Wednesday, November 04, 2020

The US of A has officially jumped rhe shark, and there may be no way back

As I write this, the US presidential elections are still not decided, except in the labyrinthine mind of Donald Trump. Vote-counting continues in several key swing stakes like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. It is, as had become more and more likely towards election day, going down to the wire.

This, in itself, though is a damning indictment of the US of A. This election should not have been close. The very fact that Joe Biden has not cruised to an easy landslide, after four years of Trump-inflicted chaos and megalomania, is an indictment of the country as a whole. Whoever wins the election, Trump will probably receive nearly eight million MORE votes than he did in 2016 (although still 5 million - or about 3.6 % - less than Biden). How is that even possible? (Well, the answer is a 100-year record turnout of over 66%, compared to 59% in 2016, but still....)

That half of the country could even countenance four more years of international embarrassment, isolation and ridicule, surely means that there is no way back to international respect for the country that was once - it's kind of hard to remember back to the heady days of Barack Obama! - considered the moral authority and compass of the planet, and a guiding light in a murky, shadowy world (and I'm far from the only one to feel this way.)

Four years of legal murkiness; constant stress, disinformation and divisiveness; extreme polarization such as has not been witnessed in a generation; racial tension and violence; environmental and democratic degradation; roll-backs of anything even vaguely progressive; and the wilful dismantling of national and international institutions that took decades to develop - and still the country hasn't learned? The last four years has been exhausting, and I don't even live there. 

However this thing turns out, even if Biden does eventually prevail, the respect for the country is gone. Half of the country is apparently quite OK with what has been happening recently, and even want more of it. We are not just talking about the gun-toting, golf cart-driving, drive-in-frequenting, red-necked Republican stereotypes here. Millions of others have joined them, perhaps taken in by Trump's Svengali-like lies and exhortations, or his constant warnings against Biden's "socialist" tendencies, or perhaps just following their own single-issue obsessions, whether it be anti-abortion beliefs, 2nd Amendment rights, or climate change denial. These people (maybe) had an excuse in 2016 - he could, after all, have changed the habits of a lifetime and become all presidential (ha!), but they have no excuse this year.

And don't forget that millions of others with a more liberal outlook have apparently ignored all the warnings and admonishments of the Democratic campaign, and did not bother to vote one way or the other (although the Democrats do seem to have mobilized the black vote better this time around, Trump seems to have retained just as much of the white vote as he did in 2016). And you know what John Stuart Mill said about good men who do nothing...

So, that's it America. You had your chance. Almost everyone across the world feels as though America has turned in on itself, and is in decline. Maybe it had been going that way for some time, and it just took Donald Trump to bring it all to a head. Or maybe Trump managed it all on his own, in just four years. Either way, it will be a steep and painful road back.

Any election where citizens barricade up their business in the reasonable expectation of post-election violence (and they were so right) has to be considered a failure of public trust and democracy. When even Russia pans your election as chaotic and dysfunctional, you know you're in a bad place. Apologies to those good-hearted liberals who fought hard to stem this tide of filth, but you now officially live in a crappy country. 

And the best of luck, Joe - if you do manage to win and survive the browbeating, lying and legal machinations that will surely come from Trump, and indeed have already started - but you have one hell of a hole to dig out of now.


Ding dong the witch is dead! Biden wins, finally. The work starts here.

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