Bit Depth 43 BONUS - Sample Rate 2 - Beyond Politics
Hello, and again, welcome to Bit Depth. I'm Santiago Ramones. This is the second Sample Rate podcast.
I'm going to start by saying that I'm not qualified in any way to talk about politics. I've taken only the base requirement of government classes that my modern education has standardized. I'm not currently a United States citizen, so I did not vote in this election. I am affected by it. I have been paying attention.
I'm scared. I'm worried.
I’m scared because this election shows us that a certain behavior does not deter people from supporting someone so clearly idiotic, hateful, greedy, and criminal. It allows people to think that it’s ok to say hateful things about people different from them. It shows that it’s ok to be a sexual offender and still run for president. That it’s ok to commit crimes and still run for president. And I’m talking about both candidates, not just the winner. I’m scared because my name is Santiago Ramones, and someone can make an assumption about me based on these prejudices that are suddenly acceptable. I’m worried because I’m an immigrant, and that there’s a desire for people to separate me from the people that I consider friends and family. I’m worried because some of the most important problems are being ignored and denied by so many people.
So to really start, and make it clear for those listening from the far future, I am talking about the presidential election of the year 2016, where the two major candidates were Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Prior to Election Day, most people I know and talk to were rather confident that Hillary Clinton was going to win. I was confident that she was going to win. As far as the options go, I would have preferred her to have won. History tells us that is clearly not the case. The president-elect of the United States of America is Donald J. Trump. If you were to travel back in time ten years from now and were to tell any adult person that Donald Trump was going to be elected president in the year 2016, they might have laughed in your face. Donald Trump was then, and is now, a cartoon caricature of a greedy, egotistical, rich man archetype. An archetype he played into. An archetype he embraces. Any person that so blatantly and purposely embraces this caricature should be treated as insane.
This election didn't start out as a mind-boggling shitstorm, though. This could have been a real election with real politicians. A real republican candidate such as Marco Rubio, who looks like a man that would shake hands and kiss babies, and even though you may not agree with everything he believes, I mean, by golly, what a swell looking guy. Or a democratic candidate such as Bernie Sanders: an honest, hardworking old man with the country’s best interests at heart, seeking a new way to solve the biggest problems facing us. Not just problems facing the country, but problems facing the world. That sounds like a real nice, boring election to me.
It was not that way.
I'm not here to repeat to you, ad nauseam, the problems with the candidates that we had this election cycle. If you weren't aware of the many crimes, lies, and blunders of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump already, then you've got some research to do. However, in all fairness, since I did go on about Donald Trump, I feel I have to make clear my feelings about the opposite candidate. Don't take my earlier mention of hopes for Hillary Clinton’s win as a retroactive endorsement. That woman is the sock-puppet of the corporatocracy. If Donald Trump is the caricature of the greedy rich archetype that he embraces, Hillary Clinton is the same archetype, only trying, ever so foolishly, to cover up the greediest actions in the worst way possible like a child whose face is covered in chocolate pretending that they did not take cookies from the cookie jar. Frank Underwood, incarnate. But you're not here to hear me verbally berate these two people. I don't hate them. I don't really blame them, honestly.
What I do blame is the system that encouraged this election. Anyone that knows about Bernie Sanders hopefully knows that he was cheated out of the election. That the person that actually had more supporters show up to physically and economically support them was not the person chosen to be the candidate, and the proof is clearly there. People kept asking themselves, “out of the millions of people in the United States, the election came down to these two?” People did not choose these candidates. They were force fed to the nation, and people convinced themselves that these were their choices. These were bad choices. Anyone that went all out and said “this candidate is the only one that could have made it here” is completely lying to themselves. Nobody should be proud to be “with her” and nobody should be trying to “make America great again” with him. You did not choose this. So who chose this? How did we end up with this?
