Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Capitalism Versus Water (17 Images In Support Of One Thought)

In the final analysis, it will be said of the late stages of capitalism that they could not even provide safe drinking water to the vast majority of the population. Monster Juice, electric couches, and porn, yes. Water, no.

Price gouging in times of crisis:

Public drinking water:

The government is against those who protect water:

Saturday, September 15, 2018

What “Woke" Means To Me

The term “woke” is being used of late to describe a state of mind that is capable of seeing beyond the official political narrative. Although there appears to be two official narratives, the liberal and conservative models, the range of debate within those two contrasting positions is so narrow that the two merely represent modest extremes of a single central narrative. The term is best associated with Caitlin Johnstone, author of a book of poetry called Woke as well as an impressive amount of political commentary and journalism. I would like to speak a little about what “woke” means to me, before the term is co-opted by Democrats, who co-opt any concept uttered by legitimate leftists and water it down until it has lost any meaning. 
I sometimes wonder if such a term as “woke” is a little too far out there for the average person to take seriously. In reality, all it implies is that one is able to consider ideas beyond those put forth within that narrow frame of debate as established by the two political parties and the corporate media that provides us with all the context we are supposed to require. Being woke in the political sense, then, is simply refusing to fall in with either of the two narratives we are given as choices. And if you want an example as to how limited those choices are, opposing war is always going to fall outside of them. You simply can’t argue for peace within the parameters set by those who define what is acceptable thought. If you ignore their definition of reality, you are woke.

There are deeper dimensions to the term “woke”, of course. Being politically woke is almost always accompanied by a deep cultural awareness, as well as a desire to explore one’s own psychological and spiritual needs and motivations. It is really not much different than what Sociologist/Psychiatrist Erich Fromm would call becoming an adult. 
Being woke, to my mind at least, is to emerge from the desire for an authority to tell you what to do and how to behave and instead become an active agent in the world. To be something less than woke, something less than a fully emerged adult, is to escape into childish fantasies, to allow others to assume your responsibility to the world you live in. I see it in academics, who find no issue so important that they can’t escape from putting their ass on the line by parsing words until meaning—and hence the impetus for action—is lost. I see it in our political leaders who retreat down the path of least resistance because they really don’t believe in their ability to effect meaningful change. I see it in our artists who don’t feel they have any further obligation to their audience than to entertain them, just as I see it in their audience, who demand nothing more of art than distraction. I see it in everyone who goes to work doing a job that is harmful to society as a whole, because profit has taken the place of meaning. And I see it in the pundits and the journalists. God, do I see it in the pundits and the journalists. They are nothing but actors on a stage reciting the words written for them by anonymous authority. And finding it necessary to prove themselves worthy of the obscene wages they receive, they use all of their skill to project passion and conviction into the role they play. But there is no will in them. Whatever individuality is within them they cede to their paymasters. They are not adults but children eager to please those with power and authority.
The concept of being “woke” is not only not new, it is quite possibly as old as recorded human thought. It bears an unmistakable resemblance to the Upanishads, which date at least back to 6th Century B.C. 
Plato spoke of the very thing in The Republic circa 300 B.C. It is nothing more than a transcendence of our more primitive/bestial/childish way of perceiving the world we live in and our relationship to it. The Book Of Genesis (circa 6th Century B.C.) offers a similar vision as Erich Fromm’s in describing the fall of man. Man once lived in the Garden Of Eden, unaware of death, no different than the animals or a child. But by eating of the fruit of knowledge, he can no longer live like an animal or a child, and is evicted from the garden, can never return to that early state of innocence. In place of the Garden of Eden which he was forced to leave upon evolving, he cannot hope to revert but can only work towards evolving further still to a new relationship with the world in which he lives as an adult.
Humanity cannot hope to go back to how things were, as you now see Democrats and Republicans so fervently trying, each in their own ways. We can either confront the situation as it is or else deny it, as those within the primitive binary Republican/Democrat paradigm are attempting to do. We can either accept reality or rationalize everything until it fits within our outmoded model. We must struggle to understand truth or else retreat into fantasy. We can vainly endeavor to find our way back to the Garden, some imagined idyllic past not unlike Hitler imagined for the German people, or else work our way to a promised land that all our great thinkers—and evolution itself—push us towards. 

