Politics, in the recent past, has been what has kept the American people at our strongest divide. At this point, the title of “Democrat” or “Republican” is one of the more common adjectives people are using to describe themselves, their families, and their friend groups. But the question is, should it be? Should we allow for differing opinions to decide for us our camaraderie with others? Or should we put aside our differences to work towards the goal of uniting the American people against a much larger giant, namely Capitalism?
See, as the years have gone by, my personal stances on those with differing political views have changed extremely. As a younger self proclaimed liberal, my Freshman self was tolerant of the thoughts of others, regardless of how offensive they were. Though I did not allow for ignorance to pass me by without questioning, I didn’t allow these differences to stand in the way of my friendships. Sophomore year, I progressed in my debatable pride, not just questioning controversial statements but starting conversations with those I knew would oppose me. Junior year spawned a new version of me, one who held no tolerance for those of differing opinions, presumably launched by the election of the current president. But thoughts have been stirring, and with the help of my summer reading assignment Grapes Of Wrath, my political stance for senior year has changed. Hopefully, in the next 250 words, I can correctly divulge my reasons and persuade whoever you are to understand my point.
Something Steinbeck illustrates in perfection throughout the novel is the ridiculous power that capitalism holds over the unity of the country. Within the chapters, we see the harmony between those in need, and the strength they manage to gather to override the disgusting separation the rich try to enforce upon the poor. See, a main theme throughout the novel is the rich’s ability to blame the problems they create for the poor on other poor people, manipulating the uneducated into living in a constant cycle of disenfranchisement, never allowing for any of the lower class to realize what is truly hindering them: capitalism, and its poisonous grasp. And Steinbeck got me to thinking…is the anger causing me to stop all association with those of “the other side” also causing me to be a cog in the capitalist machine as well? Because, if we the middle and lower class, are incapable of working together, then we are incapable of sharing our struggles and realizing that the universal stem of them is capitalism.
Today, many working class whites are angry nationwide, but also right here at home. And of course, there are some valid reasons. Many feel disenfranchised, uncared for by a government that claims to put its people before anything else. Living costs are expensive, taxes are expensive, most of the population have to take on more than one job outside of their full time employment just to make rent. However, many blame this deprivation on the rising Hispanic population, without taking a moment to understand that the struggles they themselves face are nearly, if not exactly, the same as those they blame. Headlines cover the news, as companies attempt to shift the blame they deserve and hide from facts: the money they make is enough to feed the poor, house the homeless, and educate the uneducated. But obviously, these are much less attractive than owning multiple mansions, or multiple yachts (I’m looking at you, Betsy DeVos).
Though I realize there is no way to properly illustrate my extreme frustration with capitalism in an editorial one third the size of a page, I hope that this somehow makes sense. That one day we can fully understand the manner in which capitalism manipulates us and our thoughts into believing the problems caused by the top 1% are caused by people just as disenfranchised as us. That the money we wish we had is not being taken by immigrants, but by greedy CEO’s in need of more materialistic junk. Hopefully we can understand this, and hopefully one day it will change.
By Maeve Cawley