It is time we paid attention to the similarities between couples trapped in domestic violence and the way America is being manipulated by powerful corporations / politicians. In both situations, the relationship started with the promise of great possibilities for independence, love and prosperity. Once the emotional connection was established, expenses began to intertwine, and before they knew it, a solid bond between Abusers of Power and The Compliant sealed the union. As the imbalance of power increased, the Controllers became more powerful and wealthy while the controlled were casted into extreme mental, physical, and financial poverty.
Here’s how it worked when I became a Compliant in romantic relationships. At first, he said all the right things: “I love you more than anyone else ever will; You need me, and I need you; When we are together, we are strong enough to ward off anyone who may wish to use or abuse us.” Maybe the best line was, “I’m nothing like the guy who used you in the past; I will never hurt you.” His actions seemed to support his words. He was dependable. He showered me and my family with gifts and agreed with every request I made and thought I expressed.
The same pattern occurred in the 1700’s when Southern and Northern leaders joined forces. The Abusers of Power said all the right things: “We will be stronger together. The only way we can defeat our oppressor is by fighting on the same side. Once we are independent, we will all be rich and strong.” What was their best line? “All men have a God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Once that ring was on my finger and our finances were merged into one account, things began to change. There was never enough: time for friendships with others, money for things my daughter needed, or support for events I wanted to participate in. The more I resisted and tried to maintain a relationship with my true self, the more he insisted on my compliance.
It took nine years of marriage and three years of therapy for me to understand what happened, but that is just a blink compared to how long this dynamic has been growing in America. Even before the Constitutional Convention, slave owners put pressure on their peers to accept the bondage of some while pursuing freedom for themselves. When George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others suggested slavery be phased out within three generations, major power plays were exerted. Southern Abusers of Power insisted that every state had the right to decide the legality of slavery for itself. No one seemed to notice when these same politicians and plantation owners demanded non-slave states punish citizens who helped escaped slaves.
While it seemed The Civil War had equalized control between The Compliants and Abusers of Power, the racism that had been employed to justify the horrific cruelty of slavery began to flourish. Whites all over our nation began acting on the lie that God had made them superior to Blacks – not due to empirical evidence but because it made them feel more powerful and justified the wealth they accumulated by preying on these newly freed citizens. Sadly, there are Complaints today who still buy into this propaganda, despite mountains of contradictory evidence, and there are still Abusers of Power accumulating power and money from their collaboration.
During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950-70’s many Americans had great hope for equality among all citizens, but then the Abusers of Power redirected our focus and became even stronger. Falsely declaring an abandonment of racism, politicians and corporations vowed to save us from gangs, drug dealers, emigrants, ex-felons, “sexual deviants”, and more. All we had to do was give them our vote, forfeit a few of our civil rights, and trust them with the privatization of prisons, health care, schools, segments of our military, and other agencies from which they would profit handsomely.
Millions of Americans have believed multiple false narratives, such as the idea that our government has destroyed health care, but the real truth is that private insurance has inflated medical costs as well as premiums with the sole aim of enriching upper management and the stockholders of their companies. If you want to know the truth, read Deadly Spin, by Wendell Potter, An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back, by Elizabeth Rosenthal, other great books written by people who have no political agenda.
Americans have also bought into the lie that the War on Drugs is protecting our nation and our children from destruction. In his book Chasing the Scream, Johanna Hari exposed the true origins and motivation of this war, the lust for power. Mr. Hari provides documented evidence that Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, initiated and escalated this tragic movement to enhance his power in the government and enforce his racist views. Even after being provided scientific evidence that treatment for addiction was more effective in preventing drug use than incarceration, Mr. Anslinger continued pursuing his agenda. In truth, America’s “War on Drugs” has increased drug use and decreased our national security while greatly profiting a handful of corporations and politicians.
These are just two examples of how the Abusers of Power have manipulated The Compliant, but there are many more. Just as in families trapped in a cycle of domestic violence, the economic gap between the controllers and the controlled is becoming wider with each passing year, leaving the abused in a web of physical, mental, and financial poverty while the abusers grow in power and wealth.
As long as these dynamics remain the same, our society will never meet the goal of equality established by our Founding Fathers. So what is the solution? Initially, we must admit our participation in this dysfunctional pattern, identify the role we have played (as individuals), and commit to changing ourselves. Those who have been compliant must begin asking questions and demanding evidence from the politicians and corporations to whom they are currently giving their power and money. Instead of believing commentators who present their opinions as news, we must look at the facts and develop our own opinions. Two shocking facts that you will discover if you do your own investigations are that illegal immigrants are creating rather than taking jobs from Americans, and that sex-offender registries are a huge waste of money because those convicted of sex offenses have very low recidivism rates, and 93% of new offences are made by people who are not on the registry. Don’t take my word for it. Websites maintained by the Department of Justice, EEOC, and others will tell you the truth.
Although honesty and education sound like an easy fix, it will be difficult to identify the ways in which we have been fooled. When defending an inappropriate sexual advance, Harvey Weinstein said, “It’s normal to me”. It is also normal for many Americans to blindly accept lies from politicians and corporate media outlets who have dedicated themselves to personal power and wealth over that of their constituents.
After a great deal of soul-searching and support from others, I finally understood the dysfunctional relationships I participated in and escaped that pattern. The recent # Me Too conversations are proof that our society can break away from old patterns. We are witnessing proof that when Abusers of Power are exposed, their power and wealth is weakened. Let’s maintain the inertia and reclaim our power over local, state, and federal officials. Now that we see our dysfunction, we can heal. We have the power to become a nation of true equal opportunity, so let’s do it. Join the conversation on Twitter at # escapeusdysfunction.