Oh, hey! Yeah, sorry, it has been a while. How’re you? Cool, cool.
Not much happening here in the U.S., really. Same ol’ same ol’. Masks, riots, fires. Blah blah blah. Oh, and our president just refused to disavow white supremacy and basically issued a call to arms to the Proud Boys on national TV. So, you know, life as usual.
By now you’ve heard the soundbites and seen overly-made-up talking heads wax apoplectic about Trump’s turn of phrase during the first presidential debate, but what does it mean, really? Well, it depends on where you sit astride the massive ideological chasm that is America.
For many of us, hopefully, most of us, it means we have a president who no longer cares to mince words about his intentions. He’s laid his racism on the table and encouraged the countless fringe nationalist groups dumb enough to love him to rally ‘round, promising a return to the good ol’ days of coal jobs, rampant chauvinism, and silent women slaving in kitchens full of babies. In name dropping the Proud Boys (the stereotypical angsty, far-right hate group du jour started by Vice founder Gavin McInnes) and saying they should ‘stand back and stand by,’ Trump deliberately played to his base while providing headline fodder and a bold type quote that will dominate the media for the next ten cycles.
What exactly is up with the Proud Boys? Well, first of all, just what they’re proud of is questionable. Much like those who espouse ‘white pride,’ they’re hardly made of anything worth bragging about, unless a propensity for Nazi mannerisms, authoritarianism, arrogance, ignorance, and a passion for Joe Rogan’s ‘open-minded’ podcast make you horny. Maybe the sheer lack of sexiness exuded by these character traits is exactly the problem… These kooks crawled out of the same mildewy Internet sub-basement that gave us the incel movement a while back, hardly a breeding ground for anyone who should be breeding. They mostly grab headlines as the foil to the over-hyped faux threat of ‘Antifa,’ running around Black Lives Matter protests punching people in the face and showing off their big gun collections.
So, where does all this actually leave us? Has Trump finally pissed off the bulk of the American electorate? To be honest, here on the ground it feels like this thing could go either way.
Even if our wannabe dictator president doesn’t ride a gerrymandered popular vote or wrangle an unfairly distributed and biased electoral college to victory, he’s been sowing enough disinformation (read: outright lies) about the security and hackability of our voting process that barring some sort of landslide, he’s just gonna contest the results. Which would ultimately wind up with the Supreme Court deciding who becomes president—a Supreme Court firmly weighted toward conservatives, even more so if he manages to slam the anti-abortion, ‘do it all for the Kingdom of Heaven’ Amy Coney Barrett in to replace Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
Add to this the already overflowing level of vitriol in American streets with constant clashing between anti-racism protestors and overtly racist powers-that-be and their militia ‘patriot’ cohorts and you’ve got an expansively explosive stage set for the darkest winter since, well, who knows. Game of Thrones?
Oh, don’t forget, we also have climate change knocking on our door. Deny it all you want, but half the world burns every year and what isn’t on fire keeps flooding, but I’m sure it’s fine. Yeah, I sound pessimistic. You spend a few hours reading the news in preparation for writing a weekly election column and tell me how you feel afterwards. I can’t just drink my feelings away all day every day, can I? Don’t tell me how to live.
There are some signs of light, though. Biden may be ‘sleepy’, but at least he’s not a narcissistic lunatic scrabbling to hold on to the presidency by any means necessary if only to keep his sorry ass out of jail. We’re raised to believe that the United States is a democracy, for the people and by the people, etc., and the people sure are starting seem fed up with this bullshit. Hopefully, they turn out large and loud enough to shout down the din, drowning out what should really be the yowling death throes of the white racist patriarchy.
I’ll drink to that.
Next week: a glossary of the terms, characters, and situations at play in deciding the future of America.