When times are troubled, when disasters happen, when it feels like we are facing an unfolding national crisis, it is natural to hope that our leaders, our power structure, our elected officials will come to our rescue. We need to stop hoping. They will not save us, because they don’t care.
We often hear about how divided America is politically. This is not quite true. Our political system is broken, because it is captured by money. Moneyed interests need certain things from the government; they use their influence to alter our electoral system to serve their needs; over time, our broken electoral system, which does not represent the will of the public by design, and our government, which is accurately classified as an oligarchy, cause cascading side effects that poison—with good reason—the public discourse and the political mood and lead us to the position that we are in now. This is all fairly well understood among the people who care to wield or influence political power.
But we are still human. Still, still, after everything, we hope. We hope that this time, this crisis, this outrage, this transgression will be the one that breaks out from the smooth functioning of our failed political system and will cause those leaders to rise to the occasion. This time, they will stand up for what’s right; this time, they will make the hard choice; this time, they will certainly take action. After all, we elected them, didn’t we? And they seemed so nice at the time. How come no one can ever seem to fix the horrible things that keep happening?
Because they don’t care. They don’t care. The Republican Party does not care. It may be true in a trivial sense that the humans who are Republican congressmen and senators and presidents are saddened when innocent people get massacred in mass shootings, or when poor people die from lack of healthcare, or when rising seas swallow coastal towns. But it is true in a much more meaningful way that they do not care, because they exist not to care. Their function is not to care. The Republican Party exists not to care. The Republican Party exists to protect and uphold the interests of a very narrow class of people and institutions, and the interests in question involve, among other things, an absolutist lack of gun control laws, a privatized healthcare system that enriches corporations and investors in certain industries, and the stringent denial of climate change in order to maximize profits in other industries for as long as humanly possible. These are few of the inherent purposes of the Republican Party. This is what the Republican Party is there to do. The vast political and media infrastructure that has been built and funded at great expense by generations of wealthy donors and corporate interests exists to see to it that certain things are accomplished. The various people that sit in the chairs at any given time are interchangeable. The mundane inner human feelings of Republican senators mean nothing at all. The price that they pay to sit in those chairs is an agreement do what the system demands. What matters is the system. The system is a machine. The machine exists to accumulate and exercise power. That power is exercised to serve the interests of those that paid to build the machine. You and I and the vast majority of the American public did not build the machine. It doesn’t work for us. Appealing to it for help is a waste of time. It reveals, more than anything, our collective failure to grasp how things are actually done in America. Appealing to the Republican Party’s conscience is like standing in front of a wildfire, asking it to stop burning. It will never stop burning, as long as there is something to burn. That’s what it does.
Most Americans want stricter gun control. Why can’t we get it? Why do they block all these common-sense bills that seem so reasonable? Why does the nice man who represents my district seem so obstinate on this issue? Doesn’t he watch the news? Doesn’t he see the dead people? Doesn’t he have a heart?
His heart is not a relevant part of his job. His job is to ensure that the system functions properly for those that own it. He can always think of an excuse, and those interests that built the system to work for them are removed enough to have plausible deniability. It all works. Everyone can feel safe and look respectable and go to church and be upstanding members of the community no matter what devastation is wrought downstream from the decision they make. Those who actually suffer the consequences are, by definition, not part of the system. Being insulated from the consequences is an important part of the deal. You have money, and power, and you build a political system to preserve and grow your money and power, and to serve your interests, and as part of that you build an entire parallel media and religious and moral system to absolve you of your sins. You can be a respected business leader who has a proud family tradition of hunting, and downstream of your political actions are hundreds of dead bodies of innocent people massacred in mass shootings as a result of your work to neuter the gun control movement, and not only will you never suffer the direct consequences of the bullets, but you will never even suffer the indirect consequences of a loss of public esteem due to the fact that you have enabled horrific things in the world. The discussion will be stifled, by design, before it grows uncomfortable for you. You will not be blamed. This is part of the system. This is part of the package. This is part of what you buy. You can get a plaque from the Chamber of Commerce, and somewhere far, far away, the dead people will be disposed of quietly, and you will never be forced to reckon with the connecting of any dots.
Stop hoping for Republicans to do the right thing. Stop hoping for them to wake up. Stop hoping for them to have a crisis of conscience. Stop hoping for them to finally draw the line. None of this will happen. They don’t care. They exist not to care. If they cared, they would not be who they are and where they are in the first place. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we can move on to the actual business of changing things. It is time to stop looking at America in a childish way. You cannot appeal to these people. You cannot simply replace these people. You have to break the system that they serve. That is the obstacle in our path. You can bang your head on the wall all you want. The wall will never feel sorry for you. You have to tear it down.