American Flag

On this Labor Day I’m posting this because next year’s elections could have a potentially devastating impact on labor in this country, especially if the elections boil down to a Clinton vs. Bush campaign because neither one of them are very friendly to the workers in the United States. I know that I’ll probably piss off some of my friends with this stance (especially those in my Unitarian Universalist congregation) who have already indicated their support of Hillary Clinton but that’s life. As a woman, I would love to see the first woman get elected to the Oval Office in my lifetime. In fact, I would be overjoyed if such a thing happened. I just don’t think that history-making woman should be Hillary Clinton for reasons that I’ll go into right now (and none of them have to do with Monica Lewinsky, Whitewater, or Benghazi).

Lately I’ve been getting more and more concerned about how the mainstream media in the U.S. seems to be gunning for a retread of the 1992 Clinton vs. Bush Presidential Election next year, except it would be former President Bill Clinton’s wife, Hillary, running against Jeb, the son of former President George H.W. Bush (and the younger brother of former President George W. Bush).

Here’s my take on this: I think it’s a horrible idea. It sends a dangerous message that the only people who can ever hope to occupy the White House are the ones who were either born into or married into the Bush family or the Clinton family. It creates a plutocracy not unlike the Kim dynasty in North Korea. I don’t consider this a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is an American issue and it’s one that’s for the future of democracy of a nation. Limiting the White House only to people who are members of either the Bush or Clinton family cuts out many other brilliant and talented people who would be capable of serving in the Oval Office and who could improve the United States as a country. Had there been such a limit in the past, think of the people who would never have made it to the White House so they would have never made an impact on this country like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter.

Let’s say that Hillary wins next year. When she serves her two terms (assuming that she gets elected to a second term), will the Oval Office seat next go to Jeb Bush? And if that happens, will the Oval Office next be given to Chelsea Clinton? And if that happens, will one of the children of either George W. or Jeb get elected to the White House? And so on and so forth.

I know some of you will say that it’s not fair to judge either Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush on what their relatives have done when they were in the Oval Office. In Hillary’s case, I’ll tell you as someone who was in a long relationship and marriage until recently, I know first-hand that people who stay together longer tend to share the same outlook on life in terms of political beliefs, religious beliefs, ethics, interests, etc. That was why I stayed with my husband for as long as I did despite his flaws. We had a lot in common and he wasn’t always such a total putz—that came later after he left me for our seriously mentally ill friend but that’s another story. Would Hillary have even considered marrying Bill in the first place had they not shared the same goals and beliefs? Probably not. Besides, Hillary hasn’t said or done anything that would indicate that she would rule this country differently from her husband.

As for Jeb Bush, I realize that many families have members who have rebelled against or distanced themselves from their families and you get situations where the children are either more liberal or conservative than their parents. But Jeb has never struck me as the rebellious type and he has never said or did anything that indicates that he has distanced himself from both this father and older brother politically. So I don’t think he would be that much different from when his father and brother served in the Oval Office.

While George H.W. Bush signed the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act, the fact that he relied on Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economics and the fact that he constantly catered to the right wing religious extremists tempered the good he did when he signed that act. While Bill Clinton was better on women’s issues (like keeping access to abortion and birth control legal), his advocation of NAFTA and his repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act pretty much helped start the 2008 economic collapse and it has led to workers getting screwed over more and more while jobs get increasingly outsourced to China, India, and other Third World countries. And that’s not to mention the notorious Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Act and his sacking of Jocelyn Elders as Surgeon General because she advocated masturbation as a form of safe sex. George W. Bush basically continued the economic policies of his father’s and President Clinton’s, which led to the 2008 economic collapse. On top of it, he lied about the weapons of mass destruction that supposedly were in Iraq as a pretext for a U.S. invasion against a country under false pretenses.

If the mainstream media and those in the political establishment have their way, the American voters would choose between going back to the failed policies of George H.W. and George W. Bush by electing Jeb or going back to Bill Clinton’s pro-corporate policies that screwed the average workers while catering to the right wing (such as enacting and signing legislation similar to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which had really screwed the careers of many people in the military simply because they were gay, lesbian, or bisexual) by electing Hillary. Then there’s Hillary Clinton’s refusal to say where she stands on the controversial TPP agreement, which could have an adverse impact on the U.S. economy and environment. (The latter issue alone is why the Social Action Committee at my Unitarian Universalist congregation has considered the TPP to be a moral issue and have set up letter writing tables after Sunday services on this issue over the past few years urging President Obama and our elected representatives to vote against the TPP.)

There are also questions as to how much of a feminist Hillary Clinton really is. Sure she’s given speeches on women breaking the glass ceiling in corporations. As for lower income women, Hillary Clinton could’ve had a chance to help them when she served on Walmart’s Board of Directors by speaking up for the unionization of Walmart’s workers (many of whom are women). But she remained silent on that issue during her tenure there.

