Black and white sketch of heavy set Asian man with hair only on top of head, shaved on the sides and he's smiling and saluting

What the hell is going on in national politics? Nobody is doing what is in their, or anybody else’s, best interests. From congressional inactivity to party infighting and missed campaign opportunities, it has been a confounding week. America is going nowhere fast and not enough people seem to understand or care.

Sticking with last week’s theme of the upcoming midterm elections, the Democratic Party machine is showing how it hasn’t learned any of its lessons since the end of 2015. From Texas all the way to Massachusetts, the DCCC has been working hard to keep progressives out of its primaries and away from office. Establishment operatives have been publishing opposition research on progressive contenders with the intent of ruining their reputations and tarnishing their issues. Others have rushed endorsements before additional candidates could join a race or placed a stranglehold on money and media appearances. They could have happily let the primaries run their course in the name of democracy, but they despise open-minded and intelligent progressivism just as much as the Republicans. The neoliberal Democrats (who run the party with an iron fist cast by neo-slaves in the Maquiladoras) know their riches, their beliefs, and their owners’ Rolls-Royces will be threatened by human-centered, communally-minded programs enacted by genuine progressives. Nevertheless, it is still confusing because they stand to lose far more than they may gain by closing the doors to their party. They lost to an orange Ron Jeremy thanks to crushing a Social Democrat and subsequently ignoring his millions of supporters. In many constituencies, typical Democrats do not stand a particularly good chance of beating Trumpisters (I hope that word catches on). Socialists, Greens, and other progressives do actually offer a different choice, so could very well take control away from the neo-fascists. There is an argument that those candidates lack electability in a swing constituency. When the voters swing between a Republican and a Republican-lite, why not at least put forward an original candidate and discuss important issues that otherwise wouldn’t be aired? Go out with a bang instead of a whimper, or maybe, just maybe, win for once. Anyway, why any candidate who is truly out on the left would run with the Democrats is a mystery.

This week saw the end of the teachers’ strike in West Virginia. For nine days, teachers shut down schools across the entire state in protest at their horrifyingly low salaries. The strike finished after the state legislature passed a 5% pay raise. It should have been a larger raise but, teachers being teachers, they were decent people and went back to their students. Their salaries are among the lowest in the nation, in a state with rampant poverty and few opportunities. Teachers should be as rich and famous as undeserving “celebrities”, but they are continually undercompensated and poorly treated. How can anyone complain about how much teachers are paid when embarrassments like Steve Harvey, Joel Osteen, and Kevin James are multimillionaires? It is baffling that elected officials let the situation descend into a more than weeklong standoff. Votes and goodwill are earned by avoiding strikes, working with teachers’ unions, and making sure essential members of society are well-paid. Perhaps even stranger was the lack of national interest in the story. It didn’t receive a whole lot of coverage on any mainstream media platform, and politicians and candidates largely steered clear of making any comments about it. They should have been racing to offer messages of support for the teachers and to board planes bound for West Virginia to stand on the picket lines. The strike was a golden opportunity at the perfect time. Everyone missed it.

Bipartisanship has been making a rare appearance in the Congress. What is not so rare is the fact it is at the expense of most American citizens and residents. The Republicans, along with plenty of Democrats, are planning to vote for a bill reforming the Dodd-Frank Act which regulates Wall Street and protects consumers. The central feature of the reform is the deregulation of some of the largest banks. They will receive less federal oversight and so will be left to more of their own devices. It makes another 2008-type economic crash more likely and increases the profits bank shareholders and board members could make. Our elected representatives are focused on increasing the customer base for private jets, Botox injections, and ugly artwork. No low-income individual or family has ever benefited from looser restrictions on banks and very few people get richer when the banks are permitted to make more money. This is a transparent gift to those who fund entire campaigns and purchase votes. It is no surprise for the Republicans to do this. This is what they are voted into office to do; by the rich who directly benefit and the poor who only care if they say “Jesus” and thrown around racist epithets. The Democrats’ position is more difficult to understand. A banking reform bill won’t be enough to bring in swing voters who lean conservative, and it will lose them the support of more progressive voters. This kind of vote at the start of 2017 wouldn’t have mattered as much. Doing it during midterms season is crazy. The vote is scheduled for next week so be sure to make note of who cares more about bankers than hungry children.

In a huge twist, Kim Jong-un invited Trump to a meeting to discuss nuclear disarmament. Trump quickly accepted, but to little fanfare. Most political talking heads, who have to speak or their inflated egos and salaries will implode, offered comments that ranged from describing the meeting as a trap to saying Trump was wasting his time. All of that is of course possible, but why not try to put a positive spin on it for the people? High-level diplomacy may be the only way to rid the world of nuclear weapons without using them. No-one should have confidence in the two leaders’ diplomatic skills or mental stability, but this has to be supported. An invitation to an antiwar meeting must be accepted and every possible avenue towards world peace needs to be explored. The Earth won’t be a safer place by waiting for slicker politicians to do what today’s leaders can do. If Barack Obomber was attempting to end nuclear proliferation via diplomacy, the media would be recommending another Nobel Peace Prize. It is disgraceful for anyone to not play their part in making sure negotiations succeed. What does anyone gain from criticizing the meeting before it has even been scheduled?

The president has already flip-flopped on his metals tariffs. It was announced this week that there is an intention to exempt steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico. Those countries are the other two members of NAFTA which Trump repeatedly, and rightfully, lambasted during the 2016 election. Now he will change trade policy but protect the free trade agreement his opposition to which earned him a lot of support. Protecting Canada and Mexico somewhat negates the other tariffs and does nothing to bring jobs back to America. Trump is spitting in the (white, racist, and docile) faces of his supporters in return for no obvious political or financial reward.

Congressional committees are still wasting valuable resources on the Russia investigation. Ultimately, we know members of Trump’s campaign team spoke to Russian operatives, some of them moved money through Russian channels, and many of America’s leaders are corrupt criminals. For the investigation to be worth pursuing, we must look at what the endgame is. At best, it will be Trump’s removal from office and the ejection of all his creepy offspring from Washington. In this context best does not mean good. Bigot Mike Pence will become president and every election will still be prone to interference and theft. At worst, a few criminals will go to jail and it will be politics as usual. Without a complete overhaul of America’s elections (automatic registration, paper ballots, donation restrictions, etc.), the Congress’ time could be better spent on almost anything else. It is not a good use of your time to delve too deeply into this issue because it won’t have much of an effect on your life. Stay focused on your issues and don’t let centrist and far-right politicians distract you with trivial matters because they are too afraid, too privileged, and too lazy to actually act on this country’s problems. The only ones who really care about the investigation are Democrats who want to believe their votes for the contemptible poison dwarf Hillary Clinton were stolen and not wasted.

Overall, you can see this has been a wildly confusing week. Democrats were hammered for eating their progressive young but continue to do so. A massive labor and education issue arose and few people cared. The Democrats are going into the midterms deregulating banks. The media and political elite are undermining efforts to prevent a madman from using nuclear weapons. Trump is upholding NAFTA, and the country is decrying Russians while ignoring the most pressing issues of our time. I have been writing this weekly feature for more than two months now and still those in Washington are doing a piss-poor job. How is my article not making its way around the halls of power? Why aren’t the Republicans cleaning up their act thanks to the vitriol written by me? What is keeping the Democrats from providing resistance to destructive conservative forces even after I have outlined why they need to do just that? How is my writing not saving America? I’m confused.