This is America now

My attempted political book Nemesis (to be shared soon) has multiple themes, but a big one might be summarized as “This is America, now.”

This is not a phase, a spell, an anomaly, or a fight with some thing which can be decisively won by the America of inclusive democracy and other liberal ideals.

It’s pure hallucinatory delusion to maintain, at this point, that “in November of 2020 ‚Ķ We saw a light at the end of the tunnel. Well, the light is still a little further off”* but we will get there.

We are not “passing through a tunnel” or any other metaphor for temporary deviation from a safe normal which we can get back to.

This is America.

Seventy-four million people voted for Donald Trump in 2020; after four years of assaulting every notion of decent, responsible, “genuine” liberal America’s values, he got more votes than in 2016. Republicans, who were like this for years before Trump (following decades of movement in that direction) are not “coming to their senses.” The broader electorate is not remotely close to decertifying the Republican Party and embracing one-party Democratic governance or any other alternative. Liberal democracy’s institutions and putative leaders have no fucking idea what to do about this and mostly don’t even recognize the real problem confronting them.

There is no “light at the end of the tunnel” because what we’re living amidst is not like “going through a tunnel” or any other detour from the natural order. This fucking is America now.

Everyone still bewildered that “I can’t even recognize my own country at this point,” hey, take a good look with your eyes open. What you see around us, that’s it. That’s our country.

For what it’s worth that goes for everyone, whatever idea of “their country” they can’t recognize. The Black president was real, the nonbinary generation is real; the insatiable desire to reject and injure diversity, and the large durably viable antidemocracy party are also real.

But the very real intolerant antidemocracy America does know what it plans to do about the also-real inclusive liberal America. Short version: it plans to rig the rules so that popular rejection won’t matter, and a liberalism which can’t conceive of any alternative to “proper channels” will be checkmated when none of those channels lead to redress any longer. This has been underway already for some time.

There is, I think, a growing disaffected population recognizing that “this bullshit is not cutting it,” but I also think we are small in number and nowhere near transforming the “light is just a little farther off, keep doing what we’ve been doing” leadership. In fairness, I don’t have any simple alternative to offer; theory is one thing, but in practice I think ideas of a separable union of consent are about as realistic as the anarcho-communism answer which various young and online propose.

As far as I can see, the United States has never really “worked” as an inclusive liberal democracy. More stable, functional political consensus has existed in the past, but it relied on large concessions to unfair, oppressive social hierarchies.

Unfair, oppressive social hierarchies were America. For a few decades, some of us could enjoy a relatively convincing illusion that America was leaving those behind, but that (to me) is now obviously not the case.

This scary place of cruel exploitation and abuse, where exploiters seem to be authority rather than being stopped by authority? This is America.

* Thank you Indivisible for continuing to be a gold medalist at unintentionally revealing the foolery and incoherence.

One Thought on “This is America now

  1. I’m reminded of Alvin Toffler’s “Future Shock” where he explains the idea of people basically staying in their personal/social/technical bubble for years, and being thrown for a loop when they’re forced to confront life beyond that bubble. A kind of self-imposed culture shock. Toffler was mostly thinking in terms of technology and, to a lesser degree, the social norms that rise as a result, but the concept can easily be applied to politics. I’m sure there were any of number of Germans who were absolutely shocked when they saw stormtroopers goose-stepping down their streets for the first time. They saw only what they wanted to see until they couldn’t, and it seems like the world leapt forward all of a sudden.

    I expect a large number of Americans will have to reckon with a form of future shock when “suddenly” the entire country is in the hands of people who have no interest in anything but power, everything has gone to shit, and their political voice isn’t even ostensibly heard.

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