We’re Not Even Having Bread Riots, But The Trump Administration Says ‘Let Them Eat Cake’

We’re Not Even Having Bread Riots, But The Trump Administration Says ‘Let Them Eat Cake’

Look, as a historian, I just want to know when we’re going to be storming our Bastille.  You know, so I can put it on my calendar.

What are the ingredients for a revolution?  Economic scarcity? The dissolution of a government’s democratic process at the hands of a self-absorbed financial ruling class?  Fumbling moves by an out-of-touch and tone-deaf bureaucracy? Hundreds of thousands of people being denied access to readily available resources because of the government’s failure to take their needs into account?[1]

Or do we need to resurrect Camille Desmoulins to get this thing moving?  

We’re in the longest government shutdown in American history.  Yes, all of our history — that means this government, in 2019, with access to the Internet, is worse at communicating than our government was when even the fastest letter could take weeks to make it across the country.  It means our people, good people who have dedicated their lives to helping our government run, are hungry when there’s plenty of food and money to be had. It means the United States government is completely out of touch with its purpose, which is, first and foremost, the care of its own people.

The worst part is that Trump administration stooges, as well as members of the Trump dynasty itself, are openly and unashamedly mocking the affected people on camera.  Listen, Marie Antoinette never said “let them eat cake.” She’s famous for it, but that was just propaganda. In 1789, conversations could really only be recorded by word of mouth.  Even a public speech could only be heard by a couple of hundred people at most. So when someone wrote down what someone else had said, you could either believe them or not, but you couldn’t prove it.  When they read or heard that Marie Antoinette had said, “let them eat cake,” the people of Paris were ready to believe it.

Today, we have audio-visual recordings.  We know that Lara Trump called the financial hardship hundreds of thousands of government workers are experiencing “a little bit of pain,” a reasonable sacrifice “for the future of our country.”  We know that White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett compared the shutdown to a free vacation.  And we know that Wilbur Ross, the actual Commerce Secretary, suggested furloughed workers take out loans and implied that they were wrong to use food banks.  And we know that Donald Trump — who can no more close his own umbrella than King Louis XVI could powder his own wig[2] — has never believed in paying people for their work.  

The evidence is amply available that our government is going the way of eighteenth-century France.  Our ruling family even built a palace tackier than Versailles — quite a feat. What I’m saying is, the sans-culottes stormed the Bastille over less than this.  Since when have we Americans come second to the French?

If that doesn’t stir your red, white, and blue blood, I don’t know what will.

[1] Yes, I know there was an actual famine in eighteenth-century France.  Now shush, the adults are talking.

[2] Yes, I know Trump also can’t spray his own hair.  But the hair jokes are low-hanging fruit.

Evangeline Van Houten

Evangeline Van Houten

Daughter of a high school English teacher and an English professor, Evangeline is a survivor of Academia and an aspiring elegant person. She lives in St. Louis with her family and a lot of books.