Article 43

 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

People of The Lie

image: devil in a suit

What is the chief end of man? --to get rich. In what way?—dishonestly if we can; honestly if we must.”
- Mark Twain, 1871

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
- Edmund Burke

“America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War.”
- John le Carr

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Why waste a vote on Donald Trump or Joe Biden?

By Max Lemuz
Orange County Register
July 18, 2020

I’ve decided to waste my vote in this election, and I’m not going to change my mind.

I’ve been told by Democrats that I’m essentially voting for Donald Trump, and by Republicans that I’m voting for JOE BIDEN.

“A vote for a third party is a vote for the opposition,” they say. This, of course, is implying that I would have voted for their favored candidate otherwise. But this isn’t the case, because if I didn’t vote for a third party, I would not vote at all.

“But this is the chance for your voice to be heard,” they say. This popular counterargument is only true on its face, for when limited to two “viable options,” a vote for either major party doesn’t seem historically significant.

In an election, everyone has their most important issues. Whether its health care, foreign relations or the economy, voters typically appropriate the rhetoric of their preferred candidate and cast their vote based on that rhetoric.

Yet it has become rare to take a step back and examine the similarities of the two major parties and how their rhetoric has translated to actualized policy.

With the mounting economic crisis sparked by the COVID-19 virus, it is vital to examine the legacy of both parties when it comes to the economy.

While differences may lie in the rhetoric of Democratic and Republican candidates, the consequences of their policies on the debt and corporate handouts are similar.

Each president since Herbert Hoover (eight Republicans and seven Democrats) and including President Trump has increased the national debt.

Similarly, both parties have time and time again bailed out the same industries: banks, insurance companies, and investment funds, which have only strengthened Wall Street at the cost of localization and the average American.

None of these systemic problems are addressed by either party, year after year, and the buck doesn’t stop there, but trickles to other aspects of our national health.

On May 25, our nation was reminded of the systemic problems with law enforcement and the racial inequities it produces when George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. But Floyd is unfortunately a statistic in a long line of unarmed men and women unjustly killed by police. Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Daniel Shaver, Duncan Lemp, Breonna Taylor and too many more to name span the list of those killed by police due to systemic racism and a culture of escalation.

Under the grasp of the two-party system, we have seen the damage of the War on Drugs and the 1994 crime bill Joe Biden proudly sponsored. The “land of the free” has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with minorities receiving unequal treatment under the law.

Despite varying rhetoric from either side, the consequences have been more than clear. Law enforcement has not been held to account, and by extension, neither has the political system that has upheld it.

There is no space to even delve into the bipartisan erosion of our civil liberties via the PATRIOT Act, the regime change wars that put our veterans lives and well-being at risk and a broken public education system.

Over the last two decades, I have realized (and am willing to bet!) that if the two-party system goes unchallenged, by the end of the next president’s term, our country will have even more debt, continued systemic injustice and a foreign policy that perpetuates war.

Despite the polarized rhetoric from both sides, the overarching consequences of our political history have only clearly shown a benefit to the two-party Democrat-Republican system. Like bees and flowers, bacteria and humans, the two parties are mutually benefitting in their political industrial complex.

Then how will voting for a third-party change anything? This is not only a valid point, but one of the most challenging.

Although a Libertarian vote won’t change the world tomorrow, it’s an opportunity to avoid the complacency that comes with the two-party system.

Our next generation will already be inheriting vast debt and an unjust world, and I owe it to my children to “waste” my vote in order to hopefully give them the choice we do not have.

Max Lemuz is an author and graduate student at California State University, Long Beach.

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According to Dr. M. Scott Peck, the ‘People of the Lie; won’t change and are capable of great harm.

Thirty-five years ago, Dr. M. Scott Pecks People of the Lie was published, detailing what the psychiatrist believed was human EVIL AT WORK IN THE WORLD - something different from the SPIRITUAL EVIL espoused by religion but nonetheless vile.

Peck described human evil as a malignant type of “self-righteousness,” leading those “for whom it applies to see others as play things or tools to be manipulated for their own uses or entertainment.”

