From my vantage point, as the presidential race remains in the balance with five states undeclared, there seem to be no good outcomes for the state of the union.
A nation divided against itself cannot stand
Those were Abraham Lincoln’s words in 1858, long before he became president. But it set him on the track to the presidency because he had said what no man dared say—that the nation could not survive half slave and half free.
Keep in mind that this was said a mere 82 years after the nation’s birth. A point I mean to lean upon and I mean to lean upon it hard.
We are presently divided, but Trump did not divide us
Just as Lincoln did not create slavery, Trump had no hand in the splitting of America into haves and have-nots, the privileged and the homeless, those who eat and those who serve. That 40 year slight-of-hand began with Ronald Reagan
Republicans and Democrats were equally complicit in a series of economic crimes—Republicans by design and Democrats by guilt of association. It was Fred and Ginger, one leading and the other dancing backward in high heels.
Timing—the timing is everything
Those who found themselves hip-deep in slavery issues in Lincoln’s day had never known an America without slave owners. The Founders owned slaves. The Electoral College was created to perpetuate slavery. No one alive in 1858 could remember an America without slavery.
Few voters in 2020 America can remember a time (a mere 40 years ago) when we had a vibrant, union-supported middle class and we actually made stuff. Banks actually lent money instead of gambling with it. Anti-monopoly laws kept Amazon, Wal-Mart, Google, Facebook and Twitter from dominating our cultural and economic lives. We had plenty of millionaires, but billionaires were an unknown and undiscovered species.
Yes, we were capitalists
Indeed we were, but not yet globalists. We had not yet discovered that American innovation was cheaper to manufacture in wage-slave nations and, better yet, far more profitable. The American consumer loved cheaper prices. If a manufacturer here and there fell off the tree like an autumn leaf, so what? We had $120 Nike sneakers and if they were made for three bucks a pair in Asia, who gave a shit? The investor-class was rolling in dough as the middle class disappeared.
The death of a thousand cuts
Death by a thousand cuts is defined as a failure that happens because of many small issues that have accumulated. The forty years of those many small bi-partisan issues, about which I have written in Chop Shop, the Deconstruction of America, brought an end to the American middle class.
Good riddance cheered Nike, Amazon and Wal-Mart. The middle class was a pain in the ass, always bitching about wages, benefits, profit-sharing and retirement benefits.
Greed, fraud and corruption
All painfully negative words and illegal as well. If only there were a way for Democrats and Republicans to keep their heads in the trough and not seem like third-world dictators and crooks.
Every architect knows that design follows need. Lobbyists and Political Action Committees came to congressional rescue like the cavalry, with sharpshooters galore and all flags flying. Appropriately, the Supreme Court added the weight of their considerable shoulder to the wheel, finding that corporations were actually people and money was the equal of free speech. Someone wrote, “I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one” and I love the quote although I can’t confirm the author.
Thus was born the best government money could buy and wealth finally had the keys to crooked legislation with all the crookedness ironed out like a bedsheet. Great wealth slept soundly on those immaculately laundered sheets and Washington became a swamp.
One, two, three and Trump
One, the middle class was flushed down the Supreme Court’s toilet and huge swaths of the nation simply fell apart, turning into no-man’s lands of poverty and abandoned factories. Workers lost their jobs, pensions and often their homes.
Two, as the more solid parts of the American economy softened into wastelands of decline, 40% of America became scared as hell. They were not idiots. They knew who had sold them down the river. But the usual tools of recourse, such things as meaningful demonstration, political pressure and voting the assholes out of office were removed from the toolboxes of government. Fine to need a wrench when the sink is busted, but the damned thing was in the basement and the door was locked.
Three, we separated ourselves from one another. Like passengers on a sinking ship without enough lifeboats, we began to edge toward self-interest, eyeing our former neighbors with distrust and looking toward conspiracy theories for answers…
…and Donald Trump, the candidate arrived. If he didn’t already exist, we would have had to invent him. He had an answer for everything, a finger to point, the media in his pocket and an audience primed and ready. One political party after another had promised and failed for forty years. Not only failed, but wallowed in those failures, blaming the poor and the jobless for being poor and jobless and, the most painful cut of all, congratulating themselves election after election for pissing all over their constituencies.
The Donald cometh
Of course he beat Hillary. She was the absolute poster-child for business as usual and Trump voters had enough of usual, thank you very much. Of course Trump was an asshole. But he was their asshole. They’d tried smooth talking Bill, dumb talking George and elegantly spoken Barack, but the load on their backs just kept getting heavier.
The left-leaning (and I am among them) were dumbfounded when Trump won. Many of us voted for Hillary with our noses held, but this guy? Well, you had to be as old as I am to understand it. They were not the idiots Democrats would have liked them to be, they were the truly angry that both Democrats and Republicans had worked overtime to create.
He promised to break all the furniture and that was fine with them. And who knows, maybe he did his best, but our government remains a shithouse and now what?
Someone will be elected
Biden or Trump, but then what?
Donald Trump can’t do in a second term what he was unable to accomplish in his first. His supporters are still angry and he is too wounded by his own corruption to move forward. Half the world inside America is sick of him and almost all the world outside.
Joe Biden thought not being Donald was enough, got no landslide and needs the Senate to govern if he wins. Without the Senate, he’s crippled and although the jury’s still out he’s very unlikely to get the Senate. He and Kamala will now catch the blame for the pandemic, a likely economic disaster, business failures as we’ve never seen, a busted stock market and growing public chaos. Not exactly a prescription for Kamala’s electoral success in 2024.
No good outcomes
And we fret about the Arizona vote.