I, like many others at this moment in time, am constantly thinking about politics. I mean, it’s kind of hard not to, what with the world falling apart and all. A lot of people are thinking a lot about the way things are right now. The problem is that a lot of those thoughts are neither productive nor constructive. That’s sort of why we are where we are. The Clinton campaign was inherently flawed and neither she nor her league of admirers — this Canadian import included — saw that.
Here comes the theater metaphor.
It’s sort of like when you write a play, and because you’ve spent so much time sitting behind a computer screen or with your pen and paper writing alone, you become obsessed over whatever you’ve written. You see no errors and think it is simply perfect. Sometimes, it’s hard to disconnect from that and drop into spectator mode. That’s why we collaborate — so others can point out flaws that we might’ve missed while writing. Maybe all Hillary needed was a dramaturg.
I think capitalism is a scary beast of an economic and political system that breeds a lot of bitterness and paradoxes that are much harder to escape than any of us realize. Hillary lost because of numerous lapses in understanding that complexity. Bernie’s extreme-left idealism probably wouldn’t have fared much better, had he made it to the final duel. And isn’t it flawed — and frankly a little f—ked up — that that’s what the election came down to? A duel where two individuals who claim to want the best for this mess of a nation rip each other apart using words as weapons in a series of weird pieces of performance art that are televised for the masses? Doesn’t that sound sort of eerily like “The Hunger Games?”
I saw the recent Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Sweat” while it was in previews for a class I’m taking. One of the show’s producers came to my class to speak to us the following day and he spoke about how the play stayed the same in text but changed in tone as the election played out.
The big takeaway of this play is essentially a parable in Why Trump Won. The Working Class, who are losing jobs, doesn’t give a rat’s a— if Hillary is raising the minimum wage. They just want jobs. And that example is a far reaching and overarching theme in the problems of our time. Michelle Obama stood for healthy and active living in children, but some kids don’t care what they eat, as long as they do. Enter the obesity crisis, which has much the same punchline. Healthy food costs more. So for an overweight person who may fall into a lower socioeconomic bracket, it is not as simple as just “eating healthy,” because at the end of the day, a $1 burger from McDonald’s sounds pretty good when you’re making minimum wage and just want to stay alive.
This pattern is an institutional problem embedded deep within capitalism. This past summer when I worked at the Vancouver Airport, I worked the 4-10 p.m. shift, falling right over the dinner hour. Of course, I was never prepared enough to bring food to work with me, so I’d always just buy something there. But there were no trendy Fresh & Co. or Sweet Greens. There was Starbucks, Tim Horton’s and A&W and not much else. So on my breaks I ate potato wedges, Timbits and Frappuccinos. Those who live in non-urban centers are inherently disadvantaged, and so catching up is a marathon, not a sprint.
The thing is, capitalism is not going away overnight. It’s deeply instilled in all of us. And fighting it is complicated and hard and will take a long time. But you’ve gotta start somewhere. It’s like that stupid little quote that I tell myself every damn day — “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
But what do I know? I’m a white girl from Canada who goes to NYU. I’m in the same bubble as the rest of us.
Email Rachel Ruecker at [email protected]