The following traits consistently appear in individuals Peck has classified as evil (via Wikipedia):

Self-deceiving in an effort to avoid guilt and maintain a self-image of perfection;

Deceiving others as a consequence of their own self-deception;

Projecting his or her own evils onto specific targets (scapegoats) while interacting normally with everyone else;

Hates with the pretense of love, in order to deceive both self and others;

Abusing political (emotional) power imposing one’s will on others using overt or covert coercion;

Maintaining a high degree of respectability, propped up by incessant lying;

Consistent in his or her destructiveness;

Unable to empathize or think from their victims point of view;

Unable to tolerate criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury.

Peck also argued that evil people are often aware of the evil within but are unable to face the intense pain of introspection, or even admit the truth to themselves.

In this way, he saw evil as a choice, an intentional subversion of the conscience as compared to sociopathy or psychopathy.

Peck’s description of human evil tracks closely with malignant narcissism and both track closely with Donald Trump.

How many times have Americans wondered collectively if Trump believes his own lies, or how he can accuse others of the very behaviors he engages in every day?

For Trump, it is Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who is indignant, Democrats who are hateful, and most all media who tell incessant lies.

Yet every instance of his own name calling, derogation, lying and abuse are justified and forgiven. The mere hint of criticism will bring about a Twitter-lashing from the president.

Peck’s characteristics of evil appear in Trump’s hostility toward immigrants, where he calls fellow humans animals and tears children from their parents - and then turns around and blames others for his own policies.

In Trump’s “patriotism” is found self-promotion and aggrandizement, couched in concern for the flag, national anthem and troops. His choice to deride NFL players who kneel as “sons of bitches” who maybe...shouldn’t be in the country flies in the face of the very patriotism he claims to hold so dear.

But derision is a way of life for Trump - he has mocked the disabled, denigrated women, belittled war heroes, and insulted veterans.

Numerous contractors who have worked with Trump claim he stiffed them on payment for services rendered but the president is currently on a rampage against U.S. trade partners for treating the U.S. “like the piggy bank that everybodys robbing.”

Theft is only righteous when Trump is doing the taking.

As is lying. And name calling. And every other imaginable wrong.

Trump embodies Pecks human evil, and anyone still hoping he will “pivot one day” has a long wait in store.

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image biden-harris 2020

Joe Biden and the Battle for the Soul of America
His Speech Gave Us All the Feelings. Now Can He Really Fix a Broken Country?

By Umair Haque
Eudaimonia
August 21, 2020

“Cometh the hour, cometh the man.” So goes the old saying - and there was a vivid demonstration of it last night. America’s at a crossroads a point from which there just might be no turning back. The depths of the abyss beckon. And yet Joe Biden rose to the occasion.

HIS SPEECH at the DNC, accepting the nomination, was a remarkable moment. He spoke, impassioned, of how his decision to run was made when Neo-Nazis marched sneering and shouting through the streets, their twisted faces lit by torchlight. He reminded Americans - literally - that “silence is complicity.” He spoke of how grief has touched his life in many ways, and only tempered the steel of love and grace. He struggled for words at times, the childhood stutterer, obviously swayed by the gravity of the moment. And it was so powerful to see a man putting his many vulnerabilities on open display, right out there, in this age of chest-beating macho demagogues.

My friends, I’m about as hardened a skeptic of the insubstantial gloss and pretty vacancy of American politics that there is. But if you can get through even to me, and move me? I’m betting you hit Americans right down in the gut.

Biden didn’t have to say any of those things. But he did. That’s a measure of a person’s moral courage, goodness, decency, truth. Their humanity.

Joe Biden put his humanity front and center and thatגs crucial. Not just for the sake of some kind of campaign of feelings but because America needs a humanist reformation. Americaגs long been the kind of society that laughs at peoples humanity җ even now, many Americans reading this are rolling their eyes, trained and rewarded only to be bullies and narcissists. So you see how dangerous a gambit this is, to be vulnerable, to be deeply and unashamedly human and what it tells us, too, about Bidenגs resolve.

Let me explain that, in more sophisticated terms, by talking about the deeper challenges that Biden will now face.

Biden then spoke of four crises engulfing America. Smart not least because I recently myself wrote about exactly the same idea (oh, hi Biden speechwriting team! Nice shoes. Come here often?). That’s a powerful way to frame the problem if I do say so myself. America is a collapsing society now: one beset by multiple crises at once, each with the power to rip a nation apart.

