Pandemic, Plutocracy, and Damned Statistics

It is as if 2020 just will not go away. The pandemic resurges in many nations, even the ones that did so much better than US on the first round—which is to say they had a plan and took action on it. But it’s so easy to slack off when things are getting better. Ignoring the aggressive indifference of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, even when it seems to be waning, is risky business. Here in the US the slacking has continued from the start. The so-called president denied publicly the serious character of the pandemic, which he acknowledged in private, strictly for political narcissism.

Like the virus, the lame-duck loser won’t go away either. Instead, he throws out roadblocks to anything that would smooth the transition. Dozens of failed lawsuits rejected by Republican as well as Democrat and independent judges in “swing states” didn’t deter the fundraising efforts carried on under false pretenses for vitriolic fun and profit. Meanwhile, the plutocratic class of the richest billionaires profit amid vast unemployment, exploding food insecurity (ie., hunger), and exponential virus spread. What could possibly go wrong?

Plutocracy Prevails

The myth of American Democracy could do with some critical reflection. It is not so much that democracy is failing us; rather, we never really had it. Bill Moyers, who always seems to be politically on point, has provided a brief commentary. Anyone who is aware of the struggles among the founders knows that the main dispute over power was between Hamilton’s urban urge for central banking and strong federal government versus Jefferson’s agrarian aristocratic democracy—that is, democracy among a slave-holding landed aristocracy. A popular democracy was never quite the issue.

The Signing of the Constitution of the United States

It seems we have not moved much beyond those origins even today. Moyers points out that as we tout the US as the purveyor of democracy around the world, our elites and institutions still sustain the plutocracy the wealthy framers established in the Constitution itself. The Electoral College and the Senate are the prime institutions that assure the continued control of politics by the most wealthy and powerful interests in the nation. The Electoral College assures that “electors” represent regional elites rather than populations in electing the president. The Senate represents the political-economic elites of each state, not their populations.

Any government that represents the public interest would have rapidly ramped up a public health plan to suppress the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trumpian plutocracy did exactly the opposite. Even the initial economic ‘stimulus program severely skewed pandemic relief to the largest political donor class and corporations. Now, Mitch McConnell has the temerity to claim that the states and municipalities have no demonstrable need for financial relief. Never mind the fact that the tax bases of local and regional jurisdictions plummeted because of the economic collapse. McConnell’s only interest is a liability shield for corporate bad actors.

Damn Statistics Disrupting Denial

In the modern world, truth is a moving target. On the one hand, modernity means change. The industrialization of the world changed everything from technology to social relations and from political power to Nature itself. The quest for meaning in life and the search for sustainable survival have produced for most folks little more than the commodification of everything and personal dependency on an increasingly ruthless complex hierarchy of power.

Amid ubiquitous propaganda, facts nevertheless abound. Yet most of us have little skill in discerning the difference between the two. We are neither educated nor encouraged to think independently or critically. And the would-be autocrats just repeat their Big Lies. To find truth, one has to seek out, analyze, and interpret data and statistic—that is, facts.

Sadly, propaganda often overrides facts. The trends in climate destabilization observed by scientists from around the world are no less deniable than the deadly actions of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its known societal means of spreading infection. The consistent results of dozens of failed Trumped-up court cases challenging the verified election results are clear, but propaganda prevails. Conspiracy theories grounded only in grifted beliefs, simply ignore damned facts and statistics.

What is the probability that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 presidential election? Well, if you look at the factual counts, recounts, and audited vote counts, the likelihood that Trump won even one of those “swing states” is zero. Then, why do the majority of Republican voters believe Trump’s entirely unsubstantiated claim that he “won”?

Political power and propaganda, plain and simple, dominate the collapsing Republican Party. Despite Biden’s wide margin of victory in both popular vote and in the Electoral College, we must look to a future where facts are not always the measure of reality for large and increasingly angry sectors of society.

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