Mid-October 2020

Mostly just assorted stray thoughts about the present phase of America’s long emergency.

At mid-October, we’re largely past the point where a lot of big narrative-shifting ratfuckery occurred in 2016. Russia’s hacked-email airlift to rescue Trump from his Access Hollywood vulgarity occurred Oct. 11. Jim Comey’s Clinton memo, which may have turned a teensy edge for Clinton into a teensy edge for Trump, was just days before the election. But that wasn’t a Republican hit job per se. That was to all appearances Comey trying to shore up some sort of independence brand image ahead of an inevitable Clinton presidency.

I trust nothing, at this point, but it seems at least possible that if Republicans had cards up their sleeves they would have played them by now. Particularly with massive early voting now into, what, its third week in some places?

Certainly Republicans have been trying, already. But multiple attempts to weaponize investigations-of-the-investigation into some sort of Biden-smearing narrative have proved unable to get around the complete absence of a there, there. The project to manufacture a Biden scandal has deteriorated into absolutely mental Rudy Giuliani haplessly trying to shop hacked emails about Hunter Biden, and succeeding in little more than making Joe Biden look like a caring parent.

I’m not sure anything looks more like evidence that Republicans have written off voter persuasion effort than their flat refusal to vote a big relief bill full of goodies for Trump to hand out, in spite of Democrats’ unrelenting effort to make that happen. At this point, even if they were to announce Monday that the Senate will vote through a $2 trillion deal or something, we’re really past the opportunity to mail out checks with Trump’s name on them again.

Of course Republicans are definitely still giving their all to voter suppression, for evidence look no further than Ohio where Secretary of State Frank LaRose is creating traffic back-ups around boards of election, and Trumper-owned printing company Midwest Direct is simply refusing to deliver ballots for said boards to mail in the first place.

So I can assume nothing about who will actually head up the presidency or US Senate three months from now. No one should, really, although I think many PACs are now using that “can’t take any chances” factor to justify outright sleazy attempts at scaring people into donating…

Meanwhile I still can assume that America is going to blow up. Again, the best I can come up with in the short term is that Trump loses power and things really unravel for Republicans… This is probably wishful thinking, given how much we already know, yet seemingly random things still have the ability to become a major scandal, somehow. Thinking back, this afternoon, I could with effort recall what “l’affaire Ukrainienne” was about, but I can not begin to explain why that particular abuse of power provoked the extraordinary response it did.

In the bigger picture and longer-term, the combination of an absolutely toxic major political party and calcified culture/institutions is going to produce even more disaster than it already has. The best I can come up with at this level is that somehow, the nightmare Republican death cult is checked just enough to forestall complete disaster for another 10-15 years, but its toxicity prevents building any bridge outside its voting base of angry, tired, dying people and communities. I don’t think this is going to happen, but it’s about the only way I can imagine America moving beyond the conceptual infrastructure of the D/R “two-party system,” i.e. if one of the parties is reduced to such a rump state that updated concepts are simply forced upon our culture, ready or not.

Even if that were to happen, the Gramsci-an interim will be a brutal zombie failed state. That scenario seems more likely to send people looking for solutions in the wrong places, than to result in either positive cultural growth or resigned muddle-through for another decade-plus. To some extent I’m describing things which have already occurred, admittedly, but their continued recurrence still seems the most likely future. As I wrote to an acquaintance, recently, the fundamental problem of a completely divorced nation-within-a-nation, permanently mobilized for scorched earth war yet expected by every institution and custom to be a valid political party, defies fixing.

We have got to adjust our expectations, but people go on pushing on a rope all the same.

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