In her article “Feeling the Yern: Why One Millenial Woman Would Rather Go To Hell Than Vote For Hillary,” writer Holly Wood (cool parents, or nom de plume?) drops this gem:
“If I am alarmed, it is by the profound languor of the comfortable. What fresh hell must we find ourselves in before those who’ve appointed themselves to lead our thoughts admit that we are in flames? As I see it, to counsel realism when the reality is fucked is to counsel an adherence to fuckery. Under conditions as distressing as these, acquiescence is absurd. When your nation gets classified as a Class D structure fire, I believe the only wise course is to lose your shit.”
This is of course a reference to all those “serious pundits” like Krugman and David Brooks who admonish people for supporting Bernie Sanders. Wood offers nauseating quotes from each of those men. Here’s the one she cites from Krugman:
“And what did the great tawny-bellied Paul Krugman have to say to the nation’s waywardly progressive? ‘Sorry,’ he pecked in his Times column. ‘There’s nothing noble about seeing your values defeated because you preferred happy dreams to hard thinking about means and ends.’ Pausing to cough up a mouse carcass, he chittered on: ‘Don’t let idealism veer into destructive self-indulgence.’”
Krugman, Brooks, and the other people Wood refers to certainly qualify as “comfortable.” Presumably they all have six-(or seven)figure salaries and/or book contracts, speaking fees, etc. That certainly explains their profound languor, their sense of, “Hey, what’s everybody getting so worked up about?”
But what about the equally (if not more) profound languor of the masses of people just going about their lives without the six figures, the book deals, and the TV appearances? I encounter that languor every day (and surely you do, too), when people say things on the street or on social media like, “Dude, the only reason people are not doing well financially is because they don’t want to work.” Or, “The recession is over and the banks paid back their bailout money, get over it!” Or, “The so-called ‘1%’ are the job creators and deserve every bit of the obscene amounts of money they get—nothing is stopping you from following in their footsteps.” And so on. I’m paraphrasing all of the above statements, of course, but that’s the general attitude I see and hear from more people than you might think.
It’s so insane that in a world where 62 individuals own the same amount of wealth as half of the population of the entire world—down from 388 people just 5 five years ago—regular people just carry on as if that’s how things just naturally should be. As Sanders rightly and repeatedly points out, if not in so many words, the U.S. has been found by at least one study to be more or less an oligarchy rather a democracy/constitutional republic, stating that: “The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.” We’ve remarked on this insanity before here at LRM, as in the post “That Ain’t Rain, It’s Piss: The Shibboleth of American Capitalism”:
It’s actually quite distressing that such a large segment of regular people in this country cling to the market-fundamentalist, invisible-hand, temporarily-embarrassed millionaire myth of capitalism like so many Overly Attached Girlfriends—they can’t let go of the idea that “free market capitalism” exists in America despite all evidence to the contrary and despite all indications that the supposed free-market capitalism actually doesn’t want or need to have anything to do with them, and in spite of the fact that capitalism is, well cheating on us.
It’s hard to convince people to do something about a problem when they’ve been trained to believe it’s not a problem by those enjoying the languorous comfort of a Paul Krugman or David Brooks. But maybe it’s not quite too late, as Wood notes that more people are starting to catch on to the fact that:
“…Washington is bought. And every time Goldman Sachs buys another million-dollar slice of the next American presidency, we can’t help but drop the needle onto Bernie’s broken record:
The economy is rigged.
Democracy is corrupted.
The billionaires are on the warpath.”
Indeed, Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks has been touting a Vox/Morning Consult poll lately which shows that 54% of registered voters “strongly or somewhat” agreed with the following propositon: “In the next decade, a political revolution might be necessary to redistribute money from the wealthiest Americans to the middle class.” So there’s hope, even if I seem to mostly hear from the 30% who disagreed with that same proposition.