VOTING IS USELESS or: How Wannabe Rebels Help Maintain Our Managed Democracy
It’s well-known that those who publicly shout the loudest about “illegals” are most often the same people who rush to hire as many as possible because that’s the modern version of slavery. The term “sweatshop” applies, but with the added twist there’s no way these sweatshop workers can organize for better treatment.
It’s a situation reminiscent of the 19th-century Gilded Age, when the capitalist moguls employed agents to travel to deeply poor regions in Europe and sign people up to work for a chance to reach the US. Once they arrived, though, they were literally “wage slaves” who never made enough to work off their debt.
There are a number of reasons why some jobs go wanting when it comes to workers, but for now I’ll focus on one. I find it interesting no one ever asks why it is those “dirty jobs” — most of which aren’t, really, just very hard work — go begging unless they’re filled by underpaid people at risk of being deported. Is it really only because of the pay?
Or is it that most people aren’t interested in hard work? Yes, I know—Granny’s picking on the kids again. But pause a moment and think about it. How often on social media do you see someone saying they’re desperate for work, but only if it’s related to their educational level? It’s hard to imagine there aren’t any job openings available, and I get that we all want a job that pays enough to live on, as few and far between as those are getting to be. It just seems that if you’re desperate, paying work is paying work.
Immediately after WW II, Madison Avenue joined Wall Street in inventing a “middle class” comprising mainly college-educated white-collar workers who in that economic climate were easily persuaded hard work and good choices could make them wealthy. That it also gave them a sense of superiority over their blue-collar neighbor, even if the latter was making more money, was a bonus that ensured the paradigm became embedded to the point it was accepted as a truism.
Every time you see some boutique leftist (h/t Chris Hedges) sneering at MAGA voters, you’re seeing that indoctrination at work, because they aren’t thinking of the power-holders when they do it. They’re thinking of the men and women they were taught are too stupid to perform proper work—or perhaps more important aspire to the professional-managerial class all the college-educated consider their just due.
Already feeling the objection rising? Pause a moment and consider what you’re objecting to. And why. When was the last time you really worked hard for days at a time doing some physical job that needed doing, and which you knew even as you finished it you would need to do again. And again. Gym workouts and lawn-mowing don’t count.
Now consider whether you’d want to do it every day all year long. Hold that thought and go back to it next time that kind of work comes up. Stay aware of how you feel when it’s done, even if only for a moment. Did you experience even a little trace of satisfaction and accomplishment? No? You may be suffering from capitalist indoctrination.
What would be your reaction if someone walked up, saw what you’d just done, and sneered at you for not paying someone else to do it? Repeat that mental exercise, this time with someone who shows respect for your hard work. Now how do you feel?
If you can manage that, you’ll be closer to understanding why the “deplorables” vote for people like Donald Trump who seem to show them respect. Ironically, it’s also why the Comfortable Class votes for one corporate Democrat or GOPster after another. They need the reassurance that the people doing the “dirty jobs” aren’t like them for intellectual and/or moral reasons.
The first step to achieving the solidarity the new crop of revolutionaries claim they want is to respect all work and all workers. And respect isn’t expressed by “defending the rights of the downtrodden”. That’s the opposite of respect. It’s condescending, because it turns people into helpless victims in need of their superiors’ coming to their rescue. It’s also the root of the concept of the “deserving poor”.
Why? Because wanting to be a rescuer inevitably means you’ll start lumping individuals into generic categories “for broad impact”, and the “help” offered will be just as generic — and useless for many if not most. Politicians love generic categories because they make for easy patches that may or may not be permanent and thus don’t address the underlying rot in the foundations. Even a cursory review of Congressional legislation in the last two decades makes it clear just how much politicians love patchwork. They take great pride in announcing introduction of a bill that covers one tiny fragment of a systemic problem.
So, I told you that story so I could tell you this one, because once again I see the “voting is useless” crowd swarming onto social media; and these two topics are related. What passes for the Democratic Party these days has abandoned its former base to embrace the Comfortable and Professional-Managerial classes; and thanks to The Donald and generations of practice the Libertarian-Republican Party is waiting to swoop in and grab the leftovers.
Are you someone who refuses to vote for an otherwise excellent candidate for no reason other than their position on your pet issue? If so, then consider how likely it is that kind of patchwork voting will bring about the systemic changes standing in the way of the broad policies most people have said they want. In other words, nothing will improve while you wait for the perfect candidate.
I’ve lived a long time, and I’ve watched effort after effort to change the system fail. Why? Because people refused to expand their minds beyond their specific issue to address the underlying reason why we live in a “free-market” dystopia that’s killing us. Instead of listening to what a candidate actually thinks, they go looking for their private niche; and if they don’t find in it what they want, that’s it. They go back to waiting for perfection. Or howling we need a revolution.
Right now, there are two very important people who’ve chosen to defy managed democracy and challenge an incumbent President of the US from within his own party. They’ve already been subjected to the character assassination and media blackout that party uses to maintain our managed democracy. One of them has experienced the murder of two family members engaged in what he’s chosen to do.
And right on cue, there emerge the purists. “I can’t support X/Y because they disagrees with me on (whatever)”. Never mind the overall message. “I don’t see what I want to have, so I’m not playing.” What’s worse is half the time what they’ve chosen as a disqualification is based on nothing other than media propaganda; and when challenged to go see what the facts are simply double down on their cult thinking.
Five years ago, Sheldon Wolin wrote a book that everyone who really cares about replacing our corrupted, corporate-run governments needs to read. He had at the time what I consider far too much faith in the Democrats, but that’s beside the point. The important part is that by not voting, especially in primaries (73% of us don’t), we are complicit in the maintenance of the managed democracy he describes.
Just as our current Congress wants to address single issues instead of passing legislation that would fix the problem those issues are just one part of, our single-issue political newbies don’t think of the broader goal. There’s no point in changing the tires if the engine doesn’t work, but that’s essentially what seems to pass for progressive politics right now. And not enough people want to do the hard labor of repairing the engine.