A plague o’ both your houses!

Ginsburg’s death and McConnell’s hypocrisy is the final straw.

At 67 I’ve seen the country rocked many times: two Kennedy assassinations, Martin Luther King assassination, Vietnam War, Kent State, Watergate, Three Mile Island, 9/11, 2009-2010 economic crisis, mass shootings, the Trump election, COVID-19 and zillions of other events in between. Now comes the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and McConnell’s patently hypocritical rush to replace her.

Through it all, this “great experiment” as it’s sometimes called — American Constitutional democracy — has endured. It’s useful to recall that the U.S. Constitution was ratified just 233 years ago in December 1787. That’s but a blip in human history which has seen great societies rise and fall. Despite this, the liberal side of my Gemini ‘twinship’ has clung to a belief that American democracy would last forever. It’s the only world I’ve lived in and it’s felt like it will survive forever — until lately it seems quite fragile.

My other Gemini twin has known for a long time this isn’t true. I’ve known this “democracy” is not an equal society where “we’re all in it together.” This is a class-divided society. We all talk about the “working class” and the “middle class” but then euphemistically refer to those above as the “Upper Class” or “the 1%.” What they really are is a Ruling Class. This class is comprised of just a few hundred families whose vast ownership and wealth give them immense power and influence over the functioning of society. They have pull that you and I will never know.

The Ruling Class is not monolithic, however, and it doesn’t have absolute control. This is not a one-person dictatorship, it’s a bourgeois democracy. The Ruling Class manages its affairs through government and decides policy through two parties, the Democrats and Republicans, which reflect their differing opinions.

This system has worked quite well for a long time, particularly when economic conditions are good as they were during the long expansion following World War II. That post-war expansion, however, started running out of gas in the mid-70s and things have been going slowly downhill since. The most recent low point was the 2009-2010 “Great Recession.”

The Ruling Class is in a jam these days, with few ways to expand its wealth beyond massive tax cuts and all manner of paper gimmicks, what Marx called “fictitious capital.” While pressed economically, the rulers are also confronted with demands for expanded freedom and equality (Black Lives Matter, LGBT, immigration) better access to healthcare, union rights, and more. On the right, there are demands to clamp down on the above combined with all manner of conspiracy theories with no factual backing yet with growing acceptance.

The struggle between Democrats and Republicans reflects all of this. The Ruling Class and its two parties are in crisis, divided on what course to take. They’re unable to resolve their problems and manage society efficiently. Politics has become polarized to the point where for many compromise is anathema. Differences seem irreconcilable. Decorum and civility are breaking down. It seems the system itself is now imploding under Trump.

Trump isn’t the cause of this crisis, surprising as some may find this. He’s the result of a dysfunctionality that has been growing for years. Voting Trump out in November may relieve some of the immediate pain, like removing a bullet, but the wound will remain. In this analogy, the wound is infected and won’t heal. It will worsen and threatens the whole body.

My liberal twin mentioned above has been clinging to illusions that simply aren’t sustainable any longer. The Ginsburg/McConnell fiasco is just one more event among zillions, yet it’s an epiphany where I’m forced to finally declare that I can no longer give credence to the mythology of this system. It’s time I stop trusting in Santa Clause. My other twin has known better since the early 70s when I first became a youth activist.

Some readers will ask “If not this, then what?” The answer is socialism.

Socialism is a word that conjures up different images in peoples’ minds, some not so good. What I mean is a system in which the working class — the overwhelming majority — collectively decides the policies and course of the country rather than the few ultra-wealthy families. By now I think they’ve demonstrated the ruinous course they’re driving us down. I’ll explore the idea of socialism here in greater depth over the coming months and recommend resources for additional information.

For now, I’ll close by saying to both parties, “A plague o’ both your houses!” Which is more than a little ironic in this age of COVID.

Title image: Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

Note to Email Subscribers: Thank you for your interest and support! The email notifications you receive omit some elements and others don’t display properly. To see this post as designed and intended, please click on the post title to view it in your web browser.

A Request to my Facebook Friends: If you have a comment I encourage you to enter it below instead of on Facebook. This way everyone can participate in the conversation!

A Request to Everyone: All opinions are welcome. I only ask that we remain civil and respectful of one another.

5 thoughts on “A plague o’ both your houses!

    1. Thanks for the links, Brad, but I have a different perspective. I’ve been involved in socialist politics off and on for 45 years. Over that time I’ve had many interesting experiences, met some incredible people and read a great deal. As for the “failure” of socialism, on my old original blog I posted an extensive look at Cuba back in 2016 after Fidel Castro died. It’s quite long but I encourage you to give it a serious read.

  1. I dont doubt you have met some great people, but Socialism still remains a failure Yes some bright spots have emerged occasionally, but it still remains a non-workable system. Besides the local co-op it doesn’t work on a medium scale, let alone a large scale. Take a regular sized business say 50 people. It starts off small with the founder and a few family members. A few years later it has 50 employees. When do the workers get to take over the direction of the company? Better yet Why do they get to take over? The workers didn’t put up any of the starting capitol, or risk of their own money. Now imagine a large company like Apple. With that many employees their would be no way to come to a concession.
    No stock market for companies would keep most businesses from achieving expansion and growing. Innovation would be lessened and with no sense of loss, quality would suffer.
    No private property ownership would result in lower housing quality. With no sense of ownership, there would be less reason to keep up a house Who gets to decide where a person gets to live anyway?

    And last but not least is the atrocious human rights records of countries that start off by saying they are for the rights of the people, but end up killing their subjects. China, USSR, Cambodia, Loas, Venezuela, and even Cuba.

    1. Thanks again. There are lots of apples & oranges comparisons in your remarks. A local co-op or worker-owned business in a capitalist system says nothing about the economic workings or the social consciousness in a socialist society. Also, the United States is at a disadvantage in pointing fingers regarding human rights. Ask the Black community here if they worry about the government killing off its subjects.

      Again I point you to my blog post discussing Cuba. If you haven’t read it in some depth and watched the videos, I encourage you to do so. It explains a lot that space doesn’t permit here.

Leave a Reply