Don't want to be an American Idiot
Yesterday, it was announced that the Supreme Court, in the United states, would allow a partial Muslim ban and that books, yes books, could potentially be screened on flights. I was floored. How am I supposed to entertain myself on a cheap United flight? Will I be forced to watch one Van Damme movie playing sporadically over the course of a 15 hour flight along side a map of where the plane I am traveling in from 1975 might fall out of the sky?
After so many protests and fights it seemed like finally, our religious freedoms were caving in on us. Since I currently live overseas, I went to bed fuming and hopeful that I would wake up to massive protests. I imagined people walking out of government agencies, a complete shutdown of our government. Total pandemonium, people posting about how this was the end of freedom, but all I saw were Harry Potter posts, not even posts about how we should never listen to Drake's music again. I wanted signs and protests all I got was digital wands( this is not to say that Harry Potter isn't amazing, or wonderful or something to love) however, I just can't help but feel like people are distracted, not focused, dazed and overall don’t care. I listened to NPR, and even in the news media the potential for a partial Muslim ban was framed in a nonchalant manner. They said most people visiting the U.S. already had family residing in the country. That was a totally asinine thing to say because in the face of persecution, someone in the family had to be the first to set foot on American soil. People can't just mentally immigrate to a country. *Thinks about America. Poof magically there*
I have often wondered why people in America are not mad. Why don’t we riot, why we don’t resist? In a country which is supposedly a democracy (a better definition for the U.S. is federalist republic), where is our activism? Where is our collective sense of self-preservation in the face of oppressive laws, oppressive police forces, corporate welfare, the dismantling of voting rights, and the attack on women’s bodies. Why don’t we riot? Why are we lacking a larger movement within all political spectrums to completely overhaul the system? Why is their consistent reinforcement of the status quo?
With anything in America, there is never a simple answer. Every angle has an angle, every historical marker has another marker which predates it, with just as much significance. However, there is something which I think is being overlooked in what I would call a rise in authoritarian policies. Americans simply don’t care, it’s not that they are unwilling to care, it is the circumstances which different class structures based on capitalism have found themselves trapped within. They won’t change the system because they can’t change the system. Until we loosen up:
The Working Class.
With a minimum wage which does not provide an individual with enough money to sustain life above the poverty line, more and more Americans are taking on two or three jobs just to keep everything afloat. People are exhausted, and with exhaustion, one is always focused on keeping one foot right in front of another. If you need to keep the lights on, you need to keep the lights on, and nothing which the government is going to do will change that fact (accept raising the minimum wage, of course). However, many people see it as personal responsibility to take care of themselves and work, so they do and they are exhausted. They want to know where their access to good jobs are, and this is the same anger which propelled Donald Trump into power. With this anger, any scapegoat will do, we have seen it time and time again in history, one group of people is blamed for the economic or political woes of the country. An appeal to the desperation with an adage of deeply entrenched ideas about race and class have kept people from feeling as though they have been played. They are too tired to see what is happening, and a quick soundbite from Fox News or CNN is what they use and the spread of toxic ideas manifests itself in the consciousness of the American working class. They won't riot, they are too tired.
The Middle Class
No one has invested more in America than the middle class. They are the ones who put everything into the idea of education, equality and working for what you get. Many people have loans, not only from one degree, but from multiple degrees. They are the ones with the 15 or 20 year mortgages. They are the ones with the car loans, who have invested so much in obtaining and maintaining their credit scores. When you are aware that your status as middle class with an ever so stagnant job market is dependent upon your job and your investments in society, how can you expect someone to risk it all? The middle class is not going to set the house which it is been building on fire. It will continue to build that house even though they know it may never be what they want it to be. The American middle class with its debt, and personal investments is to booged down. They won’t riot, they won’t try and deconstruct the system because they have put so much into it.
If there is a group of people who will continue the trend towards authoritarianism, it is the elite. Your tax dollars have returned their ailing businesses to health. College debt has created large profitable instructions, credit cards are a necessity, your medical care is expensive, your public schools are failing and there is a push for for-profit institutions, because the middle class and working class are too busy to see what is happening. Politicians, wealthy businessmen, they are not out for the other classes they have lined their pockets and will continue to do so. They will not riot, the game we are all playing is starting to take a drastic turn in their favor.