So take a moment to really see Joe Biden. He has the hardest job a leader can have, ever, period: turning a collapsing society around, pulling it back from the brink. Would you want that job? I wouldn’t. It takes a certain kind of person to really step up to the gravity of such a moment. Trump, after all, is golfing, as hundreds of thousands die.

Another way a more formal way to say that - is that Joe understands something very, very crucial about how societies die. America right now needs multiple levels of leadership. Intellectual, political, moral, cultural. It has none of those, period, full stop. Its intellectual class has failed. Its political elites are the world’s greatest failures. Its moral and cultural standing in the world and history is ruined and disgraced, and the globe - unfortunately but understandably openly laughs at America, because it chose self-destruction - at the hands of an idiot like Trump, no less.

Like any collapsing society, America doesnt just need a leader җ a competent person to take charge and deliver on a plan. It needs a transformational leader who can offer those multiple levels, political, social, cultural, moral, all at once.

And really deeply transform a society.

That brings me to the next part of Bidenגs speech. He spoke of a battle for America’s soul. And I think that’s exactly right - I seem to recall myself using those words, too, once, but I digress. Thatגs the part which tells us Biden gets that America needs moral leadership first and foremost.

What does that mean? Something like this. The world is astonished, repelled, and flabbergasted by America. Because Americas values - or what they’ve been allowed to become are a) abhorrent b) abnormal c) unnatural and d) they haven’t worked out.

America’s values - or what they’ve been allowed to become - are at this point like something out of a Soviet parody of America. Brutality so legendary that kids are massacred at school, over and over again. Cruelty so extreme that people have to beg each other for pennies to pay for life-saving medications of which thereגs no actual shortage. Selfishness so over-the-top that American life is a stupid game of wake up every day, and try to beat everyone else, in a never-ending contest for things like employment, money, healthcare, and retirement, which people can simply give each other. Narcissism so toxic that Americans almost never, ever even bother to understand why if you cross an invisible line into Canada, life is suddenly vastly better, happier, longer-lived, richer, saner, stabler.

America’s soul is exactly what you might expect of a society where capitalism and supremacy and patriarchy were allowed to rise unchecked. It doesn’t appear to have one left.

You might think that’s a hyperbolic statement - but Im only telling you what the world thinks. Go ahead and ask your friends. They’re right, because nobody else makes the bizarre choices Americans do. No society with the resources and money chooses not to give everyone healthcare, retirement, education, and so on. No society at all chooses to let kids get massacred at school, or to make people simply die because while theres plenty of medicine and even doctors҅theyre not allowed to have enough. No other country in the world has so many dead, and so many infected, of a preventable pandemic. No other country in the world probably would just sit there and watch mass death happen җ and merely bitch about it on Twitter, instead of occupying the capital, and demanding the resignation of the entire government.

Americas soul, in other words, is shrunken and withered to the point that it can barely be seen at all anymore. That’s why the world is baffled and horrified by America. Soul? What soul, the world wonders? Americas a Darwinian country. The strong survive, and the weak perish. The weak are left and made to perish, so that the strong can survive. How else do we explain Amazon growing in value from $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion - while the economy implodes and hundreds of thousands die? What the? To the world, all this is as inexplicable and baffling as the sun spinning around the moon. But mass death, poverty, despair, and fascism as a result of it all is exactly what you’d expect in a society where capitalism’s selfishness, rage, hate, and cruelty has turned the future into a cross between the Hunger Games, Jurassic Park, 1984, and the Book of Revelation.

Biden needs to provide moral leadership of a kind America’s scarcely seen before. He needs to turn a failing capitalist society - the world’s last into a fledgling social democracy. Or at least he needs to convince Americans to. Can he do that?

That brings me to Biden’s next set of challenges. The American hard left’s cynical about that and their take is frankly as sophomoric as you might expect, too. “If Biden doesn’t fix America by 2024, there’ll be a repeat of 2016!” Sure there will - that much is obvious. The deeper question is if the adolescent left can get off its high horse, stop focusing obsessively on pronouns, and work with the grown-ups to actually effect real political change.

That will take, somewhat paradoxically, moral leadership from Biden, and political and intellectual leadership, too. He’ll have to show he’s open to working with the left. And hell have to be smart enough to understand that more American centrism like yesterday isn’t going to cut it.

