The year 2016 will sear itself into our collective memory as the longest-burning dumpster-fire ever witnessed. In its noxious wake I’m left with political motion sickness, inundated with high-production propaganda posing as news. All the while, I’m still dry heaving from the eight-year national hangover since the economy caved in on itself. To save our “financial innovators” from their own stupidity and mismanagement, the Obama administration tasked the taxpayer to foot its banker-magistrates’ bill. So yes, this mixed metaphor of burning trash, motion sickness and acute alcohol poisoning is definitely called for.
And at the center of all this is a mangled lump: a pulsating malignant mass made of Liberal moral cowardice, Trumpian fascism and the most stagnant and unequal economy in generations that is sadistically, supposedly the fault of its recipients: the bratty, fickle Millennial.
Before wading through the political swamp of the 2016 election season, I’ve got to suit up, pull myself up by my non-existent bootstraps and set the stage. A “recovering” job market seems to consistently exclude 20 to 24-year-olds. We are the only cohort projected to lose net jobs over the next eight years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the market will disproportionately favor aging Boomers, who harangue us as lazy, spoiled and clueless.
This hiring stagnation, coupled with this culture of scapegoating the young, has taught employers to treat young folks like expendable shit. Not to mention the growing legion of educated and desperate reserve workers saddled with student loan debt that bloats with interest every day spent unemployed.
The revolving door between high-finance and high-government is becoming more and more apparent, evidenced by former Attorney General Eric Holder’s obtuse allegiance to his banker buddies when he decided that fraud and money-laundering were best met with a slap on the wrist and the extra-judicial status of “too big to fail.” Just last year, Holder returned to Covington & Burling, a premier defense firm where he reportedly rakes in upwards of $2.5 million for the same gig — servicing his banker clientele.
Their collaborations with Hillary Clinton hint at a future of further corporatocratic circlejerks not dissimilar from pre-recession conditions, yet perversely it’s millennials who get whipped for not falling in line. For holding out for a Bernie Sanders or a Jill Stein. For being critical of the lesser evil’s acts of evil. For having the audacity to vote on principle, not spectacle.
We’ve been betrayed by the neoliberal agenda and we know it. Obviously the concerns of the American citizen, especially the young, rank less than the desires and comfort of the corrupt elite.
Not that they’ve totally forgotten about us. How ungrateful of me not to give thanks to the hundreds of hours of quality Donald Trump coverage from the biggest news conglomerates in America, with no cost for the star of the show who rakes in millions to line media executives’ pockets. Trump’s vitriolic, flaccid, Cheeto-stained brand of neo-fascism calls for a militarized police force, amped up racial profiling, mass deportation, and an insinuation to assassinate his competitor. Someone give this man an Emmy.
And this is exactly what we deserve. If you think this entire spectacle hasn’t been curated to the last granular detail, you might want to reserve a moment to center yourself and wake up.
The media wants us to think that Trump’s rise is due to dispossessed white folks in rusting fly-over states. While that might partially be true, we, as consumers of the pilot season of Trump’s new reality show mostly have ourselves to blame.
This is the reality of behavioral tracking: media outlets with a budget and any intention of surviving in the age of digital journalism have swarms of data points that map out our collective taste. The ringmasters know exactly what we read and what we don’t read, where our eyeballs go and how long they stay there. It turns out, we don’t give a shit about poor folk, about homelessness, about police brutality beyond the viral videos of black men being gunned down found-footage style. Pokémon Go and foaming at the mouth for the latest Silicon Valley fabrication — that’s what we care about.
So while the mainstream media keeps us happy and fed on their end, deals are being brokered with our money by folks who have interests so alien to us, it’s easier to check out completely or fall in line to defend the champion of the corporatocracy: Hillary Clinton.
Jared Alokozai is a fifth year Literary Journalism Major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org