Welcome to the American nightmare
“Do not come, do not come,” Vice President Kamala Harris says, her words weighed down dramatically by the implication. Her attempt at sympathy is flailing awkwardly in the uncomfortable silence of those present, spitting out instead a warning shot. “The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border,” she continues. “And I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
That was in Guatemala. Let’s travel back a few months to January as newly sworn in, oldest in the nation’s history President Joe Biden reveals his first act: Something, something, immigration, something. The rest -- unremarkable attempts at reversing his predecessor’s obviously obnoxious policies, such as rejoining the WHO and the Paris Climate Accord, ending the “Muslim ban,” and some meaningless half-promised delay of student debt repayments.
Immigration is another microcosm of such reversals: Don’t put kids in cages, don’t declare all illegal immigrants worthy of deportation, get rid of the Muslim ban, etc. Four months later, in April, even the DNC’s unofficial mouthpiece and employer of the nation’s greatest journalists, CNN, publishes in its official website: “The Department of Health and Human Services, which is charged with the care of unaccompanied migrant children, announced or opened at least 11 new temporary facilities to try to get kids out of Border Patrol stations, which are akin to jail-like conditions and not suited for children.”
The repetition of history will go unnoticed or will be ignored in order to herald in a new era of American supremacy, the era of President Joe Biden and his perfectly coloured Vice President Kamala Harris. On inauguration day, John Harwood, a “journalist” and CNN’s chief White House Correspondent, tweets: “Trump -> Biden / lies -> truth / ignorance -> knowledge / cruelty -> empathy / corruption -> public service.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, responsible like her predecessors for eloquently encapsulating almost-truths and not-really-a-lies, must have been nervous, going up to the podium for the first time to speak on behalf of the president of the most powerful nation on Earth, one which was currently in the middle of a pandemic that has obliterated millions of lives due to the negligent obstinance of blessing-in-disguise Donald J Trump (as he left, so did corporate media’s audience; Biden’s inappropriate touching and smelling of adolescent girls is not nearly as exciting a watch, if they even showed it, that is). It would be, after all, difficult to employ a strategy that would work in a nation so divided, an economy so devastated.
Zeke Miller, correspondent extraordinaire, is bestowed upon the privilege of asking the first question: “When you’re up there, do you see yourself, your primary role, as promoting the interests of the president, or are you there to provide us the unvarnished truth so that we can share that with the American people?”
Jen breathes out a sigh of relief. Or she doesn’t. The White House was found to be editing and quote-approving content for the media, almost as if they were dictating what can and cannot be said.
A government that dictates. What are those called again?
A dynamic duo
The word escapes me, so let’s travel once more through the locked down days of 2021 back into 2020: The democratic primaries are being prepped in order to ensure that Senator Bernie Sanders, who has managed to raise an astounding $96 million with an even more astounding average donation of $18, never gets his name on the voting booth of a national presidential election.
It’s almost as if the 5 million people who donated and would undoubtedly have voted for him for president (if given the chance) was not a cause for celebration, but rather worrisome -- it was almost as if one could divide the money with the average and almost guarantee a win.
But the curse of socialism -- in these divided states, it is also a curse word -- has ruined his chances for a second consecutive time, that too against the same behemothic amalgamation of an opponent he lost to in 2016: Corporations. Curse thee, ideology of the Godless, provider of free health care, eraser of poverty, curse thee for trying to ruin our hard-fought American values.
Before our hopes get burnt by Buttigieg, homosexual celebrity and pretty puppet, and the delayed greed of Native American candidate Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris says, “I believe them, and I respect them being able to tell their story and having the courage to do it.” The “story” here is of sexual harassment, “them” are the victims, and Kamala Harris “believes” that her future president has carried out acts of sexual harassment against women.
Unwittingly, Harris and Biden had both collaborated before, on different turfs and in different ways, but their shared contribution to America’s mass incarceration was perhaps a bond neither could deny: It was love at first African American man with a marijuana stick who could be sent off to an outsourced private prison.
The colour of Harris’ skin, much like that of Neera Tanden, may be brown, and the physiological characteristics of their person may also be similar, belonging to that of what us traditional folks like to call “women,” but women we believed to have been sexually harassed are left forgotten in the dust -- most notably Tara Reade (not the actress) -- whose story continues to gather dust in the archives of small and independent news networks.
Neera Tanden, whose parents belonged to the same arbitrarily cut-up piece of land as Harris’ is a loyal servant to the Clintons (if you don’t recall, they are a political couple whose one half took advantage of his power to curry sexual favours while the other considers poor people “deplorables”), was in charge of drafting segments of the “progressive” health care act of everyone’s favourite even-darker-skinned hero and poster-child, Barack Hussein Obama.
