As I was driving to our nation’s capital last night, I had an epiphany of sorts. I decided to write about our so called Democracy and the way politics has been deployed to subdue the masses and indenture us to the machine of corporatism. I came up with a nifty title that I thought would neatly encapsulate our state of governance and the plight of our nation. The headline you see above was supposed to read “The Ballot is the Bullet: We Have Been Subdued by Theatrics and Pretenses”. My aim was to facilitate a rational conversation about our politics; the last thing I wanted to do was use gratuitous titles and inflammatory headlines for the sake of capturing clicks.
The title was a take on a quote from Lincoln where he said “among free men there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet”. I wanted to use Lincoln’s words to highlight how—far from becoming a panacea—the ballot has actually become the bullet itself. But I decided to toss out the title when I looked up at the TV screens while enjoying the company of friends at a restaurant in DC. What I witnessed was wall to wall coverage of the latest outrage as pundits on MSNBC and CNN were frothing at the mouth feigning disgust at Trump’s “shithole” comments. I realized at that exact time that I was watching a shit show about a shithole president—the title I used for this article popped into my head at that moment.
Let me note two things from the outset. First, I will admit that I was personally offended by this buffoon at the White House who is intentionally setting fires just to sit back and laugh as we get spun up into a collective rage. I am originally from Ethiopia; Trump was talking about countries like my birth land when he unmasked his inner David Duke to the world. I generally believe that there is a redeeming quality to all human beings; well if there is anything redemptive about our first juvenile president, it must have been embedded in his umbilical cord. When it comes to our 45th president, the putrid apple does not fall far from the malignant tree.
Donald Trump’s father was arrested at a KKK rally in New York in 1927 while taking part in a march against immigrants. Fred was the byproduct of an immigrant from Germany; he was thus arrested for protesting against himself—now we know where “the Donald” gets his stable genius from. Fred Trump would go on to make his fortune by becoming a slum lord in his “affordable housing” projects in Bensonhurst, Sheepshead Bay, Flatbush, Coney Island and tenement housings throughout the boroughs of New York City. Like charlatan daddy like grifter son; Trump followed in his father’s steps as he enhanced the fortunes his dad passed on to him by screwing over an endless sea of working Americans and small businesses. Make America great again indeed!What this petulant ogre at 1600 Pennsylvania did in calling developing nations shitholes is akin to a rapist calling his victim a slut. Countries like Haiti, Somalia, Yemen and countless other impoverished zones throughout the world did not become grounds of festering poverty by happenstance. In case you missed it, the rumors of colonialism’s demise have been greatly exaggerated by indoctrinating professors and feckless teachers who pass on propaganda as “history lessons”. In fact, neo-colonialism is a thousand times more lethal than the era of imperialism that bled “Africa” in the 19th and 20th centuries. Instead of using brute force and unleashing bombs and bullets, globalists now use capital extortion and destabilization sponsored by defense contractors to demolish nations and steal their natural resources.
Haiti has enough material wealth to feed and house every family in the proud and defiant island-nation. Alas, the descendants of François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture—who handed Napoleon his ass during the Haitian insurrection of 1791—were dealt an unjust hand. Instead of gaining liberation, Haiti was shackled with the most onerous debt and forced to pay restitution that they are paying France to this day. Just think about this for a moment, the winning side in a war is the one that gets restitution as the price of victory. Not so with Haiti, instead of getting the victor’s spoils, they were treated to a cudgel. The same is true for every nation that suffers at the hand of neocons and neoliberal warmongers and the conflicts these goon in dark suits and power ties keep concocting in their think tanks in the District of Caligula and Manhattan.
Instead of looking at the root causes of this global plague of gluttony that is inducing a scale of human suffering which is hard to fathom, we are talking about the idiot from Mar-a-Lago who showed the world his full blown bigotry. It is easy to slander people who are mugged into indigence by accusing them of sloth or laziness. Dig beyond the surface and what is evident is this one overriding truth: billions are shrouded in hopelessness and millions are bleeding on a regular basis caused not by choice but by the immoral wars and schemes of wealth transference that are being foisted upon the world to appease the gods of the military-financial complex. The same disease of cancerous capitalism that is pillaging countries like Haiti and Afghanistan is the reason why tens of millions of Americans keeping being fleeced and kept in financial distress from San Francisco to Portland and beyond.
Sadly, we are so caught up in politics and the way mainstream media conditions us to see everything through the prisms of ideologies and identities that we fail to realize that a few have turned us into serf-citizens while the richest 1% reign supreme. Corporate media “journalists “and pundits keep prodding us to howl at symptoms while giving cover to the sickness. There is an unholy alliance between government, corporations and mainstream media where each perpetuate one another while feeding on the rest of us. They work through distractions and slights of hands; by agitating us into irrational animus, they hoodwink us into subservience. We protest and march; we keep voting and demanding change—all of it is nothing but a dog and pony show meant to give us the pretenses of freedom and control.