I’ve read theories on the Internet written by various people that the reason why Donald Trump has gone to the top of the popularity polls on the Republican side is that people are looking for alternatives to having another Bush occupy the White House. It seems plausible to me but, to be honest, Trump is too much of a buffoon for me to take him seriously enough to even consider supporting him. Every time I do a search for his name in Google News there’s yet another outrageous statement from The Donald that has me questioning his suitability for the Oval Office. (And that’s not to mention the multiple bankruptcies that his various companies have undergone in recent years. I just don’t want someone doing to the U.S. economy what he’s done to his own companies in the past—bankrupt it. That could result in the U.S. going into something like the Great Depression while taking the economies of several nations down with it.)

I think people on all sides of the political spectrum are looking for anyone other than a Bush or a Clinton for President.

For now I have decided to throw in my lot with Bernie Sanders. I recently attended a house party and I really like what he said. I’m well familiar with the guy since, over the years, he has made frequent television appearances on various shows where he has consistently given thoughtful insights into the problems facing this nation. The only person on the Republican side who has come even close to Bernie Sanders is John Kasich and that’s based on watching the first Republican debate. At least John Kasich was the only candidate who expressed his concerns for the poor and why he has never regretted allowing his state (Ohio) to accept the Affordable Care Act while other Republican governors have refused to do so. But, like Sanders, Kasich hasn’t been taken seriously by the media or the political establishment.

Given the mainstream media anointing Hillary Clinton as the next Democratic nominee for the White House, I know that Bernie Sanders has an uphill battle. (Come to think of it, there’s something really perverse about the mainstream media and/or political elites anointing anyone as either the next Democratic or Republican nominee a full year or more before the first of the primary elections even begins. I grew up in an era where the elections weren’t even mentioned in the media until the year that they actually took place in. But I guess that’s what happens when much of the mass media is concentrated in the hands of only seven companies these days.) But I’m ready for something radical because I’m pretty much fed up with seeing the deterioration of this society that has been going on for my entire adult life (ever since Ronald Reagan was elected President back in 1980).

I’ve seen too many people my age and younger go to college only to be offered low paying jobs that a few generations ago required only a high school diploma. I’ve seen too many homeless people on the streets, some of whom hold signs saying that they are vets who have returned from either Iraq or Afghanistan. I’m seeing a lot of homeless people panhandling on the streets while I see homes in the same area where the homeless tread that are either boarded up because the slumlord can’t be bothered with doing any kind of repairs or they are unoccupied because the developers made them so expensive (such as using granite to make kitchen countertops instead of using just wood) that the minimum price of a new home is at least $200,000 and people can’t afford to buy them. (A new development is currently being built in my area where prices start at $350,000. And it’s for a townhouse.) Heck, I’ve even seen panhandling homeless people in the suburbs (mostly in the parking lots outside various malls and shopping centers). Right now I’m seeing more and more African Americans getting arrested and killed by the police for trivial reasons like failure to use a turn signal (such as what happened to Sandra Bland).

As for me, I used to make money selling my crafts at various craft shows. Now I’m extremely picky as to where I’ll sell my wares because I’ve done too many shows in recent years where I’ve made just enough to recoup the original vendor fee that I paid. I know it’s because too many of my potential customers are either unemployed or underemployed because I’ve had so many people tell me “I wish I could buy something from you but I can’t afford it any more because money is too tight” that it’s not even funny. I’ve even had people ask me if I could lower my prices. I’ve tried cutting prices but, right now, my prices are so low that if I was to go even lower, I would not even make a profit.

I was taught in school: if you work hard and apply yourself, you can make a decent living. But I’ve seen people work hard and apply themselves and still can’t get ahead because their pay have been frozen or their companies pay them extremely low wages. This also flies in the face of what I was also taught in school: if you make a mistake, you can always reinvent yourself with just enough ambition and gumption. I used to read stories in school about immigrants who came to this country with just the clothes on their backs and little money in their pockets but they managed to create successful lives for themselves and their families. But what I’ve seen over the past several years have turned what I was taught in school into total lies.

I am tired of living in a society where if you make one wrong move or mistake, no matter how slight or minor, your whole life gets aversely affected and you have a hard time turning it around so you are forever condemned for a decision you made between the ages of 18-25. If you enter a field that years later becomes obsolete due either to technology or outsourcing to Third World countries you’re screwed, especially since there is literally no government or business investment in retraining for positions that companies say they want to hire people for. If you enter a long-term relationship or marriage that goes sour for whatever reason, you’re condemned to financially struggling, especially if you haven’t been lucky enough to land one of the few high paying jobs that are out there in this tough economy. I’m tired of living in a society where, if you’re not a white heterosexual man who was born into a higher class so you can attend an Ivy League school with sky-high tuition, you’re condemned to financially struggle. I’m tired of living in a country where the 2016 elections may boil down to a man who’s both the son and brother of previous presidents and a woman who’s married to a previous president and the mainstream media has hyped this as destiny. I’m sure that the Founding Fathers didn’t fight a revolution so the presidency would be opened only to people whose last names are either Clinton or Bush and both sides have been anointed by Wall Street corporate elites with lots of funding.

