The American Caste System That We Call Democracy

It was that most prolific and insightful of writers here on Medium, Umair Haque, that inspired this small article. First, however, let me say that for all I know Umair may be a Russian operative stirring up trouble via a constant barrage of unpleasant truths about America, or, for all you know, I may be a Russian operative with the same intent. In any event, I pretty much see things as Umair does, only viewed through a quite different lens.

The gist of one of Umair’s recent musings was that America has never been a democracy, only a collection of myths to sustain that notion, though for a brief period from about 1970 through the two terms of Barack Obama’s presidency it appeared that real democracy had at last arrived in the home of the free and the brave.

All succeeding societies have had caste systems from the beginning of time until the present, though often lightly concealed. In fact the most intense caste systems are those with slavery at their base, which of course was the situation when the founding fathers drew up the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution. Certainly the nation’s architects were men of high intellect and noble purpose, far beyond the average mindset. But they were nevertheless subject to nature’s hardwired egocentricity and all the variations of tribalism that flow from it.

Even though they expressed ideals such as all men are created equal, some were bound up in centuries of a slave system that they could not find a willingness to just instantly toss out the window, else an entire region’s economic structure would collapse. It must be slowly phased out they reasoned. Indeed men like Washington and Jefferson saw slavery as an abomination whose days were numbered, and they intended to do all in their power to make sure that it would not prevail with future generations.

But with the underpinning of a caste system entrenched deep within the human psyche; societies are always wrestling with a permanent residue of a societal pecking order. So it must at some point come down to brute force: whoever can prevail will prevail. In other words the world really is an endless game of thrones.

Currently it is easy to see by his words and deeds that this is the Donald’s approach to life. Meaning for him that democracy is a pathetic sham that needs to be pushed aside. There are only winners and losers, and he will do whatever it takes to end up on the winning side. This outlook completely lines up with the ego mandate, which is to live and seek advantage at every opportunity by any means possible.

The cruder elements of American society understand and applaud Trump’s rough agenda, oblivious to the reality that it is they whom will be among the first causalities that his ruthless stupidity unleashes — like his mindless tariffs. But for many White men and some White women born in the 40s, 50s and 60s, all they care about is staying at or getting back to the top of the social pecking order, which Trump’s not so subtle message says is where they belong. And so on the promise of a compulsive liar and killer of all he touches, they are banking their futures on some fantasy that he will bring back, for them, the good old days — even if it means tearing America’s attempt at democracy to shreds. Welcome back to the traditional cast system as the wheels come off America’s corroded experiment in self-government.

Jim Ridgway, Jr. military writer — author of the American Civil War classic, “Apprentice Killers: The War of Lincoln and Davis.” Christmas gift, yes!

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