better keep your head
what your good book said
gonna come at last
Now your crosses
are burning fast
~Neil Young, “Southern Man”
Okay, I know the headline might be a big pill to swallow, but hear me out. This isn’t an article about who you should vote for on November 8, it’s about something that is, in my mind, a lot more important.
My fellow progressive rebels, we need help. There just aren’t enough of us. You know that as well as I do. You’ve all had the experience of feeling like one of the only survivors of a zombie apocalypse, where most of your left-leaning friends and loved ones who used to be on your side have now drank the Kool-Aid and are appalled that you’re not supporting the anointed queen of the Democratic party.
It’s the most surreal thing. People who, like you, oppose racism, think women should be allowed to do what they want with their bodies, support gay marriage etc., are now trying to bully, cajole, and gaslight you into supporting an illicitly-nominated corporate stooge who’s trying to drag the entire nation into a war with Russia. These were our people!
And everything they’re viewing on television, from the corporate news media to the late-night comedy shows on HBO and Comedy Central supports their perspective. When the first batch of DNC leaks came out, exposing what is easily the biggest corruption scandal of a first-world government in living memory, John Oliver was making up goofy nicknames for Donald Trump. Leak after leak after leak pours out, shedding more and more light on how badly our elected officials have been deceiving and manipulating us, and the only thing on the news is that Trump said some pervy things.
This beast is too big, too powerful, and too deeply entrenched for us to fight on our own. We need help. Luckily, there’s a very large and sharp-toothed army who just happens to share our most urgent common interest.
WikiLeaks has never been more popular in America, and its chief advocates are us and the Trump supporters. Government transparency is something we can all get behind. There are a number of issues Berners and Deplorables agree upon, but the need for government transparency is the most urgent right now since we can’t fix a problem we can’t see. So I’m proposing that we all start putting a lot more effort into reaching out across the massive cultural divides and uniting with Trump supporters to push for it.
Our government is lying to us. The more we learn, the more we see how bad it is. We have no idea how deep the deception goes, all we know is that everything that gets leaked is soaked in it. And the journalists, whose job is so important that it’s the only profession explicitly protected in the Constitution, refuse to do that job. We’ve got an unchecked plutocracy, a lying government, and an uninformed public. All because we can’t see what’s going on without the help of outlaw hackers, brave insider whistleblowers, and their white-haired Aussie publisher.
Listen, we don’t agree with the Trumpsters on what’s the best path out of this mess. We think it’s to end corporatism and move toward healthy socialist policies, they think it’s to end corporatism and shrink government.
We both agree we need to end corporatism.
But here’s the thing: none of us can make the call about how to go ahead in a post-corporatism world until we end it, and we can’t end it until we can see what’s going on. The government is doing everything in its power to deceive us about what it’s doing, how it’s spending our taxes, who they really serve etc. and we can’t possibly know what’s the best path forward as long as our politicians are getting away with having separate “public” and “private” positions on those matters.
How could we? We can’t see a thing! You can’t decide how to vote when they won’t even let you see what you’re voting for. We’re like two contestants on Let’s Make A Deal bickering over which door might have the better prize behind it. We need to team up to get them to open the doors first, then we can begin the debate about which prize is better. Until then it’s an idiotic debate to have because nobody on either side knows what it’s like to live in a government that isn’t terminally infected with corporatism.
Right now, the problem isn’t socialism, and the problem isn’t libertarianism. Right now, the problem isn’t big government, and the problem isn’t small government. The problem right now is that governmental opacity and the media collusion therewith allows the wealthiest of the wealthy to bleed America dry so that they can add more zeros to their unfathomably vast bank accounts. Until we cure that festering disease, we’re like two spouses arguing about each other’s spending habits while being chased by a rabid bear.
So none of the ideological differences we have with Les Deplorables make one whit of difference until we can actually see what we’ve got to work with. Politicians will just throw us whatever scraps are politically convenient in each moment and make whatever tiny concessions they need to make in order to muster the appearance of public support, all the while hiding all their real movements and doing as they please. So what’s stopping us from collaborating with these people more often? What’s stopping us from reaching out more? Why are our respective tribes still so segregated, instead of united against a much greater enemy?
