Patriots and the Biden Presidency

How Donald Trump Turned Me into a Patriot

Confessions of a socialist wannabe

Charles Bastille


I’m a lifelong, undedicated, even hypocritical, American socialist. I read Marx when I was in middle school and never really looked back. But I never really looked forward, either.

What happened in middle school became a template for my commitment to socialism. My mom threw my copy of A Communist Manifesto into the garbage, so I shrugged my shoulders and went on to other things.

As I got older, I got caught up in the American way of life, which means I focused my adult life on making money.

I’m not one of those socialists who spent his days in a dusty room above one of San Francisco’s beat shops like A Clean Well-Lighted Place For Books with an old Underwood typewriter and a barter deal with the local print shop so that I could pass out pamphlets.

When I lived in San Francisco, I spent my time chasing money.

And later, when the internet got built (thank you, Al Gore!), I didn’t start writing screeds for Jacobin Magazine.

I didn’t even go to Bernie rallies in 2016 (I only voted for him).

Instead, when the internet got hot I focused on making money as a software engineer. I didn’t get rich, but I made out okay slinging code for 20 years or so. But not for leftist media outlets. Nope, I spent my days writing transactional software for big internet companies so that you could buy stuff.

In other words, I’m a socialist wannabe. I’m a sympathizer to the cause, but not much more than that.

Apathy was the order of the day for many of us

I guess maybe I didn’t care enough. I’d watch election after election as voters continuously voted to move the country ever rightward. I’d swear at the television on election night and carry on the next day with whatever business I had at hand.

Americans voted for Reagan, twice, then his successor, a polite CIA career guy, and later the CIA guy’s buffoon of a son.

Americans didn’t pay attention to issues. They pretty much voted for the guy they could imagine having a beer with.

The resulting pattern was Republicans would run on the economy, win, and then proceed to ruin the economy. Then, a centrist Democrat with ties to Wall Street would come in, fix the economy, then preside over Democrats getting voted out again by a Republican calling Democrats socialists.

Don’t take my word for this. Read some facts and figures for yourself:

Republicans ruin the economy, Democrats get hired to fix it, then get thrown out for being socialists.

And so it has gone for the last forty years or so. It’s a clear pattern.

Democratic Presidents are the better stewards of the capitalist system

But this frequent rescue of the economy doesn’t make Democrats heroes. It makes them good stewards of capitalism. They haven’t been friends of the worker bees since the days of Johnson and Kennedy, and back then, it was just the white worker bees that really mattered (to be frank, that’s all that has ever mattered).

It’s hard to get excited about urging people to consider improving their lot when they are consistently blind to basic economic theory, raging disparity, and racism — people who don’t pay any attention to facts, who don’t read much, who don’t bother informing themselves about much of anything that doesn't involve celebrities, and who couldn’t find Serbia on a map if you offered them a free round trip to Monaco (which they also could not find on a map).

Can you find Monaco on the map? Hint: It is spelled, “Monaco”.

Photo Credit: Screenshot of Google Maps: Location: Monaco

That’s why Americans think it’s okay to blast away at countries like Serbia with smart bombs. Nobody cares because they don’t even know where it is. Besides, the bombs are smart. What could go wrong?

“What the Serbs are doing is awful,” says the man in charge. “Smoke ‘em!” says the collective body politic, unable to grasp the consequences.

Luciano Pavarotti, Brian Eno, Bono, The Edge — Miss Sarajevo (Live)

If the Pavarotti part about 4 minutes in doesn’t send chills through your veins, you aren’t human.

That man in charge when everyone said “Bombs away!” was a Democrat, Bill Clinton, who also ended welfare as we knew it:

But he was a good steward of the capitalist economy.

The turn to the right has hit every aspect of American Life

When I attended a state university a little more than 40 years ago the tuition was a bit over $300. Today, it is $18,000.

The highest tax rates were more than 70%.

We went to the moon. We built stuff. Poor people got food stamps until Republicans convinced Americans that big Black ladies were endlessly spitting out babies and buying booze with their food stamps.

Today, most of those things we built are falling apart, and the rural areas of the country are third world countries besieged with hopelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, obesity, and a plague of mental illness. In case you can’t tell, people who live there are furious about it — but not furious enough to vote for their own self-interests.

Oh. And we never did fix urban poverty.

During these 4o years, Republicans have continued their rightward course, bringing Democrats with them. Democrats follow their lead, and Republicans just keep going further and further and further to the right. You’d think they can’t get much further, but as long as Stephen Miller and his like stay out of jail, there is no right edge. The Republican right is the infinity pool of American politics.

After Clinton, who became the Democratic response to Ronald Reagan and the first acquiescence to full compliance with right-wing ideology, George W. Bush came along and killed 100,000 Iraqis very quickly while Americans cheered him on:

Not only did they cheer it on, some wanted more. “Iran, you’re next!” many said.

Americans didn’t bother paying attention to the root cause of 9/11, which was our incessant meddling in Middle East affairs (this is not a justification for atrocious acts like 9/11 so please don’t mistake root causes for justifications).

