Ever since Donald Trump was elected, I’ve been on a virtual listening tour. It was evident rather quickly that we were all conned in subtle ways that are disturbing. I've spoken to left-wing progressives, center-left progressives, moderates, right-wing Republicans, center-right Republicans, tea party Republicans, communists, anarchists, and everyone in between.
I spent most of the time listening. I did this at Starbucks, at Democratic meetings, at one tea party event, online, by email, at community festivals, and in places where one should not have political dialogues. There was a lot of biting my tongue when I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The most common thing heard was manufactured polarization, even between establishment Democrats and progressive Democrats.
Last week I went out to the polls in Kingwood, Texas, in support of candidates that would represent new blood on the school board. I had a 30-minute conversation with one of the leaders of the tea party in this town, and Kingwood likely has one of the most powerful tea party presences in the country. Ted Cruz and all the major politicians they support do their rounds out here several times a year.
As per my usual modus operandi, the tea party bigwig spoke for the first 15 minutes or so. Like most on the right, all I heard was the typical talking points and the caricaturing of liberals. Ironically, I heard caricaturing of the right on the progressive side—but mostly what I heard was a fight within, the same establishment vs. Bernie’s-not-a-Democrat unwarranted fight.
After letting folks talk at length, I asked a simple question: "Forget about ideology. What do you want for you and your family?" The answer was first and foremost economic. Those with kids wanted good schools for their children, and the possibility of an affordable college education. Those near retirement wanted a pension that is reliable. Many felt they were spinning their wheels as they worked hard just to get by everyday. There were many other responses, but you get the picture.
When asked why none of them are able to realize their desires, they pointed fingers at some group, some sub-group, some race, etc. What was ironic is they seemed to blame their everyday fellow citizens more so than the actual puppeteers pulling the strings: the corporate state.
Many on the right genuinely believe minorities and undocumented immigrants are bilking the government they fund with their hard work. On the left, many believe that all of those on the right are racist, selfish, Bible-thumping fanatics. Neither of these absolutes is true, but the puppeteers have made sure to cauterize those stereotypes into the psyches of the respective camps. We are all just cogs in their game.
Many Americans are racist. Some are homophobic. Too many are sexist. A growing number are xenophobic. Misogyny still reigns. Americans are human, with all the frailty humanity brings. We will not fix these defects within our lifetime. However, we must work on them continuously.
Our puppeteers depend on Americans expending their energies on our defects. Why? Because in doing so, we keep our eyes off of that which affects our personal economies: the corporate state. If we are not watching and clipping their wings, their extractive nature will continue to pilfer us all.
These masters of deception are members of every party, organization, and group. Some don’t even realize they are agents. An establishment Democrat, Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, wrote the Powell Manifesto, the map that defined the path to corrupt every institution from schools, to media, to research organizations. The Heritage Foundation and other Republican-leaning conservative think tanks are responsible for creating the false justification for policies they support to follow the aforementioned path. For all practical purposes, they have been successful. That’s the reason that the very few continue to prosper, by taking all the spoils of our composite labor and intellect.
The puppeteers don’t share a common race, sex, orientation, religious affiliation, or any other attribute. They are their own class. While Christians fight Muslims, while races fight each other, and those of different ideologies continue to battle, the puppeteers who belong to all religions, sexual orientations, races, and ideologies have no problem breaking bread as they incite the fights and watch us for sport. Don't be fooled: Oprah, Bill Gates, Donald Trump, the King of Saudi Arabia, Carlos Slim, and those of that class see us as commodities to be formed and manipulated as needed. And so far, we have obliged.
We can learn one thing from our upper-class masters, if we are ever to recover that which was stolen from the masses in a systemic and legal manner. We must create alliances on the issue that we share in common: our personal economics. We do not have to like each other to work together. We don’t have to respect each other's ideologies to work on a common cause.
And what is our common cause? Making sure we have an economy in which most Americans can succeed. First, we must realize that the enemy of that reality is the corporate state—the plutocracy. How do we get there? First, we must make the case to those who would listen that we are all being played. The majority will accept that tenet. We can then entertain a conversation where we ask all sides to put out numbers that would make their lives better. We then move to compromise on numbers, not ideologies. Yes, numbers may be ideologically based, but the compromises would be based on actual numbers. This method could give us the unity necessary to smash the plutocracy.
The corporate state’s biggest fear is the uniting of the barrios, the ghettos, and Appalachia. Stereotypical? Yes. But the realization of that type of unity is what will get our country out of the plutocracy’s chokehold.