For instance, if you blindly swallowed the propaganda of the health industry profiteers in the past and therefore firmly believed that the so-called “free market” and its private insurances serve us best, it is now time to realize that the private insurances have proven this claim utterly false over the years through their rapacious behavior. Even after the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), which did everything to keep the private insurers in the game, premiums kept being raised and coverage still eludes many Americans who either don’t have any insurance at all or, when a medical emergency happens, discover that their coverage is incomplete and essentially useless. The used car salesman got his profit, but the car (I mean the insurance) he sold you turns out to be a lemon that lets you die or go bankrupt, or both.

What exactly is “free” about a market in which your health is being held for ransom? Are you “free” to make a deal when the other party of the deal is holding a gun to your head? I don’t think so. Do you? And when you consider how small businesses have it much harder to provide decent healthcare packages to their employers (a task which only distracts them from their real business) than large corporations, you have to ask yourself again how this can be good for our economy or represents a “free” market.

Consider another common case: your workplace. For many of us our places of work have become horrible. We no longer have any job security. Many of us are laid off once a year or only find underpaid part-time jobs that barely let us survive. Many of us are hopelessly un- or under-employed. And many of us, who are lucky enough to have a “good” professional job that has held for years, may have had a pleasant workplace; but now they won’t even get a greeting from their coworkers, can’t get breaks to eat lunch or visit the bathroom, and worry to be the next person to be laid off, suspecting their co-workers of possibly scheming against them or not pulling their full weight when, in the utterly understaffed workplace, each worker has to do the work of two or three, or face getting “let go,” even as their former colleagues are rotting in unemployment or severely underpaid entry-level jobs for which they are overqualified and which deny them a decent life, let alone a good life.

The thing to do, in such a situation, is not to resent your co-workers, but the company management which intentionally reduced the staff below reasonable limits in order to save on wages. These managerial types have grown up in, and fully internalized, a mentality which says that it is perfectly OK to shift as much prosperity as possible into the hands of a few and let them make all the systemic decisions, so that they rig the system ever more heavily to benefit them at the expense of the rest of us. You should also realize that your worsening workplace is not an exception but the rule. The described rot not only happens in practically every undemocratically organized company (the alternative are democratically run worker co-ops where we all get to decide and the management works for us). No, this also happens in our society as a whole, all the way to its top. We get to see it not only in the private sector but also in our politics, where the decisions are made to let this rigged system get worse and worse each passing year and to completely disenfranchise us working citizens as voters, as well.

Once you realize this, you can aim your anger at the truly responsible culprits and fight back, be it by electing true people’s representatives instead of insincere smooth-talkers (as I said above: we need to pick candidates who talk actual sense after we have learned to see sense ourselves), or by running for office yourself, or by helping to organize local meetings to hammer out a political people’s agenda (or by trying this online), or by boycotting horrible companies like Walmart, Comcast, or Verizon, and so on. The ideas will come once you have educated yourself enough and have a clear understanding of our reality and a sensible, ethical and political stance.

Sites like this blog, where you are reading this article, are part of the process of making this growing awareness and improved perception happen, as well as mutually helpful discussion. So, please make use of places like these, and – if you can – support us a little, as well, so we can keep going.

Thanks for reading (and for helping, if you do). See you next article.

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