My aunt says it every once in a while. "I wish you'd run for president," she caws, with an exasperated sigh. And I do too, and I totally appreciate her support, but I just can't bring myself to tell her how much she wouldn't like me as her president. It's pointless anyway, because I don't have a political science or law degree (and no intention of getting either), and am not at all interested in compromising my belief system for a couple extra votes. Plus I'm loud and opinionated and I swear too much. I don't, however, have any secret dealings with huge corporations or shoot people in the face, but I guess at this point that kind of stuff really doesn't get painted in that horrible a light.
But my aunt probably wouldn't like me as president. You probably wouldn't either. I don't know what I'd do with taxes, but you might see a hike, but hey, there's a lot of stuff we all need to be paying for. Especially if you, dear reader, make way more than you should. Yes, that's a subjective statement, but I'll be damned if I won't try to quantify it during my term as your supreme leader. Are you a Pittsburgh city bus driver making $80,000 a year? Sure, your job is a sucky one that no one really wants, but you, my darlings, make too much. Especially for how surly you can't help but being. Or are you a cosmetic plastic surgeon making more than a surgeon that actually fixes people's hearts and brains? Consider yourself taxed to the utmost extent of my executive power. Maybe you make a million dollars on the backs of working stiffs that you pay eight bucks an hour and then force to buy your products because they can't afford anything else? Do you quake at the frightening words that get spoken every few years when our economy isn't trying to climb its ragged ass out of the muck: "LIVING WAGE"? Well, you might as well start packing your bags, because you ain't gonna like my new economic policy one bit.
"But Jeremy! That's SOCIALISM!" you are shouting by now, face aglow with righteous indignation at what you think I'm trying to do to our wonderful and flawless nation. You're damn right is. This Neo-McCarthyism we've got going on in our country right now is alternately the silliest and most frightening obsession we've had since... well, McCarthyism. And I certainly do side with socialist policies over capitalist ones. Break down the words once:
- Capitalism ... capital ... profit
- Socialism ... society ... people
Ask yourself which you truly care about more. If you have the massive steel-plated balls to really answer "Profit," then congrats! You just won a Senate seat in Texas. They're just giving them away to people like you. Karl Marx (ahhh! oh no!) said that eventually all successful civilizations go through a series of political governance. They begin with feudalism, where the rich ("bourgeoisie") that in effect "civilized" the given civilization by creating industry exert full power over the peons below them ("proletariat"), allowing them a minimal amount of freedom for their constant work and respect. Eventually, however, the proletariat grows in exponential numbers and frustration and they revolt, turning the tide on the few but powerful rich.
After stabilization, this creates socialism--where the rich are forced to concede a degree of power and money so that society can have the things that it finds necessary: health, safety, and happiness. Through this, the gap between the two disparate levels of society is eventually bridged: everyone receives the same amount of care and respect, and therefore is brought to a level social and economic plane. This is called communism. It is the focus of his famous pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto, that this is the ideal place to be as a society, and for good reason. However, every time a civilization starts to get close to it, another feudalist uprising inevitably takes place because someone sees a way that they can increase their own power and prestige by exploiting the equality apparent in their society.
I'm told it's a product of human nature. But then why do I (and the people I surround myself with) care so little for money? I know I need it to eat and put shoes on my feet, and I won't lie about being prepared to eat McDonalds and wear Skechers for the rest of my life because, yes, I definitely do like nice things. But that's a menial sin in the Great Face of Money compared to the things that someone like Dick Cheney has managed to do at the cost of, virtually, the better part of the world's economy as it has ultimately turned out. Money is a means to an end for me--not the end itself. My grandparents have more money than they could count in a lifetime, but you wouldn't know it to meet or even talk to them. And they haven't experienced anything that all that money could afford them: they've never been to the barren wilds of Alaska, or the quaint village in southern Germany where our family came from hundreds of years ago. They haven't improved anyone's lives vastly with endowments of scholarships or research money for medical institutions. Hell, they didn't even give me a dime for college, though they could have paid for it a hundred times over, as well as a decent portion of my graduating class, I'd guess. They just saved, and by saving, saved more. When they die, we'll get a big ol' heap of cash, but it won't mean anything. It will just be numbers passed through the system, and it will have meant nothing to them at all and will mean nothing to me, except perhaps the end of my student loans.
Fittingly, of course, my grandfather hates one of the most beloved and respected presidents of all time: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He can't say enough bad things about Roosevelt and the welfare state that he created. Even if my aunt somehow comes to love me as president, my grandfather most assuredly could never. The kinds of restructuring of our social caste system I would try to make a reality would make FDR look like Pol Pot. I just can't understand what good money is if it just sits, ultimately someday being taxed to the gills for inheritance when it eventually gets passed down. Wouldn't it be a better idea to just... give it out? If the Bible is to teach us anything (and despite my better judgement, I'm told it is), it's that the shit we have here just don't count when you get up to the big afterparty in the sky. And my grandparents are religious folk. Lots of people around where I live are. Very religious. But they get hung up on the social "issues" of the Bible, and not the economic ones. Jesus Christ wasn't a socialist as some say--he was a damn communist. All the way. He even kinda looked like Jewish Che Guevara (unless you're a Mennonite--then he kinda looked like Hulk Hogan). Minus the beret, of course. However, if they'd had berets in Jesus' day, I'd put my money on him rockin' one for sure.
