I’m really not an expert in anything except writing 900-word essays. I read things, and I think about things, and I lie back and let people who actually know stuff talk. OK, mostly I do that. But sometimes I notice something, and no one else is talking about, and I ask: “Am I delusional?”
There’s only one way to find out.
I’ve been noticing this big hole in the presidential campaign. I know it’s hard to focus on anything else with that big ol’ Trump weasel making everything crazy. But he is already disappearing, and I hope and expect that he will be gone well before that last ballot is counted.
Which means we’re stuck with Hillary. The lesser of two evils is still evil. Once the big evil goes away, we have a lot of bad ideas left to cope with. I mean, Bernie Sanders was right. Is right. He didn’t start soon enough, and he’s probably not a real good executive, but maybe if his coalition stays together and works for change in smaller elections, we might have a progressive wing of the Democratic party.
But, see, that’s not really my problem. We have Hillary and her well-known coziness with big money guys. It’s certain that a Clinton candidacy will be business-as-usual with the yacht-owning classes. Clinton doesn’t want to reform them; she wants to use them. She thinks she’s controlling them, and I think the opposite is true.
But that’s still not my problem. Bernie ran an insurgency campaign, and he talked about all sorts of worrisome trends. He identified an important nexus of corruption. Hooray. But he refrained from talking (except in the most general terms) about the rest of the world.
And that’s what’s missing from this campaign: the world.
We all remember the world. Some of us have been there. Beyond our borders, all sorts of cool stuff is happening. Also lots of uncool stuff. War, torture, displacement, suffering, corruption, and I could go on. And we’re doing a lot of it, and are complicit in a lot more. We are a bastion of free market colonialism, and we have somehow arranged the world to make us stuff we think we need.
And if the factories are appalling and the wages inadequate, that’s on us. If tiny countries are being stripped of natural resources to supply our smartphone or toothpaste or bath mat needs, that’s on us too. Our good guy status (free speech! free elections! free balloons!) is somewhat undercut by our raging greed and supreme powers of denial.
Is the Clinton presidency going to fix that? Of course not. The Clinton administration would consider it the cost of doing business —and doing business is what this nation as always been about.
And then there’s Syria. As we know, Clinton wants to bomb them. Who would we bomb? That’s not clear. It’s never clear. And what would bombing them accomplish? What’s the end game look like?
Americans are id monsters. Let’s bomb ’em and it’ll all work out because we’re exceptional. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya — no plan but to make sure everyone gets rich. Everyone who counts anyway. And Clinton utterly buys into that. Bomb ’em and show ’em we have muscle, because why? Because Russia. Because terrorism. Because…
Look, there’s a refugee crisis to deal with it. Some 60 million displaced persons! The population of California is 38 million. Can you imagine how much that is in the currency of suffering?
So let’s take all the money we use for arms and armies, all the wealth we piddle away by invading random countries, and use it solve that problem. Give every refugee $10,000. Seriously. Money is the solution to poverty. Houses are the solution to homelessness. You know?
And there’s two other wars we’re involved in. Iraq is now a fight against ISIS, and Afghanistan is still a fight against the Taliban, a fight that’s basically a stalemate. No end in sight in either place. I should mention that these are Obama’s wars now. I know he’s the coolest thing since Elvis, but he is doing the traditional “kill people” thing. I know he got Osama and all that, but what about all the other dead people? Dead bad guys only creates more living bad guys — that’s the mechanism of the social media jihad.
Obama can’t even say Congress blocked him from doing the right thing. If there’s one thing that the legislative branch and the executive branch agree, it’s the necessity of making war.
And not to mention all the repressive regimes that we are good buddies with. We support them because we think it’s in our interest, or it used to be — a lot of our alliances are left over from the Cold War. Turkey? Turkey was resolutely anti-Communist. Now it’s a dictatorship-in-training run by a grandiose cretin who hates free speech, loves excessive pomp, and wants to kill all Kurds. And Turkey is our ally.
And who can forget Saudi Arabia, where women can’t drive and gays get executed? They’re spreading a creeping ultra-Conservative brand of Islam all around the Muslim world. They encourage terrorists. Plus, they are fighting a bloody and senseless war in Yemen, and we’re providing the Saudis with “intelligence, airborne fuel tankers and thousands of advanced munitions.” More dead people, and thank you very much, Uncle Sam.
Saudi Arabia is our ally.
And so on around the globe. I understand that Hillary has lots of experience in this area. Alas, her experience seems to have taught her that the conventional wisdom is right. Trust the generals; they know what they’re doing. And trust the NSA, because they have all these secrets.
Of course, some of those secrets were obtained illegally. I can’t convince you of that, but Edward Snowden could. Hillary doesn’t like Edward Snowden. She denies that the information he provided demonstrated any unlawful behavior. She thinks he should be brought home to “face the music.” I think Snowden did something as brave and useful as what Daniel Ellsberg did. Hillary denies that he’s a whistle blower, but of course he is — and that whistle can’t be unblown.
I think maybe it’s time that Hillary Clinton answers some hard questions. Will the United States continue to support Saudi Arabia? Will it keep supporting the Muslim-murdering government of Myanmar? Will it keep increasing its burden of war and treasure in the Middle East?
She’s the first woman president, and millions rejoice. She’s also in charge of the army and the foreign policy apparatus, and there’s far less joy. Clinton wants to talk about the issues. Well, these are issues.
Photography by Tracy Johnston