Curtain Raiser

The Phony Inevitability, Colltalers

If you’ve been living in the U.S. for a few decades, you may have noticed that quality of life for an increasing majority has deteriorated. You probably have your own ideas as to why some have grown so rich, while so many are falling through the cracks of the system.
You’re likely to have heard too that there’s little you can do about it. That there’s no evidence backing this fact, and since no one has taken to the streets to protest, it may be all a ploy to get you into trouble. So why bother voting tomorrow, right? Don’t fall for it.
Similar thing happens all over the world: climate change? it’s not proven. Global hunger? intractable. War and refugees? it can’t be fixed. Those, and there are a few, who invoke the absurdity of such claim of impossibility, given the human stake on this planet, tend to be discredited as either naive or seriously intent on destroying democracy or, worse, brace yourself, etc, capitalism as we know it.
Although certainty is not what science and empirical knowledge, cause and effect, even rationality, for heaven’s sake, are made of, what’s behind equating fact with guesswork is a well concerted effort at preventing any action that may jeopardize the status quo.
Coming down to a reality even detractors of income inequality – and climate change for that matter – can understand, the flow of billions of dollars may be seriously interrupted if enough people start questioning the causes of such global and overriding phenomena.
What had worked for the tobacco industry, for instance, is being used once again. Efforts to undermine scientific research – which long ago had already shown that cigarettes do cause cancer – effectively delayed any action, until it was too late for thousands of people.
Profits sill flowed, even when the first cases were reaching the courts, and denial was rampant by those in the big corporations’ payroll. That that included politicians, lawyers, even scientists, is not the point, as another cynical assumption that comes from the same place would also add that ‘everybody can be bought if offered the right price,’ which isn’t or has never been completely true, of course.
That doesn’t really matter for as the saying goes, if enough sand is thrown into the air, many will believe they’ve gone temporarily blind. And that sort of obliviousness is what winds up helping those with financial interests at risk, if the truth comes out.
But if you’re living above the ground for at least enough decades, you already know that the massive amount of money spent in political ads, for example, is usually addressed as a ‘boring’ piece of news, as if it happens inevitably by divine providence, or that yet another incident of gun violence is always reported loudly, graphically, with readily-assigned guilty roles, and devoid of any context.
Speaking of equating reality with fiction, it’s also a given that the steady diet of gore, sports, weather, and celebrity news that we’re fed around the clock robs the airwaves of any space to feature the issues that affect exactly those whose taxes pay for their bandwidth.
So even in the last day before tomorrow’s midterm elections, one still can hear that there’s so much money in politics these days, that your vote and participation in the electoral process in the U.S. no longer will make a difference. Again, don’t fall for it.
Voting is the only free opportunity left to Americans to influence anything even remotely related to their lives, as the flood of requests for money you probably got by mail or email, from those running to keep their seats or gain new ones in Congress, can attest.
You are right, quality of living in the world’s richest economy has taken a dive to the worst for millions of citizens, who can’t afford to fall sick, or retire at a still active age, without risking winding up on the streets. But unlike what you may have heard, there are things you and everyone you know can do about it. And one of them is presenting itself free of charge, tomorrow, at the polling station.
Yes, contrary to what you’ve read, there’s a way back from the brink, both in income inequality or the somehow related issue of climate change. And no, the richest do not have the edge electing their cronies, not if you and 50 million of your closest allies vote against them.
A lot of polls have already called out this election as the moment when Senate change hands, and we’ll have a new Republican Congress to battle the Democrat president. Not so fast, not yet anyway. And being as it may, only if not enough people show up.
Voting is obligatory in certain countries, such as Brazil, which has just reelected its president, a woman as this country is yet to elect. But here, voting is considered an option, like choosing to tip your server, or drinking diet Coke. If you think about it, the whole system is designed to give you the impression that you actually have alternatives. But you know better; a civic duty is an obligation, not a choice.
If voting was that unimportant, there wouldn’t be so much invested to prevent it or make it harder to exercise it, as it’s happening across the nation. All of a sudden, voting has become a hurdle race, where one insignificant detail can derail you from practicing your right.
But don’t be discouraged and make it to the booth on time; those who can’t will be ever grateful. For you’ll have the backs of not just your fellow Americans but also millions around the world, who’re fighting to have themselves the privilege of casting their vote.
There’s no inevitability, or we wouldn’t be telling our children that they must rise and go to school, that they need to have humanitarian ideals, that they don’t live in a bubble, and that whatever they do may have unintended consequences for the rest of their lives.
There’s no determinism, and in what may be familiar to many in the U.S., what you do does count. But when it comes to build a better nation or world, individual feats are fine and inspiring, but nothing compares with the strength of many. Voting is an individual choice, yes, but has consequences that affect way more than the voter. It’s another thing we tell our children: no one wins or loses alone.
You’ve heard enough about the score being already set, and that most people won’t show up at the polls tomorrow. Be doubtful; like dogs barking at to your cavalcade, there’s a reason, or a million of them, for you to push ahead. Carry on, and let those dogs lie. Have a wonderful November. WC


2 thoughts on “Curtain Raiser

  1. In Europe we are fascinated by how much the Democrats and Republicans spend advertising their wares. To many of us it seems like a fight between Pepsi and Coke or McDonald’s and Burger King; the difference being in the name rather than much else, as far as policies that benefit the 99% are concerned.

    Having said that, the Republicans do seem to have veered sharply to the right during Obama’s presidency, rather than just more to the right, as is the case with the Democrats.

    In Europe the backlash against mainstream politics seems to have finally begun, especially here in Spain, as huge corruption cases involving top members of the ruling PP and the banks dominate the headlines every day. This has led to Podemos, a new party of the left, led by the charismatic Pablo Iglesias, jumping to the top of the opinion polls, despite the fact it was only formed this year. Around 27% of the electorate have said they would vote Podemos into power. Meanwhile, the PSOE – which has its own problems with corruption- would attract about 26% of the vote, a figure which is falling. The PP have plummeted from being ahead to 20%.

    In the UK the right wing UKIP, led by city toff, Nigel Farage, though gaining support across the board, is not getting things all its own way. The Greens are gaining support, and Russell Brand, the comedian, who is not standing for election, despite all the media lies and disinformation, is having a massive impact with young and old voters alike. Who knows what will happen?

    Anyway, I suppose you are right to try to urge people to exercise their democratic rights. The problem for me is that those right have been diluted almost to the point of extinction.


    • colltales says:

      Thanks for your contribution. Unfortunately, France is seeing the rise of the ultra right too, just like the U.S. There’s much to be feared about that. Glad Spain is showing signs of fighting back. We’ll see about today here. Best.


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