I had a conversation with a young friend yesterday. He had been active in Occupy Oakland and was agreeing with me that things today were totally unpredictable back then. “If somebody in Occupy Oakland had predicted what would be happening today, people would have thought he was on crack,” he said. Or, it would have made that person the most successful acid dealer in town. Everybody would have wanted some of what he had dropped.
Think about it:
Today, people are focused on Israel’s genocidal war against the people of Gaza. In one week, the US government will likely be shutting down and nobody knows for how long nor what the consequences will be. That could become the focus of attention.
Nothing like a good sex scandal
Or take another issue: Yesterday the Washington Post and other newspapers reported a DOJ arrest of three men involved for operating two high end brothels, one just outside of Washington DC and one outside of Boston. “The brothels’ clients, which prosecutors allege could number in the hundreds, also included tech and pharmaceutical executives, doctors, professors, lawyers, scientists and accountants, according to court filings, which did not name any of the alleged clients,” the Post reported. According to other reports, military officials and elected politicians also used those “services”.
The three arrestees are all Chinese, and apparently the DOJ is concerned that this is an operation that will subject the patrons to blackmail.
Who knows what names will be revealed? Will some of the Christian fundamentalist politicians also be revealed as patrons? We know that Americans love scandals, especially sex scandals. This could be a scandal that engulfs US politics for a long time – even for a couple of weeks!
Until the next issue of the day pops up. What could that be? Maybe Hamas or a similar group will conduct a terrorist bombing either on US soil or against a US military base overseas. Maybe, as the election approaches, the QAnon sector of US society will conduct a terrorist event.
Here’s another possibility: I think the great bulk of the US capitalist class is extremely concerned that an unhinged Trump, who is actually an asset of Russia (or anybody else who will bid for his services), could get elected next year. They are becoming desperate. Will their lawsuits to keep him off the ballot succeed? (Those lawsuits are based on the post Civil War 14th Amendment, which prohibits anybody who engaged in “insurrection” from being elected into federal office.) If they can keep Trump off the ballot, that in itself could provoke far right riots or terrorist acts, or both.
And then there’s the US economy. Much of the results of the next presidential election may hinge on that issue. And the talking heads economic analysts really don’t have any better an idea of what will happen there than do the political analysts have over the results of the next presidential election. But if it collapses, Biden’s goose will be ready for Thanksgiving – cooked, in other words.
“The pitchforks are coming for us plutocrats”
I keep thinking of the billionaire Amazon investor Nick Hanauer’s Ted Talk, “The Pitchforks are coming for us plutocrats”. That was 125 years ago, back in 2014, back when the issue was a $15/hour minimum wage. “And what do I see in our future now? I see pitchforks,” Hanauer wrote. “ At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast…. And so, I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last. If we don’t do something to correct these glaring inequalities, the pitchforks are going to come for us.”
But guess what? The glaring inequalities have gotten worse since then but the pitchforks haven’t come. There has been no mass uprising of the working class, especially the “working poor”. There has been an increase in support for and interest in unions and in strikes. There was the mass movement in response to the murder of George Floyd. Today there is an outpouring of anger at US support for Israel’s genocidal war against the Palestinians.
But a mass movement against the “glaring inequalities” – what happened there? What happened was that the union leadership and the leaders of the left wing NGO’s collaborated to contain and restrain any such tendencies.
If we go back into the even more distant past – 2008 – we can see the other aspect of what happened. Then, a sharp recession hit. Remember that? First under the Republicans and then under the Democrats the government bailed out the banks and left tens of millions of workers high and dry. Anger at this was channeled into the “Tea Party” movement. This was a right wing populist movement that blamed “big government” for the problems. Not “Corporate America” or “the one percent”. It was “big government”. This was MAGAism, QAnon type thinking before there ever was MAGA or QAnon. The Tea Party got right wing Republicans like Mark Meadows elected and its mode of thinking has developed further ever since. It helped get Trump elected eight years later. That mode of thinking – hysteria, really – was enormously magnified by the isolation imposed by covid.
Meanwhile, the capitalist class is degenerating to an unprecedented degree. Think of pharmaceutical entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. He makes Trump seem like a deep thinking and likable guy. Ramaswamy exemplifies the finance capitalists and the process that could be called the lumpenization of the bourgeoisie. If Trump is elected president Ramaswamy will probably serve in his administration. (The position of vice presidential running mate may already be taken by Tucker Carlson.)
House of Representatives picks next president?
Here’s another possible scenario: We have Robert Kennedy jr., Cornel West, and now Jill Stein all running for president against two highly unpopular main figures – Biden and Trump. It seems right wing Democrat Joe Manchin may also throw his hat into the ring. In this unsettled situation, it’s entirely possible that one of these others could actually win a state or two, and the result could be that neither Trump nor Biden wins a majority of the electoral votes. In that situation, the House of Representatives will choose the next president. It is certain that they will pick the Republican since they vote based on one vote for every state. Even if the majority of Representatives following this next election are Democrats, the majority of individual states will have Republican majorities. So, imagine this: Biden could win the majority of popular votes. He could even win more electoral votes than Trump. And yet, the House of Representatives would choose Trump!
Can you imagine the uproar?
Back to that conversation with my young friend. We agreed that we may be facing real disaster, but it sure is interesting times we’re living in. Better than dropping acid. Sometimes, all you can do is laugh to keep from crying.