The Privilege of Petulance & the Petulant Privileged
There is something inherently privileged about sulking. It is an action most associated with children, because, generally speaking, a child’s brain has yet to develop the ability to think very far outside of themselves. Adult brains on the other hand, are fully capable of doing this. Whether or not they choose to do it is another story.
As the last year of election fodder has unfolded, I have gradually gravitated more and more away from Bernie Sanders and his supporters — to a point of utter disappointment in the self proclaimed “radical left”; the side of the political spectrum that I had historically assumed as less reactionary, less totalitarian, and less self-obsessed than its counterpart. But, oh how they have proven my former beliefs wrong.
Generally speaking, Bernie Sanders himself, as a politician has been for the most part someone who would sit out rather than contribute if he does not get his way. This by definition is petulance. What is also is is unproductive. So it should not surprise us that as his campaign has dwindled his supporters would be effectively stomping their feet, screaming “not fair” and insisting that the solution would be to sit out this election. It must feel good, and for the most part, a Trump or Hillary win won’t hurt the white male demographic that Bernie has drawn to his predominantly privileged platform.
I get it, this sounds preposterous to you because you have been observing his public image — and based on the messaging of his campaign, Bernie is the patron saint of the underdog. And maybe, if that is what you believe, you are done reading. That being said, if you are truly the progressive you claim to be, you might want to consider exploring this perspective — even if just to make a sound counter argument and/or post angry Hillary links at the end.
My first disillusionment with the Sanders campaign came about the second I heard the words “Free College.” Though I am against the obscenely high interest rates applied to most college loans, and I wouldn’t mind a word in which everything is free, I am unable to view a proposal of free college as anything but a campaign tactic to draw in a very specific demographic. We live in an era where the “You can be whatever you dream of being” generation is finally done getting their MFAs and realizing that you actually can’t be whatever you want to be AND make money. Additionally, I imagine (and I am generalizing quite a bit here) a lot of these people, having grown up with much fiscal stability, felt it wise to opt in on these loans (cause duh, they will make money later) and not work during their education (reads: quite privileged) and therefore are not only in debt but extremely under qualified for high paying jobs that will pay off said debt.
For the most part, I keep getting this feeling the people with debt who are the most incensed with these big banks are the people who understand that inequality exists in America but always felt safe themselves from being discriminated against (reads: white, predominantly male) and are now discovering that they are not winning by default. And that. Makes. Them. Mad.
Here is the thing about free college; yes it exists in other countries. And no those other countries are not perfect. In fact a lot of them have big problems. Problems with class and race. Generally speaking, countries with free college grant entry into college with testing. No essays, and definitely no Affirmative Action. (reads: strike one against the true underdog, win for the privileged) Usually in these countries these tests are very difficult and require a lifetime of preparation, where the middle school you will test into determines your status and chance at a continuing education a decade later. The kids who want to pass these tests mostly go to private school. The kids who want to pass these tests have tutors. They are not intercity black kids who get to fifth grade having yet to be taught to read because all the funding has gone to the white schools. Generally speaking, in these countries, the kids who don’t pass the tests don’t go to college. And guess what, a lot of kids don’t go to college. They makeup the blue collar workforce of their countries. A job category we mostly save for “illegals” (read: inferior) in this country.
So how does this help the real underdogs in America? Well, it doesn’t, actually. This reminds me of all the white people protesting in the 60s and 70s beside the Civil Rights Movement, only to overturn the draft and ditch black people almost immediately for a few very dark decades of continued unofficial segregation and systematic institutionalization. Also reminds me of white women rallying with black women during Women’s Suffrage and then doing absolutely nothing to help blacks win the right to vote. It reminds me of the advantage of short-sighted revolutions for the privileged.
Another thing that frustrates me about the free college thing to no end is that at least one person could have just taken stock of our already government managed education system — the idiocy of common core mathematics, debate on teaching natural selection, the unending debate of Christmas in Schools, the inane approach to sex education, the archaic school buildings, the lack of funding in many states — and think, “wait, the one form of education in this country that ranks well around the world is our Universities, do we really want legislation and election years determining our curriculum and funding priorities?” Cause the answer should be no. Flat out no.
Let’s move on because there is far more privilege to be addressed. Like aggressively breaking up the big banks and Wall Street. Here is the thing about Wall Street — the economy of the entire world is invested in it. Many of our soon-to-retire’s lively hood is invested in it. Many of the non-liquid funds of most of our employers’ equities are invested in it. To aggressively break up these banks would mean an economic downfall that would impact so many, but mostly the old and the already poor. But hey, when you are entitled immediate gratification is an acceptable trait. Impatience comes with the territory. Compromise is a sign of weakness. You’ve realized you are disadvantaged and you are reasonable in demanding immediate reparations regardless of the circumstances. You should get what you deserve. End of story. But every action has consequences. And every argument has two sides And because you are privileged, that doesn’t concern you, because someone else will always suffer the consequences of your demands — it just won’t be you so it won’t matter.
The radical left drives cars, buys products produced via slave labor, supports (read: funds) the corporations with the worst lobby groups with their hard earned money, drinks bottled water, litters (I have personally watched a self proclaimed radical and supposed green party member throw his garbage on the street,) has a large grey zone for their own behavior but very distinctly black and white high standards for their counterparts. They are fine with voting for a candidate that promises them more money just as they are suddenly furious with a candidate who takes money for rendering a service. They are happy to share fanatic articles on their smartphones whose technology spawns from the military funding they so despise. They are content to enter their malls and train stations with minimal fear that a suicide bomber might strike this afternoon thanks to the very technology that trickled down from many failed fighter jets before the most recent one in question. It pains me to say this because I am so anti-war in general, but being anti-military when you live in one of the most wildly protected countries is nothing else but privilege.
The fact that the fallacies of Donald Trump are being compared on an equal playing field to the faults of Hillary Clinton is a byproduct of petulance and root from privilege. There is “not my favorite” and then there is “this person is the very last person who should be left in charge of the most powerful country in the world” and I don’t care if you dislike either of them, you can’t pretend their unlikable traits are on of equal caliber and if you do it is solely because you did not get your way — which is the worst most glaring example of privilege — to think getting your way is the only way.
The fact that Bernie Sanders lost the primaries due to his young fanatic supporters not voting is also a byproduct of privilege.