Elections have turned into a most astounding narcotic for Americans. Like clockwork, every election cycle, political junkies from all stripes tune in and get glued to the TV believing that their team will win and deliver a new day for Americans. It never fails, the same tried and true methods of hysteria dissemination and hope peddling make people forget the past and latch on to a future that will never be. It’s like a reality show mixed with WWE scripts; personalities are paraded in front of the electorate as people get hooked by rote speeches and canned speeches and get personally vested in politicians in ways that are utterly unhealthy.
This phenomenon is exactly what took place in the weeks leading up to the election last night and climaxed in an orgy of state-by-state results, state of the art graphics and a crescendo of high fives as people celebrated victories and bemoaned close loses. Not too long ago, it was the Tea Party that was hoodwinked into believing that the Republican Party could be taken over by a new injection of blood. The reclamation project ended with the GOP being even less responsive to the wishes of conservatives and even more beholden to corporatism.
Because politics is all about the audacity of short-term memory, this time around it’s liberals who have been convinced that their party can be reclaimed by voting in a new strand of politicians. Replace Tea Party with Progressives and what we have is the same attempt to force institutions who are under the control of corporations and moneyed interests to be more mindful of the people’s wishes. This premise is based on the idea that the two party system is what we have before us so we have no choice but to work within the status quo and overwhelm the institution by voting in an influx of new voices.
There is one gaping flaw in this line of logic though. People who run to serve an institution will never be more powerful than the institution that they are serving. Even though one would think otherwise, the reality is that our government is not based on personalities but run through consensus. Politicians can talk all they want about changing DC, draining the swamp and restoring accountability, but the truth is that they will always play ball or get run over the minute they step in our nation’s capital. Pols who go along with leadership are rewarded plumb positions and status within the party, those who refuse to submit to the hierarchy soon find their way out of the door—otherwise known as the McKinney treatment.
This is why Obama talked all that talk about ending immoral wars and implementing policies that help the middle class yet reverted back to Bush’s military-financial complex friendly policies as soon as he took the oath of office. This is the same reason why Trump talked about locking up Hillary and doing away with globalism yet continues the same policies of catering to multinational corporations and enriching Wall Street at the cost of the rest of us. The so-called progressives who were elected last night will not change the Democrat party, it will be the Democrat party that will change them. Want proof of this? Look no further than Nancy Pelosi as she prepares to reclaim the gavel and boldly lead with an agenda of empty gestures and token resistance to Trump’s fatuity.
The reason why this same playbook of diversion and manipulation works all the time is because we keep appending our hopes on personalities and their narratives instead of paying attention to the broader picture. Just because they look like us does not mean they will be for us neither does diversity at the top trickle down to a diverse sea of humanity that is suffering the weight of uncertainty and lack of opportunities. I’m sick and tired of hearing about the first black this, the first woman that and the endless ways that the establishment keeps propping up tokens to represent progress. Why do we keep overlooking substance for the sugar rush of symbolism?
The substance we need to look at is not individuals but a system that is rigged to ensure primacy of Democrats and Republicans while shutting out competition from outsiders. Two parties that are equally bought out by the corporations and indebted to billionaires to remain viable will never be responsive to the people—they are loyal opposition in name only. No amount of wishful thinking or telegenic faces with wonderful story lines will change this dynamic. Folks who pinned their hopes on people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and swooning for Beto O’Rourke will soon find out the harsh reality of politics when their hopes give way to the regressive machine of DC politics. Click To Tweet
Sadly, this realization will be overtaken by the next set of hyperbole and hysteria as Americans are manipulated once again by the next election to believe in hope and vote against their interests. Oops! There goes reality indeed.
Politics is a business, politicians are executives, mainstream media are marketers, corporation and the wealthy are the owners and the rest of us are customers—election day is Christmas.
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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.