11.03.2020

this should have been the biggest landslide in u.s. history. instead we are holding our breath.

To quote a headline I saw tonight, what should have been a landslide has turned into a nail-biter. No matter what the outcome of this election, we can clearly see that about half of all American voters have asked for another term of DJT. 

It is stunning, bizarre, baffling, and deeply depressing.

You could perhaps explain away voting for him once. (I can't, really, but for argument's sake, we can say they didn't know, or they hated Hillary Clinton that much.) Now, after four years of this torture, of this outrage, of this tweeting buffoon, of this laughingstock, who has wreaked havoc on the country and the world in countless ways: millions of Americans ask for more of the same. 

A re-election campaign is essentially a referendum on your first term. DJT should not have taken one state. Not one. This should have been the biggest electoral and popular-vote landslide in American history. Instead, it will come down to the wire, and to counting every absentee and provisional ballot.

How can this be?

Is this all down to Fox News? The Ministry of Truth, piped in 24/7 on the telescreens. Unlike Winston Smith, however, Americans can choose a different source.

Not long ago I was speaking with an American friend who said, "It's not just the government. It's the people. It's knowing that so many of my fellow citizens feel this way," that so many Americans subscribe to these views. Are so profoundly ignorant. Deny reality.

This is very, very sad. And very scary.

24 comments:

allan said...

A re-election campaign is essentially a referendum on your first term. DJT should not have taken one state. Not one.

The virus alone should have turned every state against him. Instead, a majority of voters in at least 23 states have chosen a mass murderer as their leader.

In May 2016, a writer named Charlie Skyes refused to get on the Trump Train: "I've cautioned my fellow conservatives, you embrace Donald Trump, you embrace it all. You embrace every slur, every insult, every outrage, every falsehood. You're going to spend the next six months defending, rationalizing, evading all that. And afterwards, you come back to women, to minorities, to young people and say, that wasn't us. That's not what we're about. The reality is, if you support him to be president of the United States, that is who you are, and you own it."

(The six months comment is assuming he lost to Clinton.) But, yes, anyone who called himself or herself a conservative NOW owns all 4 years of this menace. You have fully attached yourself to all of it. It is who you are.

deang said...

And the fact that historic numbers of Americans voted early makes it even more depressing, as the prediction was that the more people vote, the more likely progressive candidates are to win, but that is clearly not the case in the United States. I honestly think the number of Trump supporters/far-rightists is understated, that they're a larger proportion of the population than is even reflected in the poll numbers.

And I do think that the ubiquity of Fox News is a big part of that, but Fox understood as part of the flood of right-wing media that has been allowed to spread unimpeded across the country since Reagan rescinded the media Fairness Doctrine in 1987. For years and probably still, Fox has been the most popular TV news in the US, and Americans are unreflective, unaware of the rest of the world, and, honestly, extremely shallow, for the most part, or at least they've become that way. I trace this state of the US populace to that spread of right-wing media across the country beginning in the late eighties-early nineties.

If you've never seen "The Brainwashing of My Dad," a documentary about how filmmaker Jen Senko's lifelong Kennedy-liberal father became a raving right-winger sometime in the late eighties-early nineties after exposure to newly ascendent right-wing radio and TV, you should. It's really depressing. Her father just totally changes, like his mind just flips. I think that happened to millions and millions of (particularly white) Americans starting in the late eighties. It's after that big media change of the late eighties/early nineties that you see certain states and regions become firmly, irrationally Republican, with Republicans suddenly acting like they're more of a win-at-all-costs sports team than a parliamentary political party, with compromise now seen as consorting with "the enemy."

I keep thinking about something said about Jacinda Arden's wins in New Zealand and about New Zealand's absence of the kind of far-right, white-supremacist segment that countries like the US, Australia, and the UK have. A commentator whose name I can't remember said that it's because Rupert Murdoch has never set up a right-wing paper or station in New Zealand; thus, Arden doesn't have to endure death threats, people came out in vast support of the targeted Muslims a couple of years ago, and New Zealand has a healthy social system and environmental laws with no threatening public opposition.

Anyway, y'all are lucky to be out of the US.

allan said...

I saw a comment at FiveThirtyEight tonight that was interesting. It's from Lee Drutman:

"I published a book earlier this year, 'Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America,' in which I worried about an escalating feedback loop of hyper-partisan animosity undermining the very legitimacy of our democracy. I offered this conclusion: 'We know how democracies die. They die when the country splits apart into two sides that distrust and fear each other so much that one side blows up norms of fair play to keep the other side out of power. Once that happens, it's hard to build back stability. Unfortunately, this is where America's doom loop of toxic two-party politics is headed.' Tonight, I'm feeling more pessimistic than I was when I finished the book. It feels like the time sands are slipping through the hourglass faster than I feared.
I still believe that electoral reforms that would break this razor's-edge zero-sum binary and move us to a proportional, multiparty system hold tremendous promise. I just hope we can find a path to get there. Perhaps when this all is over, we'll have a genuine soul-searching and start having a bigger conversation about what we want our democracy to be."

