This week, we’ve gotten a taste of what political reality looks like in the 2020s. And it looks like two sides escalating into an all-out war. And of a fascistic anarcho-tyranny. On the one side—actually, scratch that. The list of mega-corporations that are part of the “resistance” is so obscenely long, we don’t have time to go over it here. And there’s no point: it’s near all of them.
What of the other side? If Ashli Babbitt, the unarmed woman killed in the events, is any indication, they are veterans and everyday men and women. And from my private conversations, they are family men and churchgoers. In fact, they largely appeared to be peaceful as they waved their countless American flags and stayed within the velvet ropes of public tours.
Despite these rather clear observations, dissenting voices, not all but some, have continued to talk about the optics of this event. Were there Antifa members in the crowd? What would it mean if they had acted first? Or similarly: what if this was actually a trap? And what will be the fallout if it was?
But all of these questions are completely and totally irrelevant.
Instead, we should take stock of an exceedingly raw form of political warfare. And one where appearances are dispensed with and actions, plus what they communicate, rule the day. Moreover, we are in the stages of a game where it is less about optics and more about the undeniability of power.
For instance, take the photos that have come out from the event at the Capitol. In them, we find feckless leaders—men and women who have lectured and browbeat the public about their moral superiority—cowering in fear like cockroaches before the light. Obviously, they’ve realized, rather suddenly, that they’re playing a very real game with other people’s lives. But more importantly, they have been utterly humiliated as a ruling class.
And it doesn’t matter if those photos were completely staged, although I doubt that they were. To the contrary, my perception has always been that politicians are far too lackadaisical about their security. But millions of Americans just saw that the emperor, the one forcing them to close their businesses and cover their faces, doesn’t appear to have on any clothes.
What they will also see, in the coming days, is some of the people involved being made an example of. For some men, that will surely provide a persuasive message against future actions. Still, to others, it will serve to show a weakness in the chainmail of the ruling class. And that weakness is their hubris, but also, their terror of being defrocked before an angry public that no longer recognizes their authority. Or who, more alarmingly, no longer recognize their false sense of security in a most dangerous game.
Even so, I’ve never had more people express to me, privately, that they understand now why I’ve been talking about a uniparty for 20 years. Or how they, very unfortunately, no longer see any political solutions to the problems of our times. And they are, most certainly, harboring another sentiment about our place in history. And that’s how yesterday was a sort of inspiration, even a symbolic victory for them. Whether or not some of the police sided with the protesters or were paid actors or not has no bearing on that fact.
Of course, there is always a time and place for optics. But now is not it. And these are not its sentiments.
While Republicans in the ruling class are falling over themselves to ensure they’re perceived the right way by the centers of power, they only broadcast these same fears and a cowardice. Or put another way: the elite are clutching their pearls, trying to convince the public of how scared common people should be. This is their flailing to the optics. But in reality, their opponents see that these masters of the universe are simply trying to quickly straighten their stupid bow-ties before you see the truth. And that truth is that they are quite naked and rather powerless, push come to shove.
No, no matter how many times the corporate media claims this is the worst attack on our country since 9/11, the photos being disseminated prove otherwise. And that there is an indisputable double-standard taking place. Indeed, any action by their opposition, no matter how timid, would have been meet with a similar response.
But the optics, I suspect, are about to take a backseat.