Monday, October 29, 2018

Apocalypse Casts Shadow Over Midterms

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Just when the whole country should be uniting and going happily to the polls to democratically choose between right-wing fascists and neoliberal corporatists, the damned freelance violence has to rear its ugly head and dampen the great American spirit that has always made this country so exceptional. 

And it's not just the typical shadow-casting like, say, the FBI director calling Hillary Clinton "reckless" about her private email account right before the presidential election in 2016. This time, according to The Hill online newspaper, a veritable cloud of doom is hovering over us.

There's still more than a week to go before November Sixth, so give them time to conjure up some actual thunder, lightning and rain. If we can just get past this manufactured debris-festooned buildup to our great manufactured ritual, we 'll soon safely return to our more normal violent programming of shootings, religious and ethnic intolerance, and mindless sunny entertainment.
 Marc Hetherington, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, expressed skepticism that the rhetoric will cool in the last full week of the campaign, even as the country remains on edge. 
I don’t think anything’s going to cool tensions,” he said in an interview with The Hill. “This, on both sides, has the feel of the apocalypse if they lose.”
Mere days after a steroid-pumped dude living out of a van decorated with Trump wallpaper was arrested in Florida and charged with mailing pipe bombs to the security personnel and other underlings employed by wealthy Trump critics, another loser emerged from his seedy apartment in Pittsburgh and shot up a synagogue, killing several congregants and wounding others before getting shot himself by responding SWAT police.

In a country riven by a record number of mass shootings in just the past year, you might simply be inclined to think that this has just been another typical psychotic week in America. But coming as close as these incidents do to the only democratic ritual we still have left, they become prime apocalyptic fodder for the pundit class.

Not only that: the two latest Travis Bickle imitators to crawl out of the zeitgeist are portrayed by the media as little hunks of lumpen clay ripped off from the main supply for the express pre-election kneading and molding pleasure of Trump, the whole Trump, and nothing but the Trump. No matter that only the pipe-bomb guy was the true Trumpie, and that the synagogue shooter didn't much like Trump because he isn't enough of an outspoken anti-Semitic fascist for his taste - these two men will go down in history, as told by establishment media, as brothers joined at the hip of hate. And it's all because of Trump, and not because of such things as evictions, bankruptcies, untreated mental illness, drug addiction, lack of a job.... or just because they've been evil nasty characters their whole miserable lives.

That's the narrative, and the media mavens are sticking to it. The first order of business, therefore, is to absolve both right wings of the Duopoly of the violent results of their anti-social, pro-corporate policies of the last 50 years. 

The Hill thus dutifully continues:
The chairmen of both parties' campaign arms in the House appeared jointly on a pair of Sunday talk shows, where they delivered a message of unity.
“We should come together as a country. This should not be a political response, but rather a response at how we can further bring us together,” Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) said on “Fox News Sunday.”
His Republican counterpart, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), expressed confidence that the midterms would not prove to be an obstacle in efforts to unify the country.
And then they departed from their own platitudinous narratives and accused one another's campaigns of being "sleazy" and "racist," which casts even more shadows of doom over Doomsday. Why oh why can't our ruling class racketeers just all get along for the next week or so as our whole country explodes around us? 

We really shouldn't fret. This staged hand-wringing feeds the suspense factor so necessary to keep us hooked and riveted in an orgy of binge-watching. Because the ruling class racketeers actually do get along most of the time. They only pretend to hate each other so as to foment more hate among various factions of the US electorate and encourage us to channel our hate at the voting booth. People are encouraged to vote against someone or something, not for someone or something. Fear and loathing are the only emotions that our corrupt finance-capitalized political system are willing to market to the vast majority of the have-nots. And that's true not just in the US, but throughout Europe, and most recently, in desperate austerity-torn Brazilians' "choice" of a right-wing strongman to lead them. 

Once our homegrown American candidates are safely re-elected (or win office for the first time), they can buckle down to the onerous task of fulfilling the needs of the bribing billionaires and corporations and weapons manufacturers and private prison investors. There will be no more shadows or clouds, only friendly smoke-filled rooms.  

Maybe Donald Trump can even take a break from his frenzied Nuremberg-style rallies and 3 a.m. tweets long enough to rehabilitate his own image by starting another war and thereby develop some real presidential cred among the movers and shakers of this very violent country. If you're disturbed about the relative lack of coverage in the mainstream media about his abandonment of the nuclear treaty with Russia, wait till after November Sixth. Right now, the manufactured apocalypse of electoral politics must take precedence.

Maybe regular people, stoked up on their free-floating anger, despair and apathy, will finally see through the toxic smoke and go on a general strike against the oligarchy and its political lackeys and censorious propagandists. All it takes is a spark, or a tipping point. And there are already enough of those to cause massive forest fires and avalanches.

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, it's always deju vu all over again. This, from 60 years ago:


Karl Kolchak said...

I don't see the "regular people" seeing through the charade and rising up--in fact, my guess is that the hysteria and hatred is going to get even worse after the elections (no matter which "side" wins), especially if the phantom Trump rally in the stock market finally collapses and another major recession ensues.

I try to tell my liberal friends that FDR "saved American democracy" by giving the average person real hope that their lives would get better. He made a lot of mistakes along the way, but the public saw that he was at least doing SOMETHING, and thus he was able to forestall fascism from taking hold of America at what would have been a catastrophic time in world history. But even they are too consumed with their Trump derangement syndrome and persistent demonization of his followers to understand.

This will not end well, I fear.

Anonymous said...

Re "...another loser emerged from his seedy apartment in Pittsburgh and shot up a synagogue, killing several congregants and wounding others before getting shot himself by responding SWAT police."

Eleven (11) Jewish congregants were killed, not "several".