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American Imperialism Is a Pulsing, Vascular Chad Muscle

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By Ian Firstenberg

American empire and liberalism go hand in hand and this resolution on Nicaragua is no different. 

‘We must stop the divisiveness.’

It’s a common line in today’s political climate, meant to decry the emotional fervor from the extremes of the political left and right, upholding that meaty center as the one true successful political strategy. 

This is bullshit.

People who turn to this rhetoric often do so in bad faith and the canned ‘stopping the divisiveness’ bit really means ‘shut the fuck up and let us keep doing things the way we always have.’ For one thing, bipartisanship is mostly talked about from Democrats referencing resolutions like the one passed in the house March 9 that intensely escalates sanctions on Nicaragua, a Latin America nation of roughly six million. 

In the past this rhetoric has been used to puff up American imperialism by both Democrats and Republicans against Syria, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and the Palestinian Authority

While specifics of each case differ — some are focused on educational materials, others are directed institutional sanctions and still others are outright calls for the overthrow of democratically elected leaders — the similarities are important to note. 

All of these cases, and the laundry list of others extending for my entire lifetime and the lifetime of all these readers, is designed as a Venice Beach boardwalk-style flexing of the American hard power muscles. 


A tanned beefcake is doing one-handed pull-ups above a sandy metal workout center on Venice beach. He grunts repeatedly while yelling ‘I FUCKING LOVE JOHN WAYNE AND CHRIS KYLE’ into his iPhone X. He is doing his best to flex without prolapsing his anus and popping a blood vessel, but alas all great power comes to an end and this beefcake’s blood vessels can only withstand so much. 

And imagine if this sweaty, human muscle is out there every day doing the same chants and grunts. Every morning as you bike down the boardwalk he’s switching hands on his pushups and grunting. If nothing else, the dedication is impressive. 

Muscle Beach flex-off. Photo by Lin Mei/Flickr

This is what the U.S. is doing on a global scale. The maintenance of empire requires bipartisanship and there is a long history of both sides of the aisle coming together to keep up the image of a bloated, veiny, overly aggressive empirical strong man.  

Nicaragua is the focus of the month for the bipartisan war beat and the usual cast of war hawks has hopped on for a fire cipher. 

The resolution was proposed by Albio Sires, a Democrat representative from New Jersey. Sires comes from a family who fled Cuba after the Batista dictatorship was overthrown there. His political career has been characterized by harsh opposition to leftist Latin American leaders, a common theme among politicians with similar backgrounds. 

Bipartisanship is one of those fun talking points that means a lot to a few people and nothing to most people. Workers of America regard both Democrats and Republicans with apathy, correctly identifying them as representatives of a ruling class that draws their profits from said workers. In this case, ‘cohesion’ is a dog whistle for more ruling class control, usually at the cost of the worker. 

This March 9 resolution is a particularly imperialist example of that cooperative work. It escalates an already horrendous and violent coup attempt in 2018. It was co-sponsored by 19 democrats, including Ami Berra (CA-7), Tony Cardenas (CA-29) and Jim Costa (CA-16). While disappointing, the stance is not surprising. Representatives and Senators on both sides of the aisle have consistently come down hard on Latin America’s leftists leaders either through sanctions or outright calls for overthrow, as was seen with the failed coup in Venezuela. 

With all this in mind, a tangential question emerges: How do they so easily find consensus when it comes to policing other countries and somehow can’t manage to agree on things like healthcare and education in the U.S.?

It would be trite to say what we all know, but … because it pays. It pays to be pro-war, it pays to be harsh on leftists leaders and populist revolutions. It pays to be punitive to workers. 

It pays both financially and professionally as many of these Democratic politicians take substantial contributions from weapons manufacturers. It is not only politically feasible but beneficial for them to appear hawkish, and if not war hungry certainly not war averse. 

America flexes on the world. Photo courtesy of Pixabay


This gets to a broader point about rhetoric. There was a time in the recent past in which even the most banal of liberals was in opposition to America’s military industrial complex, something that is now political standard acceptance. Again, the reasons behind the concession of values relate directly to money and the power that comes with it. America’s industry of war was hugely bolstered by the Obama administration and it’s cool or smooth public image. 

It’s 2009, your iPod touch has all “Doodle Jump,” “Angry Birds,” “Temple Run” and all of the post-rehab Eminem albums. You just went to see “Zombieland” with the girl you were crushing on for the fourth time and snuck in a cherry Four Loko to share (the real one with 12 percent alcohol and enough caffeine to get Joe Biden through a 10k). You’ve watched the “Forever” music video a hundred times and rap every part into your Motorola Razor in your school’s parking lot during lunch. Life is good. 

It was a simpler time, to be sure. During that time, unbenounced to many of us, the cool dude we elected and his administration of foreign policy hawks, neo-conservative deficit hounds and harsh militarists were busy escalating what had been a twinkle in Dick Cheney’s eye just a few years before. 

The Obama administration’s drone escalation was unprecedented, eventually pulling off 10 times more strikes than the previous administration. The December 13, 2013 drone strike on a Yemeni funeral that killed 12 people may be the most infamous but, even by his own administration’s assessment, the strikes unjustly took the lives of hundreds of civilians. 

After four years of intense condemnation and blame from this administration, the legacy of the Obama presidency is most clearly represented in the drone war. That’s one of very few things Trump hasn’t dumped from his predecessor’s time in the White House. Despite Trump’s oafish incompetence, those on his staff, particularly the foreign policy wing, understand the importance of maintaining what Obama’s administration started. 

Make no mistake, when pundits and politicians alike call for necessary bipartisanship, they’re tapping away at that 808 of imperialism, crafting a beat for the like-minded Republican and Democrat war mongers and frankly, their bars suck. 

Eventually that overly tanned, extremely vascular muscle man will wilt and get flabby. That excess bicep skin starts to look like over-stretched pizza dough, the wrinkles around what was once his neck reveal years of fillers and finally he stops showing up for that beach workout altogether. That sad march of time waits for no one and certainly not those so overfilled with testosterone as our sweet Chads. 

Unfortunately time won’t ravage ill-willed bipartisanship like it will Chad — that is up to us and what we allow our elected officials to get away with. 

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