In a convulsion of massive stupidity the likes of which the world has seldom (if ever) seen, a majority of American voters chose last night to burn down the house we all live in rather than work on repairs.
Understandably infuriated at the failure of cowardly and corrupt elected officials to protect them from the rapacity of private industry, they elected a rapacious industrialist as President of the United States. Republicans, who have been working for decades to streamline the process of concentrating wealth at the top by removing consumer protections and civil rights, will now proceed to hand the country right over to the corporations, taking the middleman out of the loop. Now Wall Street, Big Pharma and Big Oil can screw Americans with complete abandon.
The worst fears of George Orwell are now a distinct possibility. May this dark vision never come to pass! Nevertheless, the likelihood that it will indeed become reality forces us to imagine what we hope will not happen.
Look for the privatization of everything over the next months and years. As jobs continue to disappear due to automation, Americans will lose what little still remains of the tattered social safety net. Retirement will no longer be an option for those lucky enough to still have a job; the sad spectacle of tired elderly folks standing by the door at Wal-Mart will now be the best there is to hope for. Medical attention in America, already the most expensive and least efficient in the developed world, will now become completely unavailable to the majority. Life expectancy will decline, exacerbated by increased pollution from newly unregulated industry. Homeowners will become homeless, their houses bought up by investors to stand empty while families hit the streets.
As Americans who voted for Trump continue to lose their jobs, and start losing access to basic services and needs, it may begin to dawn on them that they made a terrible mistake. By then, it will be too late. Militarized police will round up the drifters and deliver them to private prisons.
As the prison population approaches 99%, it will age and die, leaving a brave new America, spacious and peasant-free, for the wealthiest few to enjoy. Automated farms and factories will provide their every need and want. For the rest of us, oblivion is better than slavery – except that even slavery allows for hope, while oblivion is permanent.
This is a very dark vision. The pessimism of Orwell’s 1984 was tempered by the continuation of life, however depressing. In the 20th century, a working population was necessary for the wealthy to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle. This is no longer the case. Wealthy conservatives have long dreamed of mass sterilization programs for the working poor. Think about the end of that road for a while.
I really hope all this is nothing more than feverish pessimism. I hoped Americans wouldn’t fall for the con job that was the Trump campaign, too. While there’s life, there’s still hope. I hope that America has a bright future for millions of Americans, even if there is no more labor for them to perform. I hope.