Bipartisan ‘meritocracy’ and ‘vote Blue no matter who’

I’ve already called it “[t]he stupidest impeachment ever, historically notable first for all the offenses it failed to charge Donald Trump with,[1] second for its utterly predictable futility, and third for its transparent (and apparently failed) attempt to protect Joe Biden.[2][3] But here is the final nail in the coffin: Republican senators wailing about how they hope Donald Trump has learned a lesson.[4]

“He was impeached, and there has been criticism by both Republican and Democratic senators of his call,” [Susan] Collins said in a CBS interview. “I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.”

In a lunch with news anchors Tuesday, Trump was asked about Collins’s contention that he had learned a lesson during impeachment. The president insisted that he had done nothing wrong: “It was a perfect call.”[5]

I’m belaboring the obvious here and indeed it’s probably pretty fucking safe to say that making it excruciatingly painfully obvious was Seung Min Kim’s point (she’s the reporter from whose story I draw this). But here goes. . . .

Really? Are you fucking kidding me? Where have these idiots been for the last three years? They had to have known acquittal would merely embolden him. They had to. And that’s just what he sounds like: emboldened.[6]

Sorry, it just doesn’t get any stupider than this. Y’all are just way past my threshold here.

That said, let’s move on. Because the end of this round of bipartisan stupidity pretty nearly coincides with that other bit of Democratic Party stupidity, a stupidity of a potentially more malicious, corrupt kind, the Iowa Caucuses, which I have already commented on.[7]

At some point here, you kind of have to acknowledge a point here.

Let’s remove healthcare from this particular equation. As lethal and as ruinous as the consequences are, it’s already corrupt. It’s already stupid. We need to do a lot better and we can hope to do a lot better, but the worst, give or take a lot of lives, we’re doing here is replacing one bit of corrupt stupidity with another.

Further, there’s misattribution here: For all of the Democratic National Committee’s delusions of grandeur, it isn’t the federal government.

So I’m gonna treat the point more broadly. These are the people we allegedly want running not only our healthcare, but the federal government.

This goes way beyond the impeachment or the Iowa Caucuses. I don’t know if there’s a more damning indictment of so-called “meritocracy” that what we have right here, right now, right before us.

Whether we look at Hunter Biden[8] or the oh-so-special Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, we see not “merit,” but family connections. Whether we look at Donald Trump and the co-opted Republican Party with all of the evil they do; or the Democratic National Committee and its botched Iowa Caucuses;[9] or Nancy Pelosi and her pathetic impeachment;[10] or the Democratic Party and its 2016 nomination of Hillary Clinton; or Barack Obama and his blessings of the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries, and of bank fraud and war crimes coinciding with an absolute disdain for the victims of those crimes,[11] we see not “merit,” but some combination of stupidity, pandering to the filthy rich, and corruption.

I’m not the first to notice this, by a very long shot, but “merit” has little to do with beneficent competence realized through achievement. It is rather to do with social connections accessible only to the upper class, upper class nepotism, and upper class control over who gets admitted to the upper class. It is, for all intents and purposes, a caste system.[12] It is, as I explain in my dissertation in my description of functionalist conservatism, about maintaining power and privileges over the rest of us.[13]

So when I hear #VoteBlueNoMatterWho, I have to tell you, I don’t hear about getting rid of Trump. I hear about protecting the elite from challenge, no matter how they manipulate the electoral process in their determination to ward off progressives or how they abuse us while in office.[14] I hear a standard that is applied only to progressives: We should commit to supporting the Democratic (neoliberal) Party candidate no matter which neoliberal gets nominated, while the neoliberals refuse to, in turn, commit to supporting Bernie Sanders should he be nominated.

When I hear #VoteBlueNoMatterWho, I hear about preserving the status quo.

Preserving the same status quo that turns even essential social, political, and economic change into a decades- or centuries-long, iterative, and incremental process.[15] The same status quo that refuses to meaningfully respond even to existential threats to human survival.[16] The same status quo that has kept me out of a real job for nearly 19 years.[17]

Y’all need a better argument.

