Divide and Conquer Until American voters look beyond party lines and personalities, major change to benefit the 99 percent won’t occur
By Yvonne C. Claes
“When two brothers are busy fighting, an evil man can easily attack and rob their poor mother. Mankind should always stay united, standing shoulder to shoulder so evil can never cheat and divide them.”
― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

The public firestorm surrounding the FBI’s non-indictment of Hillary Clinton speaks to the deep divisions in this country.

But unfortunately, too many Americans are viewing this through a Republican-Democrat prism, which is exactly what those in power want. The real dilemma is double standards in our justice system for the wealthy vs. everyone else, not right vs. left. The establishment — corporate media included — frame the narrative in political terms to divide citizens because if we ever get our act together and truly unite, there will be hell to pay.

I knew the former Secretary of State would never be indicted, and I say that with no sense of smug satisfaction. I knew it because the Clintons are part of the 1 percent and therefore, powerful enough to avoid consequences for their actions. Laws don’t apply to the wealthy and well-connected like they do the rest of us.

Money doesn’t just buy happiness. It buys “justice,” and conversely, lack of money often lands you in a prison cell.

But I don’t want to argue whether Clinton is guilty or not. Instead, I will just ask her supporters why they are content to defend her when she lied to them for a year about: 1. not sending emails that contained classified information at the time they were sent 2. using several devices to receive, read and send emails and 3. turning over all work-related emails to the State Department. There were other contradictions between her public statements and the FBI’s findings, but just those three are enough to cause many observers to shake their heads.

But many Clinton supporters simply say, “Well, she wasn’t indicted. See? It was a witch hunt” and then dismiss the fact Hillary repeatedly lied to them for the past 12 months. I would feel betrayed; they seem to feel elated.

Their reaction speaks to the deep divide in this country over loyalty to dysfunctional political parties and personalities vs. fealty toward the common good.

That’s why when Democratic Party loyalists decry Bernie Sanders as “not a real Democrat,” I remain unfazed. The fact he is an Independent is part of his allure.

If I had my way, there wouldn’t be any political parties. Their purpose is to divide people instead of bring them together.

Response to the Clinton email debacle gives us a prime example of how party politics prohibits people from unifying and how fidelity to powerful personalities can trump logic.

FBI Director James Comey revealed Thursday that Clinton was not under sworn oath when the agency questioned her nor did it record her 3 1/2-hour interrogation. The FBI’s treatment of Clinton shows that money and influence lead to preferential treatment.

Most police agencies read suspects their rights and videotape their interrogations, so why this wasn’t done by one of our top intelligence agencies defies explanation.

But the Hillary supporters I’ve encountered have no problem with the double standard and take issue when I point it out. Again, loyalty to the Democratic Party and Clinton herself seem to be driving their responses instead of a detached review of facts presented.

The Republicans, although I certainly understand their anger at having someone put national security at risk, are playing right into the Democratic establishment’s hands by framing this as a right-left battle. And I’m sure Clinton and party elites are happy to let them do so.

Many Americans still don’t understand — despite Bernie Sanders’ dogged attempts to make them see — that the two-party political system is a big part of the problem, and blind adherence to them has led this country down the rabbit hole.

Most politicians don’t want major change. This is evident because legislation that addresses problems faced by the middle class and poor is rarely brought forward. Establishment leaders are quite comfortable getting huge campaign contributions, speaking fees, and other forms of quid pro quo from rich donors and corporations who then help write legislation.

Real change will never take place in this country until the 99 percent — you and me — see that we are being played and unite behind issues, not personalities and parties.

I’ve been bamboozled myself. I voted for Obama twice. I thought it was high time an African-American was in the White House, so I can empathize with those who want a female in the Oval Office.

I also bought his inspirational message of “hope and change,” but have become disillusioned with his unflinching support of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), his signing off on a $8.7 billion cut in food stamps, his deafening silence in response to allegations of election fraud and voter suppression, his failure to seek criminal charges against the bankers that tanked our economy in 2008, his appointing lobbyists to key administrative posts, and his endorsement of the least Progressive Democratic Presidential candidate.

I voted for him the first time because I was duped. I voted for him a second time because the choices were nauseatingly poor.

I let my emotions, not facts, logic, and reason, guide my choice in 2008 and I felt I had no option in 2012. Admittedly, I still feel queasy criticizing Obama because I too am struggling to throw off the yoke of political party identification. If I criticize him, doesn’t that make me a Republican, or worse, a Teabag-toting conservative?

The problem is many Democratic voters would say “yes.” They see the political system in absolutes: right-left, wrong-right, good-bad.

But I no longer do. I now realize that Obama betrayed my ideals and values, many of which he extolled on the campaign trail. But this realization doesn’t mean I’m in love with Paul Ryan and friends. No, it simply means that I disagree with Obama on certain issues and feel frustrated by his actions on them.

This country would greatly benefit if more voters started viewing issues not in terms of left vs. right but in terms of the 99 vs. the 1 percent. Oh, the power we would have if more people did!

Just like I don’t care for party labels, I also won’t vote for candidates because of their gender, because they are “owed” higher office, or because I believe they have been mistreated by the other side.

Until we get away from the cult of personality and divisive politics so inherent in the political party structure, we won’t experience the change necessary to wrest control from corporate interests that currently run our government.

And we will continue to yell at each other while the monied interests of both parties congratulate themselves on having fooled us again.