Image by Stephanie McMillan
It’s capitalism after all. Those political parties for the rich and powerful know how to sell exploitation and subjugation by their good cop/bad cop marketing. If you don’t buy this, you get Trump. But if you buy what they sell, you get Biden, an imperialist with the crime bill, Patriot Act, and the rest of the schemes for the rich and powerful. W.E.B DuBois talked about this in 1956 saying, “I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say.” I don’t think there was real democracy founded by slave owners, but you get the idea. Since then, people have kept voting for over a half century. Now three people own the bottom half of the wealth of the US. The feudal hierarchy is backed by 800 military bases across the globe with piles of weapons of mass destruction. In the US, people have no healthcare, education is gutted, no legal rights, 1 out of 5 children are starving and so on. The system works tremendously well to keep the feudal hierarchy.
Just like any moneyed social institution, the political institution is structured to serve the rich and powerful. This is just like how colonialism works. The colonizers come to steal land and resources, and they dominate every aspects of your life. If you follow the rules shaping the hierarchy, you get to live in reservations as second class citizens. If you complain, they manage to declare “love it or leave it” If you complain more you could end up in prison or even be killed. Why is Leonard Peltier still in prison when George Zimmerman walks free? The essence of exploitation and subjugation is rooted in the origin of the whole enterprise, and it keeps going. Fear of murder, rape, theft and torture lurk beneath the flimsy label of “democracy”.
Those who benefit from this, as well as those who are afraid of exclusion and unsavory name calling desperately scream “you must vote”, “a vote for third parties is a vote for Trump”, “don’t be stupid”, “don’t be selfish” and so on. Those words come out of people who screamed “black lives matter” yesterday, asking you to vote for the father of the crime bill. Last year his running mate Kamala Harris managed to say that the Colin Kaepernick phenomenon was orchestrated by Russians. I guess if they have to bomb countries full of brown people, it’s not very good to get rid of racism. She knows her role in the empire very well.
By the way, they also claim that their political opponent, Trump, was placed in his position by Russians. People should remember that the Democratic Party supported Trump as a pied piper candidate—meaning that he was so ridiculous that people would rather vote for their candidate Hilary Clinton. But the manipulation went a little too far, enough so that Trump actually became the president. I mean, Donald Trump, the loud-mouthed reality TV star with gilded gaudiness and shadiness actually became the President. This has triggered the privileged class status quo tremendously. They want their ways of colonizing, militarizing and corporatizing with class and righteousness, the way President Obama delivered it. They want an agonized Black man doing his best, yet resulting in seven wars, big bank bailout, deportation, surveillance state, loss of legal rights, militarized police, drone killing and so on, instead of the embodiment of a loony Uncle Sam with lies, racism and violence asserting what the US government has always pursued. Trump is the exact caricature of what the people of the world see: the US as the biggest bully with no taste. He is like fourth of July fireworks insisting on what the empire is entitled to. “That’s not my president” people scream. Of course he is not. That would trigger a huge cognitive dissonance. Their identity as freedom loving Americans of democracy falls apart. It’s this psychological projection mobilizing the sentiment of “resistance”.
Therefore, Trump turned out to be a godsend for the Democratic Party. He justifies the corrupt corporate political party of war, big bank bailout and neoliberal restructuring. I mean, as it’s already stated, the Party is an integral part of the American political institution which serves the rich and powerful along with their counterpart the Republican Party. The Democratic Party doesn’t have legs to stand on without evil Trump.
That makes Joe Biden a pied piper candidate. Why him? I don’t endorse any imperial politics party candidate, but Sanders, for instance, proved himself to be able to beat Trump in 2016. Why not him? After all, the Democratic Party clearly stated that it is a private entity and it can pick anyone regardless of Primary or whatever. Biden is a hardened imperialist with a solid record of colonizing, militarizing and corporatizing. And he is more widely known as a creepy old man who can’t keep his hands off of females, any female, especially very young ones. He has also shown some symptoms of going senile as well. Why him? He is a pied piper candidate to keep the Democratic Party playing the role of savior against evil Trump. You get two pied piper candidates. This is what happens when capitalists continue to narrow political options in order to give the illusion of choice. The lies are so inflated that there is practically nothing left that can be reasonable. And it doesn’t matter how the dice roles as long as everything stays within the imperial framework. In fact, the more ridiculous, the more infuriating, and the more sensational, the better. It can create the illusion of a “democracy” more vibrant and lively. But there are tremendous sacrifices.
Now people would ask “so what is your solution?” I know that the question is rhetorical. How can people who have willfully ignored everything being said about the insanity of supporting the imperial trajectory listen? For those who turned into soldiers to keep their positions within the system, logic and reason become enemies in winning against anything that threatens their positions. This is, and has been, a war against people. This is how the system of “democracy” deprives humanity from people and herds them into what they despise: fascism. And my answer unfortunately is: I don’t know. I do respect and admire revolutionaries who have stood against the establishment. When Fred Hampton was murdered by the US government, he was only 21. His Black Panther Party with socialist principles inspired people across the country. Patrice Lumumba stood for his people and showed the world beauty and strength of humanity.
We should all learn from experiences of revolutionaries and history of resistance against the capitalist domination, and see ourselves and our communities in such contexts. And I do empathize with those who struggle with tremendous predicaments imposed by the oppressors. But after all, I am merely an artist getting stuck in my studio, covered with paint and dust. But I know one thing. Years of working as an artist have taught me that a seemingly impossible problem can only be solved by a struggle, with honesty and patience. What hurts me the most about participating in the corporate politics is that it kills our ability to reason and trust, therefore it deprives our ability to relate to others in truly meaningful ways. It stands to reason that the dehumanizing symptom of capitalism—deprivation of our association to ourselves, communities, nature, and our future and our history—is most prominent in ways we determine our path as a collective. It deprives our ability to dream together based on reality and our needs—dream about our future, dream about our children and dream about all the wonderful things in life. And it brings tears to my eyes with sadness. But I am certain that I am not alone. I am speaking to you who are like me. We are many. And there will be more of us.
Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony. In 1998 Hamada was the recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant, and in 2009 he was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives and works in New York.