***

There will be no soul-searching or big conversation, but his book sounds interesting.

Amy said...

I think I was the American friend you quoted. If not, I certainly could have been. Because right now no matter the ultimate result, I feel nothing but disgust and disdain for half the people in the US. I am beyond despair. I feel no hope for the future that faces my grandsons if they stay in the US. My heart breaks when I think of my immigrant ancestors who came here with dreams for that idealized view of America. Those dreams died with this election. My hopes did as well.

CuJoYYC said...

Sadly, we're witnessing the rise of the faux-Christian, prosperity gospel, American theocracy supported by wilfully and proudly ignorant.

laura k said...

Amy, it was actually not you.

Your comment is heartbreaking.

laura k said...

Dean, thanks for your insight.

There's only one point I disagree with, and that makes it even worse. Australia and the UK both have strong white supremacist movements, with actual political parties to represent them. National Front in the UK, National Action in Australia.

All the European countries have these groups, mobilized around immigration issues.

laura k said...

And yes, we are incredibly grateful that we decided to leave, and went through the long process, and started over here in Canada. It's the best decision we ever made.

laura k said...

But, yes, anyone who called himself or herself a conservative NOW owns all 4 years of this menace. You have fully attached yourself to all of it. It is who you are.

This is why I puke over statements about bringing the country together and finding common ground.

laura k said...

...not that anyone is saying that right now. But I've heard so much of it over the past decades.

laura k said...

I'm reading about how Florida and Ohio released the results of their mail-in votes first, showing the Dems with the advantage, then as the results of Election Day voting trickled in, that's why the lead shrank and then disappeared.

I was feeling so relieved -- Florida, Texas, Penn, and Ohio, all with a healthy margin for Biden. And then...

I know this happened to everyone. Just needing to write it somewhere, and I'm staying off social media. 100% of my feed feels the same way. It's just too noisy for me right now.

deang said...

Australia and the UK both have strong white supremacist movements, with actual political parties to represent them.

I guess I didn't make my point clearly enough. It was an awfully long post. My point was that Australia and the UK, like the US, do have those far-right, white-supremacist segments, while New Zealand doesn't.

laura k said...

Ah, thanks, Dean. I'm quite sure my early-morning fuzzy brain was to blame, not the clarity of your writing or the length of your post.

lungta said...

first of all laura k welcome
second of all fyi
calgary alberta has the the greatest amount of expatriot americans in the world
(i estimated once that 1 in 10 in stevenie harpers riding were )
and i imagine jason kenny is the same
and please note how well that is going for us

laura k said...

Thank you, Lungta. I have been in Canada for 15 years. We emigrated in 2005 and became citizens in 2010.

I'm all too aware of Alberta and Jason Kenney and their influence on Canadian politics and culture. Ontario's not looking so good either right now.

allan said...

Sadly, we're witnessing the rise of the faux-Christian, prosperity gospel, American theocracy supported by wilfully and proudly ignorant.

Chris Hedges gets into that here and explains how it has taken over American society. It is the text of a talk he gave recently. NOTE: It is uniformly excellent, but it won't offer you any hope, false or otherwise.

"Trump's legacy will, I fear, be the empowerment of the Christian fascists. They are what comes next. Noam Chomsky, for this reason, is right when he warns that Pence is more dangerous than Trump. For decades the Christian fascists have been organizing to take power. They have built infrastructures and organizations, including lobbying groups, schools, colleges and law schools, as well as media platforms, to prepare. They have seeded their cadre into positions of power. We on the left, meanwhile, have seen our institutions and organizations destroyed or corrupted by corporate power and been seduced by the boutique activism of identity politics. FRC Action, the legislative affiliate of the Family Research Council, already gives 245 members of Congress a 100 percent approval rating for supporting legislation that is backed by the Christian right.

Christian fascism is an emotional life raft for tens of millions of Americans. It is impervious to science and verifiable fact. The Christian fascists, by choice, have severed themselves from rational thought and the secular society that almost destroyed them and their families and thrust them into deep despair. We will not placate or disarm this movement, bent on our destruction, by attempting to claim that we, too, have Christian "values." This appeal only strengthens the legitimacy of the Christian fascists and weakens our own. These dispossessed people will either be reintegrated into the economy and the society and their shattered social bonds mended, or the movement will grow more virulent and more powerful. ...

The road to despotism is always paved with righteousness.

All fascist movements paper over their squalid belief systems with the veneer of morality. They mouth pieties about restoring law and order, right and wrong, the sanctity of life, civic and family virtues, patriotism and tradition to mask their dismantling of the open society and silencing and persecution of those who dissent. The Christian right, awash in money from corporations that understand their political intent, will use any tool, no matter how devious, from right-wing armed militias to the invalidation of ballots, to block Biden and Democratic candidates from assuming office.

