The System

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You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see it

Let’s leave aside Donald Trump and claims of rigged elections for this discussion, and talk about the heart of why people believe it when he makes that claim.

When was the last time a great number of people actually liked the candidates for president? I don’t mean their own supporters, but just generally liked. When was the last time either side faced a truly difficult choice? I cannot remember one.

President Eisenhower warned against the “Military-Industrial Complex” but he was wrong, because he didn’t see where it was headed: The Media-Government Complex, with a healthy dose of Bank-Corporation Complex.

Who has made the best gains over the last few decades? People already rich, people in the system. The system loves itself. It views us with disdain, regardless of political affiliation — see any politician or political consultant caught with a hot mic. Most of the media is the same way, even if they come from outside the system (a rarity, it seems). They migrate to the coasts and forget about the people in the middle until one of them does something offensive to the system.

Nobody who has paid attention to politics is surprised that Hillary Clinton is the nominee this year. It was all but certain. We knew she’d run in 2008 — but Obama surprised everyone. The same thing happened on the right, this time: everyone expected Jeb Bush to win the nomination fairly easily, but Trump surprised everyone (except Scott Adams and Mike Cernovich). Jeb had the money (donors, PACs, etc), he had the machinery (the establishment), he had the name. Hillary had those same advantages (as the leaked e-mails show* — she also had “the party.”)

Everyone knew, in 2008, that McCain would be the nominee. It was a foregone conclusion. Nobody was surprised by Mitt Romney. Other than Boehner’s sudden abdication there haven’t been many swings that surprised much of anyone. The ruling class remains the ruling class while the bit parts around them change. Sure, the 2010 and 2014 midterms swept a lot of new folks in — but they didn’t change the direction of the country much at all.

Because they got into the swamp, to use the current metaphor, and became a part of it.

Ignore all conspiracy theories, and just look at facts: the number of lobbyists who used to be in politics, are married to politicians or former politicians, worked for big banks or corporations prior. Follow the money — and don’t believe anyone telling you they want to get the money out of politics. They just came up with a way to do it under the table, and want to cripple opponents who don’t know how to cheat.

The incestuous relationship between media and politics, high level corporate drones and politics, and all mixtures in between, are… as expected. These people are all friends. Even political enemies — you want to bet Trump and Bill Clinton will never, ever golf again? I would not put money on that.

The current raft of leaked e-mails show more conspiring between media and politicians. We expect that — these people run in the same circles, they like each other. Nobody wants to run a bad story about their pal. I wouldn’t write a scathing rebuke of my best friend — if we had a huge disagreement, I’d go to him in private. Because dirty laundry belongs inside, to be cleaned.

Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth in attempt to shout down the truth, we saw this in Gamergate. Sure, the gaming media and regular media want to talk about some sexist or racist dickweasels, but me and many others were only concerned with the close bonds between media and game producers of all stripes. A few loud, hooting dickholes don’t erase that primary concern.

And who wouldn’t be aggravated? People hate feeling like they don’t get a fair shake. That has powered the populism of this election cycle on both sides — the Sanders and the Trump supporters by and large feel left out in the cold by a system that seems, increasingly, to only care about those in the loop.

It’s a dangerous powder keg, too. Revolutions have been started over less. And the media, the tool of the elite, mocking the concerns of the downtrodden is not going to win them any love from the rank and file American — it’s going to piss people off. If you feel hurt, or upset, or angry, and someone mocks your pain, stress, or anger, you don’t suddenly decide that the person is an all-around good fellow and you were foolish.

No, you decide that guy is an asshole and you might just pop him in the jaw.

This isn’t to excuse violence so much as to forecast it: if people continue to feel left out and dehumanized, their actions will reflect that. If the system continues to piss on their concerns, they may well decide to take care of it themselves — because nobody else will.

The system will react, of course. They will condemn these savages. But as time goes on, and more people feel left out, those condemnations will fall on deaf ears. And no leg of the system will be safe from the raving crowd of angry citizens with pitchforks and torches.

God help them if they continue to treat the less fortunate with smarmy disrespect.

* Currently, all the leaked e-mails embarrass the Democrats and the media, but I would also love to see the Republican establishment exposed for their political corruption. It exists — any system with human actors involved will have at least some percent use the system for graft.