I can’t help but marvel at the growing anti-elitist movement taking place in real time. As a lifelong populist, left of liberal, just barely right of anarchist – I welcome the long overdue makings of a people-first political campaign.
The truth of the matter is I’m less concerned with who ignited the socially conscious crusade than I am with the kindling necessary to fuel it into a communal prairie fire. History teaches us that effective movements are only sustainable through unrelenting commitment, rooted and energized from the ground up, not from the top down.
But here’s the thing. What took so long? As a person of color (POC) I’m part of a social order conversant with disparity, as my ancestors were, and my child is still. What astonishes me about this movement is the depth of mutual political and social discontentment – across racial and cultural lines.
Suburbia, has suddenly discovered, albeit kicking and screaming, that it has common interests with urban POC America. The ultra-white rust and bucolic belts of the country are predictably doubtful but are s-l-o-w-l-y coming around to their senses having been abandoned by their employers, conned by politicians and falling victim to their own misery.
Which calls to mind an infamous remark attributed to former President Lyndon B. Johnson directed to his Press Secretary Bill Moyers in the article, “What a Real President Was Like,” (Washington Post, 13 November 1988.)
If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.
What took so long for the movement? Well, I guess I just answered my question.
Now, I’m not naïve in thinking that in a Sanders’s presidency, “aggrieved” whites in America will voluntarily share their perceived entitlement of the American pie. However, I think collectively, whites are in for a rude awakening. Comeuppance is a bitter pill to swallow. In spite of whining protestations, the pie is no longer theirs to share (it never was.)
Global elites own America’s pie shop, and every other country’s assets and resources worth exploiting. And short of an unremitting political, socioeconomic revolution, the financial incarnates that make the rules aren’t about to fork over slices to ANYBODY they consider beneath their social-economic stratum.
However, the immolation of a corrupt corporate political system was inevitable. Apparently, all it took to hasten ignition was the combination of white exploitation and having elites overplay their hand. Greed does that to people, especially to those whom pecking orders and austerity are considered bookends necessary to support and maintain authority.
And yet, blind to recent political developments, our morphed corporate governance continues to push rhetoric and policies aimed at controlling its citizenry into submission. Old habits die hard. Just the same belligerent blueprint; continued attempts to diffuse social rebellion through diversion, by fragmenting people into subgroups, pitting them against one another for diminishing benefits and opportunities.
But much to the mortification of elites, an insurgency is in the air. The cudgel called Capitalism, which bludgeoned us (figuratively and literally) into obedience, is dying. As a socioeconomic model, its crony free market metrics are a thinly veiled Ponzi scheme, requiring ravenous, continuous growth, and is globally unsustainable. The question is whether we, as a people, perish as the result of, and before the demise of its neoliberal policies.
The sad irony, of course, is with the continued privatization of social programs and disintegration of the social safety net, all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, generation, gender or political affiliation are forced more than ever to fend for themselves. It’s becoming a matter of self-preservation. It’s getting crowded under the bus.
On the bright side, an ethnically united rebellion can add fuel to the political pyre spreading change across this country. I can’t help but wonder how the dismantling of corporate-heavy domination could create a myriad of opportunities for POC. If it takes a white-haired old Socialist from New England to help BUILD a socially-conscious movement, so much the better.
“Build” is a powerful word. The word’s very definition – to construct, to assemble, to erect, to fabricate, and to manufacture – is a testament to its potential and force in society. Build, a movement. Don’t bitch. I believe that’s the “affirmative action” that generates racial and socioeconomic leverage. Anything short of that is a collective abdication of our civic responsibility.
My only caveat to the movement – is that as a POC – I make certain that my people get a piece of the pie. Because I damn sure know, who will be cutting in – to reach the front of the line.