Sadly, it has come to this.
Open violence in the streets against members of a Corrupt Corporate Congress who habitually turn a blind eye to the suffering of the poor and faltering middle class.
The men and women who have hijacked our democracy behind bricks of corporate cash have opened a Pandora's Box of societal chaos which is now on the verge of consuming us all. One in which the only communication from the masses they heed is delivered at the muzzle of a firearm.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, the Republican majority whip, was shot and wounded this morning during baseball practice in Alexandria, Va., along with four others. Two of them honest, hardworking law enforcement officers. The fourth victim was a political lobbyist for Tyson Foods, who gets paid to magnify the political influence of the Predatory 1 Percent. The fifth was a Republican Congressional staffer.
Why did this happen?
It's not because we have a problem with domestic terrorism or violent working people in this nation. It's because we have a problem with political corruption, fake elections, class warfare and the tyranny of the rich.
The alleged shooter, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson, broke the mold.
Instead of an angry right winger, inflamed by the hate-filled rhetoric of opportunistic politicians, he was a pro-democracy activist whose posts indicated a deep well of compassion for the less fortunate. The resident of Belleville, Ill., who died of his wounds, was an unapologetic liberal who followed progressive Facebook groups like The Cynical Times. The kind of person the far right habitually derides as a "snowflake."
What makes Hodginkson special is that his actions suggest the weight of decades of unremitting class warfare finally may be eroding the traditional American taboo against political violence. Especially on the left, where anti-fascists have begun fighting in the streets with the white supremacist groups revitalized by bottom-feeders like President Donald Trump.
His Facebook page is full of impassioned dialogue from both sides of the political aisle. It was rife with veiled threats from Wingnuts alluding to Communism and Pinochet "helicopter rides" after the shooting (below right). Working people continued to claw at one another there until Facebook mercifully shut the page down around 1 p.m. EST.
Probably more of the same from the increasingly cornered, bullied, unemployed and financially stressed members of America's faltering middle class. The very people who are now taking their own lives at rates not seen since The Great Depression.
The painful truth is that it's a miracle more members of this toxic Congress have not been shot since U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz) was wounded in Tucson in 2011. Seventy-four percent of Americans currently disapprove of the job Congress is doing and 59 disapprove of Trump, according to The Gallup Organization.
Our nation presently has neither a legitimate Congress nor a legitimate president. The fair elections that once legitimatized our elected leaders are no longer real elections with real choices. They have been transformed into corporate auctions in which all of the viable candidates work for Wall Street and none champion the poor and faltering middle class.
There can be no real love of country in a capital which places loyalty to political machine ahead of loyalty to America. One whose privileged occupants interact solely with the very rich while avoiding the rest of us.
There can be no representative democracy with a hopelessly corrupt Congress whose members sell political protection and pocket corporate bribes with a wink and a smile behind excessive speaking fees and book contracts, fake family charities, insider trading tips, and low-show jobs for their friends and relatives.
There can be no leadership in a Congress without term limits, which has allowed monied interests to replace our pensions with 401k accounts and raise health care costs to the point where they're now the No. 1 cause of personal bankruptcy. Not when Senators and Representatives enjoy pensions and free healthcare for life.
There can be no humanity in a Congress which places corporate profits ahead of the American people, substituting the ruthless business metrics of layoffs, offshoring, unpaid overtime, automation and short-term profit growth for the traditional American values of truth, honor, compassion and fair play.
This is not the behavior of legitimate leaders in a legitimate democracy.
It is corporate tyranny.
Today’s unfortunate shooting is a completely predictable event when viewed in that tragic context.
I grew up in the Bronx in the 1970s and 80s, when New York City routinely produced more than 2,000 homicides a year. Versus 500 or so today.
It was a time of widespread corruption and social decay, when decent working people took their lives in their hands every time they ventured outside. This is the same fearful existence The Predatory 1 Percent has created for themselves with their naked greed and increasingly hateful propaganda.
What's the moral of the story?
We’re all living in the Bronx now. Thanks to the divisive rhetoric and shameless class warfare of a generation of hopelessly corrupt politicians which includes Trump, the Clintons, the Bushes, Nancy Pelosi, Cory Booker, Chuck Schumer, Paul Ryan, Phill Gramm, Charlie Rangel, Ted Cruz, and Mitch McConnell.
The Founding Fathers designed our system of government with an elegant safety mechanism: Peaceful revolution at the polls every four years.
When the super rich disabled that safety mechanism by taking the cap off political donations and blocking Congressional term limits they did so at their own peril. As they are now discovering in an America where even peace-loving liberals are turning to violence as a means of fostering the kind of political change which once occurred at the voting booth.
Who stands between the Predatory 1 Percent and the masses they're slowly reducing to a lifetime of debt slavery?
Political hookers and law enforcement.
Who just got shot in a nation with more weapons than people?
Political hookers and law enforcement.
Who’s likely to be next at some point?