On it surface, there is really nothing mystical at all about the idea of being "woke". It is merely becoming wise to a viewpoint that has limitations that have been pushed to their limits. It is merely recognizing that what is presented as solutions are not sufficient to help us create the world that needs to be. It is just accepting the facts at face value. But I do not wish to dismiss the deeper elements to the idea of being woke. Because there is a wonderful and immense depth to what can be unearthed once we transcend the limitations set for us by ourselves and others. Becoming an adult, tapping into our adult capacities for conviction and commitment does not do away with miracles, it makes them possible.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

A New Greatest Generation

Tom Brokaw coined the expression “The Greatest Generation” to refer to those who were raised during the Great Depression only to end up having to fight in the Second World War. Though they did what was necessary, the individuals of that generation did not choose to be confronted with the kind of trials that would forge them into greatness but rather had such tests thrusts upon them. As the times make the man, so to do they make the generation.

Such a time is now upon the current generation. While they were raised at the tail end of prosperous times rather than a depression, a threat to democracy and the world itself has been building during the course of their lives. Indeed, it is no looming threat that sits outside our borders, it has already overwhelmed us, penetrated the depths of our nation into every corner of every community. The battle has already been fought and we are now a conquered people. We are living in an occupied nation and the battle we must fight will be a war of liberation.

The battle will be fought in the smallest of ways. It will be fought within each neighborhood, each small community. It will be fought in the schools and at the farmers markets. It will be fought wherever two or more people have an opportunity to discuss the situation in which we now find ourselves and discuss the ways in which our own emancipation is possible. As those before us had scrap drives and newspaper drives, so too will we have to work together to recycle and preserve our precious resources. That which is wasted might as well be given over to our enemy.

It will require the tactics of the guerilla, the same sort of resistance required of a people subjugated by a foreign power. It will require the unified action of a people who realize control of their nation has been taken from them. We must be clear that those who now rule over us do not do so with the informed consent of the people.

The enemy is immensely powerful, but it is clumsy and it is slow. It will be vulnerable to a disciplined resistance that is able to constantly shift tactics and choose its own battlegrounds. We cannot afford to fight our occupiers on their own terms, because they are too strong. We need to take them on at a very human level.

The conqueror I speak of is the corporate control of our nation and, indeed, our world. Corporations have utterly overtaken our country, replaced a government of the people with a government of the corporations.

Understand that I do not talk about a resistance that involves violence. Nor can or should we attempt to work in secrecy, since the enemy is in control of most every means of communication, has their spies in every home and in every public space in the form of the electronic devices they have convinced us we need. I speak of a resistance the likes of which Mahatma Gandhi demonstrated to the world. I speak of a resistance that rises up from the deepest and noblest aspects of us.

This struggle is not merely a struggle for independence but quite possibly a struggle for the existence of life on our planet. The corporate mentality is not a human one. It does not jibe with the most basic human needs beyond the physical, and as it is said, “Man does not live on bread alone.” It seeks to make all human interactions into economic ones, seeks to make us all nothing more than cogs in a corporate machine, cogs that are to be thrown away once they no longer function as the machine requires.

In a corporate reality, the environment, the Earth itself, has no intrinsic worth. If it so serves the short-term goal of making more money, forests are to be torn down and bombs dropped on children in order to insure corporations' need for profit. In a strictly corporate mindset, nothing matters except increasing power and profit for the corporation. Clean water, your child’s survival, the extinction of species, are all secondary considerations, potentially profitable but also potential barriers to the primary goals of profit and power. In such a world, money, not man, is the measure of all things.

To combat this will require great sacrifice from us, from all of us. Sacrifice sounds like a terrible thing. But anyone who has loved enough to sacrifice for another human being, a goal, or an idea, will understand how lightly sacrifice may be born when done for love and in hope of a better future. A parent sacrifices in countless ways for the love of a child, but the sacrifice is easily borne when done with love and hope. The sacrifices someone makes to start a business or finish a degree are many, but the achievement of that goal, both in aspiration and in reality, makes us happier people even as we give up small comforts.

