Sunday, March 3, 2019

Identity Politics: Seeing The Big Picture

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Identity politics is an interesting concept.  What exactly does it mean?  Identity politics refers to the tendency of people to care only about issues that affect them personally, such as minorities caring only about racism or trans people caring only about transphobia while minimizing the plight of others.  It can also cause people to vote for candidates based on superficial traits like the candidate's sexual orientation or gender rather than their voting record or platform.  Identity is vital to our sense of self & place in the world.  We all have in inner vision of who we are:  sex, race, ethnicity, religion, political party, sexual orientation, generation, etc.  But since 9/11 & the rise of the internet, these identities have increasingly divided us. 

The media LOVES stories that are polarizing & deepen this divide.  Stories that turn Boomers against Millennials, conservatives against liberals, whites against Blacks, old against young & man against woman make great follow-ups to their "blood & guts" lead stories.  They get us riled up & play on our base emotions, which in turn causes us to share & comment on their stories on social media, thereby increasing the channel's views & ratings.  Big win for them.  Not so much for us.

More insidiously, these petty issues distract us from much bigger "macro" problems like the military-industrial complex's war crimes abroad and the inhumanities occurring at home, like mass incarceration & our disappearing middle class.  The fact that America is the only developed nation that doesn't require mandatory paid sick or vacation leave & maternity leave on the job, for instance, rarely gets mentioned in the media.  This is no accident.  It benefits their advertisers (corporations) who prefer to work their employees into the ground, assigning each one the duties of several people & paying them as little as possible to maximize profits--a problem that's become an epidemic in the past few decades.  Most Americans remain ignorant of just how bad they have it in the "best country in the world" as a result.  Other developed nations like Finland, Switzerland & Italy look on in horror.

Worst of all, these stories turn people into fanatics incapable of rational discussion.  Families are now picking up & moving into segregated communities based on political affiliation.  See:  The Conservative Move.  This is how crazy it's gotten, folks.  The brainwashing runs deep.  No longer can we live & let live while standing strong in our own beliefs--no, that's not enough.  We have to run away from people who aren't exactly like us in their voting habits.  Super patriotic.

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How much does social media influence YOUR vote?

We patiently wait for the presidential election every 4 years, during which we all lose our fucking minds.  Common sense goes out the window.  Instead of voting FOR a candidate we truly support, we vote AGAINST the one we're most afraid of, perpetuating the system of lesser evils for another 4 years.  You can't turn on the TV, pick up a magazine or newspaper, log into the internet or glance at a billboard without being inundated with political propaganda.  It's aggressive brainwashing funded by dark money.

And it all seems to be for naught.  (Warning:  Conspiracy theory ahead).  Since I was born in 1984, it's been the same identical pattern:  8 years of Republican administration followed by 8 years Democrat administration in an alternating pattern...even when the popular vote says it should've gone the other way.  I can't help but feel it's rigged this way to give each "team" the chance to feel in control while preventing either side of the country from growing too restless & rebelling for real.  Bush was a blubbering warhawk nightmare so they gave us Obama--an eloquent, young & hip dude who LOOKED great on paper but was actually a neoliberal centrist nightmare.  But he pacified the Left for 8 years which was the goal.  I mean did you SEE him on "Between Two Ferns?!"  My aching sides!

Meanwhile the conservatives grew increasingly pissed that this...KENYAN MUSLIM...was running the country with his fugly wife (none of this was racist by the way!).  The only answer was to elect someone so outrageously loud, brash & anti-Obama that this country would never forget its mistake of having a Blac--I mean, uh, MUSLIM president .  And now Cheeto Benito is up for election again.  With 4 years in the can, he'll certainly win because it's still the Republicans' "turn".  In 2024 we'll start the cycle afresh with a (wet noodle centrist) Democrat.  Yawn.  Democrat donors are already threatening to pull funding if the party continues going "too far left".  Don't let the door hit ya, assholes.  If universal healthcare & a livable wage is socialism/Marxism in your eyes, you're no progressive or liberal.  (I'm calling it now, on March 3rd, 2019.  If I'm wrong you can roast me in the comments.  Trump will win in 2020). 

I would love to be proven wrong about ALL of this:  that people are capable of looking beyond identity politics & social issues when deciding on a candidate...that the system isn't rigged to choose our presidents for us, etc.  But it's the same song & dance every time.  All I can do is try to inform people & then get out of the way.

My plan in 2020 is to stay buzzed on kratom & trees & as many pills as I can scrounge up while trying to avoid the topic of politics.  This is for my own sanity, folks.  It will be hard because there's just so much combative ignorance in my feeds already, but I plan to try.  I apologize in advance if I annoy/offend any of you on Twitter who just follow me for my drug-related posts.  But after 2016 I really can't afford to get emotionally involved in this nonsense again.  I've lost faith in both the system & the voters.  If my candidate of choice doesn't make it past the primaries (again), I will not be participating in the general election.  That's my decision.  And I certainly won't criticize you if you make a different one.  I refuse to let the media, corporations or politicians divide me from my fellow humans more than is absolutely necessary.  As Maya Angelou says, "We are more alike than unalike."

While we may feel naturally more comfortable among people who look & think like us, we only grow when exposed to people who are different.  America is a melting pot of ethnicities, religions, cultures, races & languages, probably more than any country on Earth.  The Native Americans were here first with Texas belonging to Mexicans, then the European settlers moved in, bringing slaves from all over Africa.  And in flooded immigrants from all corners of the globe after the country was established.  It hasn't been a smooth ride but it sure has been interesting.  There's no other nation like us, and we should be proud of our heritage as a diverse & prosperous land...warts & all.  If you're NOT proud of our diverse makeup, you know where the door is.  America will always be a melting pot built on diversity. But we've got a long way to go in terms of equality, which is a class issue rather than merely a race, sex or other identity issue.  Wealth is freedom--poverty is slavery.

I hope we can all agree on one thing:  the drug war is a life-destroying racket that should be ended immediately in America & around the world.  No non-violent person deserves to sit in jail for drug possession or sales unless they've sold to a minor.  Getting high is not a crime.    

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