The Economic and Social Crisis in Front Of Us
The 2016 Presidential election is taking place amid widespread economic, political, and social crises. The average income for the bottom 90% is $31,000, and the average income for the top one percent is $27 million. Nearly all of the job growth in the last decade came in the form of temporary, contract and on-call work. Nearly one in six full time workers now fall into this uncertain category, like driving for Uber. It’s the same for the youth. For the first time in 130 years, youth ages 18-24 are more likely to be living with their parents than with a partner. And for the first time since 2005 the death rate rose, in part by drug overdoses, and suicides.
The politicians who claim to represent our interests continue to spend historical amounts of our money on war, and avoid moving forward with any significant economic and social improvement plan. The capitalist system is revealing itself increasingly bankrupt every day and people have taken note.
The Elections: Buried Hopes, The One Percent’s First Lady and Hate
The campaign of Bernie Sanders pointed the finger at many of these issues and people rallied behind him. By the July primaries more people under the age of 30 voted for Sanders than they did for Trump and Clinton combined! He raised $232 million with an average donation of $27. But the end was clear from the start. He did not organize independently of the Democrats. The media outlets and the Democratic Party undermined and actively campaigned against him as revealed through Wikileaks. In the end, he endorsed Clinton and channeled all that energy right back into the Democratic Party nicknamed “the graveyard of social movements”.
Hillary Clinton, out of all the Democratic and Republican candidates, has the most experience representing the interests of the one percent and so has been handsomely rewarded. Clinton has made millions for herself and her foundation from Wall Street speaking fees, and political favors. In 2015 the Clintons made $10.6 million, putting them in the top 0.02 percent of U.S. families. She has campaigned for military intervention abroad and hasn’t distanced herself from the legacy of her husband: NAFTA, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, and welfare reform. All of these were responsible for job loss, mass incarceration, and the further impoverishment of the poor. Her campaign by no means represents a break from the past, and most people see that clearly. The vocal or passive support of her from Billionaires Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffet, and Charles Koch show just that.
Trump, like Sanders, has tapped into the massive discontent that underlies our society. By acknowledging unemployment, veterans, and the heartless political and economic establishment that continues to destroy peoples’ lives he has spoken to many working class whites. But he doesn’t link it to capitalism. Instead he tries to divide the population and blames people from our own class: Immigrants, Blacks, Muslims and others. Trump and the views he represents, only further enrich the soil that allows his hateful words to grow and develop in the first place.
We cannot afford to be duped any longer by the Democratic Party or the electoral games of the one percent. When we are told that the only choice for our future is between a Clinton or Trump presidency, it is not true. We don’t have to limit ourselves to choosing which poison we hope will do less damage. Solutions to our problems will not be found in the ballot box of our exploiters. We must look to ourselves, our class and our own forces.
The World We Inherit
When we look at the world around us, it can be difficult to be hopeful for our future. Everywhere we look, from the violence in the streets of the US, to the destruction of escalating wars around the globe, from the looming threat of climate change, the situation looks bleak.
A World Torn Apart By War
The violence unleashed from war has devastated entire regions around the world, particularly the Middle East. A 2015 report estimated that U.S. interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan alone killed almost 2 million people. On top of this, more than 479,000 people have been killed in Syria and Yemen, in U.S. supported wars. This destruction has led to the biggest refugee crisis ever recorded, with more than 65 million people displaced from their homes in 2015, 24 people every minute.
Out of this wreckage, groups like the Islamic State grow. The terrorism of groups like ISIS is fueled by the terrorism of major superpowers like the US. People see what is being done to their homelands and rightfully want it to stop. But the lives that are taken are never the ones who are responsible.
Waiting For the Next Shooting
Many people are on alert, wondering what crisis will unfold next. Mass shootings have become more frequent and extreme. These tragedies are almost always by the hands of some deeply disturbed and isolated young white man. Being a white man doesn’t come with as many privileges as it used to. The promise of a good job and a good future is a thing of the past. Add that to a violent gun loving culture and there is a disaster waiting to happen.
The Violence of Police, Poverty And Racism
For many, the violence at the hands of police is not new. But now it’s caught on camera. Despite having Obama in the White House, many Black and brown people are treated as suspects and shooting targets for anything from selling cigarettes or cd’s, to comforting an autistic child. Last year, Black men ages 15-34 were five times more likely to be killed by the police than were white men of the same age. Behind the question of police violence is the violence of poverty. Over one in four Blacks live in poverty, while fewer than one in 10 whites do. The official jobless rate for Blacks is twice that of whites. According to a study by Brandeis University, the wealth gap between Blacks and whites nearly tripled from 1988 to 2013, mainly due to inequality in home ownership, income, education and inheritances. For Black lives to really matter, we need a society that values them when they are alive.
Climate Change – Not A Moment To Spare!
The maximum level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is capable of sustaining life and society as we know it is 350 parts per million. Our current level? 400. The difference of 50 parts per million is a matter of life and death. The threat of unchecked climate change continues to wreak havoc on our planet. In 2015, greenhouse gases were the highest on record, as well as global sea level. Scientists are saying that if we allow this destruction to continue, we can expect more severe droughts, famines, storms and conflicts over resources.
While Trump denies that climate change is real, Clinton has refused to take on any of the measures that the leading climate scientists have proposed to slow down the damage. The message is clear. We cannot rely on the politicians or the system that they defend.
The Future Belongs To Those Who Prepare For It Today
The insanity that we see around us is not inevitable. A different kind of future is both necessary and possible. One where the resources and power are controlled from the bottom up. Where quality education, health care, housing and meaningful jobs with dignity are right for everyone. Where racism, nationalism and fear are replaced by respect and solidarity. Where disregard of our environment is replaced by stewardship and appreciation of it. The quest for greater and greater profit doesn’t have to be foundation of society. Cutthroat dog eat dog competition and individualism can be replaced by cooperation and collectivity.
This requires a revolution. One that sweeps the globe, fought for by the poor and working masses, taking political and economic power away from the corporations, banks, militaries, and dictators. We need our own political organization with people who have studied these issues, dedicated themselves to the oppressed, and fight for the liberation of all humanity. It may be difficult to imagine this type of transformation of society, history is shaped by small groups of dedicated people. Will you be one of them?