  1. [1]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; see also Democracy Now, “Law Professor: Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations and Corruption,” January 24, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/1/24/donald_trump_senate_impeachment_trial
  2. [2]David Benfell, “It’s still a smoke-filled room,” Not Housebroken, December 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/06/its-still-a-smoke-filled-room/; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/; David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/; David Benfell, “The sham (pick your partisan flavor) is on,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/19/the-sham-pick-your-partisan-flavor-is-on/; David Benfell, “The asterisk,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/21/the-asterisk/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “One farce down, one to go,” Irregular Bullshit, February 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/02/05/one-farce-down-one-to-go/
  4. [4]Seung Min Kim, “These Republicans said they hope Trump has learned a lesson from impeachment. He said he hasn’t,” Washington Post, February 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/these-republicans-said-they-hope-trump-has-learned-a-lesson-from-impeachment-he-said-he-hasnt/2020/02/04/fa68c18c-478e-11ea-ab15-b5df3261b710_story.html
  5. [5]Seung Min Kim, “These Republicans said they hope Trump has learned a lesson from impeachment. He said he hasn’t,” Washington Post, February 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/these-republicans-said-they-hope-trump-has-learned-a-lesson-from-impeachment-he-said-he-hasnt/2020/02/04/fa68c18c-478e-11ea-ab15-b5df3261b710_story.html
  6. [6]Seung Min Kim, “These Republicans said they hope Trump has learned a lesson from impeachment. He said he hasn’t,” Washington Post, February 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/these-republicans-said-they-hope-trump-has-learned-a-lesson-from-impeachment-he-said-he-hasnt/2020/02/04/fa68c18c-478e-11ea-ab15-b5df3261b710_story.html
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Neoliberal hubris and the Iowa fiasco,” Not Housebroken, February 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/02/05/neoliberal-hubris-and-the-iowa-fiasco/
  8. [8]Kate Aronoff, “We need to talk about Hunter Biden,” Guardian, October 5, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/05/we-need-to-talk-about-hunter-biden; Adam Entous, “Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father’s Campaign?” New Yorker, July 1, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/07/08/will-hunter-biden-jeopardize-his-fathers-campaign; Colby Itkowitz and Matt Viser, “Biden says his son’s foreign jobs ‘may have looked bad’ but weren’t wrong,” Washington Post, December 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-says-his-sons-foreign-jobs-may-have-looked-bad-but-werent-wrong/2019/12/05/01731a76-17c0-11ea-a659-7d69641c6ff7_story.html; David Von Drehle, “The Hunter Biden story is a troubling tale of privilege,” Washington Post, October 4, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-hunter-biden-story-is-a-troubling-tale-of-privilege/2019/10/04/8ad20988-e46e-11e9-b403-f738899982d2_story.html
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Neoliberal hubris and the Iowa fiasco,” Not Housebroken, February 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/02/05/neoliberal-hubris-and-the-iowa-fiasco/
  10. [10]David Benfell, “It’s still a smoke-filled room,” Not Housebroken, December 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/06/its-still-a-smoke-filled-room/; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/; David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/; David Benfell, “The sham (pick your partisan flavor) is on,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/19/the-sham-pick-your-partisan-flavor-is-on/; David Benfell, “The asterisk,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/21/the-asterisk/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Dickens redux,” Not Housebroken, August 3, 2011, https://disunitedstates.org/2011/08/03/dickens-redux/; Jonathan Capehart, “This is what’s ‘deplorable’ about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and this campaign,” Washington Post, September 12, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2016/09/12/this-is-whats-deplorable-about-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-and-this-campaign/; Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s justice department grants final immunity to Bush’s CIA torturers,” Guardian, August 31, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/31/obama-justice-department-immunity-bush-cia-torturer; Brad Jacobson, “Obama received $20 million from healthcare industry in 2008 campaign,” Raw Story, January 12, 2010, http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/01/12/obama-received-20-million-healthcare-industry-money-2008/; David Johnston and Charlie Savage, “Obama Reluctant to Look Into Bush Programs,” New York Times, January 11, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/12/us/politics/12inquire.html; Elizabeth Holtzman, “Statutes of Limitations Are Expiring on Some Bush Crimes,” Nation, March 20, 2013, https://www.thenation.com/article/statutes-limitations-are-expiring-some-bush-crimes/; Michael Lerner, “Psychopathology in the 2016 Election,” Tikkun, November 