Essays

A collection writings and thoughts by artist Gary Llama.

Thoughts on the 2016 election

I posted this on Facebook on November 9, and put it here so it can be read. It is in a few parts, split up

– – –

I got so much to say about this election, but I’ll start by quoting myself… Kanye moment…

I wrote this song about 2004-2005. Bush re-elected, Iraq war continuing, and I knew it would be costly. In 2005, that war claimed the life of a friend. And personally, my health was fucking going down the drain in a horrible way. Then my life fell apart, I got commited, and basically had to rethink how I live.

I was very very close to killing myself. Hence the commitment.

But what I learned is this. Progress is not measured just by voting booths. Or CNN. Or even by opinion. It’s measured by how we conduct our lives, respond to things in our lives, and what we work towards. In short, I realized that culture is the carrier of progress.

So, I discovered that if I wanted to do my part, it would be to do what I could with what I love, to try and reinforce culture in a way that reinforces the way I want to live.

And it takes time.

I’ve seen that evolution come in many different ways. From seeing people’s attitudes and acceptance change regarding plant-based diets, and the availability of good foods that cater to such, to the acceptance of mental health issues as something closer to common than ‘crazy’, and to the acceptance that people of non-stereotypical genders are not weird, but rather, people as well.

But these changes have grown, as they always do, inward from the fringes. As an artist and someone who is somewhat counter cultural, I live closer to that edge than mainstream America. So it’s sometimes easy to forget that the waves from the edges may not have really hit the core populace yet. And accordingly, it can feel very alone out there.

But if you look at the trajectory of human society over time, it moves towards liberalism. And along that trajectory, you always see backlashes.

Think about how much we have gained in the past few years. A big step towards healthcare for all, something Americans have been asking for since the beginning of the 20th century, acceptance of gay marriage, the realization by mainstream society that people of color are being mistreated grossly by the police, and the realization that gender isn’t a 2 dimensional trait.

But there are always backlashes. Capitulations. As those whom are threatened by change try to regain footing, rather than reframe their minds to new logic and understanding.

So thats one part, the cultural part.

– – –

The second part is the economic part, and probably the main reason why trump appealed to so many voters. The lack of good jobs in the US for folks.

Trump says he will bring jobs back. But he can only bring some stuff back. The reality is, the manufacturing of commodities will never be done in the US unless one of the variables, 1) Production and 2) Shipping, is advantageous. Why? Because markets won’t pay for steel that costs more, when they can get steel that costs less. They won’t pay more, unless there is an added value, which at that level, the commodity ceases to be such.

The US lost most of it’s commodity jobs to China, not Mexico. And that is probably something that will never come back for a while until a) Shipping costs increase, or b) China raises their wages (Which will happen as their economy and standard of living increases).

But really, the biggest killer of US jobs has been the shift from the industrial society we were, to the information society we are. Hell, even Tesla, a maker of cars (industrial) is more information based-than industrial.

Sadly, education in this country hasn’t adjusted itself. People have been treating their kids like they were growing up in an industrial society, where if they wanted wealth, they would go to college, and if they wanted a decent living, they would go to factories. The new reality is somewhere in between. The engineering jobs of the future do not require the rigor of a professionalized engineering degree, or the cost associated with such a thing. Rather, these general degrees have been replaced around the world with more specialized (IE almost vocational, academic training) India has realized this and adapted.

And factory wise, yes NAFTA did fuck some stuff up. But the reality is, NAFTA and Mexico are only an issue because we increased our EPA standards, and started taxing companies more for pollution and the use of certain chemicals. Hence why companies like the Fender guitar company build their guitar bodies in so Cal, then drive across the border and paint them, then drive them back. Also hence why Volkswagen decided to build it’s North America plant in Mexico years ago, rather than the US. Is the solution to repeal our EPA standards? I don’t think so.

So ultimately, this Trump election is really, to a big extent, a call for help from MILLIONS of Americans who were promised a good job at some point in their lives, and never got it because so many industries dried up. That happens, but rarely across such a broad scale, and when it happens and systemically, the educational systems don’t rewire themselves to address it, it becomes a huge huge problem.

