Monday, October 30, 2017

America is what it is, and I am who I am.

This is a break from the bicycle stuff to comment on The World.
Today, special counsel Robert Mueller filed indictments against folks connected with the possibility that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to rig our last presidential election.
(Don't get me started on how I think prior elections were also rigged in their own special ways.)

Now, there are loud murmurs that Trump may fire Mueller and pardon the man Mueller indicted.
If this happens, it's not revolutionary. In fact, it's only radical because it will be so blantant an abuse of power that no one can look away. People are already wringing their hands at the prospect of a "Constitutional crisis" and talking about "nationwide action" (meaning, protests). to "speak up" about the injustice of it all.

I admit that I am dubious about all of this.

I'm dubious because, as cathartic as a rally/protest might be in this situation, we may be too late for such an action to be actually effective.
Not "meaningful," but EFFECTIVE.

--Unions have already been neutered in most states with "right to work" laws and lawsuits.
--Fewer and fewer jobs are full time and/or offer meaningful protections against worker abuse, and many workers are being replaced by automation;
--Corporations are legally people (yeah, I know) and the time for the repeal of that legal reality is not now or in the near future;
--A true "General Strike" will no longer be cohesive, cooperative or widespread enough to have a real impact. Too many people cannot afford to walk out on their jobs and/or cannot get childcare to attend a protest. Too many people are elderly, un-ambulatory and/or otherwise unable to attend. Thanks to rampany development and gentrification in cities, too few buildings are left to squat in should participants in general striking lose their jobs and their homes. Assuming that hundreds of thousands could actually be mobilized to make such an action EFFECTIVE (rather than merely meaningful), there would be widespread violence, either from troops sent in by the President or by independent armed militias who see the opportunity to flex their heavily-armed muscles -- while law enforcement mostly look the other way.

We have already watched the protests get bigger, and louder, and more violent.
And nothing has happened, except that the people with power and money are circling their wagons in tighter and tighter circles.

When the first school shootings began happening years ago, and no one in a position of power screamed or pushed through legislation demanding stricter gun laws, that was when we decided it didn't matter anymore. America -- a violent country with violent beginnings and a pervasive, hyper-masculine collective psyche that has wounded generations of sensitive children and encourage bullies for most of its history, is about to have a constitutional crisis. And other than the few hundred thousands who will march in protest, waving their signs and screaming their protest chants and wearing last winterr's pussy hats, 

Most of the country will stay home and yawn.

They will yawn from exhaustion, because they have to work two or three jobs just to stay housed. Because they're single parents or grandparents raising children, and they have no support and few or no resources. Because they are too stressed from surviving to stay caught up with the news cycle or even to read and understand our nation's constitution. because after generations of growing "anti intellectualism" -- which really boils down to hating anyone who has more than a high school diploma because you never got father than yourself, let's be honest -- the people who are actually using their educations and intellect to try and make things better are OUTNUMBERED by the folks who are too poor and sick and under-educated to find the energy and strength needed to engage in this fight.

As a country we are being overwhelmed by an inertia brought on by the widening gap between rich and poor, the death of the middle class (not nearly as slow as some would have us believe, if you know your economic history at all) and the consolidation of the world's wealth into a handful of dynastic cells. For the time being, the deck is stacked against the common working person. I will suggest that it was stacked since long before I was even born, and that the ability to make real change through mass action was already pretty much lost by the time I was in high school. Sorry, I was born too late and grew up too isolated to participate in that grandly romanticized struggle called The Sixties. I came of age with Reagan's election in 1980. Throughout my twenties I was told that "greed is good" and that fashion mattered more than substance because no one was paying attention substance anyway.
As a member of the high school class of 1981, I was never going to be an idealist about politics or the supposed power of my vote. 

I am shocked by the number of television shows today that recalls the halcyon days of the 1980s.
Seriously? Is anyone actually nostalgic for that decade? Good Lord. I'm sure as hell not.


As someone who lost their idealism long ago, I am dubious about the effectiveness of a protest action anymore. It is highly possible that real change will take generations and that I will not have a thing to say about it except on a micro-level, teaching kids or otherwise quietly influencing one heart at a time. I've got nothing else. Because I'm a fifty-something chickenshit with physical and mental health issues and so far have not found a cause that I'm actually willing to really and truly die for. Blame it on my birthyear, blame it on my rootless, isolationist parents and my highly mobile childhood, blame it on depression or auto-immune disease or any number of things. 

But all I can do is all I can do, and dying for a cause is not part of the equation. 
Because I was never raised to believe any cause might actually be worth such a sacrifice.
So it's no stretch from there to my views about rampant nationalism, flag-waving and all the rest.

So what's left? Other than going underground, living quietly and below the radar, and reveling in the small daily miracles, and being kind whenever possible, well -- I honestly don't know.
Other than doing those quiet things, I have no other answers, except to suspect that I am standing on a point in our collective timeline where the pendulum isn't swinging in my favor, and won't again for a long time. I can't be an idealist anymore. I can't pretend that bicycles will helps ave the world in our lifetime. And I can't imagine a world in which we all actually wake up and realize that we need to live kinder, gentler and simpler (and maybe have fewer kids) in order for everyone to have what they need to live a merely decent life.
I don't buy in. I don't believe. In the end, we will all die someday and the older I get, where, when and why matters less and less.

If this totally bums you out, feel free to detach, unfollow, whatever.
This is who I am, this is how I move through the world, and going forward I'll be looking for those smaller miracles, if only to keep from going crazy.

1 comment:

Robyn said...

you're a few years younger than i am, but i too came of age during the reign of st reagan: i got my MBA in 6/82 from one of the top 10 schools in the nation. our graduating class, excluding those who were put through the program by their employers, had a 'no job offer at graduation' rate of 40%. 40%, for a top tier MBA program.
i bought my first house in Dec 1984. the mortgage rate was 14% because we got a discount as first time home buyers, with 20% down.
yeah, the 1980s. they SUCKED, but the 2017+ era? all my friends cheering the 'return to the good ole days'? the days of 'separate but equal'? suburbia? women/blacks/jews knowing their place?
i do not have the words to express my disgust and fear.