We’re suckers for the same old promises
The Republican and Democratic conventions were little more than a show. And like most shows, when it’s all over you realize it was a lot of “sound and fury” yet “signifying nothing.”
Every four years, this show makes promise after promise. The “Republicrats” promise rain, and when a few raindrops hit a few of our kind (the poor, the colored, the immigrant, wage workers), we run around singing their praises as if our socio-economic drought has ended.
Incredibly, the plot is not difficult to figure out; it’s the same one all the time. It goes something like this: Let’s figure out how to keep what we the rich and powerful have, and convince them, the working class, that they have a stake in our success.
They toss some goodies to their upper-middle-class lackeys, allow a few opportunities, and we’re good for another four years. It’s the most obvious and repeated story ever sold.
And like any other show under a Big Top, it’s filled with clowns. One really didn’t need any light to see through this year’s cast of characters.
Mitt Romney is an adherent of a religion whose God only about 30 years ago saw the light and let Negroes into their version of heaven. Paul Ryan is a really scary guy who reminds one of Tom Ripley, the very polished murderer in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Ryan is a fan of Ayn Rand, who actually taught that greed is good and that the only important thing in life is to look out for one’s self.
And on the other side of the aisle there was “Slick Willie,” who ate collard greens and played the saxophone while kicking poor folks off welfare pretending to reform it. While pretending to be one of us, he passed NAFTA and the WTO, making it easier for corporations to export work overseas.
The smoothest of the characters was President Obama, the savior of U.S. capitalism, who managed to give nearly $17 trillion of the public’s money to the big banks while doing little to hold back the foreclosure crisis that wreaked havoc on the little guy. He managed to get people to believe that he was ending a war while still fighting it.
He was the first president to kill an American citizen without due process or trial. In a Bush-like way, he and his administration managed to say that drone attacks with 10 percent innocent victims are acceptable as collateral damage. He even signed a bill approving detention without trial.
He has deported more immigrants than Bush. The African even bombed a few African countries, doing the most damage in Libya. This character managed to put health care in the hands of the private healthcare industry and made us believe that it was progress — just wait. Look it up!
(Yes, I am aware that Obama has a super, super-secret plan to help Black folks and end the continued mass incarceration of our youth and their mis-education and under-education and help us get jobs, while putting a halt to police brutality and calling out racism.)
Rounding out the cast was his vice president, Joe Biden, who they have to watch ’cause he is dying to give away the plot. (“They goin’ to put ya’ll back in chains.”) And add a wild assortment of House Negroes (White and Black) who can’t break from the plantation.
But like any show, it must go on. Those in power have to keep up the façade. How else do they continue and hope to continue to keep millions of folks in line but through false hope? And it serves as a distraction as well.
Consequently, the Democrats use the show to siphon off the most passionate and those just beginning to care about social ills. The Dems pretend that they are the answer despite the fact that a little fact checking will show that they have actually opposed social change, only to grudgingly enact it when the grassroots pushed hard for it and there was no other way to keep the masses in check.
The Republicans use their show to fire up the passionate and backward, the beady-eyed and the narrow-minded, the victim-blamers, the mildly and wildly bigoted. They fire up the pro-American and the conservative. Ironically, many of whom have nothing to conserve.
Unfortunately, we have become like Charlie Brown, who should know by now — after hundreds of comic strips — that Lucy Van Pelt is going to move the football just before he tries to kick it. You would think that good ole Charles would have at least given up on Lucy as a holder. Yet he continues to trust that Lucy will put the ball down, though there is absolutely no point in history when she actually has allowed him to kick it.
And why does Charlie Brown continue to try to kick the ball? Because Lucy gives him great speeches about why he should trust her. She even gives a great talk about why one can’t go around being distrustful. And of course, Lucy pulled the ball away again in that instance as well.
Like Charlie Brown, most of us know, or at least sense in our heart of hearts, that the football will be pulled away again and we won’t be able to kick it, but we are stuck. There is no other alternative. (Well, at least that’s what we tell ourselves.)
And just as we muster the courage to look reality in the eye, to see Lucy for who she really is (the parties of the rich), we return to what is familiar, habitual, self-delusional, and lock our own cell doors.
Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.