This is the best of times; this is the worst of times. This axiom always seems to be true, but no more so than during an election season. And what a season it is, my fellow Geeks! We stand at the cusp of a major cultural shift, not just in the USA, but across the globe. In the last one hundred years, we’ve seen the balance of power shift from being exclusively in the hands of rich white men to… mostly just rich white men. But that’s not to say there haven’t been significant advances towards a more enlightened society: universal suffrage, civil rights, marriage equality… these are not small accomplishments. They’re YUUUGE, to borrow a phrase. And we should be proud of coming so far in such a relatively short time, but we still have a lot of work to do before we can all truly be excellent to one another.
If you’ve ever played any of the Sid Meier’s Civilization games, you should be familiar with the guilty thrill you get when you get to select the type of governmental control over your civilization. And the best part is: no one else will ever hold you accountable if you choose to be a despotic, theocratic tyrant who enforces your rule through police state brutality… though the same is true if you decide to be a benevolent secular humanist democracy either.
But the problem with reality is that you can’t start a new game if you really fuck up your civilization – you have to deal with the consequences of your decisions. History is rife with lessons, if we’re willing to listen, about people who gave in to fear and hate and let the Forces of Darkness triumph. You don’t need me to give you a history lesson on dictatorships, you have the interwebs and Netflix. So you know that we are extremely privileged to live in a society that allows us (or at least most of us) the right to determine our own type of government through that most magical and mundane of experiences: voting. As imperfect as our system may be, it’s what we’ve got and it ain’t too bad. While it technically isn’t a democracy (which depends on a level of public education and awareness yet to be realized in any human society that I know of), we do largely get to determine who runs our government.
So while it’s easy and self-affirming to blame the corporations, it’s also a cop-out. We’ve allowed rampant capitalism to become our primary value in the good ole’ US of A… allowed it with every time we feel it’s too much work to vote, or stand by while the corporate cronies who make the laws bend them to protect corporations over human beings. Or when we allow said cronies to make laws that benefit or protect a select elite while disenfranchising others. By giving in to the consumer greed that permeates everything in our culture, we give Crap Capitalism more power. But what can we do? Stop playing the game, for starters. Stop buying a new smart phone every year or two – and I’m totes guilty of this too – because you do NOT really need to play with the latest and greatest apps to be fulfilled as a person.
But, you say, isn’t capitalism GOOD? Well, let’s examine it. What’s the defining concept of capitalism? If you said “independence” or “competitive advantage,” you’re wrong. It’s greed. That’s it. Just greed. Capitalism relies on the basic premise that we should allow our tiny little lizard brains to hoard as many resources as we can, and fuck off if you’re not part of the tribe that’s worthy of being on the dole. I’m not saying capitalism is mutually exclusive of being a good person, but it sure makes it more difficult when your worldview is based on the concept of “exploit everyone else before they can exploit you.” And the Presumptive Candidate for the Grand Obstructionist Party is basically the embodiment of corporate greed.
There comes a time when every generation needs to stand up to the previous ones and tell them that it’s time to go sit down and let us run things. The Greatest Generation has failed in some of the worst ways imaginable, and it’s time for those of us who have grown up with a broader view of our tribe to take the reins and reign with compassion and true justice for all. So do not go softly into that greed-filled darkness – fight, fight, fight with all your heart. Because the world is ours, and it’s time to reclaim it from the tyranny of evil men (and some women) that would drain our world into an empty husk simply because they do not care about anyone else. And the easiest way to do it? Vote for the candidate that speaks to your values, or if that candidate isn’t available, the next-best option. Just don’t give up, that’s how they win. And we can’t restart this game if we lose.