This election cycle we have witnessed a subtle change to our political landscape – and it’s probably not the one you’re thinking about.
It’s not that Republicans have gained control of a large chunk of our government. It’s not that racists, anti-feminists and xenophobes have been emboldened by their Presidential pick winning the highest office in the land. It’s not even that the Democrats have been exposed as weak, blind and cheaply bought.
Well, it’s not just those things.
There’s something deeper and even more unprecedented going on here.
It used to be that the wealthy bribed politicians to do their bidding. Now the wealthy are becoming the politicians.
I don’t mean just millionaires. They’ve always been willing to fill an elected office. I mean the mega-rich. I mean billionaires. The Crassuses, The Midases, the Astors, The Rockefellers.
Sure, many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have always used their offices to enrich themselves. They enter the houses of government as moderately middle class but leave with pockets bursting and the opportunity to snag even more riches in the future as corporate lobbyists for the industries they were supposed to be regulating.
But now people aren’t making their fortunes in Washington. They’re entering the ring already in possession of obscene wealth. And they’re using it out in the open to tell the rest of us what to do.
This is a profound change in the Trump administration. It’s a change signaled by the President-elect, himself, and those he’s picked to serve on his cabinet of billionaires.
Until recently, Trump was no politician. He was a conman and reality TV star. He was the rich child of a rich man who spent his inheritance buying stuff, went bankrupt, and then called himself a businessman.
To help aide him in his deceptions, he used his fortune to purchase politicians. He famously donated to Hillary Clinton in 2008. Why? Because she represented his interests.
Now Trump has forgone the middlewoman. He’s taken the stage, himself. He isn’t pushing his interests forward by giving money to some accepted establishment figure. He is pretending to be that establishment figure, himself. More accurately, he’s pretending to be a maverick. After all, he was the guy who was going to Washington to drain the swamp – yet all he’s done is import more alligators, vines and toxic swamp water.
And he’s not alone. He’s championed other wealthy puppet masters to do the same.
Look at his pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.
Her entire career consists of bribing lawmakers so they’ll enact market-driven education policies that benefit herself and other members of her exclusive country club. Huge corporations, hedge fund managers, corporate raiders preying on public schools – everyone gets a piece. Her and her family of privileged religious fanatics and warmongers have pushed for unregulated charter schools, vouchers for tax funding of religious and private schools, and the spread of Common Core for all. None of it affects her or her children who never attended public school. It’s all a matter of ideology and profit so entwined that even she probably doesn’t know which is which anymore.
To be Secretary of Education used to require a knowledge of… things, not a sizable bankbook. It used to require some years of experience in the area of education or government. You had to be a teacher or run a school or a district. You had to have at least served in some major capacity as a public servant, as a governor or senator.
DeVos has done none of these things. Neither has Trump, in fact. But both have given money to so-called establishment political figures to do what they want. And the same could be said for most of his cabinet picks.
In effect, the Trumpsters have pulled down the curtain between Oz the Great and Powerful and the man pulling the strings. They aren’t hiding behind the anonymity of their donations anymore. The rats have crawled out of the woodwork and are doing the job, themselves.
It’s somewhat unprecedented.
One wonders what will happen if the trend continues. Will we see other wealthy figures take center stage? Will the philanthrocapitalists like Bill Gates run for office? Will the Koch Brothers take matching Senate seats? Will George Soros be appointed Supreme Court Justice? Is Mark Zuckerberg running for Governor?
It is very possible. This may be the age of the plutocrat. And the fascist.
It certainly shows a lack of fear on their part and a disdain for the voting public.
They used to think that we wouldn’t put up with this crap. They used to think that they had to preserve at least the facade of a democracy. Our public servants, we were told, are just little people like us, people of conscience who volunteer to serve the public good. It wasn’t true. Most of them were bought and sold – but now the wealthy aren’t even bothering with the act.
They have become so overconfident that they think they can stand out in the open and make the rules themselves – in person.
And we won’t do a damn thing.
Certainly there is no opposition party. The Democrats are almost as corrupt as the Republicans, and what’s more, they’re much weaker. After 8 years of President Obama, they’ve only lost more state houses, more governors’ mansions, more political offices and prestige. Whenever they’ve been in a position to actually oppose the plutocracy, they’ve mostly limited themselves to empty, symbolic gestures or even tried to mimic the worst behaviors of the GOP.
To be fair, there is a mounting insurgency within the Democrats lead by people like Bernie Sanders, Keith Ellison and (to some degree) Elizabeth Warren. But it is a nascent movement at present with an uncertain future. It certainly isn’t worrying the plutocrats unchained.
The real wild card here is you.
What will you do now that those ruling the world have come out of the shadows? Will you submit to their dominion or will you rise up and fight?
That is the question to which no one yet knows the answer. And it is the only opposition that can take back our government, our freedoms, and our democracy.
You and me. We make up the numerical majority. When do we get a say? When will we have had enough of being ruled? When will we reject the lottery of birth? When will we rise up and take back what’s rightfully ours?