I’m also tired of not seeing much of an opposition in this country to the status quo (other than the Occupy Wall Street movement, whose encampments were later forcibly dismantled and suppressed by law enforcement, and the current Black Lives Matter movement). I know that, in some cases, it’s because the corporate-dominated mainstream media have tended to ignore them. But there are times when the activists themselves have been out of touch with the concerns of ordinary everyday working Americans. One recent example: a few weeks ago a local peace group decided to hold an event in the local coffeehouse in my area on a Sunday afternoon that would include a movie followed by people writing letters to the local elected officials regarding that highlighted issue. Paper, envelopes, stamps, pencils, and a sample letter template would be available so people can write letters.

The issue in question wasn’t about income equality or police brutality or the TPP or the Keystone XL pipeline or the environment or the increasing power of the Koch brothers in this country. It was about U.S. foreign policy but it didn’t focus on whether the U.S. should go after ISIL in Syria or should Congress uphold President Obama’s recent deal with Iran that could possibly bring peace to the two nations. Nor was it about U.S. policy in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and/or other Middle Eastern countries. It also wasn’t about North Korea or China either. Nope, the issue was about the Obama Administration’s policy in Thailand.

Thailand?!? Are you kidding me?!? Don’t get me wrong, I know that Thailand has plenty of problems these days but there are so many more pressing issues affecting the United States right now that these activists should focus on instead of Thailand. An average working person is more worried about his/her job being outsourced to China and the possibility that he/she won’t be able to find another job in this tough economy than what’s going on in Thailand. Peace activists focusing on U.S. policy in Thailand would be like a firefighter focusing on saving only one tree when the whole forest is on fire.

All of the crap that’s been going down since Ronald Reagan was elected President back in 1980 has left me with a cynical outlook on life that Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh can appreciate. This reality I’ve seen is the main reason why I wrote this post a few days ago where I was less-than-enthusiastic about my friend trying to start a Wondering Contest that’s supposed to encourage people to wonder. (Basically my thesis is that if you’re living with economic uncertainty, the only wondering you’re going to be doing is wonder where your next paycheck is coming from and wonder if it will be enough to afford all the basic necessities for survival.)

Yes, I’m dying for change. That’s why I enthusiastically voted for Barack Obama back in 2008 only to end up being disappointed by him. While he did some good (such as doing away with President Clinton’s horrible Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy and increasing access to health insurance for millions of people who were previously uninsured), he appointed Wall Street people to his cabinet, some of whom were the same people who helped with trashing the economy in 2008, while ignoring genuine progressives like Howard Dean and Paul Krugman. That’s not to mention the ongoing Sequestration where federal employees like my ex-husband has had their wages frozen for years while allowing Wall Street companies to get bailouts for their trashing of the economy in 2008. If the Republicans hadn’t put up an opponent who said stuff like “I like being able to fire people” while proving that he didn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone other than those in the top 1%, I might have considered voting against reelecting President Obama. But, no, they had to put up the disaster that was Mitt Romney. Bernie Sanders has been a Democratic Socialist for years and, if you look at his voting record, he has long advocated for the underdog in the Senate.

Bernie Sanders is also getting attention from the media and the political establishment and they both see him as a threat. Right now I’m seeing efforts to derail his campaign, such as what happened recently in Seattle when he faced two hostile two women claiming to be from the Black Lives Matter movement. However other people affiliated with the Seattle chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement have disavowed those two women. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone connected with either Hillary Clinton’s campaign or the GOP is responsible for this in an effort to discredit Sanders. So far these attempts hasn’t worked but I’m sure that these kinds of Richard Nixon-style dirty tricks will continue in the coming year.

If he fails to get the Democratic nomination in favor of Hillary Clinton and if Jeb Bush gets the Republican nomination, I’m going to vote third party. Seriously! Right now I’m looking at the Green Party as a possible alternative (although I am definitely open to other parties as well) because I refuse to take part in this plutocracy that’s disguised as “free elections.” I know that some of you will say that voting for a third party is “throwing away a vote.” Well I consider voting for either a Clinton or a Bush to be “throwing away a vote” because the American people deserve way better than this.

To be brutally honest, if I really wanted to live in a country where the top leadership is opened only to one or two families, I would’ve moved to North Korea years ago.