We live in a system that encourages people to fend for themselves, to look out for “me and mine” and to hell with everyone else. I don’t mean that politically, but economically. It is the very core of capitalism to compete against one another, and the more cutthroat, bloodthirsty, and greedy you play this game, the more you are rewarded. Money is a source of power here. And we can see this directly reflected in our two, fine candidates. Hillary Clinton has no true identity, no true values, only the identity and values that benefit her. If her benefactors require a pipeline, then she won’t provide a statement that clearly helps or hurts that cause. Her pockets are lined by the corporatocracy. Donald Trump is less shy about his greediness. The man literally showed up to a school fundraiser with a fake check for millions of dollars, gave them $200 actual dollars, and then left in his limousine. This dude makes no attempt to hide from the values that capitalism encourages. You have a massive ego, a bloodthirsty lust for money, and a desire for power. Both Trump and the Clintons reflect this. But they don’t have any of the real power. The ones that have the real power are the corporations with all the money and none of the empathy. An oil company could not care less about how their next oil spill affects the environment. A meat company could not care less about the living conditions of the animals they slaughter or the amount of pollution they are causing. A military arms company could not care less about the families they’ve destroyed. All of these things affect everyone, yet nobody has done a real thing about it. It’s these corporations that are lining the pockets of your representatives. They’ve passed countless laws that protect and benefit these corporations, in exchange for bribes and benefits. “Follow the money,” they always say.
But can you blame these corporations for doing these things? They’re really just doing what the system encouraged. They’re working within the boundaries that have been given to them. If it’s within their means to pay congress in order to get laws passed in their favor, then of course they’ll do it. They’re encouraged to make more money. Nowhere in your democracy, in your capitalism, does it say that anyone has to benefit the rest of the world. All we get from it is “the winners win, and the losers lose.” And, boy, does it suck to lose.
It should be no surprise, then, why Donald Trump won this election. The winners don’t care about your feelings. They don’t care if you called them racist. They don’t care that you called them sexist. They had been losing, and they wanted to win. That’s what’s encouraged here. People vote strategically. These people don’t want someone that represents the system that screwed them over in the first place; the system that would continue to screw them over. That’s where the real values lie. “Me and mine.” “What do I get out of it?” And that’s exactly what Donald Trump represents. But now he’s flying the plane. And you have to hope he can land it. Regardless of what you feel about him, we are all on the plane, and we all want to survive. Let’s hope he surrounds himself with the people that can help him to land the plane where we don’t die. Maybe we’ll get injured. But I certainly hope we don’t die.
When giving speeches recently, Barack Obama kept saying this catchy slogan: “Don’t boo, VOTE!” It’s nice to feel like your vote matters. It’s nice to feel like your system is working towards your interests. Democracy is clear and in your face: the one with the most votes wins. That seems fair, right? But does the winner represent what the majority wanted?
So let’s just consider what needs to change, just within the current “first past the post” voting system. First of all, it’s hard to vote. You can’t just show up and place your vote, you have to register beforehand and you have to go to the place where you’re registered, and you have to wait in line, and you may have to be at work soon. If democracy is so damn important, why is it so hard to vote? Voting should be really easy. Easier than mailing something. Easier than ordering something at McDonald’s. Whatever means by which you think voting could be easier, if you can think of something concrete that is easier than what we currently have, you’re already doing better than our current system. Every single hoop and hurdle that people have to jump in order to “exercise their right” should be eliminated. And, of course, election days should be national holidays. Not just the big elections, but the small, state ones, too. If you’re so damn patriotic about how important democracy is, then make it fucking important!
Then there’s the problems with “winner takes all” or “first past the post.” When a candidate reaches fifty percent, they win because that’s a majority. However, that means that the other half of people DID NOT want this winner. In fact, a large majority of the people don’t agree with even the candidates that they voted for. You get this strategic “lesser of two evils” bullshit that is unnecessary. I could get into explaining all of this, but at this point, I feel like I’m more plagiarising than I am quoting, so just go to YouTube and search “first past the post” and you’ll see a video by CGP Grey with pictures of animals on it. That will explain it much better than I would have. What I really want people to take from this is that this kind of democracy does not work and it just creates a two party system that people continually grow more displeased with. A slightly more effective system of democracy would be the alternative vote, which Australia uses now.
