Perspective


I am one of the most privileged people I know. I have the privilege of looking at the election’s issues in the abstract; issues are often abstract to people in my fortunate position. No one is systematically killing people who look like me; cops’ eyes glide right off of me as I shop; my permanent birth control was simple and covered by insurance; nobody protests anything I do. It’s like I’m invisible–no, it’s like I’m protected by an invisible bodyguard of privilege.

Because I am not in my own immediate danger, I have the time and space to read the accounts published by people less privileged than I am. I get to be shocked, in the abstract, at the systemic racism, sexism, bigotry of all stripes, that I am on the shiny side of by accident of birth. I note that I said “in the abstract”. If I were experiencing it, I doubt I would have nearly the ease or time or motivation to look beyond my own troubles. Yes, some do, but it is understandable that some do not, just as it would be unfair to say to a drowning person “hey, you’re so lucky you weren’t shot, too–lots of people have it worse than you do!” (or, alternatively, “dear Muslima…”)


I pay attention to, and care about, issues that do not directly impact me. I don’t pretend to be an authority on these issues, so I try to do as much listening and reading as I can. When I see people, especially the targets of these systemic biases, disagreeing with one another, I try to keep quiet and read and listen even more. I try to look at things from different perspectives. When I read something I think needs amplifying, I try to amplify it–usually by pointing to their words rather than writing something myself. (Longtime readers might have noted that I am quieter in recent years than in years past.)

I don’t want a cookie for this. I only mention this to introduce today’s verse. My view of the US election is a privileged view. It is privileged within the US because most of the issues only effect me in the abstract (they effect people I love in the concrete, though, so I would cut my arm off before voting Republican at this point, for a multitude of reasons). It is doubly privileged, though, because the issues I care about here are, to at least this one writer, not what the world outside our borders cares about:

Come next November, whatever US citizens choose, save the slim chance of a democratic socialist with less of a Cowboy diplomacy in his record than his rivals, they will place the world at large in harm’s way facing an existential threat.

People around the world, always at the mercy of the predatory power of US imperialism, watch the US presidential elections partially amused by the depth of its corruption and partially frightened by the prospect of either a Clinton or a Trump presidency.

Which one will drop more bombs, command a larger fleet of deadly drones, prepare a longer “kill list”, give more weapons to Israel to kill more Palestinians, sell more of the same to rich Arab potentates to drop on poor Arab states, build more torture chambers on the Guantanamo model?

As I write this, my TV is muted, with Trump calling for waterboarding and worse, and Cruz urging us to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods”. At recent debates, the GOP candidates urged “carpet bombing”; Trump wants to go after the families of terrorist suspects. But where one party finds their base responds to promises of war crimes, the other prefers the use of drones. From my privileged perch, I read that drones limit collateral damage; from close up, that phrase translates to “drones have killed [only] hundreds of innocents at minimum”.

I try to put myself in that writer’s shoes, and I find it exceedingly difficult to do so. And in truth, I really don’t think he thinks in rhyming verse…

The US elections have insults and lies,
And rallies and protests and fear
As the candidates vie for the ultimate prize:
Who gets to bomb us next year?

Will the orange-faced xenophobe rise to the task,
Or his ideological clones?
Or will it be Hillary? Really, we ask—
Will they kill us with bombs, or with drones?

Americans have a much simpler choice—
Their own issues they’ve always held dear—
They don’t have to listen to some foreign voice
Asking “who gets to bomb us next year?”

Comments

  1. says

    There is another candidate, if Americans could only find him:
    Gary Johnson, Libertarian, let’s all get behind him.
    On the ballot in all 50 states
    But barred from monopolized debates
    If nowhere else, on write-in ballots I’ll have signed him.

  2. Cuttlefish says

    The libertarians I know, among family, friends, and acquaintances, have convinced me (it’s a conclusion, not an assumption) that Libertarianism is wrong both theoretically and empirically. I could amplify that by not wanting to risk a supreme court nomination, but it needs no amplification.

    But that is not the topic of this post, nor these comments. Maybe I’ll write something more appropriate, or you can and I’ll let you guest post.

  3. says

    Asking “who gets to bomb us next year?”

    As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the CIA is the world’s biggest “exporter of terrorism” – if we’re not flat-out bombing you, we’re manipulating your politics, undercutting your markets, or preventing your from having anything but a US-style sham democracy.

  4. AlexanderZ says

    I’m “People around the world” and I disagree with the writer of that opinion piece, as do the majority of Ukrainians and Georgians (and perhaps citizens of other countries as well, like India). Those people want more, not less, US imperialism. As always that opinion piece gives only a partial picture – the world politics are slightly more complicated than bombs are good/bombs are bad.

    As for US political corruption, oh pleeeeeease. Al Jazeera is controlled by a fricking royal family, it’s hard to get any more corrupt than that. It takes only the barest possible interest in foreign affairs to understand that US political system, for all its many faults, is still substantially better than that of 75% of the world’s countries.

  5. says

    “Effect” is very rarely used as a verb, and when used as a verb doesn’t have the same meaning as “affect”.

    “[…] the issues only effect me in the abstract” doesn’t make sense.

  6. StevoR says

    @3. Marcus Ranum : Again you go way to far and Over The Top.

    The CIA is NOT a terrorist organisation but a counter-terrorist agency and follows set rules and is accountable in a way the likes of Da’ish, Al Quaeda and Boko Haram are not.

    Australia, New Zealand, Belgium ,and hundreds of other nations present obvious counter examples of nations that are not bombed or manipulated or prevented from being other than “sham”democracies by the USA.

    Oh & your claims here are again blunt unsupported assertions which are not backed by reasoning or evidence of any kind.

    It seems to me that you are, yet again, engaging in anti-American hyperbole. Where does all your hatred for the US and military come from?

  7. Die Anyway says

    The comments of Marcus Ranum and StevoR remind me of the “glass half full/half empty” idiom. One focuses on what’s missing and the other on what’s there but neither is wrong. It’s basically a difference of opinion on which aspect is the more important. The CIA is not like Boko Haram, but it’s no angel either. And when it does un-angelic things, I as an American have to accept some part of the responsibility.
    As for the OP, I have to say that I am in the same position as DC, with the added condition that my white hair and beard make me extra invisible/teflon coated. Even my radical atheism has not cost me anything. Thankfully I don’t live in Bangladesh. As the Trump candidacy plays out, I even began thinking that if he’s elected I could just hunker down and weather the storm. Most of his terribleness would miss me and my family but… I know I should have compassion for the millions of my fellow citizens/humans that would be severely impacted. Other than voting against him though, I’m not sure what I can do. Feeling a bit like King Canute.

  8. Johnny Vector says

    Maybe I’m just picky because it was recently Sondheim’s birthday, but shouldn’t line 3 be:

    As each candidate vies for the ultimate prize:

    Anyway, I can’t dwell on this. I, like John X. Doe, must not think bad thoughts.

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