Just today, the uber neocon Bill Kristol tweet-lectured Donald Trump by pretending to be enraged at the presidents “shithole” comment. He conveyed the story of Private Emmanuel Mensah—an immigrant from Ghana and a soldier in the US Army National Guard—who died while saving people from an apartment fire in the Bronx last month. This statement from Bill Kristol was then retweeted by who else but Hillary Clinton. If your name is Rip Van Winkle and you just woke up from a forty year nap, I would understand if you saw Kristol’s tweet and Hillary’s retweet as an act of valor and moral conviction. But anyone who has been following these two warmongers and blood suckers would know that they have been at the forefront of cooking up genocides throughout the world. Perhaps Emmanuel would not have fled his native land Ghana if neocons and neoliberals did not destabilize his homeland and roil the nation—and “Africa” by extension—into a perpetual state of civil strife and warfare. Hillary would have actually tweeted a direct retribution of Trump if she was not too busy laundering the blood money she extorted from Haiti by way of the Clinton Global Initiative.
These things I write about are not just to defend my once home Ethiopia and the continent I migrated from. As I write this article at a Panera Bread in McLean, Virginia, I walked up to get a cup of coffee only to count four homeless people sitting in the lobby with their belongings bundled in large hiker backpacks. I used to work at a defense contractor called Booz Allen Hamilton based in McLean before I left Virginia and had my own dance with indigence in the not too distant past. McLean is one of the richest localities in America; not too far from the tech corridor of Northern Virginia, it is home to millionaires and some of the most affluent families in America. It was hard to spot a car from the 1990’s let alone homeless people in McLean when I was living a privileged life of a high priced consultant only a few years ago.
Now that I’m back in Virginia, to see panhandlers on Leesburg Pike and homeless people camped out in the parking lots near Tyson’s Corner is a most severe shock to my system. As people walk by them and ignore the broken masses who are teeming throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and America as a whole, I can’t help but feel saddened in my heart witnessing this level of poverty in a city that has so much wealth. Perhaps I’m only noticing the people who others look past as if they are invisible because I too not too long ago called pavements home. Yet I know that what happened to me is not an outlier or some aberration; the vast majority of us are but a few paychecks away from homelessness and concrete pillows. Our nation has been transformed into a giant Ponzi scheme where the bottom 99% have been turned into slaves of the corporate state while plutocrats and their puppets in government and mainstream media are living a life of opulence.
This is the truth of our politics and the depraved policies that our government is enacting the dissemblers at CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post, Fox News and their ilk in corporate media desperately don’t want us to see. While they were busy broadcasting the story of Donald Trump’s bigoted rant and hyping up this narrative in order to inflate their ratings and revenues, Emir al-Bash became another victim in this never ending and God forsaken “War on Terror”. Who is Emir? Emir was a two year old Syrian who died yesterday after a mortar shell instantly pulverized him into dust. His parents were forced to go canvassing for food to feed their son only to have Emir exterminated by a bomb that was most likely manufactured and sold by our military-financial complex. But we are too busy with indignation to notice injustice taking place. We can agitate and gyrate demanding change for another 400 years, we won’t profit an iota from our actions if we don’t come together as one people irrespective of our differences—tyranny can only be defeated by unity. That is the message I am putting forth to the reader and espousing in the Ghion Cast video below about Adwa, Toussaint and the American Revolution.
Or we can keep spinning our wheels as we get spun by politicians and pundits. The latest Trump kerfuffle is proof of this coordinated effort to create dissension and pit us against each other. During the same 24 hour window mainstream media was hyperventilating over the grand wizard in the West Wing, twenty-two veterans committed suicide after coming back home traumatized from the shock and awe of war. Twenty-two veterans committing suicide daily is not breaking news as much as it is the status quo; that is the rate of suicides that veterans commit every twenty-four hours. There is no successful appeal in politics when the ballot is the bullet. We should really pause and reflect on these things; human tragedy has become fodder to laugh at, bicker over and further politics. We are letting partisanship blind us from our common fate and our collective hopes. The jokes stop the minute we become the statistics we cite in arguments and join the huddled masses of invisible citizens we ignore.The shithole is not found in foreign lands nor is it found in places like the Appalachians or Chicago. To disparage people who are mired in hopelessness and reduced to dependence on the state or NGOs is heartless and reprehensible. Be careful of mocking the least among us or else there you go too. The shithole is our president and the shit show is what the mainstream media is streaming into the public square. They do this to keep us in a state of continuous rage; as long as we keep seeing red, we will never understand nor arrive at a solution to the problems that is gashing the world. The ballot is the bullet for this exact reason; politics has become our master, debt is the new slavery and ideology is our neo-overseer. Our fidelity to personalities and fixation on newstertainment is turning our nation into a shithole. #ShitShowPolitics
“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
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Check out the Ghion Cast below where I discuss how we as a people, irrespective of identity and ideology, can overcome oppression and deliver humanity from the hands of the treachery.
Check out the Ghion Cast below where I discuss how our politics is nothing but a shit show that is meant to distract us from the truth and have us continually at each others throats.
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.