I am not a Democrat or a Republican. I do not consider myself a libertarian, progressive, socialist, anarchist, conservative, neoconservative or neoliberal. I’m just trying to figure it all out. Naturally, this doesn’t imply that there aren’t things which I hold dear. I have a strong belief system based on key principles. It’s just that I don’t think it makes sense for me to self-label and become part of a tribe. The moment you self-label, is the moment you stop thinking for yourself. It’s also the moment you stop listening. When you think you have all the answers, anyone who doesn’t think exactly as you do on all topics is either stupid or “paid opposition.” I don’t subscribe to this way of thinking. If I had to describe my politics at the most macro level, I guess you could call me a decentralist. I believe the primary threat to human liberty, happiness and evolution is the concentration of power, whether it manifests in government or business. In today’s America we’ve seen the worst of both these things come together, as oligarchs and large corporations have used their money and influence to transform the country into an undemocratic, neo-feudal cesspool. The grotesque amount of centralized power that resides in Washington D.C. proved a very tempting and easily controlled target for modern day robber barons.
The major threat we face today shouldn’t be simplified into a soundbite that consists of simply attacking “business” or “government” in isolation. We need to understand and accept that concentrated power in both these areas has morphed into a unified attack force against the general public.
For more on my thinking about how I’d like to see community and government transform over the coming years, see my 4-part series on decentralization which I published earlier this month.
Unfortunately, I doubt my vision for decentralized political organization will be embraced any time soon. It’s possible that events could unfold that might create that opportunity sooner than I expect, but for now I have to deal with the reality we have, and this reality consists of a highly centralized governing structure based in Washington D.C. Various political gangs to which I have no allegiance will ruthlessly compete to snatch control of this power, and then impose their views on 320 million people. I think this is an irrational and dangerous governing structure for a land as massive and diverse as the 50 states, but it is what it is.
The past couple of posts have focused on how I see the next four years unfolding from a domestic political perspective. It’s not what I want or don’t want, but simply what I see happening. Since the likely progression is not one of political decentralization in the near-term, how will I function within the coming environment?
First, I’m going to start with the things that matter most to me at this point in our country’s history. I outlined some of these issues in my final thoughts article ahead of the 2016 election, in which I discussed some overlap between what Trump and Sanders were saying:
Rather than dwelling on the differences between these two populist movements (Sanders and Trump), let’s consider some of the areas where they overlap.
1. Trade -- Opposition to NAFTA and current “trade” deals such as TPP, TTIP, and TISA have been central to both the Sanders and Trump campaigns.
2. War and militarism — Whether you believe Trump is sincere or not, opposition to Obama/Clinton interventionist overseas wars were key talking points for both Trump and Sanders.
3. The system is rigged — The painful acknowledgment that the U.S. economic system is a rigged scam that fails to reward hard work, and is more akin to a parasitic, predatory oligarchy with very limited social mobility, has been a key campaign theme for both Trump and Sanders. The economy is increasingly dominated by near-monoploy giants who relentlessly push for more power and more profits irrespective of the cost to society, whether that cost be war, poverty or social unrest.
4. Money in politics — The rigged economic system described above aggregates wealth into an increasingly small number of hands. Those hands then buy off politicians and rig the political process. A rigged economy and rigged political system perpetually feeds itself and endlessly grows at the expense of the public like a terminal cancer. Both Trump and Sanders emphasized this problem.
5. Rule of law is dead — Sanders focused on Wall Street bankers, while Trump focused on Hillary and her inner circle of cronies, but the overall point is the same. Rich and powerful oligarchs are above the law. We all know this, but Washington D.C. refuses to do anything about it.
*) During the campaign, I received pressure from some readers to back Trump because he was saying some things I agreed with on issues I care about compared to Hillary Clinton, but I stood firm in opposition to both. Part of the reason I held my ground and refused to vote for either, was I didn’t trust Trump’s sincerity. Having grown up in New York City, I literally observed Trump from the time I was in diapers. I watched his activities for decades and also developed an understanding of the mindset of a Manhattan real estate developer. Yes, he was a political outsider, but this guys lives and breathes the FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) sector. There was no way he would challenge the power of the more parasitic aspects of the U.S. economy in favor of the productive. Indeed, he hasn’t.
This doesn’t mean I’m looking for a “perfect candidate” as some people accused me of. Quite the contrary. I simply didn’t trust Donald Trump as a person, and this is important going forward. Given my unconventional political views, the chances of a candidate coming along who I agree with on all the issues that matter to me is extraordinarily unlikely. This doesn’t mean I need to sit out every single election for the rest of my life. Rather, if a candidate for President comes along who checks enough of my boxes and who I consider to be a relatively genuine person, I would consider throwing my support behind that candidate.
That said, in the bigger picture it’s extremely important that we acknowledge no single person no matter how genuine their intentions will be able to fundamentally put this country on a more sane path on their own. It is up to us to do that, through the little actions we take in our individual lives every day, as well as by articulating and spreading ideas of freedom, civil liberties and the rule of law (oligarchs must not be above the law).
Indeed, it’s far more important to a functioning society that elite criminals receive punishment for their crimes versus jailing your average thief. The elite criminal certainly represents a far greater threat to any civilization than a corner drug dealer. Our current twisted society sees things in the exact opposite way, and therefore incentivizes rampant corporate pillaging. Until we change this, nothing will improve....