But such sacrifices in the end are small things. As Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty, or give me death.” We will find that mere material possessions mean nothing in the long term. Indeed, such trinkets can as easily be taken from us as they were given. A government of the corporations will insure you no rights or property. They wish to keep you poor so that you are so busy in scratching out a living you have no will to reflect or resist. We are daily switching from an ownership society to one of monthly payments, becoming renters instead of owners. Where once we owned physical copies of movies, we now have access to them only so long as we pay our Netflix bill. Our access to knowledge is not through a set of books we own but dependent upon our monthly payment to our internet providers. And who now can say they truly own the house they live in or the car they drive?

What we must give up in the short term are mere conveniences, plastic spoons and plastic bags. Unnecessary trips to Walmart to buy things we don’t need. The newest iteration of cell phone or video game. We must disconnect as much as possible from the corporate way of doing things and find new (and old) ways of connecting with our environment and our fellow humans, ones that bypass profits for corporations. We must dismiss out of hand any corporate source of information or art as being fundamentally flawed by corporate intentions. We must view laws passed by corporate-owned politicians as tools intended to suppress true democracy and self-determination for the people. We as human beings must find a way of defining who we are and what we want without being molded by corporate interests, which in their essence are contrary to our own.

And when we begin to make the necessary sacrifices we will experience a joy we have forgotten existed. We will feel the very real (and some may describe as spiritual or sacred) connection to our fellow humans and the world we inhabit. We will even experience our sacred connection to ourselves, recognize ourselves perhaps for the first time as something other than producers and consumers of product and services, as competitors in a battle that none of us can ever win. We will realize once again that our primary connections are not economic ones but bonds of love and interdependence. If we are able to win this battle, I assure you no sacrifice we make will seem too great in light of this. And future generations will look back at the struggle we undertook and use the word “great” to describe it. The Greatest Generation knew sacrifice and was able to win the largest war the world has yet seen. We owe it to both them and those who are to come to win the battle that is now before us.

P.S. Found this looking for a picture to add to my essay.

Betsy's Boat

I rode my bike to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy yesterday, and it left me feeling rather good about myself. I felt good that I didn’t waste gas. I felt good that I bought from an independent pharmacy, even though I spent a few more dollars than I would have if I had given my business to Walmart. And I helped in some small way to keep the local downtown alive amid the onslaught of corporate chains that crowd around the highway offramp. I try as much as possible to have my actions correspond with my values. It is a battle I fight in a thousand ways, making small decisions and sacrifices that I believe will be beneficial to my fellow man and the environment that sustains life on Earth.

And then I thought of Betsy DeVos and her $40 million yacht. I can’t imagine her worrying about the fuel such a behemoth wastes, nor all the people who pay the costs to have it wasted by her. And there is no doubt in my mind she has never scrupled to do the right thing if it cost her a dime more.

No one with any capacity for honesty can say Betsy DeVos cares about children or education. The time she will spend in government is strictly a business opportunity for her. She will leave her position in government richer than when she entered, and society will be the poorer for it. She will spend her time in government fighting for the special interests of herself, her friends, and her class. She is a taker, not a giver. Anyone with a 40 million dollar boat is a taker, it’s that simple. 40 million dollars could pay for a hell of a lot of school supplies.

Yet Betsy DeVos is the kind of person our society is set up to serve. We have a media that sweeps away all the unpleasantness that results from the actions of such individuals. It holds them up as role models to the average citizen. Our corporations are set up to funnel the wealth they create to an elite few who had enough money to invest large sums of money to begin with. Governments from the local to the federal level have been bought and constructed to conform to the whims of such people. We have built a society that exists to support sociopaths.

This may anger many who have until this point agreed with me, but it doesn’t matter whether it is a Democrat or a Republican who is in office: sociopaths will be served. Betsy Devos did not become a dangerous sociopath with the election of Trump, nor was she stripped of her obscene wealth and undue influence when Barack Obama was elected. The Democrats are merely better at disguising their supplication to sociopaths: they are more likely to allow an African American or a woman act as their servant.