Black and beautiful
Was there ever a president as cool, as sexy, as suave as Obama, oozing charm as he sits next to Jerry Seinfeld and drives a vintage car on he grounds of the White House? Belonging to the Democratic Party and fighting all odds, Barack Hussein Obama became the first Black president of the United States.
Such an extraordinary feat, undoubtedly, so much so, that the mere idea of “hope,” the platform upon which he ran his campaigns for presidency, was enough to convince the Swedes to award him with the Nobel Peace Prize, joining the ranks of basket-caller Henry Kissinger, and house-sitter Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, that socialist, leftist, freeloader-enabling act, owes its existence to its parent, Romneycare, named after ex-Massachusetts governor, ex-candidate for president against Obama, and still very much a Republican.
It was drafted, as mentioned before, with the help of Neera Tanden, Hillary Clinton loyalist, one of the “key architects’” of Obamacare, a person who opposes health care for all and increasing the minimum wage to $15, is president of the Centre for American Progress, a “liberal” think-tank that supports the UAE, Saudia Arabia, and Israel, and was ever so generous and considerate enough to remove any stories related to billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s comments regarding Muslims.
Coincidentally, they had received a donation grant worth $1.5m prior, which must be nothing more than an innocent coincidence we have no business being skeptical about.
Tanden and Harris, women and brown, female and proud, hand-in-hand contribute to a perception of the Democratic Party’s image of being liberal, of being left-wing. All too often, in our hasty and misguided efforts to defend our identities or have one we can identify with in the first place, we forget the irrelevance of ethnicity and gender in the face of greed and power.
After all, who can blame them, when one sees the list of donors to the Center for American Progress -- Walmart, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Google, Bank of America, Time Warner, the UAE, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Wells Fargo, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company.
But I am absolutely certain that not a single policy was suggested or lobbied as a result of these contributions; Kamala Harris, Bill Gates, the Clintons, and Obama, they are too cool and too non-white and too aware of identity politics, are they not, so surely, all of this must have been done with the interests of the American people at heart.
No, we couldn’t
Barack Obama inherited a mess: His predecessor had conducted what remains to this day one of the worst instances of foreign policy, the Iraq War, and rampant capitalism had paved the way for the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. In his economic “dream team,” as CNN put it in 2008, were Wall Street stalwarts, amongst whom was Robert Rubin, Clinton administration veteran and 26-year Goldman Sachs employee. By his side was Vice President Joe Biden, who had voted for the Iraq War.
A staggering $350bn worth of no-strings-attached bailouts for Wall Street followed, rewarding the architects of the crisis but, I am certain, that was a decision the first black American president made with a heart as pure as that of all racial, ethnic, and cultural minorities.
As one example, the American International Group (AIG) insurance company paid out at least $218m of bonuses -- the actual figure remains unknown; some estimate it could be as high as $1.2 billion -- all of that taxpayer money trickling straight on up.
Hey now, at least there were new jobs, there was economic growth. $7.50 an hour minimum wage, far below what is considered a “living wage,” in America, but at least people could put in tremendous amounts of effort all day, every day, so they could come home to a “natural,” sugar-laden, toxins aplenty meal.
No one was prosecuted, no legal punishments were dealt out against Wall Street criminals nor the peddlers of the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” lie that led to the Iraq War, making, only by chance once more no doubt, the military-industrial complex billions of dollars in the process.
No soldiers were brought back from Afghanistan or Iraq, nor was Guantanamo Bay, a testament to American democratic values, shut down, as the NSA and other intelligence agencies across the world collaborated to better disregard the right to privacy of their citizens.
Israel and Saudi Arabia, Middle Eastern big daddies, received billions of dollars, military spending continues to balloon, but, for some reason, Obama never had enough money to expand health care coverage or increase minimum wage, despite having control of both the House and the Senate, a dream scenario for anyone wishing to have a bill passed.
Drones galore in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and Libya; Snowden, Assange, and Chelsea Manning persecuted for telling the truth about crimes the government was committing; gun reforms remain a distant dream as another child buys another gun and shoots up his school.
What a legend.
Who cares though, all the way from here in little Bangladesh, about the petty and privileged woes of the richest country in the world? Who cares about “hope” or whether “I’m with her” or if America was ever great?
But I am confident when I say that, right now, as a member of yet another middle-class dysfunctional family, I have no desire to be in America. As people storm Congress to “stop the steal” of the previous election, it is becoming increasingly evident that capitalism renders democracy futile, that bipartisan political bickering is a contemporary Colosseum meant to distract the masses, and that a life in the US for someone like me would be nothing short of an American nightmare.
SN Rasul is Assistant Editor, Op-Ed and Editorial, at the Dhaka Tribune. He can be found online @snrasul.