Read this: The American voters, the 90% that is, are tired of politics as usual, tired of being ignored, tired of it all. In what may be dramatic signs of frustration about to boil over they are reaching out in every direction for something that is NOT THE SAME OLD BS. “From feeling the Bern to cheering The Donald, Americans are done with acquiescing to the political establishment.” They seem to be ready to speak out, to resist, to risk their livelihood and their very way of life. OK, maybe they are not quite there yet, but for the first time since the 1960’s they seem to be rapidly moving in that direction. After all, what do they really have to lose?
The article below from The Nation Magazine, by Steve Fraser examines what it takes to move the American people to resistance after being trained for years to acquiesce and go along with the established order in our politics. For too long the accepted mood has been we can’t change things, we must work from within the system, blah, blah, blah. As Fraser says ” To rise up means to silence those intimidating internal voices warning that the overlords have the right to rule by virtue of their wisdom, wealth, and everything that immemorial custom decrees. Fear naturally closes in.” At some point, however, frustration outweighs the fear and America seems to be approaching that threshold.
Fraser takes a look at other times in American history when fear took a back seat to political action. After the Bill Clinton campaign of Hope and the Obama campaign of Change it is hard to find real believers who do not reside firmly in a top 10% zipcode. Things are different depending on your class, “when you live for so long in the shade of acquiescence where hope goes to die or at least grows sickly, you miss such things. After all, if history has a logic, it can remain so deeply hidden as to be indecipherable… until it bites.” And once it bites people look for a way and a place to react.
Liberal leaders lost their way. The New Deal has been reduced or weakened to a shadow of itself and capitalism has become the tool in the war on equality. Republicans culpability cannot be overlooked either, as Fraser says “The liberal elite that took credit for opening up that race to the top had also at times presided over a neoliberal capitalism which had, for decades, been damaging the lives of working people of all colors … but Republicans have more than shared in this; they have, in fact, often taken the lead in implanting a market and finance driven economic system that has produced a few ‘winners’ and legions of ‘losers’.” The American people quietly accepted as “both parties heralded a deregulated marketplace, global free trade, the outsourcing of manufacturing and other industries, the privatization of public services, and the shrink-wrapping of the social safety net. All of these together gutted towns and cities as well as whole regions (think: Rust Belt America) and ways of life.” Unbelievably, it just goes on and on as “the New Deal Democratic Party’s tradition of resisting economic exploitation and inequality vaporized, while the ‘new Democrats’ of the Clinton era and beyond, as well as many in the boardrooms of the Fortune 500 and in hedge-fund America, continued to champion equal rights for all.”
Fraser looks at what he calls “Class Struggle, American Style (where) President Richard Nixon invoked the ‘silent majority’ to do battle with those who would soon come to be known as ‘limousine liberals’.” Meanwhile the American people were sold a smorgasbord of “Hope” and “Change We Can Believe In” frustrations begin to overflow. According to Fraser, Republicans are reacting with “a fantasy of an older capitalism, one friendlier to the way they think America used to be. They might be called anti-capitalists on behalf of capitalism” while Democrats feeling the Bern are insisting “that Americans should look beneath the surface of a liberal capitalism that is economically and ethically bankrupt and running a political confidence game, even as it condescends to ‘the forgotten man’.”
The article gives a good look into the reasons, frustrations and possible choices availing themselves to the discontented. The question is whether there is enough frustration and courage to actually do something different, and if so, who will lead and what will it look like. The Trump and Sanders options are quite different but are either going to prevail?