• Sona Chaturvedi

Politics of Delusion

“Conservatives have punk’d the nation” – Rick Perlstein. How did we get here? A country that is so deeply divided by wedge issues that we literally cannot see what is in our own best interest? In a nutshell, we got punk’d. We were sold the great American lie that we are exceptional, beyond reproach and everyone is a millionaire waiting in the wings. It was all a myth, conjured up by a white, male power structure that fooled us all into thinking everyone, if they worked hard enough, regardless of their circumstances, had a shot at the American dream. Everyone bought into it. Countless books were written. Hollywood rags-to-riches stories were produced. All of it woven together to create an atmosphere of aspiration and not of reality. Then it gently started to die down in the last 50 years and began unraveling.  We had to blame someone, some entity that ruined it for all of us. All of white America, that is. Enter the immigrant. Of course, logically, everyone somehow knows, with the exception of Native Americans, we are all immigrants. However, what kind of immigrant you are matters. If you are a white immigrant, that is acceptable for the most part. But if you are a person of color, you are a problem. You are taking away jobs from “real” Americans, therefore ruining the American dream. So, we are told. In the middle of all this, somewhere in the wild GOP spinning machine, it became less aspirational when people realized they, perhaps, would never be part of the ruling class. At that point, the GOP's plan to continue their culture war by focusing on wedge issues kicked into high gear.

Nothing illustrated this more than the Tea Party, which emerged after the 2008 election. This disconnect between personal financial interest and partisan lean may be partly explained by the fact that, increasingly, other issues matter more than money when it comes to political affiliation. According to Gallup polling, the proportion of Americans who say the gap between rich and poor is America’s most important problem, at 2%, is much smaller than those who cite immigration (11%) or race relations (7%). And we blame and completely distrust Washington and our lawmakers. “Americans... still believe in an America where anything's possible - they just don't think their leaders do,” Barack Obama said. That’s one of the reasons Donald Trump was elected. Because he was the “outsider,” he was going to run the country like a business and “drain” the swamp of corrupt politicians. It doesn’t matter to his supporters that he didn’t pay taxes into what they view as a corrupt system. In a 2016 debate with Hillary Clinton, she called him out for it, and he simply quipped that gaming the system made him smart. His supporters who do pay admired him for it. According to a recent Pew Poll, just 15% of Democrats and 22% of Republicans -- less than a quarter of those who identified with either party controlling both houses of Congress -- had faith in Washington to do the right thing. People who voted for Trump were sold a lie about how America could return to the greatness of the typical white middle class. They are yearning for a past that will never again come to fruition. There is no magic bullet that is going to turn the clock back on climate change and bring back coal-mining jobs. Instead of re-training workers to compete in a global economy, we are stuck in a lie, a well-orchestrated falsehood to keep all of us fighting under the same umbrella, while those at the top remain untouched. This is precisely what happens when one party just stops governing, just gives up on us, and the GOP has. They stand for nothing. Fiscal conservative? No. Not for the wealthy and their endless tax breaks. They most certainly are not patriots. How does Washington win back the trust of the American people? Easy. By doing what they say they are going to do.

We have no choice but to have a one-party system, and get money out of politics, until the other side proves they can govern. We are going down the path of absolute failure as a nation. To right the course, there is only this one solution. Vote blue all the way down the ballot, every time. It is time to stop getting “punk’d.”