They are sociopaths, let us not fall to the false politeness insisted upon by the media that is owned by and serves their kind. They are sociopaths and they have been doing a very good job of convincing the rest of us that sociopathic values are normal. They have normalized greed and selfishness, turning them into supposed virtues rather than the sins and character flaws that any healthy culture would view them as.

This is a profoundly sick society set up and run by sociopaths incapable of seeing past their own selfish interests. How can you tell who they are? Well, a 40 million dollar yacht is a big red flag. Anyone with more than one yacht or a private island is likely one of them. Anyone buying up a sizeable chunk of Hawaii or any other state because they believe it to be their just reward for their contribution to society is another tell. 

The degree to which they feel the need to place themselves above and apart from the average person is a good gauge of what they think of their fellow humans. They are the ones who have amassed obscene amounts of wealth by serving the machine. They have names like Zuckerburg, Bezos, DeVos.

They are really little different than the sociopaths of profoundly sick societies of the past: give them powdered wigs and snuff and you could mistake them for the royalty of the French Revolution. Their chief differences from those who lost their heads to the guillotine are that bloodlines are de-emphasized somewhat and they are more active in their quest for personal wealth. But their indifference to the suffering of others, their contribution to moral decline, and their unquestioned subservience to the power structure in order to advance their own interests are identical.

A society cannot long function in this manner. It can’t. Corruption always exists in any society, but too great a degree of it is deadly, just as too much rot on a tree or cancer in a human is deadly. A society needs leaders who have values that to some degree line up with the average person’s. We are almost completely lacking in such leaders. Those who are now in charge serve the values of the powerful, and the average individual is powerless.

I am not suggesting bringing out the guillotine, as they did during the French Revolution. Nor do I say we need re-education camps for the Betsy DeVos’s of the world, as was done during the Vietnam Revolution. What I am saying is we need to have a very serious discussion about how we can keep such obvious sociopaths away from the levers of power before they destroy the very planet we need for our survival. We need to keep them from defining the way we see ourselves and our relationships with each other and our planet, because the narrative they set forth is growing increasingly distant from reality. I would say the narrative pushed by the sociopathic power structure is currently the single greatest threat to our species 

Such a conversation will need to take place outside the parameters that have been set for us. We will need to include everyone from both sides of the political aisle. This conversation will need to take place outside of the mainstream media and outside of our conventional political settings, because they have been set up to create divisions among us. Raychell Maddow and Sean Hannity will never lead us towards a consensus. The media and the political process is owned by the sociopaths and will not permit sane and healthy discussion. The internet and social media have been powerful tools in permitting us such conversations, but the sociopaths have become aware of this and are looking to silence opposing voices. We must continue to find new avenues of open and honest. discussion. Not yelling, discussing. We must remember that when we speak in anger that it is an anger fomented by those who wish to keep us from finding common purpose.

We must find ways to communicate and find common purpose outside of the parameters set by the sociopaths and those who serve them. If we don’t find practical and humane ways of doing so, and doing it soon, then the Robespierres of the world will have their say. As tempting as their leadership may appeal to some, it will not lead to a better tomorrow.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The New Republican Party

I think the great sin of the Democrats, one that in a way makes them even worse than Republicans, is that when they gaze upon Trump they do not ask “Good God, what has become of our nation?” but instead ask “Good God, what have they done?”

Democrats take no responsibility for the mess our planet is in, none. As Trump finds a scapegoat in Mexicans, Democrats find Russians and a basket of deplorables to blame for everything that is wrong. And when Trump fails, as he will surely fail, as he cannot help but fail, his supporters will waken a little sadder but wiser. But the Democrats will feel vindicated, stronger, more certain that their slightly slower path to human extinction is the only sane path for humanity to take.

On that day they will arise as the new Republican Party, a position left open when conservative voters decided they had enough of the status quo and the party of the Bushes. The Democratic Party has been leaning and moving in that direction for a long time, eager to be Republicans but realizing that the only justification for their existence has been as an alternative to them. Their entire attempt to sell themselves has come down to “We are not Trump. If you hate Trump, you need to vote for us.” On the day that Trump fails—and only someone completely unconvinced of their own leftist ideals could consider that Trump’s brand of overt kleptocracy can work for more than a year or two—the Democrats will be the only alternative.

