By Willow (willowashmaple.xyz)
April 20, 2023
I'm depressed. It is difficult to remain hopeful when politicians in the United States and other countries spend (waste) such enormous resources, time, and money on promoting their agenda that destroy the freedom and liberties of their purported constituents. And this is happening under the shadow of a supposed triumph of "democracy" over authoritarianism.
Only a few years ago, Corporate America at least took a stand, albeit performatively and superficially, when politicians of certain states enacted legislation that was homophobic, transphobic, or misogynist. Now AB InBev is apologetic and defensive over its Dylan Mulvaney Bud Light campaign. No corporations are boycotting Missouri, Florida, Texas, or Montana these days. Corporate America has capitulated to the fascists, no longer even pretending to care (although, Walt Disney & Co. seems to have a spine still). Neither are Democratic governors and mayors of the West Coast threatening boycotts and official travel bans these days. I have not in fact heard much from the likes of Jay Inslee, Tina Kotek, and Gavin Newsom in reaction to the recent waves of hate-based legislation in the red states.
Republican members of Congress also seem to have found a new hobby: to weaponize the congressional power to sabotage the District of Columbia's abilities to engage in home rule through the elected representatives of DC residents. So far they've stopped DC from revising its extremely antiquated penal code and stopped the DC police accountability and transparency bill. These are the same politicians who want total "transparency and accountability" from school teachers (by micromanaging classrooms). Yet, school teachers do not murder children because they "fear for their lives." If school teachers did anything inappropriate with children, they are swiftly terminated. Cops on the other hand murder, rape, and steal with impunity and if anything happens, they usually get a taxpayer-funded paid vacation ("paid leave") and thanks to powerful police unions and "qualified immunity," they rarely face any consequence for their actions. And they are more worried about a public school teacher teaching kids to respect BIPOC people and not to bully LGBTQ+ kids.
Free speech and online freedom are now in peril. The mass hysteria around TikTok has metastasized into RESTRICT Act (the sponsors of this bill are not even hiding their own intentions behind a nicer-sounding acronym such as FREEDOM or PRIVACY!). When the United States ceased to be the champion for free, open, and borderless Internet, the totalitarian regimes win. Why bother if the American government acts like Chinese, Iranian, Russian, or North Korean?
For better or worse, the rest of the world still looks up to the United States of America as the beacon of freedom. If the United States turns the clock back by over 50 years like this, it will be seen by the international community as permission to enact their own laws to curtail and destroy freedom everywhere.
I used to be a zealous and devoted activist and community organizer. I was active in the immigrant rights movement and the houseless rights activism of the 2000s and was a core member of the local Occupy movement well into 2015 when most others had moved on. All these efforts gave us Teabaggers, Trump, QAnon, and "Christian" Nationalism instead. A lot of people still believe in the idol of Democracy. I don't. Democracy is rigged from the start and that's a feature, not a bug. If a populist movement can manipulate elections and low-info voters into electing a fascist government, that's not because democracy is failing, but it's because democracy is working as intended. Only in a democracy could someone like Donald Trump -- a person with no pedigree, no public service experience, limited education, and a smaller campaign war chest than his opponent -- become the most powerful man on Earth. Heck, even Adolf Hitler was put into office by a highly democratic Weimar Republic. Had Germany still retained the monarchy, he had no chance.
I'm disgusted with what I'm seeing, and I'm disgusted with myself for even giving a damn about politics any more.
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