An often used strategy in politics to gain support which would then later translate into votes is to invent a bogeyman, a scapegoat or a fall guy. The thing to which all of society’s problems and ills originate from. That thing usually has no voice, no political power and no way to defend itself.
From the stock market crash of 1929 to about the 1970s it was the Red Scare. The Red Scare ebbed and flowed depending on world events. During World War II, the world’s common enemy was fascism and Japanese imperialism, so for a while the Red Scare abated, but it came back in full force in the 1950s with the establishment of the House of Un-American Committee with Sen. Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon at its helm, anyone who owns a copy of Karl Marx’s writings is a potential communist. Interestingly, when fascism was raging in Europe, it wasn’t really a concern in the United States until Hitler began the invasion of his neighbors. While Japanese immigrants were rounded up and interned at detention camps, no one was really worried about German immigrants having Nazi sympathies. In the end, neither Japanese nor German immigrants posed a political or ideological threat to America.
When the Berlin Wall came down followed by the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the dull fangs of communism was finally revealed and most realized, rather anti-climatically, it was no threat, certainly not one hyped by the government propagandist during the Cold War. From post-World War II to the 1980s, presidential politics consisted of red-baiting and who was tougher against communism. Any utterance of leniency towards a communist regime could spell the end of a political campaign. Communism was a bogeyman and used to achieve political aims.
Today, the bogeymen of Donald Trump are the Mexicans and Muslims. For Ted Cruz, it’s the liberals of America, the federal government, where they’ll come take your guns. But none of these things are the bogeymen. Mexicans, Muslims, liberals and the federal government seizing the guns of citizens are the least of our problems. These are just red herrings, scapegoats for what’s really wrong with our society.
Our problems are wealth concentration at the top, shaky economic recovery and lack of sustainable economic growth. There is a wealth and achievement divide between whites and minorities. Police brutality against blacks and minorities is a stain on our society. The way which black and minorities versus how whites are policed is a disgrace. The pervasive racial inequality across every sector of society will bring this country down before any Mexicans or Muslims.
The mass incarceration of black and brown people is cutting the legs off of a whole generation of young men and their families. Many of these men have children. Every day they spend in jail is one day less they spend with their children and providing for them. Each they get sent to prison, their employment prospects and employability dwindles. Each day they spend in prison is one less opportunity to be in work training or school to better their employment opportunities. Being in prison hardens people, makes the kindest people cynical and bitter. Especially what is awaiting for them outside of prison gates is more hardship. If the government wanted to waste vast sums of tax dollars in criminal justice, they shouldn’t have wasted it on the war on drugs.
If they wanted to wage a war on criminal justice, they should have waged a war against corporate thieves, people and companies who brought down our financial system and economy. Bug their offices, send Confidential Informants after them, turn their right hand men and women into snitches and snitch on their bosses. It shouldn’t be too hard, all law enforcement needs to do is show the secretary or assistant how much their boss is making compared to what they are making and it should do the job. They should have waged a war on keeping rapists and pedophiles locked up longer. They should have waged a war on prosecuting sex offenders and rapists. Instead of sending police officers who barely has the vocabulary and emotional sensibility to string three legible sentences together to examine a rape victim after an assault, maybe send along with a forensic team accompanied with a rape counselor to put the victim at ease, and it would help too if they were women and not men. Many victims say they feel like they are raped all over again after the police is done with questioning them by the manner and tone in which they question rape victims. Many rape victims ask for female police officers to question and examine them and are denied. The rape victim has to prove to the officers that she has been raped. Police departments are staffed with semi-literate orangutans to investigate complicated crimes which involve emotional maturity, empathy and basic information processing, but all cops know how to do today is draw their guns and shoot.