They will be the only alternative because they have been clever enough to do away with their competitors. Rather than change who they are (warmongering corporatists) in order to combat the scourge of Trump, they have been willing to bide their time until they have an opportunity to take control on their own terms. The suffering of the poor, the suffering of people in foreign nations, the suffering of Mother Earth, will all be worth it to them because in the end they will rise from the destruction unopposed. They will be unopposed because they have spent the last two years not in combating Trump’s policies but in joining with plutocrats and the intelligence agencies in order to wipe out their opposition. Those on the left who actually are against never ending war and the dominance of corporations over people will have been purged under the fabricated and fanciful rubric that Russia and not our nation’s own moral failings are responsible for Trump.

It was a cynical bargain, a Faustian bargain, a path only utterly corrupted and self-serving politicians who feel themselves to be beyond any limiters could pursue. All the great thinkers and moral authorities of the Left will have been cut adrift, persecuted, defamed, or misrepresented in order to advance the selfish interests of those who are able to rise in the fundamentally corrupt institution that is the Democratic Party.

And what will happen on the day the Democrats eventually regain control? Will they decrease the military budget and spend that money on reducing the debt, rebuilding infrastructure, or helping the very neediest of us? No. Will they find ways other than war, economic warfare, and intimidation to interact with nations who do not comply with our wishes? No. Will they lead the world in bringing about a new green economy? No. Will they do away with fracking? No. Will they appoint judges to the Supreme Court who will not support personhood for corporate entities? A thousand times no.

What then will these new Republicans do? They will move to the right and they will cite such a move as evidence that they can work in a bi-partisan fashion unlike the old Republicans. They will make a host of decisions which they will call unfortunate but necessary, explaining as they do so how, in the end, such actions on behalf of the wealthy and powerful will help the poor and powerless. They will put a friendlier face on the corporatocracy and the war machine. No longer will we bomb other nations out of anger but instead out of humanitarian concerns.

The Democratic Party has cut themselves adrift from their left wing, from all those who have acted these last decades as their conscience. Those old voices of conscience—Ralph Nader, Chris Hedges, Cornel West, and others—have been effectively marginalized and ignored. The new voices of conscience—Jimmy Dore, Caitlin Johnstone, Reverend William Barber, and others—are being subtly smeared or censored when they are not ignored by Democrats and the media which support them. This will allow the Democrats to drift as far to the right as they wish, in many instances further right than the Republicans themselves. Given the excuse of Russian election interference and the support of the mainstream (allegedly) liberal media, Democrats will be able to get away with the kind of censorship at home and cruelty abroad that Democratic voters never would tolerate from Republicans.

The new Democratic Party we see emerging will be different from the Republicans in one crucial aspect: they will still retain the veneer of what they seldom were but at least strove to be. They will hold themselves up as the resistance even as they go about doing the work the Republicans of a decade ago wished to do but could not garner public support for. The Democratic Party will be the new Republican party, but this new Republican Party will have no opposition from the Left. The Democrats are doing everything in their power to make sure of that. And as they busily enact every possible agenda of the Bush Presidency, they will proudly proclaim that they are not Trump.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Distraction That Is Russiagate

Democrats and the corporate media have pissed away nearly two years on Russiagate. That’s nearly two years the Democrats haven’t needed to pretend that they care about progressive issues and the media didn’t have to pretend to do journalism. From the very beginning, they have treated it as though it is a point beyond discussion, while simultaneously giving you inadequate information to make the decision for yourself. Think about it: they have been absolutely convinced by evidence so scant that they have had to beat it into our skulls 24/7 in order for us to accept it. Meanwhile, even as they tell us there is no argument to be made against the official narrative, they actually want us to argue about Russiagate.

They want us to argue about Russiagate because it helps them to frame the debate. They want us to argue about Russiagate because it is another box they can lock us in, just as we had the endless transgender bathroom debate before that. Because even if we disagree with the Russiagate narrative, it forces us to discuss it, address it, become distracted by it. It halts all discussion of other matters, matters that are vital to humanity but inconvenient to those who wish to direct us and rule us.

