Between a Hydra and a Whirlpool

Dispatch #22

“Evitata Charybdi in Scyllam incidi”

(Latin for Having escaped Charybdis I fell into Scylla.)

~Erasmus speaking about Odysseus’ choice in sailing home. He could sail into a whirlpool and lose everything or sail by an island with a hydra and only lose some of his men. It’s the origin of “The Lesser of two evils.” 

The Midterms are over and while the Dems are dislocating their shoulders patting themselves on the back, I guess I’ll have to be the one to say that while the GOP didn’t take the Senate, they will win the House. So even though Nancy Pelosi called the supposed Red Wave a “little, tiny trickle,” the Democrats are going to be hard pressed to pass any bill for the next two years because Congress will be split, and the Judicial Branch of the government will side with the Republicans on just about everything. Not only that, but that Trump dumpster fire isn’t out yet. In fact, he just announced he’s running for President in 2024 during an hour long jumble of non sequitur word vomit. Apparently, he took this speech seriously. You can tell since he only lied 20 times in a little over an hour.

But is all lost? I don’t know. Trump blames McConnell for the voters’ loss of confidence in Republicans while McConnell blames Trump because he’s unleashed a unholy brood of shitty candidates and worse human beings on the planet, but neither realize that people are pissed because of their policies and their unrelenting drive to take rights away from US citizens. That and the fact that both of these men are too proud, too stubborn, and too myopic to relent even for the greater good of their party, that just might help us win the next election. If they go scorched earth on each other, maybe they’ll do enough damage to whatever Republican wins the primary that the Democrats will pull off another presidential win, but will that really matter? 

The truth is, the Democrats barely got anything done at all when they had a majority in the House and the Senate with a sitting Democrat in the White House. Yes, you can point to a climate change bill and some infrastructure spending, but both of those achievements were the bare minimum compared to what we need to stave off climate change and boost the economy. Just look at the most recent UN report and go out and try to buy something. It’s pretty obvious we’re screwed on both fronts right now. The real accomplishments of the last few years went to the Republicans with the repeal of Roe v. Wade, the stricter voting laws that went into effect, and the Trump Tax cuts that did not go away even though the Republicans, in theory, were powerless. And of course, in the next presidential election, the Republicans are going to point at the 82-year-old Democratic Nominee, President Biden, and blame him for the inaction. People watched in horror as Trump and McConnell swore in three very conservative Supreme Court Judges (who all said they wouldn’t touch Roe v. Wade). Now women lost the right to control their own body, and the Dems didn’t do anything about it.  Sure a month ago, before the elections, President Biden pledged to codify Roe, but just a few days ago he kind of shrugged his shoulders and said they won’t have enough votes to get it done

Even though the Democrats came in and won the White House and majority in the House and Senate, no one in Georgia or Texas got their voting rights back, and I don’t know if they’re paying attention but the fierce and very competent Democratic candidates for Governor lost in both those states. Why won’t news outlet ask if these stricter voting laws had anything to do with Beto or Stacey Abrams losing? 

The Democrats’ identity today is being the party of the lesser evil, the best choice out of the two parties, and that isn’t enough. Yes, they have people like Beto, Abrams, AOC, and Bernie Sanders, but only because if they went Green Party or Independent, they wouldn’t get the resources or funding needed to get anything done on a national scale. It’s pretty tough not to be a Democrat these days when the choices are being one or being an asshole. I mean, there are a lot of proud assholes out there, and we’re going to see a whole lot more of them now that Trump announced he’s running again, but for those of us who don’t want to take away the right for a woman to choose, who don’t want to take away voting rights to minorities, who don’t want to gerrymander our candidates into reelection, the only viable choice for us is to be a Democrat, or you can be an independent who in most states won’t be able to vote in the primary and end up holding your nose as your fill out your ballot. If a third party does pop up, the Dems tell us that a vote for them is a vote for the Republican, and for the most part they’re right. I don’t believe this strategy will work forever.

More and more people are realizing that none of the politicians are working for them. Most of the career politicians aren’t democrats or republicans at all, not in the sense that they are hard working, regular Americans like the people they ask to vote for them. If we’re being honest, most politicians in DC are plutocrats.There aren’t many elected lawmakers who embody what I believe, or know what I am going through on a daily basis. There are more and more people like myself who notice this. 

Politicians were meant to be our peers, not our superiors. That’s why they’re called Representatives. They are supposed to represent the people in the region they were elected. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker’s salary is $51,480, and according to the latest “Real Earnings Summary” hourly wages are going down.

When the Founding Fathers created our government and the positions of Representatives and Senators, they paid themselves $6.00 per diem. They made more than most of their constituents, but it was comparable to a successful businessperson. Even until 1977 national politician’s salary was close to a career professional at around $57,000 a year. That changed drastically in the 1980s. The Reagan Administration doubled Congressional Pay to over $120,000 between 1983 and 1991. Today the base Congressional pay is $174,000 a year, and that’s before they play the stock market. Only 8.8% of the US population are millionaires. 51% of the politicians in Congress are millionaires. That should piss you off. 

The average age in the US is around 38 years old. The average age in the House of Representatives is 58 and the average age in the Senate is 64 years old. If Biden runs for president again like he said he would, he will be 82. When Trump runs again he will be 78. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is 82 right now. Mitch McConnell is 80 right now. Do you think any of these octogenarian millionaires care about the average person’s problems, the price of gas, how much the price of food has gone up in the last year, or even if the world will be livable in 20 years? How did it get to this point? The average age of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was 44 years old, and a dozen of them were under 35. 

Capitol Hill should not be a retirement home for white millionaires. 

I jokingly call this column Dispatches from the Apocalypse because I see us barreling towards our end, just sprinting toward the cliffs with our faces buried in our cell phones checking the latest Tik Tok trend or Instagram post. The truth is, I am an optimist at heart, but I do not understand how everyone isn’t seeing these very obvious signs of the decline of our civilization. This is the time where I’d usually tell people to vote or run for office to change it. That hasn’t been helping. I’m not sure what will help. Maybe we all sound the alarm. Maybe if we all point at the obvious wrongs we see on a daily basis. You tell me.

By Sean Davis

Sean Davis is the author of The Wax Bullet War, a Purple Heart Iraq War veteran, and the winner of the Legionnaire of the Year Award from the American Legion in 2015 and the recipient of the Emily Gottfried Emerging Leader, Human Rights award for 2016. His stories, essays, and articles have appeared in the the Ted Talk Book The Misfit’s Manifesto (Simon and Schuster), Forest Avenue Press anthology City of Weird, Sixty Minutes, Story Corps, Flaunt Magazine, The Big Smoke, Human the movie, and much more.

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