American Democracy Is in Crisis Mode and We're All Complicit: Here's What Needs to Happen

Roundup
tags: election 2016, GOP, Trump



Jim Sleeper is the author of "Liberal Racism" (1997) and "The Closest of Strangers: Liberalism and the Politics of Race in New York" (1990).

The election news is all about Trump, 24/7, but the crisis that has made his victory a possibility and that would bring tyrannical folly in its wake it isn’t about Trump. It’s about what is happening to the American people.

What is happening to us is something that Trump embodies perfectly, in all its populist vulgarity. But no populist rhetoric of democracy can hide the truth that what’s happening to us is what’s being done to us.

If you say that we’re all complicit in the doing because, after all, this is a democracy and a marketplace where we’re sovereign as citizens and consumers, I answer that we’re about as sovereign as flies caught in a spider’s web of 800-numbered, sticky-fingered pick-pocketing machines, including most news media, that bypass our brains and hearts on the way to our lower viscera and our wallets.

But why do these machines do that? Who designed and runs them? Why do we put up with their casino-like financing, predatory lending, omnivorous marketing, and deft political blame-shifting, letting them grope us, titillate us, intimidate us, addict us, track us, indebt us, and sell us illusory escapes that leave us too ill to bear our sicknesses or their cures?

We shrink from the answers. Instead we point fingers, fists and even guns at people who are really no more guilty than we. Or we blame the inexorable tides of globalization and technological upheaval. We excuse or, worse, adore the real perpetrators. When we do that, we’re complicit, because there’s still room for maneuver and resistance, and millions of our own children are telling us to seize it. ...




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