Saturday, November 7, 2020

Thoughts on the Recent Election

It shouldn’t have been this close.

After four years of open corruption – of influence peddling, of quid-pro-quo, of racketeering, of intimidation, of repeated violations of the Hatch Act, of turning the White House into a campaign headquarters and the Secret Service into a money-maker for his hotels, of enough financial crimes to fill a prison – it shouldn’t have been this close.

After four years of callous, wanton cruelty – of ripping apart families, of kids in cages, of threats to shoot asylum seekers in the knees, of teargassing American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights, of accepting Russian bounties on American soldiers, of denying the existence of a plague that has killed nearly a quarter million Americans, actively spreading that plague with campaign rallies, and aggressively suppressing any effort to deal with that plague in a responsible adult fashion – it shouldn’t have been this close.

After four years of blistering incompetence and calculated destruction – of not knowing how the Constitution works, of systematically destroying alliances created and maintained by the blood and sweat of better men and women, of alienating allies and coddling dictators, of bankrupting the country to give more to the already obscenely wealthy, of working feverishly to take away health insurance from millions of Americans during an actual plague, of sabotaging the Post Office, of gutting environmental laws – it shouldn’t have been this close.

After four years of increasingly overt Fascism – subverting the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution, claiming dictatorial authority, sending mercenary stormtroopers against peaceful protesters, hiding in bunkers, supporting brutality and extrajudicial murder, encouraging violence from paramilitary supporters, threatening election workers, putting unnecessary and hyperpartisan obstacles in the path of voters, and delegitimizing democracy itself – it shouldn’t have been this close.

We as Americans should have rejected this tin pot dictator overwhelmingly.

And yet here we are. Over seventy million Americans went out of their way to declare their support for this corrupt, callous Fascist.

The fact that Donald Trump received ANY support whatsoever is a damning indictment of American morality and one of the greatest failures in American political history.

I read somewhere that in many ways the neo-Nazis are worse than the Nazis. That people could have joined the Nazis for all sorts of reasons, not knowing how it would turn out – even though the Nazis were very clear about how it would turn out, and even if in the long run their motives for joining didn’t matter. As one historian has so aptly said, there’s a word for people who joined the Nazis for economic motives, or because they hated the other side, or their friends joined, or whatever, and that word is “Nazi” – nobody cares about their reasons anymore. But it was possible in 1930 or 1933 to join the NSDAP and still not know what was coming down the pike. Neo-Nazis, however, have the example of three quarters of a century of history. These are the people who looked at the Holocaust, who looked at the devastation of World War II, and then said, “Yep, we need more of that.”

It might have been possible to ignore the fact that Trump was a raving lunatic in 2016. That he openly campaigned on a platform of war crimes and authoritarianism. That he was endorsed by every major neo-Nazi and white supremacist organization in America as the candidate who shared their values and agenda. Maybe someone just hated Hillary Clinton. Maybe they were blinded by the party label and thought he was just another Republican.

But not in 2020.

In 2020 it should have been clear. Yet over seventy million Americans looked at the open corruption, the callous, wanton cruelty, the blistering incompetence and calculated destruction, and the increasingly overt Fascism, and said “Yep, we need more of that.”

I grieve for my country.

But for the majority of Americans it was clear, and we rejected Trump and all he stands for. Never forget that for all the gerrymandering that the electoral college introduces to the presidential election, for all that it came down to a few thousand voters in a handful of states, that Trump lost this election by over four million votes – that he and his views have never, not once in the last five years, ever commanded the support of the majority of the American population or the American electorate.

The fact that over seventy-four million Americans went out of their way to repudiate him in the middle of a plague and in the face of his threats and bluster is a hopeful sign. It means that possibly the tide of Trumpian Fascism is ebbing and perhaps – perhaps – we can resume our rightful place among the nations of the world as a normal country. It will not be easy to erase the stain of the last four years. This electoral victory is the first step, not the last, and the hard part has yet to begin. But at least now we can start.

I will breathe easier today, knowing that there is a deadline for this administration and that in January there will be a president who will seek to advance the interests of the whole nation rather than those of just his personal cult and who will reject the corruption, cruelty, destruction and Fascism of the current occupant of the Oval Office.

I will celebrate the victory of a decent candidate over this moral black hole of a president.

But I will not relax.

It shouldn’t have been this close.

And the fact that it was means that there is work for American patriots to do.


Nicholas said...

From the perspective of a progressive, the situation is quite clear. The dems ran an incredibly weak candidate, who won not on his own merits, but as opposition to Trump. I realize that his policies have some good things in then (even if they are far too mild for me), but he didn't really run on those policies. Unless the dems start delivering some much needed change, we'll just have a worse Trump in the next cycle.

David said...

That's possible. And I suspect that much of Biden's support is coming from the "anyone but Trump" camp.

I also suspect that progressives badly overestimate just how popular their policies are and that there is a reason why Biden won the primaries with more votes than Warren, Sanders, or the other progressive candidates. And that running a more progressive candidate may not, therefore, produce any great victory.

Speaking as someone for whom Biden was not my first (or second, or even third) choice, who considers himself to be in the progressive camp (I'd happily vote for AOC for president, for example, and I know very well that some of the things I'd like to see happen in this country won't even be considered in my lifetime), I'd be very hesitant to condemn Biden as a weak candidate. He ran the campaign he had to run and he got the job done in the face of fanatical ideologically-driven hatred.

What will happen in the next cycle is anyone's guess at this point. Perhaps you will be proven right, either by the Democrats delivering the change you seek and holding power - his victory speech tonight seemed to hint at that, anyway - or not delivering it and being followed by "a worse Trump" afterward. Or perhaps not.

My guess is that Trump is a cult leader more than a political leader and cults tend to wither once the leader is deposed. I sincerely doubt you'd get 70 million voters frothing at the mouth for Mike Pence, for example. I do suspect the GOP will continue on its obstructionist and right-wing extremist path until they are shattered by repeated electoral defeat - they can do that, being a narrow party held together by rigid ideology. The Democrats are still more of a traditional American party of widely disparate factions and will remain so until one of those factions seizes power, as happened in the GOP.

If that happens, though, it is entirely possible that there won't be either Democrats or Republicans as we know them in a decade or so. Both parties are nearing fracture and may well split into a Fourth Party System. In that case I would expect the Progressives to hive off on their own. The Main Street Democrats (essentially Eisenhower Republicans rebranded for the 1990s) may well join with the few surviving Republican moderates and the Wall Streeters, who just want to make money without shoving their religion or their social views down your throat. And the social conservative/political authoritarian GOP of Trump will do their own thing - probably under a different name. And then one of those three groups will disappear since the US system doesn't really work with more than two major parties.

But he who lives by the crystal ball learns to eat ground glass, so whether any of these predictions come true is an open question.

Thanks for the ideas, though - I enjoyed reading them.

LucyInDisguise said...

I'm with you on the whole lotsa work to do thing. It must start now.

I'm also gonna let this author speak my piece, on account a 'cause they say it all, and much more coherently than I can at this point:

I had a similar conversation with my granddaughter-in-law's father yesterday. His reaction was not what I'd expected, but he is digesting it - we shall see ...


David said...

Works for me.

I've spent the last decade being told I need to understand and empathize with people who are working feverishly to destroy everything of value in this country, to subvert the Constitution, deny human rights to American citizens and to those who would become American citizens, and assault my family and loved ones. I've been told I need to meet halfway people who have explicitly told me they don't give a damn about anything that matters to me.

Fuck that.

They can goddamn well meet me for a change.

There are more of us than them, and we need to act like it.