I myself have been forced to argue against the Russiagate Narrative (formerly known as Russian Hacking, Russian Interference, Russian Meddling, etc.) rather than discuss ways to combat the disastrous policies of Donald Trump. That I am arguing from a position different than the Democrats does not make me less distracted than them.

In the same way sophists in the Middle Ages wiled away their mental energy pondering how many angels could dance on the end of a pin, the Democrats and mainstream media have got us all aware of Buff Bernie images, even if you scoff at the idea that it matters. Two freaking years of this. For two freaking years, your hatred of all that Donald Trump represents has been diverted from you actually taking action and instead allowed you to believe that higher powers in the media or our intelligence agencies are going to restore democracy. You must know deep in your hearts only the people themselves can do that.

Your two years of being distracted has done absolutely nothing to make our democracy more secure. You have merely granted more authority to institutions that were already far too powerful and influential. These institutions that have whipped you into a frenzy have done nothing to insure our information pipelines are giving you informed opinions from trustworthy sources. They have not fought to reduce undo influence by powerful entities both domestic and foreign. I don’t know how I can spell it out for you more clearly than others before but I am obliged to try: if you give too much of your trust to institutions, it will inevitably lead to abuse of power by those institutions. This is not a warning, because you granted the media and the intelligence agencies your undo faith a long time ago and now we are seeing the result. Well, some of us are—many seem oblivious.

As bad as distraction can be, the obedience demanded by the media is still worse. “Just say it, say Russia interfered!”, they demand. Like a cult leader, they will repeat their assertions endlessly. Only they are no cult but an all-pervasive power, like the Catholic church in the time of the Spanish Inquisition, one that demands unanimity of thought. In such an atmosphere, dissent is heresy. Where once you were accused of being possessed or in consort with the devil, now you are called a Putin puppet. The burden of proof is not on them. They only need to speak and you are expected to accept what they say uncritically. They are God’s messengers bringing forth divine revelations from the unseen and unknowable great power, who are you to question them?

It is an assertion of dominance and a demand for obedience of those few still outside the fold, those dangerous free thinkers, those non-canonical blasphemers.

What role if any did Russia play in the 2016 election? We will never know because the media and our government do not feel it is their role to inform us but rather to keep us compliant. The one message they wish to convey? "Obey." And this is what Russiagate is all about, because Russia or your own natural skepticism caused you to doubt your media and your government. And rather than the media demonstrate their essential trustworthiness, they instead demand your trust.

58 years ago, former General and then President Eisenhower warned us of a military industrial complex he saw coming together. At that time he said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

It is now 58 years later and the unhealthy and democracy-killing collaboration of great power has grown unimpeded. Where once intelligence agencies had to covertly insert agents into the mainstream media, they now overtly do so and no one seems to care. The path from Eisenhower’s warning to our present situation is obvious to anyone willing to walk it, but let me make it even clearer for you. To paraphrase our 34th president, every Raychel Madow show, every Adam Schiff comment, every meme showing Trump and Putin kissing, signifies in the final sense a distraction from the poisoning of our waters, the warming of our planet, the extinction of animal species. It distracts from the very real problems we are facing in our nation: income inequality, corporate takeover of our media and every other facet of our lives, and the monitoring and spying capacity over U.S. citizens that not even George Orwell could imagine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Advice To Democrats

I had another encounter with a Hillary voter last night. I assumed it was a Hillary voter since they are the only ones I know who scream RUSSIA! and call me a Russian troll. I would assume it was a Hillary voter because of their belief that anyone who disagreed with them must either be an ignorant Trump-supporting deplorable or a Putin puppet (they have been amazingly consistent). Mostly I identify someone as a Hillary supporter if they remind me of an over-caffeinated Chicken Little experiencing the D.T.s (Delirium Tremens or Donald Trumps, take your pick).

I understand their anxiety: I’ve been experiencing it for the past 25 years. Because unlike them, I’ve seen this day coming for 25 years, whereas it seemed to have totally blindside them. Now, when you get blindsided by something you never see coming, there are two ways to react: 1) self-reflection, which can lead to questioning why it was you were so unaware in order to avoid a similar situation in the future or 2) spastic overreaction wherein you take no personal responsibility and find others to blame the situation on. I will forego my personal opinion of which path Democrats chose to take.