Capitalism, driven by the obsession to maximize profit and reduce the cost of production by slashing worker's rights and wages, is antithetical to the Christian Gospel, as well as the Enlightenment ethic of Immanuel Kant. But capitalism, in the hands of the Christian fascists, has become sacralized in the form of the Prosperity Gospel, the belief that Jesus came to minister to our material needs, blessing believers with wealth and power. The Prosperity Gospel is an ideological cover for the slow-motion corporate coup d'├ętat."

allan said...

Carey Georgas is a Democrat in Republican-dominated East Texas:
"I was hoping that this would be a chance for some healing, if there would be somewhat of a repudiation of Trump. But I don't see where the healing is going to come from now. . . . It's nerve-wracking watching the stuff roll in. I'm trying not to make it existential in my mind, but it's just got me shaking my head, man. Have I just been duped about what America is and what America stands for? That's kind of where it's got me, scratching my head and wondering, 'Is this my country?'"

M@ said...

It's exactly this that's kept S and me from travelling in the USA over the last four years. We're not just upset at the government, but at the huge swath of the population that was stupid and crazy enough to vote for the lunatic. The country is not okay.

I know better than to paint all Americans with the same brush, and I know that more people didn't vote for the lunatic than did... but it's really hard to find a way to trust the country.

I'm pretty leery of my fellow Ontarians too, for the record. And I'm working directly to change that. At least the Ford government pretends to be a government sometimes.

laura k said...

Chris Hedges gets into that here and explains how it has taken over American society. It is the text of a talk he gave recently. NOTE: It is uniformly excellent, but it won't offer you any hope, false or otherwise.

It is excellent, but I disagree with some of his analysis.

They have seeded their cadre into positions of power. We on the left, meanwhile, have seen our institutions and organizations destroyed or corrupted by corporate power and been seduced by the boutique activism of identity politics.

I wonder what he means by "we on the left". Is he talking about the Democratic Party? Or is he talking about movements and activism? The dynamic of leftist activists pushing the Democratic Party into change -- or dragging them there, kicking and screaming -- is not new. It is standard. And not just in the U.S. It is standard in Canada, and the U.K., and every other similar country.

If he's referring to the activist left, in the U.S. it is stronger and more sustained that it's been since the 1970s.

Hedges' line about "boutique activism of identity politics" is very disturbing. Is this a reference to Black Lives Matter? Surely he knows that BLM is broader, deeper, and more essential to U.S. society that than. It is the civil rights movement of our time.

Or is it a reference to LGBTQ activism, especially the trans liberation movement? I hope not. Hedges has never had to fight for his own identity to be recognized and treated fairly. If he's dismissing civil rights and equity as "identity politics"... that is very sad.

I haven't read anything current by Hedges and I don't follow him on social media (actually don't know if he's on social media), so I don't know if these dismissive remarks are standard for him.

Also, I can't argue about Christian fascism. This is Hedges' area of expertise and he describes it well. But I don't think the current incarnation of capitalism -- the rise of the extreme income inequality we've seen over the past few decades, the complete abandonment of corporate responsibility to the community, the ruthless disregard of workers -- is all down to the prosperity gospel. I'm pretty sure Jeff Bezos and his ilk doesn't give a shit about that or any other gospel.

The Christian right took over the U.S. a long time ago, but that is only part of the picture.

laura k said...

It's exactly this that's kept S and me from travelling in the USA over the last four years.

I've heard many Canadians say this. It's telling and very sad.

deang said...

Chris Hedges is also one of a few commentators who constantly, excessively in my opinion, rails against "liberals," and I mean really rails, to the extent that he won't support mainstream liberal parties like the Democrats in order to oppose actual fascists like Republicans/Libertarians. And he makes the mistake of thinking that the word neoliberal means "newly liberal" or "currently liberal" instead of its actual meaning as something more like Reaganite or Thatcherite, heirs to the Chicago school of economics. That is a difficult word, to be sure, and one that I never use because its meaning isn't obvious on its face, but still, he should know better. Because he believes that that is its meaning, he contrasts "neoliberals" with "neoconservatives" in his railings. Anyway, Hedges is not one of my favorites.

allan said...

Hedges is absolutely unyielding in his hatred of the Democrats, that's for sure. I find it refreshing for the most part (when he lists the quite numerous horrible, destructive things Biden has supported over the years, he's not wrong), though I can see how he's unwilling to truly acknowledge (and outline) the many, many small steps that would need to be taken to get where he thinks society should be. It's not going to be a great leap. It's not going to happen in a week or a month or a year. It would be decades, I'd think. Which is also why I think it's utterly impossible. But perhaps my view is limited.

laura k said...

Hedges is absolutely unyielding in his hatred of the Democrats, that's for sure.

He is great that way, when many other commentators fall short. He is also unyielding in his opposition to war. I'm grateful to his writings for the insight into the war mentality and what it would take to change it.

Change could take 10 or 20 years -- and it could happen. But not if they don't start. I'm very interested to see what, if anything, Biden will do with the SCOTUS. To me that's almost a litmus test of his courage and leadership, if any will be forthcoming.

deang said...

I may have overstated my case. I value those things about Hedges, too. Thanks for reining me in a bit.