The Waltons, Tysons, Rockefellers, Sauds, Gates, Kochs, and Bloombergs know.
Eventually, the politics of violence in a dysfunctional society with a voiceless electorate has to reach the Predatory 1 Percent. Even if only by forcing these modern robber barons to live as virtual prisoners behind the gates and walls they've erected between themselves and their fellow Americans.
Gates and walls that were once status symbols, but are now essential to their very survival.
It all comes down to a question of how much is too much in a nation dominated by rich fools with no impulse control who think only in terms of more, more, more.
We've reached the point where Wall Street's chosen elected leaders hide from the very people they're supposed to represent - cancelling town hall meetings by the boatload. We are a nation whose gamed economic indicators, such as unemployment and new home sales, bear almost no relation to reality; where advertisers are scrambling for credible news organizations still trusted by the masses; and in which our legal system conceals corporate misconduct behind confidential settlements and payoffs. Allowing the rich to escape accountability for their misdeeds.
In short, we are on the brink of revolution and civil war and up to our collective necks in the putrid waters of social dysfunction. This mofo is coming part at the seams.
The painful truth is there really is no tiered society which is compatible with America's vision of itself as a representative democracy. Never was. Never will be.
There are no first class Americans like Scalise in Congress and second class citizens on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. Except in the minds of the sheltered fools who now inhabit our Congress.
There are no first class Americans in our nation's privilege bubbles and second class citizens like Hodgkinson wandering the boarded up Main Streets of Flyover Country. Except in the minds of those who measure human value solely in financial metrics.
There are no first class Americans getting rich in the mainstream news media by pitting their second class readers against one another. Except in the minds of the poser journalists at Faux News, Breitbart, MSNBC, CNN and The Blaze.
There are no first-class Americans behind the walls of the gated communities, prep schools and country clubs favored by the Predatory 1 Percent and second class Americans outside them. Except in the minds of those who have stumbled upon great wealth through fortunate circumstances and desperately need to believe they earned it via some kind of innate Superhero superiority.
Those are the kind of comforting lies the Predatory 1 Percent tell themselves to justify the American caste system they want. The lies that have undermined our Republic and pushed our global corporate empire to the brink of collapse.
The painful truth is that we Americans are in this democracy together. Always have been, always will be.
When the poor and faltering middle class suffer, the rich eventually suffer too.
Case in point, today’s outpouring of American blood. At the hands of a fellow American.
The self described Masters of the Universe on Wall Street and their political hookers and propaganda machines are going to bombard us with the idea that this shooting is more meaningful than those which occur every hour in places like Newark, East LA and the South Side of Chicago. Because it happened to one of their own. They think the rest of us are disposable Americans.
That’s their stupidity and the primary reason we can all look forward to more of the same.
This violence is the bitter crop of decades of one-sided class warfare, greed, hubris, rich parasitism and political corruption. None of it necessary.
Meanwhile, the reflexive rule followers of the far right will rail against anyone who doesn't share their good fortune. Because they're frightened by change and need someone to lash out at.
Progressives are frightened too, especially the limousine liberals who need to believe all lefties are pacifists. Turns out we have firearms and trigger fingers too. As Hodginskon just demonstrated.
It's the perfect formula for decades of internal strife.
In these Cynical Times, the rich think forcing working Americans to live in fear and turn on eachother somehow serves their mercenary interests.
Neither does the huge redistribution of wealth and the demise of the middle class the rich have engineered since 1980. Or the lie machines which have supplanted our free press.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the champion of progressives like Hodgkinson, decried the shooting.
“I am sickened by this despicable act,” said Sanders, who was a conscientious objector during The Vietnam War. “Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”
Sanders is the closest thing to a righteous man left in the immoral and elitist political swamp that is Washington, D.C. His words echo those of the late, great Mahatma Ghandi, who said "an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."
How did Hodgkinson morph from a politically engaged citizen into a domestic terrorist?
You don't have to be genius to surmise that the rigged Democratic primary which gave us a fatally flawed and deeply unpopular establishment candidate, instead of the hugely popular Sanders, had something to do with it. As did the subsequent general election featuring dueling big bank champions.
As long as these corrupt political opportunists remain in high office we are going to see more Timothy McVeighs, Terry Nichols, and James Hodgkinsons.
In short, this problem isn't going to solve itself because the problem is not domestic terrorism or violence among working people. It's political corruption, fake elections and the tyranny of the rich.
It's going to be a lot harder to get the twin evils of class warfare and political violence back inside the proverbial bottle, than it was to release them.
The solution to the current crisis has to come from working people on the left and right who are willing to look to the values which unite us. Instead of allowing the rich to continue to divide us.
We must elect a new generation of principled leaders drawn from the faltering middle class and turn our backs on the sheltered millionaires who now pass for patriotic Americans and men and women of conscience. Because they're not.
(Correction: Initial versions of this article erroneously referred to the event where the alleged shooting occurred as a "softball practice.")
(Update 5: This article was updated June 15 to give it bigger brass balls.)