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The Monster Called America

Let’s spare ourselves the establishment’s tiresome and specious post-mortem, desperate for a scapegoat demographic to explain How Did This Happen? We all know how this happened. We saw it every day during the campaigns, and we see it every day in our daily lives. The tendrils of capitalism, exacerbating and intersecting with any and all systems of oppression it can to perpetuate itself, to perpetuate each other. Its propaganda, and the sensationalism and censorship of corporate media, widespread racism and misogyny both personal and systemic, disenfranchising the populace from resources, health, and education.

Behold what the Invisible Hand hath wrought. With the election of Trump, it has become easier to recognize than ever. This is what the American oligarchy looks like. The poisoned heart of global capitalism. Take a good look.

But make no mistake, capitalism, its oligarchy governance, and their further machinations would be no less firmly entrenched if Clinton had prevailed. This horrific system of class warfare is not so unstable that we could free our government and our people from its grasp with the election of a single person, even a president. Especially not Clinton, a conservative member of the just-as-intransigent Democratic party with vested interests in perpetuating capitalism, imperialism, systemic racism, etc. The propaganda pomp and circumstance of two-party national politics, presidential politics in particular, is the illusion in which this system would have us invest our faith in change, in lieu of community engagement, deeper understanding of social issues, and grassroots involvement across the political spectrum from school boards, criminal courts, and local police, all the way up to senators and presidents. Or, better yet, conscious community-accountable divestment from these political systems and economies, and carefully building sustainable alternatives. With Clinton, as with Obama, we would’ve received a few more crumbs of sustenance, a few more smiles and hollow encouraging rhetoric, but oligarchy, class warfare, a mass incarceration police state, imperial and military operations, deportation, etc., would have continued enthusiastically, we can be certain. The president is a symptom of the ugliness of America, never the cause or the cure.

The difference with Trump is there is no smiling mask of neo-liberalism or compassionate conservatism thinly veiling that ugliness, spinning the usual friendly, respectable public image. It is laid bare. This is what our country looks like. This is what our country has always looked like. Many of us have already lived this truth, this fearful reality. It is an old, relentless fear, recognized and managed our entire lives, just never quite with such confrontational, intimidating bluster. At least not in many decades. We’ve been staring down this monster with its false grin for ages. It’s the same monster, there’s just no more phony smile. It’s now bearing its teeth in an entirely different manner. 

This confrontation is an entirely fresh hell for many more, only now realizing the truth about their homeland. For legions of shocked moderates and assimilationist liberals, there is no more pretending fascism could never happen here, no more dismissing that white supremacy is a thing of the past or relegated to the rural South, that misogyny and sexism are imagined or harmless, that walls couldn’t be built here, that xenophobic registration or internment camps could never happen again, that followers of such a ruthless ideology would never be so emboldened as to openly and publicly attack minorities. So many of us know these things all too well already and have been fighting our entire histories — Natives, people of color, queer and trans people, immigrants, poor people, women. But now that America has dropped its mask it seems more people are waking up to the horrible truth.

It is perhaps a small consolation that in order for a greater number of people to wake up, there must first be an alarm.

The bells are ringing loudly and disturbing the ears of many now. To them we say welcome to the America you have always lived in. And more importantly, welcome to the fight. We’re glad you’re here, because we need you. We need you to recognize these things that have always been real about American capitalism, about its racism, its misogyny, its bigotry, its imperialism, its xenophobia, its violence, its disdain for environmental safety, its media, its resounding indifference to the lives of its residents, its preference for the clout of fame, power, profit, expansion, exploitation, and hoarding. This is not Trump. This is the America that created and supports all these things in him. He is not cause. He is symptom. See this. We need you to recognize the depth and complexity of this capitalist exploitation. See its hooks as deep in Democrats as in Republicans. See its strings in everyday life. We need you to see that this is not dysfunction — this is exactly what was and is intended by the elite of our society and the institutions they created and govern. There is no taking our country back, because it has never belonged to us. This is the monster called America. Look it squarely in the eyes.

And now that we all see this monster called America for what it is, we are faced with the real question: What are we going to do about?

The answer: Everything we can.

Pick up a pen. Grab a paintbrush. Run your mouth. Create your truth. Grab some books and some friends and learn together how to better recognize and resist these systems. Refuse to be complicit. Have challenging and loving conversations with family and loved ones, or cut ’em off if that’s all they’ll understand or all that can keep you healthy. Dismantle and divest from consumerism, Wall Street, and big banks. Prioritize lives, not profits. Dance and sing and love each other. Stand with Natives. March with Black Lives Matter. Patronize local businesses and markets instead of chains. Seize autonomy for women. Donate to Planned Parenthood. Resist gentrification. Believe and prioritize survivors. Teach your children to value justice. Refuse to compromise the environment. Get the backs of queer and trans loved ones. Rise up against xenophobia and Islamophobia abroad and at home. Don’t neglect rural communities. Write a prisoner. Hold healing space. Stand up to cops, criminalization, and mass incarceration. Protest war and the military. Make a sign. Hit the streets. Shout a slogan. Start unionizing our labor. Bash back. Strike and picket. Pick up a fucking brick.

There are so many ways to fight back. We each don’t have to do every single one them. But we do have to do the ones we’re able to do, the ones that speak to us. Don’t ruminate or fantasize. Act. Let’s do something, instead of nothing. Let’s attack causes, not symptoms. This is the monster called America. The same one we’ve been fighting for hundreds of years, protecting ourselves and our loved ones. Let’s not lose our nerve now, just because it stopped smiling. Nothing snarls like this unless it’s exposed, threatened, vulnerable. Something that knows its days are numbered. Let’s get started on the future today, laying tracks for our brilliant youth and coming generations we know will continue our progress. Let’s take it down. Let’s remake it for the people this time. Let’s do it together.