Impoverished Politics: How neoliberalism ruined America
Hillary Clinton endorses Barack Obama for president in 2008. Both politicians are hailed as champions of progressivism, but their war hawkish, corporate-favored policies speak otherwise. Photo by Michal Czerwonka.
America has been and probably always will be a plutocracy. But in the last few decades, that truth, and the divide between the elite and the actual will of the people has only grown stronger. These years have been marked with the continued rise of neoliberalism and inconceivable corruption on both sides of the political aisle.
Our nation’s embrace of neoliberal ideology post-Reagan is largely to blame for major crises across the board: the 2008 recession, the continued destruction of the planet, and the rise of now President-Elect Donald Trump. Yet we unwaveringly believe that our governmental and economic systems are not only the most prosperous but also the most ethical.
This past election cycle proved specifically that the Democratic Party is more loyal to its corporate interests and neoliberal agenda than it is to its constituents. This was made evident by the party’s blatant dismantlement of Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign despite the fact that he polled better than both Clinton and Trump. If it hadn’t been for the DNC’s dedication to banks, war, and large industry, Sanders could very well have been elected our next president.
The truth is, the Democratic Party is offered up as the only and most progressive political voice in our nation. Many of its actions and policies echo of conservatism.
President Barack Obama will end his term in January being hailed as one of the greatest presidents in our country’s history, while many aspects of his presidency continue to play into the themes of neoliberalism. For instance, in his last few months of service, he has done nothing to stop the brutalization of Native Americans who are protecting their land and water in North Dakota against the DAPL pipeline.
Obama also holds the record for the most immigrants deported under his administration, and he has killed countless people through drone strikes across the Middle East. While their last few months in office are peppered with memes celebrating their brotherhood, Obama and Biden have spent the last 8 years being more than complicit to war crimes happening in both our country’s name and by the nations whom we support and arm.
The death of Fidel Castro was met with cheers across the world, especially in America, and while Castro was nowhere near perfect, it is important to remember that the most egregious human rights violation occurring in Cuba today is an American one: Guantanamo Bay.
On Cuban land illegally seized by the US, people are held without trial and tortured. When the Torture Report came out in 2014 and Obama went on television only mustering up the phrase ‘we tortured some folks,’ it was apparent to me that these larger issues were not important to the DNC because they obviously weren’t important to the industries that lined the party’s pockets.
The DNC and liberal politics offer small, meager steps towards progress that keep the people from overstepping their minimal rights granted to them by the various one-percenters who decide how our nation is run.
When same-gender marriage was legalized nationwide, people celebrated it as a huge victory, but it serves mainly as symbolic milestone. We showed that love won, but in the year since that ruling a dismally high number of transgender folks have been murdered, queer homelessness is still exceptionally high, and in many states you can still be legally fired for being part of the LGBTQ community. There are many reasons to celebrate same-gender marriage, but unfortunately it was granted to us as a means to satiate the people and maintain the overarching status quo.
This is why the Democratic Party crushed Bernie Sanders. He represented too much change too fast, and that was a major threat to their corporate interests. The party’s nomination of Clinton over him disenfranchised so many who were loyal to the party; it is no wonder why she didn’t win the presidency.
However, the 2016 election also illuminated a power that many in this nation were unaware of: the millennial voice. The flocking of college aged voters to Sanders early in the cycle showed an understanding of corruption in the political system and a desire for revolution. Polling now shows that the majority of millennials disfavor capitalism and see socialism as a more viable option in our country’s future.
As both the Democratic and Republican parties lay in shambles after this election, is it more obvious than ever that change comes from the ground up. We must never stop fighting for progress and liberation. We have within ourselves the power to not only change our political system, but to build a new one.
The neoliberal imperialism of generations past cannot sustain us. For ourselves, and for the generations after us, the time to fight for what is right is now.