In my view, the single biggest step forward for feminism is to demand and legislate equal pay for men and women doing the same work. A lot of problems for women can be traced back to lack of strong safety net when things go badly at home. Women often find themselves in bad situations usually because of finances, discriminatory policies against women with children, especially when children get ill. Society has failed to recognize that women who work do double duty. When a man works and brings home the bacon, he has the luxury of not having to worry about anything else. Not his children’s runny noses, emergency room visits or nursing them back to health when they catch the flu. This is still the domain of women, and if she works, her employers punish her for having to provide childcare. Divorced women with children and single mothers are often left with the burden of bringing up their children alone. Compounding events of financial distress, divorce, illness or loss of job can send women reeling into poverty and barring some miracle, she’ll most likely stay there. Many women have to make choices, to stay with an abusive partner or leave him and possibly lose custody of her children because she can’t raise them on her income alone or live in poverty with her children. These aren’t choices. If women had access to affordable childcare and equal pay for equal work, it would go a long way. For many working families, women who could be working to supplement the family income can’t because of the exorbitant cost of quality childcare. Anything she makes will just go directly to childcare. So she has to make do with her husband’s meagre income while her own potential wastes away. Economic equality is feminism. Economic equality is also the gateway to racial equality.
If there is one thing which blights this country is poverty and its far reaching tentacles. Entrenched, lateral, multi-generational poverty that has gripped America’s working classes. Pre-2008 recession, if people fell on hard times, they can count on their parents or grandparents to bail them out for the short term until they got back on their feet. Now with cuts to the social safety net, many older people no longer have the savings to help their own children. Three generations have had to move in together because of unaffordable housing and living expenses. Poverty has many layers and many consequences. Poverty contributes to crime, poor health, poor education, poor future employment prospects. While poverty doesn’t directly cause crime, domestic abuse or addiction, it exacerbates an already volatile situation. Poverty is a vortex in which if you fall in, it’s very hard to climb out of. One cannot fault middle-class people from hanging on with their fingernails because after you’ve fallen into poverty, it’s near impossible to climb out.
The underclass is created because society and government at large has turned a blind eye to their suffering. Like the people of Flint, Michigan, they’ve been written off just like you write off a bad loan or bad business deal. They are left in crumbling neighborhoods to rot – metaphorically, but the governor of Michigan has done one step better, he’s poisoned his own people by supplying cess-filled drinking water to them. He has, with the flip of a switch, fed the people of Flint their own poison.
The only candidate that addresses these issues is Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton has focused her candidacy on foreign policy, which many Americans don’t have an appetite for. Foreign policy isn’t something the voting constituent can control or even approve. We elect candidates hoping they’ll do the right thing in the foreign policy department. Bernie Sanders is against free trade, because like all intelligent people, nothing is ‘free’ in life. Someone pays for the ‘free’ part in free trade and its usually the working class and the poor and they often comprise of women and children. With the markets in China opening up in the late 1970s, the fall of the Iron Curtain and the emerging markets of South America, globalization was bound to happen. To deny that or to attempt to stop it would be naive and foolish. The world’s factories and workers pre-1970s were in the United States, Western Europe and the U.K. because all the other markets were closed to the world. All of these closed markets would eventually open one day, it’s only a matter of time. But trade agreements like NAFTA and other free-trade deals have accelerated the pace of globalization which harmed American and European skilled and unskilled workers. For the jobs that were lost to free trade, not enough effort has been made to replacing them. This is the failure of government policy making. Free trades have plunged formerly middle class people into poverty in the first world but didn’t lift that many people out of poverty in the third world either. The free trade agreements largely benefited multi-national, big corporations. It didn’t even benefit medium to small sized companies.
Most women and feminists know today you don’t need a woman president to promote feminist causes. In fact, based on many of Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy decisions while she was Secretary of State, a lot the policies she espoused are blatantly anti-women and children. By raising the minimum wage to commensurate with standard of living increases and inflation, having real universal healthcare (single payer system), adequate sick-pay, adequate family-leave pay for women or men who need to look after sick family members, make contraception widely available and access to abortion facilities, a fair taxation system, an adequate safety net will directly benefit many women and by extension her family. When women are paid the same as men for doing the same work, she will more likely speak up about the inequalities at work. When a woman’s job isn’t jeopardized for speaking up, she will speak up.
These are the real problems of America. Not the federal government usurping the rights of citizens, not illegal immigrants, not Muslims, not homegrown terrorists or ISIS. All of these are just bogeymen to distract us from our real problems, which are far more tangible.