September 20, 2021

We are all the one percent

Posted on 06. Nov, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics, Social/Cultural

With only one day to go before election day, I find my head in a perpetual state of jerky lateral motion over the disreputable tactics used by some of the campaigns to say nothing of the downright nasty epithets about the opposing candidate that have been hurled our way.

It seems we’ve graduated from the simple ‘flip flopper’ designation and ‘swift-boating’ techniques that worked in the 2004 campaign to one of total thermonuclear character annihilation – a take-no-prisoners, scorched Earth approach that even Dr. Strangelove would have rejected.

I watched all the primary debates and the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates along with the pre-debate and post-debate coverage. I sat through commentary by Chris Matthews, Chris Wallace, Bill Maher, Bill Moyers, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and foreign correspondents like Catty Kay from BBC.

I tuned in to NPR (and even Amy Goodman) and read Time and Newsweek, countless blogs and online newspapers.  I viewed both conventions and listened to the speeches. In addition, I poured over the analyses of pollsters from the left and right and pundits of every shape, size and political stripe.

I managed to survive the war on women, the birth certificate skirmish, the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Tea Party rallies, the Congressional stalemate on the debt ceiling, the war against big business and Wall Street, the rise of Sandra Fluke on the reproductive rights fight, the seedy Mormon innuendoes along with attacks on Paul Ryan and Medicare privatization, President Obama’s fund-raisers, golf game and TV appearances, Joe Biden’s “…put you all back in chains” gaffe, along with criticism of Mitt Romney’s dog, his hair, his memory (Romnesia), his wife’s horse and his car elevator.

But the worst tactic of all has been the 1% versus the 99% argument, proffered by the President and his acolytes. This clear divide-and-conquer strategy hasn’t been used to such an extent since the 1917 Russian Revolution, and it hasn’t rung more hollow since the fall of the Soviet empire in the late 1980s/early 90s.

That is not to say it will not work on November 6th.. It may very well, especially when combined with his party’s ‘laser-targeting strategy’ of ripping apart the American electorate into bite-size separate demographics and playing to their weaknesses, envy or fear of the opposition and what America might become under an elitest administration.

Indeed, this campaign ploy to paint a whole political party and candidate for president as the party or candidate of one percent, is not something I would have expected from a President who said he would unite us. It is, however, something I’ve come to expect from certain politicians (left or right) who will do everything possible to hold on to power, no matter if they’re in the Middle East or on the banks of the Potomac River.

So there you have it, the 1% argument: us against them, good against evil, the entitled against the robber barons, poor America against rich America, undeserving wealthy people against deserving innocents, the privileged class against the working class (or the unemployed class).

Actually, when you examine the 1 vs. 99 case, it is a specious or sophistic argument at best. A reasonable person need only use some of his own life experience to measure its validity. For example, how many of your classmates were responsible for all the disruptive antics in the classroom?

Probably 1%. Or how many policemen protect all of the 155 million workers (not to mention the unemployed) in the U.S.? Answer: fewer than a million. And how many active duty military personnel put their lives on the line for the likes of you and me and 325 million other Americans? About 1.5 million – or less than 0.50% of our total population. The list goes on and on.

Just as “One swallow does not a summer make” (Aristotle: one of the top one percent thinkers of all time), neither should one percent of anything be viewed with undue suspicion or fear. Instead of vilifying the 1% let’s be thinking of ways to persuade them to stand with us.  Please vote on November 6th.  One hundred percent of America will be affected by it.

- Editor


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