What the Hell Did You Expect?

Blake_manuscript_-_Notebook_-_page_074-Tom_Paine-detailNo, I didn’t see the riots coming, but I am not surprised by them.

You should not have been, either.

What are you going to get when you combine a government that only cares about the extremely well-to-do and a rock-solid base of about a third of the country and an economy that suddenly pulls the rug out from under almost everyone? What are you going to get when you divide Americans more firmly into those the government cares about and those it does not—and make this crystal clear to everyone? What are you going to get when you allow one group to parade around proudly with guns and you shoot 12-year-olds from another group for playing with toys? What are you going to get when your police, racist and belligerent toward the down-trodden for generations, continue to get away with killing people? What are you going to get when you keep claiming that hard work is the foundation of success yet make sure that those who work hardest get less and less each year? What are you going to get when you brush off the problems of others, claiming they are not your fault even when they can see your knee on their neck as well as you can? What are you going to get when your only pride is your skin color?

What are you going to get when you know nothing about history and believe that the status quo can remain, that the poor and downtrodden will never be able to rise up against you?

What are you going to get when you provide more than half of America (the African Americans, the Latinx, the other people of color, the LGBT, the ‘libturds,’ the educators—this isn’t only about race) with less and less while blocking any path to a better future that includes them?

I remember a riot in Washington, DC in 1968 that I barely escaped. What I saw seared my soul: people were on the street, angry. To deal with them, the police blocked all four of the exits from one intersection and then told people to disperse. With no place to go, the people could not obey. So the police started lobbing in teargas. The people fought back.

What did the cops expect?

Or was it what they wanted?

Are you, the Trumpists, getting what you want? What you think you want?

The United States has been hemming in many people for more than three years, now. Up until this point, most of them have felt there might be a way out. That the Trump presidency, for example, might be a temporary blip. But we are starting to see that Trump and his minions are doing everything they can to ensure his re-election, even if they have to cheat. They are starting to see that democracy is ending in America.

If we can’t even reform our local police, not even when we have leaders in our cities who desperately want to, how does anyone believe we can wrest control of this country away from the corrupt elite and its foolish cadres of supporters, people who believe that their big guns are going to protect them from over half of the country, people who believe in their own invincibility so strongly that they think running down an unarmed jogger in a pick-up truck and then shooting him proves it?

Or that a phone call to 911 will bring the law in on their side.

You can’t have a country divided the way it has purposely been by Trump and his supporters and have it sustained, not even with a good economy. Eventually, something will happen, and those on the powerless side are going to rise up—and show they aren’t quite so powerless after all.

I don’t know what is going to happen as a result of the George Floyd week. Maybe very little. Maybe Trump will use is as a means of retaining power. Maybe he is becoming irrelevant, as some are saying. Maybe we will start to see government responding to its majorities (in population, not just in voters), something the Democrats have not been particularly good at, either. Maybe our cities will burn once again, driving out all of those people who have flooded in over the past decades leaving only those too poor to leave.

I don’t know.

But I do not believe that the ruling Trump party has any wish for reconciliation or any belief that they need it. In fact, I think many of them knew what they would eventually get, and are happy about it, thinking that if it comes to a “boogaloo,” as some of their most rabid supporters term it, they will win.

Be careful what you wish for.

Tom Paine, in one of his “American Crisis” essays (Nov. 21, 1778) wrote:

Reconciliation never appears to have been the wish or the object of the administration; they looked on conquest as certain and infallible, and, under that persuasion, sought to drive the Americans into what they might style a general rebellion, and then, crushing them with arms in their hands, reap the rich harvest of a general confiscation, and silence them for ever.

I think that’s what many of today’s Republicans believe. Bring on something of a revolt and then crush it. All for their good.

They forget what happened to the British in America which, of course, are just who Paine was addressing.

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