By Ben Tanosborn
We keep saying that the nation is divided: two camps, two ideologies, two political clans at the ready every minute of the day to do battle. But that’s oversimplifying the sad fact that even if our pledge of allegiance appears lofty and humanely unifying, the reality we live unveils our nation as divisible with questionable liberty and justice for all.
But the division, beyond a light perfunctory overview, has little to do with ideology or politics, for the most part having to do with economics and the ever-increasing obscene separation that exist between those whose needs and ever-gluttonous desires are met: the haves; and the others, the have-nots, whose needs are either barely met – often remaining unrealized – thanks to the help of government pacifying-opiates (food stamps and other subsidies) and/or the largesse of the super-haves (via undignified charity).
But no matter how loud people’s declarations of outrage in having the top 20 percent of the American population own 85 percent of the wealth (a decade old analysis which has since worsened), the political winds keep blowing in the same old predatory direction, with Bernie Sanders’ infamous “one-percenters” owning 35 percent of this country’s total wealth, and the next 19 percent of the population owning half; thus leaving the bottom 80 percent of Americans with a token 15 percent, calamitously even breaking the Pareto Principle which states that roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes – applied to economics in this case.
Two decades ago, I started calling the one-percenters, Knights and the next nineteen-percenters, Squires, together holding both wealth and power over the poor Plebeians; an 80 percent figure that could go up or down 5 points depending on whether overall the nation’s economy maintained normal growth or navigated in recessionary waters.
A new nobility has emerged among those knights of old; a new financial cast that we call Billionaires. And these powerful individuals, unlike the captains of industry of 10 to 15 decades ago, appear to be concerned in how they are viewed by their contemporaries. The old robber barons and captains of industry left it up to their heirs to cleanse their predatory behavior, and often their criminality, with pharisaic largesse ill-designed to provide them with a measure of immortality (gifts of/to museums, universities, etc.) and not a post-death redemptive payment for their villainous, often criminal, actions during the period of wealth-accumulation. In contrast, many of the newly-minted billionaires, regardless of the moral purity or impurity by which their wealth has been acquired, want their accolades now, while they are still alive, at times in the form of political power, when their money serves them well in buying elected offices or simply in obtaining vainglorious praise from society.
But then, there is a third way in which a billionaire can become a knight jousting for a noble cause. Enter Tom Steyer, the Stanford-Yale credentialed hedge fund billionaire from California, who’s said to have aspirations to a US senate seat, but for now is in the news as the funder and voice of a $20 million campaign to impeach none other than the man residing in the White House: Narcissist-Insulter Supreme as well as holder of the Gold Codes that can turn all of us within one hour into smithereens: Donald J. Trump. This act of seemingly unselfish patriotism by Tom Steyer isn’t necessarily viewed favorably by many lawmakers in the Democratic Party as a good strategic move, afraid that an aggressive position, in lieu of the customary Democratic milquetoasty approach may backfire in the 2018 midterm elections.
The Democratic fear instigated and espoused by the duo of Schumer and Pelosi is said to undercut the party’s message. And that brings me to ask… what message? The entire Democratic Party column appears as abysmally cracked from its powerless base, to its shaft of Republican imitation, to the absence of charismatic capital-leaders. Once and for all, let’s recognize and accept the true essence in American politics: most politicians, at least those elected to serve in Congress, represent primarily their own personal interests and not those of the people they are elected to serve. Politics to them is just another profession with fewer lofty goals than those of several others, i.e.: medicine, where the most profound principle is “first, do no harm;” principle that politicians in a democracy should adopt as its very own.
Back to Tom Steyer and his patriotic quest. Although I cannot judge of possible personal motives in Steyer’s part, I feel safe in concluding that, given the current erratic and irrational behavior by the current POTUS, and the inadequate safeguards we have in place for war-making decisions, the sooner Trump is made to resign, or be taken away from decisions of terminal danger, the better off humankind will be. So, Steyer… thanks, and stay vigilant, beaconing until this present danger is no longer menacing us.
It is comforting to know that there is at least one knight in shining armor concerned with everyone’s welfare: that of knights; that of squires; and even that of plebeians.