And I get their distress, I really do. I grieve for the planet, am frightened of rising temperatures and environmental devastation. I want to live in a world where the suffering are aided and I truly believe the government has a role in helping people.

What I don’t understand is their solution. Perhaps it is because I saw so clearly the trajectory we were on while they were lulled to sleep by the well-spoken words of our previous president. The veil fell from my eyes back in 1992 when I voted for the lesser of two evils (Bill Clinton) and watched carefully his actions in the White House. I judged him on his own merits rather than on the merits of his detractors, as most Democrats did. I realized that in some fights there is no good guy and when no one is looking out for your interests it’s foolish to join the fight because you’re going to get beat up and then thrown under the bus.

I watched as Bill Clinton signed NAFTA, a deal that helped neither the Mexican nor the American workers but helped corporations a great deal. I watched as Bill Clinton expanded NATO and led it into its first offensive actions, which was a line that never should have been crossed.

I watched as Barack Obama bailed out banks and corporations without asking anything of them in return. I watched as his administration overthrew the government in Libya and left it a breeding ground for terrorists and slave trading.

I saw oh so much more done by the Democrats, things so many voters were willing to overlook because they feared the Republicans more. And while I see the temptation of voting for the lesser of two evils, I knew it wouldn’t in the end lead to progress but instead drag the dividing line between the two sides further from where I wanted it to go. Because sometimes in a fight neither side cares about you. Or the truth. Or the planet. I understand the argument for making incremental steps, but not when they are taken in the wrong direction. I cannot help but see beyond the subtle differences in order to see the greater similarities, cannot help but feel that the Democrats and Republicans are but two ends of the same vehicle: where the front goes, the rear soon follows.

So if you are a Democrat, let me ask you some questions and indulge me while I imagine your answers. I assure you that I draw upon a wealth of discussion in predicting responses:

Me: The question is, is what the Democrats are offering acceptable?
You: But Donald Trump.
Me: Yes, but is perpetual war acceptable?
You: But Trump.
Me: Yes, but do the Democrats have an answer to global warming?
You: Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate.
Me: And what did President Obama do for the environment in eight years? He was even fine with DAPL until the cries of the ordinary people became too loud.
You: But…
Me: What did Bill Clinton do to combat global warming?
You: But…
Me: What did Hillary say she was going to do to combat global warming?
You: Russia.
Me: What?
You: Russia Russia Russia!

And so it has gone. A hatred of Trump has been used to divert all your energies and attention away from the issues you care most about and which you could be fighting for. All those barriers to real participatory democracy we could be tearing down—the electoral college, gerrymandering, Citizens United, ownership of the media by a few wealthy oligarchs, etc.—we have ignored. And the media has been happy to help us ignore it. They, along with the Democrats who don’t really want to change anything, are happy to find other subjects to amuse you, like how it wasn’t their fault and how bad Trump is. I won’t disagree with the latter.

So let me give you a little tough love. Remember, no matter how tempting it might be to believe it, I am neither a Trump supporter nor a Russian bot or troll. I can’t say for sure if I’m a useful idiot or not, because if I was I wouldn’t be aware of it. But lay not the flattering unction upon your soul, to paraphrase Hamlet, that the flaw lies within me. At least consider the possibility that someone other than the corporate media pundits and anonymous intelligence agents have something useful to share with you. I truly believe I am on your side more than they are.

Here is my advice for those who voted for Hillary and want to combat the Trump phenomenon: don’t trust the corporate media and the intelligence agencies. Don’t look to them to lead you out of this dark time we are living in. Because they, perhaps more than anything, are responsible for the situation we now find ourselves. It is they who are calling the shots and it is they, more than anyone else, that are responsible for Donald Trump. The media has made a hero of Trump for decades and the government has never bothered to go after Trump for the myriad shady deals he’s been a part of for at least as long. Ask yourself why that is and it will go a long way towards enlightening you to the reality that Trump is the symptom and not the disease.