We Did not Save Democracy…
“And just like that, it’s over… we tend to our wounded and count our dead… Black and white soldiers wonder alike if this really means freedom…
Elections are, at their Hamiltonian best, intense, heightened moments of conflict between ideas, identities and dreams for the future. After the intensity of the campaigning, no quarter given in pursuit of victory and hundreds of millions of dollars spent in anger, the politicians, their voices cracking, their faces lined by consecutive sleepless nights that not even network TV makeup can hide, haul themselves onto the stage and call for unity… They appeal to ‘those they did not convince’, they assert the need to find understanding, a middle road leading to common ground.
This is normal… It is human….
America is in a fight for its very soul. It’s all too easy to slip into the rhetoric of ‘the divide’, of ‘polarisation’. This is bullshit too. That language has within it an implicit assertion that that these sides are somewhat in balance, that they are equal.
They are not.
The middle ground between democracy and fascism is a quasi fascistic state.
The middle ground between equality and racism is still a darkly racist place.
The middle ground between rational thought and the belief that ‘God would not have allowed Trump to be President if it wasn’t supposed to happen’ is still pretty fucking delusional. (Heard on the New York Times Daily Podcast last week)
I could go on… The same analogy runs for a free press, for healthcare… but it would not help. These forces are not new. They are the same ones as rise and fall, ebb and flow through history as countries ascend and descend in power and change the fundamental relationships they have with their people.
And as such, I’m not celebrating the dawn of a post Mid-Term world in which America’s better nature reasserted itself against the poisonous rhetoric of a self styled strong man puppet. Because it didn’t.
While the newspapers and podcasts and TV networks chew over the detail, as if this election was somehow normal, the elephant in the room grows fatter and more repulsive.
Another popular vote has been won in a landslide yet two of the three branches of government are controlled by people who are not rational. A Governorship map still leaves all too corruptible Republicans in positions of power to rig and sabotage democratic processes in key battleground states that may be the difference between saving the country and not. What has transpired in Georgia is a disgrace of the most repugnant order. And yet we continue to humour them.
We are not the same. Trumpism controls the Republican party. Critical Republicans largely lost.
A picture has now been consolidated of the Trump voter, the voter willing to indulge the destruction of the democratic process provided their own narrow views are pandered to and reinforced. We know this voter is predominantly white, predominantly rural, predominantly older, predominantly on the lowest educational rung. We know this voter is more prevalent in the South and professes some degree of Christian faith. We know that this voter does not believe in certain data evident truths of America’s social malaise. Polling suggests a significant number believe that it’s harder to be white than a minority in America. This voter does not, for the most part, believe in Climate change.
Time and again, we are called upon to ‘understand this voter’. Bullshit. Understanding requires reason, and many on this side of the fence are not rational.
Even so, we can actually attempt to do that because, political correctness aside, the data would suggest that this voter is not driven by a great deal of complexity. This is the voter that in spite of his regions of the country being significantly impacted by the opioid crisis, by fracking, collapsing schools, poor healthcare coverage or any of the corporate catastrophes visited upon him like biblical plagues, hates the government. He seeks to keep the government weak and keeps his gun handy in case it tries to take away his freedom. It does not need to take away his freedom. He has given it away himself without firing a shot, and has been given nothing but a handful of lies in return.
And all the demographical evidence suggests that he will have to suffer even more before the truth is evident to him, before the world he has constructed himself comes crashing down.
God. The Constitution. The flag. The troops. Symbols anchored in the past. All considered above scrutiny and remorselessly weaponised and mythologised to maintain the belief that America is the greatest country in the world. I listened to a newscast this morning that cheerfully stated the certainties by which States vote along racial lines. Election after election, billions and billions of dollars and still, the political makeup of the country is defined by skin colour… In the ‘greatest country in the world’?
Is this the best you can do? Crumbling infrastructure, homeless epidemics, the prison industrial complex. Is this what the Founding Fathers were aiming for? These figures are held up and worshiped as doctrine but the most important thing they did is always overlooked.
The Founding Fathers started something new. The Founding Fathers were instrumental in a revolution that swept away Imperial rule and replaced it with something that was, for its time, ground breaking.
To survive, America must break new ground once again. It must be the country that does not stand still. It must not waste years pandering to people who cling to god and guns and poverty of the mind. It must not be in hock to people who refuse to change, refuse to grow, refuse to aspire to anything other than personal wealth, personal success… the American dream that can only be achieved on the backs of an indentured class, be they actual slaves or ill educated white collar workers fighting robots for their jobs on the Amazon production line.
The Founding Fathers read. They wrote. They were idealists who created and changed the world. Where are the founding fathers of the digital age? Will they only emerge after a latest, greatest conflict that resets our collective humanity. In the internet age, does another generation have to suffer that indignity, to be immortalised on another armistice day for the country and the world to truly change, to evolve for the betterment of all?
Nothing will change unless we have leaders prepared to do the dark and dangerous thing of confronting those who seek to subvert their democracy and telling those who support them that their views are wrong. When a Red vote is a vote for racism, a vote for indecency and even for abuse of federal powers, that for me and the Americans I know must mean the end of the very idea of the ‘Red State’.
An alternative future will not appear out of empty promises and bitter bitter compromises to make the world seem less scary to people who do not wish to progress, personally, or to see their society do the same. Call it a new social contract… Call it a new Constitution. If any country is capable of this kind of cathartic renewal it is the one that elected Barack Obama, and the one that thwarted his every move in the years since. One of those movements had America’s interests at heart. One did not. Polarity does not mean equality and so long as we continue to behave like it does, than the country so obsessed with freedom, will itself, never be free to grow.