The insurrection of the U.S. capitol and the online ban of Donald Trump signals the death of American bipartisanship. That “b” word suggests the sound of Bill Clinton’s saxophone, but reverberates too distantly when so many Trump supporters distrust Republicans and so many leftists distrust Democrats, and vice versa. Too few Americans trust our system and its invisible players for democracy to function as designed. The events of January 2021 are a tipping point that will hopefully birth new political parties or redefine our current ones, who have long masqueraded as a unified Business Party incapable of voicing working-class constituents.
Republicans are swimming in a new chapter of tech monopolization—an era of censorship (supposedly) destined to silence every conservative voice. Cosmopolitan democrats should feel more queasy by tech’s control of public life, but are obnoxiously giddy over the digital toppling of their enemy tyrant. In Washington, the House is justifiably preoccupied with impeaching Trump for inciting treason and violence.
What if the election was stolen? Would Trump be justified if he was actually right? In a post clergy, post-news and post-electoral America, who can be a guarantor of truth and integrity to a diverse body? When MSNBC is owned by billionaires and journalists retweet deep-fakes, who will interpret current events that the working-majority can trust? Humans are reckoning with objectivity’s elusiveness under unprecedented stakes—we can do little but cling tighter to the digital voices who have provided solidarity in our lonely year.
Dodging liability for political violence, tech companies have squelched the most powerful megaphone to exist in human history. In a similar way that the founding fathers could not have envisioned citizens with machine guns, none could have imagined a mouthpiece as instant and powerful as Twitter. If social media were nationalized, there would be a greater case for guaranteeing uncensored digital speech. But thanks to the Reaganization of American identity, we don’t really live in a country—we die in a giant corporate playground. A business can mandate masks, but our federal government wouldn’t dare step on liberty’s toes. Welcome to big-business feudalism.
Donald Trump is free to shout in the empty public square, submit op-eds to the Bezos-owned Washington Post, or appear on Fox News, but he is currently unable to communicate with the MAGA movement every time he passes stool. His son, Donald Trump Jr, has pinned a tweet inviting supporters to join his email list before he himself trips into the virtual guillotine. Perhaps conservative voices will own and operate a new website that guarantees app-less Internet organization to MAGA. What then? Who knows. But how did we arrive here?
Invisible-hand-economics places complete trust in mass consumption’s aimless trajectory, a journey marked by quarterly financials on the altar of biological stability. The larger Amazon grows, the “easier” our lives become. How convenient to have our food, movies, and baby formula arrive from the same faceless smirk. Republican leaders, who consistently defend corporate interests, have enabled a monstrous oligarchy that no one is prepared to legislate against. Bipartisan democrats, best embodied by President-elect Biden, are equally guilty servants to the NASDAQ. The last hope for U.S. politics—and a just trial for big-tech—is an elected body untethered to corporate interests. How to get there? Nobody knows. As long as consumption and communications remain this seamless, nobody seems to care either.
What is apparent is that for the first time in my life, pro-corporation economics are eating and digesting the tail of a “Don’t Tread On Me” leader. Trump represents some sort of unholy trinity of contemporary American capitalism—a stock-goblin who has repetitively abused the power of media, executive governance, and commercial mortgages. While Trump was partying with Hillary Clinton in the 20th century, his future GOP was defending corporate deregulation and rolling out the red carpet for the unfathomable growth of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook. Big-tech is now begging for a reboot, but too few in Congress are willing to hit the switch. The very companies Republicans now detest are too responsible for the stock market’s 2020 recovery.
Bullish politicians may progress in defending the Constitution from dictators like Donald Trump. But what is a Constitution penned by European slave-owners to a multiracial America? Left leaning descendants of colonial America are newly galvanized by anti-racism and land acknowledgements while their distant right-wing cousins wage war against critical race theory. What sort of amendments could appease serious, opposing concerns in white America? How can Black and Brown people protest without getting disproportionately caught in fascism’s crosshairs?
More than likely, the 2020s will be defined by growing organization among the lefter left and righter right. One side will fight for the end of racist mass-incarceration, the other for continued police-power. One side will fight for green jobs, and the other will fight for Trump’s right to a Twitter account. One side will propose cancelling student debt to stimulate the economy, the other will cite the deficit with no wealth-tax to shrink it. One side will fight for Medicare-for-All, the other will fight for the right to die in fear of medical debt and unresolved insurance disputes. Meanwhile, our Democratic and Republican elders will do what they do best for one last decade—move the needle of policy nowhere while refreshing their brokerage accounts.
There will be those who don’t identify enough with either agenda. And there will be those bipartisan traditionalists in the middle like Joe Biden who decry polarization and find too many parts of themselves in both camps. Unfortunately for fans of prior times, we cannot survive bipartisanship that shakes hands with Oil and pardons first-degree traitors. Regardless of our political future, the genetically-mutated rooster of American enterprise has come home to lay an atomic egg on the infamous avatar of @realdonaldtrump.
You can follow the author on Twitter @andrewdavisfilm