The Desiccated Hearts and Souls of Working-class Americans

Desiccate: deaden, devitalize, lobotomize, castrate – Merriam-Webster

In the United States the average man and woman has been dismissed, devalued and manipulated by both parties and the financial system. They have been prevented access to healthcare, decent-paying jobs, affordable education and food security. And their hopes and dreams have been crushed by the absence of humanity of those who exploit them for benefit.

President Trump’s term served a unique purpose. The turmoil surrounding his presidency brought out the worst in both parties, so that now it’s hard to tell one from the other, but does give us a clearer idea of their sameness. Both have embraced and expounded on such extreme positions that even moderates in their own parties are looking for cover. This fiasco has provided a better understanding of the charade that is our legislative branch.

The media is no different. I was once a big fan of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow when she was a bold and brassy commentator on Air America. That was then. News readers (I can’t call them reporters, because they aren’t) now regurgitate whatever rolls on the teleprompter as news or original thought. Many are ignorant lemmings who cannot even pronounce the words before them. Listeners are informed by media spokesmen who toe the line for those who would control power, fearful that if they deviate from the script, they will lose their jobs and status. If they spoke from the heart, the soapbox might be kicked out from beneath them.

Trump has been the pariah who has enabled many of them to avoid all that is important to the American people. Eventually, after the media and the Dems squeeze every last drop of juice from this playbook, he will be gone. To whom or what will they turn to keep us from questioning anything remotely connected with the actual lives of everyone who isn’t them? You can be sure it will be no topic that casts a dark shadow over the financial elites and cultural gatekeepers who are intent on securing their own wealth and positions at any cost.

If they were reporting news, media outlets would show footage of the poverty in this country, the food bank lines, the undernourished children, the ancient people staring out their windows in despair—the ones who remember. There is plenty of old celluloid in storage that documents the Depression and Dust Bowl years back when film was very expensive and cameras were incredibly heavy, yet dedicated reporters recorded their times in history so that we would never forget.

They also filmed conditions in countries that were being destroyed and exploited by American imperialism. The British news organization Pathe? documented the conflicts from 1910 until 1970 when it was displaced by television. As a kid, I went to the matinee, which included two movies, cartoons and a Pathe? newsreel. I watched the Korean War in black and white, right after Tom and Jerry. We had a clear understanding of war, with all of its death and destruction. We saw it every Saturday. Pathe? has digitized their newsreels and makes them available. Viewing should be required in every curriculum.

I get daily emails linking to the stories of the mainstream media. Read one, you’ve read ‘em all. And I do not watch the Sunday morning talk shows anymore. As I sometimes do when I can’t view my favorite sports teams real time, I get the wrap-up. So much sameness. Few options allow the brave and the bold to offer opinions mostly free of corporate influence, and actual news. I smile thinking about how Matt Drudge broke the Clinton/Lewinsky story in 1998, and many others with the help of his “sources.” Independent journalists continue to break stories, for which they are usually persecuted and imprisoned. The general populace continues to look away, preferring not to make waves in support of the First Amendment and the Constitution in general.

Where will our news be found when these journalists and their online platforms are replaced by the next new bright and shiny things. Just as The WWW (Wild West Web) of the 80s morphed into the corporate mind control tool of the present, I fear that complete domination will be exercised by the lords and ladies of the evil empire.

I also fear for coming generations who will be unable to base their moral compass on the history of generations passed, the people who actually did stand on soapboxes, the protestors who were harmed, and often killed, for speaking truth to power, the politicians who met with constituents in smoky bars, the journalists who also dropped by after meeting their deadlines.

Neither of the two parties is capable of real change. That will come only when new leaders in new parties rise to represent the people, with a new wave of populism that will be documented for history by a cadre of dedicated journalists unfettered by corruption and malice. It will be a thing to behold.

Sheila Velazquez lives and writes in Northwest Massachusetts. Her work is informed by decades of experience with unions, agriculture, public health, politics and her support of populism. She welcomes contact by email: Read other articles by Sheila.