3, 2016, http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/psychopathology-in-the-2016-election-3; Ben Smith, “Obama on small-town Pa.: Clinging to religion, guns, xenophobia,” Politico, April 11, 2008, https://www.politico.com/blogs/ben-smith/2008/04/obama-on-small-town-pa-clinging-to-religion-guns-xenophobia-007737; Gaius Publius [pseud.], “Obama Got $20 Million from Healthcare Industry in 2008. Was Killing Single-Payer Part of the Deal?” Naked Capitalism, February 5, 2014, http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/02/gaius-publius-obama-got-20-million-healthcare-industry-2008-killing-single-payer-part-deal.html; Cornel West, “Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama,” Guardian, January 9, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/barack-obama-legacy-presidency; Micah Zenko, “Scary Fact: America Dropped 26,171 Bombs in 7 Countries in 2016,” National Interest, January 6, 2017, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/scary-fact-america-dropped-26171-bombs-7-countries-2016-18961
  12. [12]John Asimakopoulos, The Political Economy of the Spectacle and Postmodern Caste (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2020); Peter W. Cookson, Jr., and Caroline Hodges Persell, “The Vital Link: Prep Schools and Higher Education,” in Great Divides, ed. Thomas M. Shapiro, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2005), 380-391; G. William Domhoff, “The American Upper Class,” in Great Divides, ed. Thomas M. Shapiro, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2005), 156-164; Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy (New York: Crown, 2012); C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite (1956; repr., New York: Oxford University, 2000); Ralph H. Turner, “Sponsored and Contest Mobility and the School System,” in Great Divides, ed. Thomas M. Shapiro, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2005), 71-76.
  13. [13]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  14. [14]Blue Texan [pseud.], “Ed Rendell Tells Democratic Base to “Get Over It” on Rachel Maddow,” Firedoglake, September 23, 2010, http://firedoglake.com/2010/09/23/early-morning-swim-ed-rendell-tells-democratic-base-to-get-over-it-on-rachel-maddow/; Blue Texan [pseud.], “Stop Whining, Liberals!” Firedoglake, September 27, 2010, http://firedoglake.com/2010/09/27/late-night-stop-whining-liberals/; Donna Brazile, “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC,” Politico, November 2, 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/02/clinton-brazile-hacks-2016-215774; Justine Coleman, “Obama privately said he would speak up to stop Sanders: report,” Hill, November 26, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/472090-obama-privately-said-he-would-speak-up-to-stop-sanders-report; Michael Falcone, “Opposite Day On The Campaign Trail?” ABC News, September 21, 2010, http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2010/09/election-2010-opposite-day-on-the-campaign-trail/; Shane Goldmacher, “Hillary Clinton Slams Bernie Sanders for Not Working to Unite Democrats in 2016,” New York Times, January 31, 2020, ttps://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/31/us/politics/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders.html; Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s view of liberal criticisms,” Salon, September 17, 2010, http://www.salon.com/2010/09/17/obama_139/; Ryan Lizza, “Waiting for Obama,” Politico, November 26, 2019, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2019/11/26/barack-obama-2020-democrats-candidates-biden-073025; Dan Merica, “Hillary Clinton suggests Russians are ‘grooming’ Tulsi Gabbard for third-party run,” CNN, October 21, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/18/politics/hillary-clinton-tulsi-gabbard/index.html; David Neiwert, “President Obama lashes out at his liberal critics: Choice is to ‘get things done’ or feel ‘sanctimonious’,” Crooks and Liars, December 7, 2010, http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/president-obama-lashes-out-his-liber; Heather Digby Parton, “‘It’s always the hippies’ fault’: Why the left treats its idealists all wrong,” Salon, February 5, 2015, http://www.salon.com/2015/02/05/its_always_the_hippies_fault_why_the_left_treats_its_idealists_all_wrong/; Greg Sargent, “Liberal blogger directly confronts David Axelrod, accuses White House of ‘hippie punching’,” Washington Post, September 23, 2010, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/09/liberal_blogger_directly_confr.html; Alex Shephard, “The Impotence of ‘Stop Sanders’ Democrats,” New Republic, April 18, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/153605/impotence-stop-sanders-democrats; Sam Youngman, “White House unloads anger over criticism from ‘professional left’,” Hill, August 10, 2010, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/113431-white-house-unloads-on-professional-left
  15. [15]Bill Moyer, with JoAnn McAllister, Mary Lou Finley, and Steven Soifer, Doing Democracy (Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada: New Society, 2001).
  16. [16]Andrew Sheeler, “Jerry Brown urges America to ‘wake up’ as Doomsday Clock moves closer to midnight,” Sacramento Bee, January 23, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article239564083.html
  17. [17]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/

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