– – –

And then there is the third part, class differences, and namely, that the educated in this country have moved towards post-modern ideas of thought, while the less educated have not. And the differences between the two are so strong, that, to the modernists, the post-moderns seem to be aloof, and not care, while the modernists seem to be petty, and regressive. And most of this has to do with education. But it also has to do with demographics, the spread of ideas from areas with ports to places with not, etc.

Ultimately, it causes a rift in the basic understanding of each other. And a view that each is almost a different species, much like the rift between visual and oral cultures, IE The West, and Russia in the 1960s, respectively.

So the modernists view our tolerance as a lack of backbone, and we view their tribalism as a lack of compassion. They view our lack of tribalism as being flip-floppy or weak, and we view their certainty as ignorance and intolerance.

Time will fix that.

But ultimately, the class differences, underpinned by the way we distribute education in this country, has led to this stark difference becoming very accentuated. And with most cultural things, such thoughts require an immersive culture surrounding the individual for it to really take hold. So class, and effects of systemic racism, end up being breeding grounds for schools of thought to become resilient to changing.

These are big issues.

– – –

So how to address these things:

1. As a people, we need to work towards getting the educational system to teach for the jobs we need.

2. We need to encourage businesses to adapt to more modern practices that allow sustainable production of items in the US, and buy them when they do make them. And we need to realize that, as our election was basically just won by a concern for lack of jobs, that our purchases are part of a market eco-system that will create a job where we spend it, and it spend it in places where we can build livelihoods, rather than search for deals that encourage lowest-bidder (and accordingly, lowest concern for worker and environment) practices.

3. We need to realize and adapt to the reality that there is a cultural difference along class and demographic lines that separates us ideologically, and try to treat it with patience and education rather than resorting to regressive tribalism.

4. We need to be very careful not to fall victim to scapegoating issues when in reality, the issue may be being caused by something more complex / less exciting.

and 5. We really just need to live decidedly towards the world we want to live in. Trump may be my president in January, but I’m going to work towards the world I believe in just the same. And that comes down to how I treat people, who I surround myself with, how I communicate with folks, and how I treat those whom disagree with me. If anything this election was so nasty because everyone became way too focused on ‘winning’, and we all ended up losing, by treating one another as inferior, stupid, etc. There’s guilt on all sides of that.

– – –

All of that being said, I am very concerned about Trumps win. Not because I don’t like his policies, I don’t really, but because of my concerns with the way he thinks the world should operate. And the sad part is, at some level, My concern was there for Hillary too.

We are all stuck on this ship, called our nation, and somehow, we have to be able to carry out our day to day lives while living amongst each other. So we have to respect one another. Both of these candidates showed little respect for differences in ideology. While Trumps was aimed at Hillary, Hillary and the DNC’s was aimed at Bernie.

Folks have talked about the Republican Party being in shambles, and this morning I’m hearing folks say that perhaps it’s both parties in shambles. And I think they are right.

I think the way we go about elections in this country, and the ways the parties are drawn, are just irrelevant for the issues we face now. Both parties have had some ideological hypocrisies for some time.

As a person who Voted for Nader in 2000, I got some shit for ‘Costing’ the election for Gore. But the reality is, Gore cost that for himself. This time I voted for Hillary, because not trump, but the reality to me is, Sanders would have been an AWFUL president. In my mind, the spectrum opposite of Trump, which may lead to a world I like more, but not with the reality of the country I live in, and the time in which it is occurring.

Accordingly, the issues with these candidates was apparent from the get-go. The fact that Trump and Sanders were the big ones out of the gate scared the fuck out of me, mainly because of the way the supporters were backing them. The attitudes were the same, just with different politics. And so one beat the other, only after one was crippled by their national party (Sanders) whereas Trump just OVERRODE his own party.

So yeah, we probably need to rethink this whole two-party system thing. Drastically. As I think it’s screwing everybody.

And I think that is precisely because there is such a rift, culturally, occurring in this country right now.

Thats about all I have to say.

– – –

I love you all, we may be different, but that’s A fucking OK. Thats what makes the world interesting. Lets just try and be understanding to each other.

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Llamatism is a collection of things, a cabinet of curiosities, and reports from explorations on things, by Gary Llama.

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