I get it.
You remember growing up in a world where your father had a stable job, Mom stayed home to raise the kids, you had a house and a car and a television and walked to school, and no one thought twice about you rocketing out the door on a Saturday morning with a “Going to Ronnie’s back for lunch love you!” shouted over your shoulder.
You see all the bad news today, the school shootings, the beheadings in Syria, the constant rise in grocery prices while the official “inflation” remains zero and “cost of living” increases never happen; you see the disappearing middle class, the hardworking class, your class, and the declining hopes for a better world for your children. You’re scared, you’re angry, and you want someone to do something for God’s sake!
I feel the same way. Exactly the same way.
Here’s the problem. We’ve been lied to. All of us. Wholesale.
We’ve been told all our lives that capitalism is what brought us our idyllic childhoods.
The truth is, capitalism is what came before our childhoods. In fact, for most of us, it came before our parents’ childhoods.
Capitalism is also what came after we entered the workforce, right about the time everything started going downhill.
What we had during our childhood — what we all grew up with — was democratic socialism.
It’s especially interesting to read what our grandparents and great-grandparents had to say about capitalism and capitalists. Unless your family name is Astor or Rockefeller, what your great-grandparents had to say about capitalists was not fit for children’s ears. They said that the rich robbed the poor; they said that wealth corrupted politics, and made a mockery of justice; they said that prosperity for the common man was a bad joke or an impossible dream, or both.
They had more than idle complaints. They walked off their jobs. They had sit-ins to prevent other workers from using their tools and machinery. They sabotaged the machinery so that no one could use it. They armed themselves.
They also got beaten, shot, and killed. By private cops, like the well-known Pinkerton Agency. By city cops. By the US Army. But conditions under the capitalists were so bad, so frankly unlivable, that they kept striking, rebelling, organizing, and raising Hell, to the point that Franklin Roosevelt, in the 1930’s, in the midst of an unparalleled economic catastrophe brought about by the capitalists, was advised by the capitalist class — from which he came, and which he represented — to suspend the Constitution and establish a fascist dictatorship in the US, as was already happening in Italy, Germany, Spain, and Portugal.
Instead, Franklin Roosevelt pushed through a limited form of democratic socialism.
That is what all of us old white folk grew up with. Democratic socialism. Not capitalism.
In the 1950’s, the political class and the capitalists decided to simply appropriate our American form of democratic socialism and call it “capitalism,” and then compare it (loudly) to the totalitarian socialism over in the Soviet Union. Totalitarian socialism in the USSR was a disaster: it was as big a disaster as the democratic socialism in the US was a success.
In the 1980’s, the capitalists — with the help of government — started to dismantle democratic socialism in the US, to try to bring back capitalism of exactly the same sort that existed in the 1880’s. The US has grown more capitalistic every decade since 1980.
And everything has gradually gone to shit.
This is not a coincidence.
So when you look to someone like Donald Trump as your Great White Hope because he is a capitalist, you should understand that he is not going to bring back the America of your childhood. He is going to bring you — if he can — the America of your great-grandparents’ childhoods: the kind of place your great-grandparents fought and died to end, because they frankly had nothing left to lose: the capitalists had taken it all from them, and wanted more.
By looking to capitalism to save us, you are throwing gasoline on a burning house. You are putting a fox in the henhouse to guard the hens. You are hiring a pedophile as a babysitter.
You will not be pleased with the outcome.
If you want your great-grandparents’ capitalism back — the thing they fought to end — vote for Trump.
If you want to continue the decline of the past few decades, vote for Hillary or any of the other Republicans.
If you want to return to the America of your childhood, an America with a future for our children, vote for Bernie.