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Nancy Pelosi and the Audacity of Identity Driven Hustles

It’s been more than a decade—ten years and counting—since professional gamblers on Wall Street nearly euthanized the global economy and took the life savings of millions of Americans in the process. Since that time, not one banking CEO or hedge fund executive faced the threat of prosecution let alone a prison sentence. Instead, the same crooks who bled our economy and fleeced countless many ended up getting golden parachutes as their malicious behaviors were rewarded with bailouts and government intervention.

Many people point the blame at George Bush for the implosion of 2008 and largely give credit to Barack Obama and the Democrats for “cleaning up George Bush’s mess”. But this line of thinking fails to take into account what occurred after the Great Recession and the decisions that were made that enriched the plutocracy at the cost of the public. If we only put aside partisan politics, we would see that both parties have been in collusion during the lead up of the mortgage crisis and the devastating sell off that impoverished so many Americans.

The reason that most self-identifying Democrats and Republicans fail to see the mendacity of the parties they support is because they are blinded by identity driven hustles. If you want a case study of what the identity driven hustle is, look no further than Nancy Pelosi’s gambit to yet again become speaker of the House of Representatives. In her quest to once reclaim the gavel and yield power in Congress, she is turning to identity politics as she uses women and the marginalization that they face as a human shield to intimidate anyone who dares to question her character.

This is the same woman who shepherded one corporate friendly legislation after another during her tenure as speaker while Barack Obama was president. Her signature achievement was working with Obama at the behest of health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry to write legislation that forced Americans to become the customers of insurance mega corporations through financial coercion. This legislation that is popularly named Obamacare was written behind closed doors by Wall Street interests; ACA did everything to fatten the bottom lines of corporations without bending the exploding cost of health care as it promised.

Obamacare was not the exception but the rule when it comes to Democrats siding with Wall Street at the cost of Main Street. Though they speechify all the time about the excesses of Republicans and how the GOP sides with big business, when you peel back their words and look at their deeds, Democrats are no different than the party on the other side of the aisle they love to bash. Sadly, both parties successfully manipulate their base by using the same identity driven hustle that Pelosi is currently unleashing to ruthless effect.

Let’s get one thing clear, Nancy Pelosi is to the plight of women as Gary Coleman is to Michael Jackson. Just because someone looks like you does not mean they are for you nor does it mean they understand the struggles you go through. While untold number of women and their families were made homeless and millions more lost their jobs and life savings over the past ten years, Nancy Pelosi has added to her fortunes while climbing up the list of America’s richest politicians. According to Business Insider, Pelosi is the 13th richest member of congress with a net worth of over $26 million; the only glass ceiling that Nancy knows is the one in her San Francisco mansion. #IdentityDrivenHustle Click To Tweet

Before some on the right get a little too giddy and think that this article is a one sided political hit job, let me assure you that is not my intention. Donald Trump, after all, is supposedly a billionaire yet this same immature and egotistical neo-Nero has convinced his supporters that he is out to protect their interests. This is the same man who enhanced a fortune his father passed down to him by screwing over small businesses and the people they employ by declaring one bankruptcy after another.

One of the leading news tidbits this evening is the story of the couple who teamed up with a homeless veteran in New Jersey to dupe people out of more than $400,000. The trio will get their comeuppance as prosecutors swiftly jumped in to make an example of frauds. If only the people who committed fraud in 2008 met the same fate, instead the corporate class get away with murder while those who commit less egregious actions but belong to lesser classes get shellacked—the long arm of the law only reaches out to the poor, working and middle-class.

Since 1982, the net worth of the three largest families has grown by more than 6,000% while the earning power of average Americans has regressed. The top 1% of Americans own more than the bottom 40% of Americans, another way of looking at this is that the richest 300,000 people own more than 120,000,000 combined. We live in the richest country in the world yet the disparity between the well-to-do and the bottom 90% if widening from a chasm into an abyss. Forget George Bush Sr’s “trickle down economy”, we live in a transfer up pyramid scheme, both parties are working together to squeeze labor in order to pad the fortunes of the corporate owner class.

Until we acknowledge the gap between the haves and the have nots and realize that those who lead lives like sultans don’t represent the rest of us, we will keep getting leaders like Pelosi, Trump et al who pretend to be for us when in reality they are feeding us to the wolves. We need to stop falling for identity driven hustles and support people who support us through their actions instead of falling for their empty promises. Or we can keep electing shysters who talk a good game and use our struggles as stage craft and what we will keep getting is a government that treats us like schmucks.

Schmucks is exactly how both parties are treating us on a regular basis, we are so blinded by short term anger that we keep overlooking the long term playbook they keep deploying with stunning efficacy. The same way Trump is using identity politics to deceive his loyalists into thinking he is one of theirs, Democrats are yet again using the hopes and frustrations of their supporters to regain power. It doesn’t matter who the shiny new faces are that they keep trotting out, symbolic diversity with freshmen politicians will not root out the systematic corruption that is festering at the foundation of both parties. Promises are not policies and neither is any personality bigger than the institution that they serve.

Stop letting them get away with this, please shut these uber privileged politicians, pundits and social actorvists when the try to take the plight of the struggling masses as political footballs. If you want to defend the rights of women, please speak up for working mothers throughout America who can barely keep up with the rent instead of elevating a wealthy heiress. If you want to defend the rights of minorities, stand up for the impoverished masses in Chicago, Atlanta and beyond instead of deifying the bank first president. If you want to make America great again, do so by being good to your neighbors and those who shiver in despair near you instead of glorifying the megalomaniac infant in the White House.

Twelve years ago, Nancy Pelosi made history by being “the first woman” to hold the speaker’s gavel. Her first act was to take impeachment off the table and promise to work across the aisle. She went on to do exactly as she promised as she and her Democrat peers worked with Republicans to protect Wall Street interests while giving the middle finger to homeowners facing foreclosure and Americans facing indigence. Last week, after the so-called Blue Wave elections, Pelosi took to the podium yet again to revel in her victory and promised to take impeachment off the table and work with Donald Trump. Sound familiar?

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. In America, Einstein’s observation is the definition of politics.

“When the rich rob from the poor, it’s called business, but when the poor fight back, it’s called violence.” ~ Mark Twain

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Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
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Lij Teodrose Fikremariam

Lij Teodrose Fikremariam is the co-founder and former editor of the Ghion Journal. He is currently the chair of Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy. A published author and prolific writer, a once defense consultant was profoundly changed by a two year journey of hardship and struggle. Going from a life of upper-middle class privilege to a time spent with the huddled masses taught Teodrose a valuable lesson in the essence of togetherness and the need to speak against injustice.

Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
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