Democracies Don’t Have A Ruling Class…

Legend  has it that my friend Mike, boyfriend of my friend Dianne, on July 4th, 1976, raised a glass and said, “F… the king!!”. Yes, he was drunk. But, after Dianne gave him grief for swearing, she laughed and gave him a hug on that bicentennial day. We were, indeed, remembering the day we would have no more kings in America. 

There has always  been a tension between those who believed that some people were elite and those who believed we were equals under the law. The American Revolution was started even though 1/3 wanted to leave England, 1/3 liked the king and believed in unity and 1/3 of the people couldn’t care less. When the first 1/3 convinced the last 1/3 that it was a good idea, the revolution started. They had had enough of “taxation without representation”, pain without control, some people being able to impose law without that same law applying to them.

I was listening to a podcast the other day where the pundits couldn’t understand why both Bernie Sanders supporters and Donald Trump supporters had such energized bases. Clearly, The Right and The Left had nothing in common, they said. The groups’ policies were nothing alike. Republicans and Democrats were nothing alike. There were whiny millennials and uneducated rednecks, they implied. There were the intellectual elite and the irrational lower class, they said. 

As pundits often do, they missed the point. The point is all of the things that started the revolution are applicable today, and the populous is angry — thus, the populism of Bernie on one side and the “national” populism of the Trump supporters. In America today, with the government we have, we pay a lot — in taxes, in costs to stay alive, in costs to become something better or different than we were as individuals, and frankly in everything else.  We work harder than ever, we have both parents working harder than ever, American productivity has gone up for years. American wages have not. We work harder and we get less.

Our government sent us off to war, even though many of us suspected it was under false pretenses. We went from having a surplus to a huge debt to pay for the war, and were told we weren’t loyal (“Real Americans”) if we didn’t agree. What did the get out of it? Nothing. What did bomb makers and Pentagon contractors get? They got wealthy and demanded their money. What did the bankers get? They got wealthier because they made the rules. Once again, in what once a country with more than enough to go around, we were told we couldn’t educate our children, couldn’t spend time with our families, couldn’t afford to keep a home. Once again, the military had enough and we were holding bake sales for education. Once again, bankers who had crashed the economy got to keep their money, while the rest of us had to “be nice”, “play by the rules”, and “be loyal to America”.

The problem is, there were two Americas. Those who made the rules and those who played by the rules, those who made the money and those who paid the money. The Citizens United decision cemented the idea that the rich person’s voice could be louder than the poor person’s, and rich people make the rules, because they can elect those who rule, or — in this administration — they can be those who rule.

We have been oppressed and angry for a long time now, and the shining example of American protest for the era, Occupy Wall Street, was people silently staring at Wall Street. 

Now, we have people in private jets, using taxpayer money. We have a supposedly wealthy billionaire making money charging the Secret Service (and us) money to lead. We have a woman who has never work in her life destroying the education of our children, and the leaders who have health insurance forever and a pension/salary for life telling us that we must do without either. 

In short, we have a ruling class and everyone else. It might be time to say “F the King!” once again. Once again, the leaders will say we’re not being “loyal”, and once again they will be right. We cannot be loyal to people who are above the law, who live on a faraway island of their own money, with little or no sense of what it’s like to be us, because they make the rules, and they buy the politicians they want. The difference now is that “the king” is now the president and congress. We need to impeach one and vote out the other. 

The reason for one is the same reason for the other. The rule of law must apply equally to all of us. Trump believes the rules serve him. Congress votes as though politics is more important than people’s lives. They act as if they serve their donors more than they serve the people with one vote each.

Any politician who votes to make the bomb-makers and gun-makers richer while denying education and saying we’re violent must go. Any politician who refuses to keep us alive, who keeps us poor while having anything they want must go. Any politician who inflicts pain, but doesn’t experience pain must be removed — by emplacement or the vote.

When we’re all in the same boat, and all have oars to paddle, we’ll get some motion for all of America. Democracy can’t afford a ruling class. 

Resisting in Peace,
John

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