Again, I’ll simplify, but you can find the CGP Grey “alternative vote” video that explains it much better than I’m about to. The alternative vote system allows voters to rank candidates based on preference. Let’s say there’s five candidates and you only like three of them, you rank your first choice all the way down to your third choice. What happens is that the candidates with the lowest percentage of votes are unable to win, but their votes are transferred to their voter's next choice. This continues until there’s only one candidate left with the majority of votes. This allows a large number of parties to run without being penalized by voters attempting to vote strategically. The voter only has to rank for those that they want, and you don’t have as much of a “lesser of two evils” problem, since it allows for more parties. It still has problems in that it’s still not fully representative and is still not conducive to political diversity. It’s very difficult to have a democratic system that represents the majority of people, because you’ll still get a large chunk of people whose interests aren’t being represented. But what’s more American than having freedom of choice? And that’s part of the problem. You don’t have freedom of choice with two parties. It’s an illusion of choice. You have to choose between cheeseburgers and chicken wings. But there’s so many other foods out there, it’s not like cheeseburgers and chicken wings are your only food options. So ask yourself this: how did these candidates come about?
It may be that they were chosen by the corporatocracy. It may be that all other candidates were stopped by the other rich elites. It may be that nobody else was crazy enough to run. I don’t really have the answer to that. But think about this: what does it say about a person that they want to be the ruler of the free world? Especially in a system that encourages everyone to fend for themselves and to seek what’s best for “me and mine.” In certain hunter-gatherer tribes, I’ve heard that there’s a way that they choose someone to be a leader. The elders get together looking for a new leader. Anyone that expresses any interest in becoming the leader is immediately disqualified from being the leader. It’s the person that has no interest in becoming the leader that is chosen. I think that’s pretty neat.
If you’re fed up with the lack of compassion around you; if you’re fed up with the separation of people; if you’re fed up with the endless wars, with the violence, the greed, the illness; I want you to look around you and ask yourself: does it have to be this way? And fucking do something about it. Acknowledge that the world that we live in encourages selfishness, but you don’t have to be selfish. It is possible for people to care about one another. It’s inevitable. All we have to do is talk to one another. Communicate. But we have to make it possible for that to happen. Get rid of the things that separate you from others. Get rid of your own hatred. Get rid of systems of belief and systems of behavior that tell you to separate yourself from your fellow humans. Every time you tell someone that they’re a racist for thinking x, or they’re sexist for doing y, or they’re xenophobic for saying z, you’re stopping a discussion. If you start a conversation with someone and mention “privilege” then I’m very inclined to not talk to you at all. All of the minority wants to be understood. The whole point of this podcast is to have deep conversations. Conversations that go past the little things. Stopping at “racist” or “bigot” does not drive forward our conversation. We can discuss what makes someone a bigot, or a racist, and then see why a certain person holds certain views. Labeling someone as a racist or bigot just makes them an “other,” which is a basis of racism in the first place. We are all human beings trying to make it on this floating rock in space, and the actions of your neighbor affect you. It doesn’t have to be the way that we have it now. Beyond politics, economics, race, gender, religion, and so on, we all have to live on this planet. We can make it good for one another, or we can kill one another. The choice really is ours. Start with love. Be accepting. Question everything.
Alright, I used some sources for this podcast, this did not all come from my own head. The bit about flying the plane comes from Sam Harris. You can find him at samharris.org and you should listen to his podcast called Waking Up. The stuff about who voted for Trump and why came from Colin Moriarty’s Facebook post about the election. You can find him and his cohorts at kindafunny.com which is mostly video game stuff, but there’s also some good, deep stuff. The voting system stuff came from CGP Grey, which is a YouTube channel that discusses political systems and ideologies. Other general ideas come from the Venus Project, which you can find their stuff on thevenusproject.com and they also have a couple documentaries, Paradise or Oblivion and The Choice is Ours, which are free and you can watch on YouTube. Other general ideas from the Zeitgeist movement, which you can watch all three of their documentaries on YouTube; Zeitgeist: The Movie, Zeitgeist: Addendum, and Zeitgeist: Moving Forward, the third of which is my favorite. I’d suggest you read Sex at Dawn by Dr. Chris Ryan and Dr. Cacilda Jetha. And, once again, do something about your discontent. Question everything. Seek to help those around you. All we have is one another. Lastly, of course:
Love never fails.
It’s going to be ok.
I might be wrong.