Big oil, which by the way ruined the environment thanks to Americans’ addiction to big cars, was also the only reason American governments have bothered to pay attention to the Middle East.

Americans themselves, of course, have never really paid attention at all. Most Americans wouldn’t know a Sunni from a Shi’ite, and those who know what a Shi’ite is are bound to pronounce it wrong out of spite.

In fact, few Americans at the time of 9/11 knew that Osama bin Laden's crew was originally financed by the U.S.

Americans didn’t know anything at all about America’s endless proxy wars with Russia.

Americans didn’t know about this because they don’t pay attention to anything not involving celebrities.

They still don’t, not really. You can make a name for yourself dancing a sultry number on TikTok a lot faster than you can by discussing economic theory or science on a Ted Talk or winning a Nobel prize in chemistry.

After the horrors of Iraq, Republicans brilliantly blamed Obama for ISIS, even though ISIS was a direct result of policies by George W. Bush and his “governor” of Iraq immediately following the United States’ illegal invasion of that sovereign country:

While children were burning in the buildings of Bagdad and Fallujah, Americans crowded into sports stadiums and oohed ahhed as high tech jets flew over with red, white, and blue contrails.

This happened because Americans don’t pay attention to the world around them. They celebrate celebrities, not knowledge.

Trump turned millions of Americans into Patriots

Eventually, this forty-year descent into the abyss achieved something.

It gave us Donald Trump.

This informed many people that the soul of America had been badly damaged.

Even people who don’t pay attention to things were figuring out that something had gone horribly wrong.

And it turned us, many of whom have sort of watched as the country edged closer to what Umair Haque calls a failed state without lifting a finger to try to stop it, into patriots.

It woke up young people and women.

As the morally destitute fringes of Trumpism marched within their little clumps of hatred, gaining wide press coverage no matter how small their tiny hate fests, it scared the part of the population that Richard Nixon once called the silent majority and forced them to march to the ballot box.

Is this a march? Or is it Cosplay gone bad?

Anthony Crider, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Trump was a trigger for many women who never would have otherwise voted. Many women were so repulsed they ran for office.

For Blacks, Trump was a continuation of the same kind of thing they were already used to in many ways, but he was boastful about oppression and was so in our face with his attitudes towards people of color and immigrants that he motivated many of them to move to the streets and the ballot box.

To progressives, he was such an outrage that many didn’t even take him seriously until after he won. Many Bernie voters were so repulsed by Hillary that they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for her, thus setting back any hope of serious progress on things like climate change with four years that we will never get back.

They knew that their refusal to compromise might give conservatives something like a 6–3 majority in the Supreme Court, but they were too angry over their man not winning to care.

Then, Trump took office and began to operate.

Wide-eyed, appalled, and stunned citizens were flayed daily by his awful tweets.

It was almost like being assaulted every day by some crazy uncle lurking in your bedroom, shaking you awake as his mane of orange hair flops around and he wails on about a disjointed set of complaints.

We woke up every morning for four years with a good kick in the teeth and a knot in our stomach.

It motivated all of us who were repulsed by his behavior to bone up on things like, “What the hell is an electoral college?”, and “how many supreme court justices does it take to make a majority?”, and “what is a filibuster?”

We learned about voter registration deadlines and requirements. We learned who Stacy Abrams is.

We became patriots.

And today, because of this, and because of the attitude of young people, I have a little hope about the future of politics in America for the first time in 40 plus years.

I have this sense that maybe people have figured out they’ve been conned. Not by the Con Man in Chief, Trump, but by all politicians. From both parties.

And I get the sense that Joe Biden, who is a decent enough guy, will need to be more than a caretaker of the capitalist system he’s been in the middle of all his life.

Because Americans want something more.

Many of them marched in the street because they were outraged at what happened to George Floyd:

Many Americans are outraged by what the con job of the last 40 years has done to their livelihood.

But the patriotism comes from the fact that they are also outraged by the oppression of a group of people with whom they often have little interaction in their daily lives. They see the excesses of oppression on their phones and they want to take action.

Will that outrage stick? It seems to have stuck among young people.

History suggests that Biden will do what Democrats always do. He’ll fix the economy and be a good steward of the same economy that is leaving millions of people in the dust with outrageous housing costs, impossible education bills, terrible healthcare, but a very happy stock market.

But maybe he will look at the nation he has inherited and decide that he wants to be more than the journeyman politician who was the stop sign to the worst presidency in modern history. I mean, almost anybody who can steam up the window in the back seat of a car should have been able to do that.

So. Maybe he’ll actually do something. Maybe he will want a legacy.

Now that there are so many new patriots, like you and me, we can hold his feet to the fire in ways that people didn’t really do with other Democrats.

Maybe, just maybe, we can ask him to govern like a Democrat, instead of another Wall Street hustler.



Charles Bastille

Author of MagicLand & Psalm of Vampires. Follow me on BlueSky: All stories © 2020-24 by Charles Bastille