By Jesse Crall
My focus in politics lies in concentrated power and how it corrupts every system in our society. Our crises in healthcare, climate, economic justice, foreign policy…all emerge through the concentrated power of a small number of people and corporate interests granted the ability to control enormous aspects of life both domestic and abroad. These interests may call themselves Democrats or Republicans but the overarching mission always remains the same: to protect and expand their power within the systems governing this country.
Americans are told that the system is fine – the economic system, the political system – and yet we’re still unhappy, confused, despairing…above all, we feel locked out. We’re told that capitalism is faultless, that America is the greatest country on earth and if we follow the rules and pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, we’ll thrive. And it’s okay to be a billionaire, in fact it’s good to be a billionaire, it means you worked hard. And celebrities are great and they have perfect skin and they’re really thin and rich and have beautiful husbands or wives. And the media is telling the truth and we have to support it. And democracy dies in darkness.
So if all that is true and we buy in, why are we unhappy? What’s wrong with us?
And then we get told, no, there are bad things, we’re unhappy because of…fill in the blank. The influential sources will never offer an answer that threatens their standing. So instead of concentrated power and the systems that perpetuate it, we’re told to blame Republicans, Democrats, college feminists, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, the illegal migrant caravan, Muslims, Jews, Russians, people who want to take your guns away, transgender individuals…
We’re told all of this so we can pick enemies.
Oh, I’m unhappy because…
I’m out of work because…
I don’t have health insurance because…
This person did it, that group did it, this party did it, that country did it.
Joe Biden and Donald Trump are beneficiaries of the same systems. The systems will stay the same no matter who wins in November. Bernie Sanders mounted a very moderate challenge to those systems. He hoped to get some money out of politics and pass legislation that would have limited corporate influence on our politics. And for most of the country, there would have been a material improvement if he passed his major legislation. And the 1% at the top – or more importantly, the 1/10th of 1% at the highest point at the top – couldn’t accept his mild reforms and they stopped them from happening every way they could…because they want it all.
And instead of looking at the system, at the political system, at the economic system, at concentrated power at its very core, the Democratic establishment will get us to target our blame towards Trump – the big, orange menace who is a fascist dictator and the greatest existential threat to democracy in our nation’s history. We’re somehow supposed to ignore that our Democratic Congress overwhelmingly voted to pass Trump’s military budget, trade deal and corporate bailout over the last five months.
They will get us to blame Mitch McConnell or the GOP or Trump voters or the South or Bernie Bros or people who don’t vote. And maybe we’ll drive Trump from the White House and some of us will celebrate the achievement while others immediately focus on sabotaging whatever the next president attempts.
Many of us will fail to recognize the real, insidious aspects of our society. We’ll be misdirected. We’ll see the greatest failures of Trump as products of his own evil as opposed to the accepted behaviors and ambitions of our leaders going back decades. Obama dealt weapons to the Saudi Arabians to aid their genocide in Yemen. George W. Bush launched a war that decimated a nation. Bill Clinton worked with Madeleine Albright to sanction over half a million Iraqi children to death. All the while, corporate power in America consolidated around a smaller and richer group of individuals who helped widen the pipeline running money between Washington and board rooms across the nation.
Do Americans enjoy ceding so much control of our lives? Instead of taking power back for ourselves, we too often just cheerlead for whichever team we think rules us more benevolently. Our loyalty to parties, to networks, to brands…only serves to separate us from the best of what America has to offer once individual liberties and a collective spirit take this country back from the grip of concentrated power.
So it’s our job to try to see the world as it is as opposed to how it’s sold to us by those who benefit from deception. Only then will we prove ourselves capable of initiating meaningful change.
A Los Angeles native, Jesse Crall graduated from UCLA’s English Department before working as a copywriter, script reader and project manager for an engineering firm. Now pursuing a master’s degree in writing at NYU, he splits his time between Studio City and Manhattan. You can listen to his podcast at Patreon.com/JesseCrall