Remember the scene in The Usual Suspects when Agent Kujan dropped his coffee mug as the truth finally hit him like a lightening bolt? The movie is more than two decades old so I’m going to skip past the spoiler alert and get at the heart of the movie. You see, Keyser Soze was able to pull the wool over the unsuspecting detective because of proximity and velocity. As in people who are the closest to us and lie the most are always able to deceive us.
Well my fellow Americans, we are getting bamboozled on a regular basis by two parties who pretend to be Verbal Kint when they’re more like the devil incarnate. Just like Keyser Soze was able to hoodwink Agent Kujan, Democrats and Republicans have perfected the art of proximity and velocity to con all of us and get the majority of voters to act against their own economic self-interest. This is especially true for people who view politics as a sport; the team they are cheering for is the same team that is bleeding them. Rah rah sis boom broke!
I only know this with such familiarity because I was every bit Agent Kujan myself not too long ago. I thought I was the smart one going around ridiculing Republican voters for being sheep while I was bleating along to the talking points of Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid and Chris Matthews. Nothing educates like the hard kick of reality; it took a swoon and a two year journey in a monsoon of hardship for me to have my shattered mug moment. Come to find out I was voting, volunteering and being a spokesperson for Keyser Soze the whole time I was piously lecturing conservatives that they were getting sucked dry by GOP verbal ticks.
No regrets, even though it was hard letting go of the chains that once kept me enslaved to the Democratic party, at least I can now view the world unencumbered by ideological blinders. Here is what I see and know to be true: both parties throw red meat issues and play the good cop to their respective bases while pointing to the other party as the bad cops who want to take away their liberties. Except the ominous threats they consistently issue and the alarms they keep blaring never lead to anything. The District of Caligula is at a political stand still—paralysis rules the day.
This is of course by design. The breakdown of governance and the gridlock in our nation’s capital is not an accident. This is part of the game they play; both parties get to blame the other side for nothing getting done in DC. Ah, but if the corporate masters and plutocratic pimps of the ruling class demand action, both parties snap to attention and pass policies that transfer trillions away from the bottom 99% of Americans right to the pockets of the aristocracy and into the bank vaults of Wall Street.
Politics is one big smoke screen, take away the rhetoric and both parties are identical when it comes to the schemes they push that bludgeons all of us. Obama transferred $14 trillion to globalists by way of Quantitative Easing, Zero Interest Rate Policy and endless bailouts. Not to be undone, Trump takes over and promptly passes a $1.5 trillion dollar boondoggle to the wealthiest 1% while saddling us and our children with an onerous debt that will soon enough flat-line our economy. It’s as though Democrats and Republicans are in a race to see who can be the biggest asshole only for the race to end up in a draw with each successive election—don’t you see that they are all laughing at all of us?
The reason I was not hip to this pervasive con game of the politico-media complex is the same reason why most voting Americans are still duped by this laughable duopoly that is passed off as a democracy. They rile us up and agitate the hell out of us with manufactured outrage, over-the-top sensationalism and the constant melodrama that is our politics. Red meat issues are perpetually being thrown at us and we keep biting at them as if we are a nation of Pavlov’s dog. These hot button issues—from abortion, marriage equality, to gun rights—are meant to distract us from the true source of injustice which is economic inequality. Click To Tweet
Just today, I had someone on Twitter direct a passionate tweet in my direction. She noted that if we don’t vote for Democrats, Republicans would take away abortion! This was the same talking point I used to read when I was an Obama community organizer in 2008. “If you don’t vote for Democrats”, I would say to some unregistered voter, “the Republicans will take away our rights to vote and do away with a woman’s right to choose!” I used to say these things because I actually believed them to be true, I thought the Democrats were the last line of defense between me and Jim Crow. I was convinced that George Bush was going to do away with all the progress we made as a nation and reverse Roe vs Wade, repeal Affirmative Action and the endless litany of progressive policies I was passionate about.
Except a funny thing happened, the status quo remained in place. The only thing that changed were the fortunes of advocacy groups like Planned Parenthood, Daily Kos and the sea of liberal leaning activists who were making millions by convincing naive believers like me that the only thing that stood between Bush and socio-political calamity was contribution of $10. So I gave thinking I was doing my part when all along they were using fear tactics to keep me in line and dependent on the Democratic party.
What was done to me and my once side of the aisle is being done to the other side as well. The Tea Party was a creation of fear and anxiety; they used the fear of Obama socializing medicine and implementing communism in America to get conservatives enraged and beside themselves. The right was convinced that Obama was going to turn our nation into a Bolshevik wonderland the same way I was once convinced Bush was going to reconstitute plantations. I say that in jest, alas the truth is even more sublime than my attempted satire. Obama went on to become Wall Streets favorite toady; he did more to prop up this cancerous capitalism that is feeding on our planet than any president before him.
Spoiler alert! The red meat issues like abortion, gay marriage, guns and any litany of the wedge issues which are used against us will never go away. Too many people on both sides of the political divide are making too much money through the status quo. If an issue like abortion was resolved somehow, people like Cecile Richards would have to get a real job instead of making a $590,928 in salary as she uses the pains of women to advance her own financial interests. Likewise, the gun issue will never be solved because people like Wayne LaPierre would lose out on his $5,504,249 annual salary. There is a profit motive in keeping the patient sick but no money to be made once the patient has recovered.
The two salaries I just cited above should be your Agent Kujan dropped coffee mug moment if you still believe that your party is the party of virtue. Sadly, too many will go on believing that their side is the good guy while insulting the other side as either rethugs or libtards. I don’t know what it will take for us to finally wake up; it took concrete pillows in Greenville, South Carolina for me to realize that the Verbal Kints I was enamored with were actually just verbose pricks. Here is hoping that it doesn’t take a collective dance with indigence for us to wake up to the bullshit of Democrats and Republicans. #SuspectUsers
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” ~ Verbal Kint
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Check out the latest Ghion Cast where I discuss this article and how the entire industry of politics thrives through disinformation and distraction.
Check out the Ghion Cast where I discuss how both parties play us for suckers, here is to hoping that we refused to be played for fools and wake up to the bull.
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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.