Near as I can tell, it’s just culture wars and identity politics. They’re different. They like guns and the Bible. They communicate in 4chan memes. And yeah, there’s undeniably bigotry there. But if their guy loses, and it looks like all stops are being pulled out to ensure that he does, they’re going to be the loudest voices of the opposition, not us. They’re bigger, louder, more demanding and more aggressive, and let’s face it, we progressives kind of suck at that stuff. At this point, the great awakening needs more brute force than nuanced intellectualism. When you’re dealing with manipulators, the medicine is a torrent of white hot rage, not a pensive consideration.
What? It’s true. That’s why we find the Hillary mind viruses so frustrating and hard to deal with, where Trump supporters just bulldoze right through them. You hardly ever see them trying to carefully debate Hillary shills because they’re all passion. They know the system is screwing them over, so they’re madly chopping it down without getting bogged down in verbose bloviations. We need more of that than we need think pieces like the one you’re reading right now. Articulate conceptualizations have their place, but a theory is worthless without practice.
If Clinton’s regime is successfully installed, we may be certain that the media cronyism will continue as the pundits and pretend comedians are used as her pet propaganda factory, attacking her detractors and excusing her behaviors, while ignoring everything of substance that happens in the real fight. We’re looking at a full-scale media war here, and we’ll need every voice we can get screaming as loud as it possibly can over the endless thrumming din of corporatist deception.
Remember, Trump supporters are the people Bernie was trying to help. Though neoliberalism is choking all of us to death, red states and rural areas have been slammed far, far harder by Wal-Mart economics than urban areas have. Check out this insightful article by David Wong from Cracked if you want a little glimpse into what life is like for them. These people are more aware than anyone else that the status quo isn’t serving them. They’re different, but they’re just like us.
Everyone who’s interested in dragging political corruption into the light of day needs to team up and help shine their respective lights on the endarkened guts of the plutocracy. I don’t know what that will look like going forward past this election cycle, but our great awakening isn’t going to stop anytime soon, so we’ll definitely find out. It will certainly make abundant use of alternative media. Surely it will involve a massive grassroots support for whistleblowing agencies like WikiLeaks and the uplifting of anyone who brings us a piece of the puzzle that the powers that be had kept hidden from us. As we’ve discussed before, the best way to keep a whistleblower safe from assassination or other government retaliation is to keep a lot of eyes on them and promise to make a major fuss if anything happens to them.
Maybe it will involve rallying behind politicians who catch the scent in the air and campaign on promises of government transparency. We just have to make sure we turn against them if they fail to live up to their promises like Obama did. And as long as we’re reaching across, can we all just admit that the Republicans were right about him? I mean, not about him being Kenyan or Muslim, but about all the important things. He perverted our hope, kowtowed to the oligarchs, bolstered U.S. imperialism, betrayed his promises, and prosecuted more whistleblowers than any other president. If you’re anti-Hillary but you still think Obama was alright, either the Republicans are right about you or the shills are, because you’ve got a bad case of either white guilt or misogyny.
Whatever form our collaboration takes, it will necessarily involve a deemphasis on identity politics, putting our preferred pet social and fiscal preferences on the back burner in order to interact with the most right-inclined Americans who share our passion for government transparency. The more we focus on our shared goal, the more doors openings we’ll find to push it through into actualization.
Identity politics have been used to wedge Americans apart for too long. The fact that urban humans and rural humans tend to have different fears and ideals has been played against us for generations. They play us against each other. Divide and conquer. But on the one issue that matters more urgently than any other, we’re united. That’s our strength. That’s how we crack this thing open and blast into the light.
Did you know Neil Young said he regrets his ham-fisted rhetoric in the song “Southern Man”? According to this Pop Dust article, he wrote in his autobiography that its lyrics are “accusatory and condescending, not fully thought out, and too easy to misconstrue.” And did you know that the renowned Lynyrd Skynyrd revenge song “Sweet Home Alabama” was not, contrary to popular belief on this side of the culture wars, in any way a racist anthem? Skynyrd penned the famous lyrics “Well, I hope Neil Young will remember/A southern man don’t need him around anyhow” in retaliation for what they perceived as an unfair generalization about southern culture.
And did you also know that both Neil Young and members of Skynyrd have said they’re fans of each other’s work? The authors of the two most significant anthems of America’s culture wars were buddies. There’s no reason we can’t bridge that gap too.
[Featured Image by Shutterstock]