That will be the worst part of my presidency for those who think I'd be so wonderful, layin' the smackdown on the corporate fat cats and their militarized boy scout clubs that
Here's my administration's basic rule of thumb: "If it affects us, it's kinda our business. If it don't, have at it." By us, of course, I mean the nation at large. So if, say, you own a business and you're using bailout money to pay off huge bonuses to your high rollers instead of giving a break to your laid-off workers, or cutting away some profits to keep people in their jobs--that affects us. However, you wanna smoke a J? Light up; the "War on Drugs" is ridiculous and un-winnable anyway (whatever "winning" it would entail). You wanna marry your best friend, even though you're of the same gender? Who gives a rat's ass? Go for it. "But that's damaging to the fabric of our society, Mr. President!" you say, incredulous. Maybe to your society, not to mine. I have gay friends, and they have never once tried to "convert" me or rape me or whatever the hell you are so afraid they're going to do. The only guy who I've ever had try to kiss me was straight as James Dean (and absolutely as cute), just a little bit drunk.
Seriously, don't worry, because I won't be affecting your lives in any adverse manner anyway. You see, I have to admit, I do have one holdover from the Scaaaaary Socialism you've heard so much about while you were painting Hitler moustaches on the face of our current president: internment camps. That's right, bucko. You and all your Baptist buddies who can't stand to see freedom flaunted so flagrantly in your faces all get to move--completely free of charge--to a massive compound for others just like you, which I will be building out of the Midwest. Not in it--the entire region. We frankly don't need it, and half of you already live there anyway. Then you can yell and scream about the End Times all you want, and the rest of us will finally be able to live our lives without getting your 2000 year old fairy tale smacked over our heads at every turn.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not proposing to create a state of complete lawlessness here. I just happen to take Marx's theory that I expounded earlier one step further than he explicitly does: after achieving the level of cooperative understanding and mutual respect that he calls "communism," we no longer will need established governance at all, finally reaching the apex of a civilization's potential. Call it "social libertarianism" or "anarchism" or even "utopia" if you're feeling generous, it all means the same thing: a society whose people have learned to treat each other as true equals, not in constant competition for power and prestige. If we truly can come to respect each other without hem or haw, we can govern ourselves completely.
Think of a family. Yours perhaps, so long as you weren't raised in a Bible-brandishing dictatorship like you probably were. So think of another family, where each member does their darndest to fit to their given role and make things run as smoothly as possible. I'm not talking about reinforcing gender roles, I'm talking about responsibility and respect. There aren't any "laws" in your house. If you steal your sister's lip gloss, you get yelled at by her and maybe by your parents, but you don't get locked in the basement for ten years. The rules that exist in a typical household are nothing more than standard social mores, intact to keep the living situation civil. You take out the trash or else it piles up and stinks. You wash the dishes because you need clean ones to cook with. You clean up your room because you don't want animals/plants/fungi living in it. Sure, kids are bad at this because they have no responsibility, and often, little respect. But as they grow into caring human beings, these things are no longer needed to be asked of them. They get done because it makes sense to do them. You borrow and trade and share.
So imagine it on a grand scale. Or try to, because you can't. I already know that. You think it's impossible, that humans can't help but be selfish and greedy. You're probably right, but I for one would like to imagine otherwise. If I can control my basest desires, so can you. It might take a little work and a bit of guidance, but that's why we can't just get on the Ron Paul boat and skip right to libertarianism. We aren't ready for that yet, and if it came to be, it would be exploited even worse than communism has been in the past. I mean, when you read those different Marxist steps to society, which one sounds closest to what we have? Did it start with an F? That's what I thought. Now could you imagine that getting even less regulated than it already is? We'd have three companies that own everything, and they'd be run by the people who are already the most powerful in the nation: Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney and Sam Walton's pack of maladjusted hellspawn. Does that sound like a stable kind of nation? When they start overtly (instead of covertly) dictating what goes on in our country?
We need socialism. As scary as it sounds, it's just a word. Talk about the tenants of socialist philosophy with any normal, hard-working American and they'll probably be on board right until you spring the trap and show 'em what's behind door number three. We're so scared of words in our society that it is truly appalling. They hold no meaning but what we give to them. Try this: start saying "fliggut" around your workplace or school when you're angry or frustrated. Really loud, just let out a resounding "Fliggut!" when your computer freezes up or you get stuck with overtime. It'll only take weeks, maybe even days for someone to approach you about it. But guess what! I JUST MADE THAT WORD UP! It doesn't mean a thing. It's all about perception and what we need to perceive is ideas, not catchphrases and buzzwords. We need socialism as a national ideal to move onward and upward from the mire that we are currently stuck in. We need to ignore what people are saying and pay attention to what they are thinking. What they are doing. And what it means to all of us.
I'd love to lead this revolution, but I just don't have the chops. I can't be President. The best I can hope for is a shorter, angrier Keith Olbermann--but that I'll gladly take. If Rush Limbaugh can be the voice of the Republican Party (and he really, sadly is), then perhaps I can be the voice of some party all my own. I just don't think the Democrats will like me much either, not with all the "Blue Dogs" hanging out in the aisles. But that's a completely different set of brands to be pokin' in my fire and I'm sore already.
The lucky thing for you is that if you're still with me (and at that I'll be impressed, because this blog is loooOOoooOOooong), you've got something you can do. You like what I've said and want to find out more about more of my policies and stances? Check out my brand new website. Since I'm not 35 yet, I've got this guy running in my stead, warming up the seat for me. When the next primaries roll around, get yourself registered and vote for him. It's the only chance we've got to come out of this in slightly less of a mess than we already are. Then in ten years, I'll see you on the flip-side. And I'll buy everyone ice cream.