When I listen to Chapo Trap House, I know there’s a mirror image of me — a cranky person over 50 nodding in agreement at a polemic on-air voice — on the opposite side of the political spectrum. This feeling of being devalued or nonessential is what drove those opposites to vote for Trump. I might have done the same, because he talked so much about jobs and the forgotten people, but I couldn’t stomach his repeated statements about Mexicans and Muslims being criminals and terrorists. I couldn’t stomach the way he cheered on violence at his rallies, his disdain for environmental science, women, the mentally ill, and the fact-checking newsrooms where my still-employed friends work.
It’s no longer surprising for my husband to come home from work and find me standing in the kitchen, chopping vegetables, nodding as the Chapo Trap House hosts talk about the failings of capitalism and the government it buys. He told a mutual friend that I’d become radicalized. My views have changed enough that I went on a February afternoon to a Communist Manifesto Class held by the Party for Socialism and Liberation. I sat without about 30 people of all ages at long conference tables in a meeting room in a building that also houses the Mexico–U.S. Solidarity Network.
We took turns reading passages. We didn’t make it through the whole thing because there were so many pauses for discussion. What I learned is that communism is a practice; it’s not static.
To add to my radical bona fides, my son made a collage of my face, added to the famous image of Lenin, Engels, Marx, Mao and Stalin, for Mother’s Day.
Around the same time as this class, Chapo Trap House interviewed the economist Richard Wolff. They started out examining the film “Boss Baby” and its political leanings. This, of course, led to a discussion about America’s economy, and the fact that polls show that millennials prefer socialism to capitalism, perhaps because the market crash of 2008 happened during their formative years. When I hear or read about millennials and their love for socialism, I wonder why more people my age don’t embrace it. We came of age in the Great Recession. We were the ones laid off in 2008.
Wolff predicts a shift to socialism in America, because young people will push for it. A lot of mistakes were made in the name of socialism and communism, he says. We have to learn from history.
“I’d like to remind people the transition from feudalism to capitalism didn’t happen in some smooth way,” he says. “Capitalism came into the world after lots of fits and starts and trials and errors. Why do we imagine it will be any different going from capitalism to socialism?”
We can do better than capitalism, he says at the end of the show.
The possibility that change is coming is as appealing a fantasy for me as the show about a woman who restarts her career with a lie about her age. I’m beyond the age where I can pass for 26, like Liza. But with the free time unemployment allows me, I can to take to the streets, my state capital, and the page to dismantle the system. With breaks for peanut butter and mumbling while I listen to Chapo Trap House.