Let me put that even more sharply. Joes bedeviled by his own political legacy. He’s Obamas neoliberal lieutenant. But we all know, by now, that more neoliberalism isn’t going to fix America. Even that poor schlub, forgotten, abandoned, sitting on his porch somewhere in Topeka, Scranton, St Louis, knows that. Thats why he chose Trump, duh.

We all know neoliberalism - failing, giving the fringe right a vacuum to breed in is what led to this mess. Capitalism implodes into fascism like that: through the poverty and despair and hopelessness neoliberalism leaves in its wake. Joe has to be smart enough to know he canגt just be Obama part two, and leave it at that.

Joe has to be a better President than Barack. Obamas a great mind, and a historic orator, to be sure. But as a President? His legacyҒs mixed. Im sorry to say that, because I admire the man. But facts are uncomfortable things. Under ObamaҒs tenure, the middle class became a minority, incomes shrank, social bonds imploded, and so forth. The economy didnt boom, the stock market did, and while millions of jobs were created, they were largely ғlow wage service work. Hence, the collapsing middle and the imploded working class turned en masse to Trump, for protection from ObamaԒs failing neoliberalism.

So no - not a better orator, a better professor, or even a more inspiring person. But Joe has to be a better President than Barack. President - as in leader, who can orient the nation towards a new trajectory, destiny, fate. Americas at a turning point, remember. Obama didn’t turn it away from the collapse I and many others predicted. Maybe he tried, maybe he didn’t - that’s besides the point. Joe has to turn America around.

That’s a tall order. It’s the hardest job, like I said, that a leader can have. Because it takes leadership at all the levels we’ve discussed. Moral, political, social, cultural. That’s really, really tough. Because you have to be a certain kind of person to do all that - a kind of person that most of us are uncomfortable being. A set of contradictions. Fierce in your vulnerability, strong in your fragility, gentle in your strength, kind in your grief, loving in your anger, wise in the innocence and beauty and wonder you haven’t let all the pain and loss of just being here, alive, take away from you yet.

It’s not easy to be that kind of person. So difficult is it, in fact, that they don’t pop up in history very often. Most of us? We’re defeated, by the slings and arrows, by people, by life, by politics. Left embittered, hardened, fatalistic, cynical. At least on some level, deep inside, which we never really show to anyone else, or we show all too much. And that inner withering is enough to stop us becoming the kind of person that a transformational leader really is, one who retains the innocence of a child, tempered with the wisdom of the elder, the beauty of the little one, tempered with the love of the parent. The undefeated one. The one who, through all the grief and sorrow of life, can still walk beside you, and laugh gently with you, at the absurdity of it all, the unstoppable pain, and yet how love triumphs, for a moment, and that is enough to lend it all meaning, worth, beauty, grace.

Those values are the ones of existentialist humanism. Of European and Canadian social democracy. At least at its best. They stand in stark opposition to America’s death of the soul: it’s nihilism, brutality, cruelty, rage, stupidity.

Joe Biden has to set America on that path. Whether or not Americans know it, want to admit it, understand it. Or even whether Joe Biden does. They are the most successful societies not just in the world, but in all of human history, precisely because those values created great political breakthroughs, like the expansive social contracts healthcare, retirement, pensions, dignity, worth for all ח which Europe and Canada are renowned for today.

Do you see how these things are linked? Values, what beats in the heart, with politics, the marrow that connects us together? How, in the end, decency and civilization, the enactment of love and grace between people, are all there is left to fight for, cherish, share, treasure, give, have, bestow?

I don’t know if Joe Biden is going to be the kind of transformational leader America needs. Nobody does. Ignore the pundits. What I do know, though, is that he could be. Because he began rising to the challenge when he gave that speech, in a way that was remarkable, striking, and wonderful to see. And that, my friends, is something that all of us left who are sane and decent people should admire very much. Because, for now, for this perilous moment? It’s more than enough.

Umair
August 2020

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Trump Is Terrible. Here’s The One Reason I Still Can’t Vote for Biden.
Don’t worry, I’m not voting for Trump. And Biden seems a decent man. But abortion is a deal-breaker for me. And maybe for millions of others, too.

By Matt Lewis, Senior Columnist
The Daily Beast
August 02, 2020, Updated August 04, 2020

This spring, I thrilled my newfound liberal readers by voting for Joe Biden in the Super Tuesday primary. Unfortunately, the honeymoon was short-lived. The praise ended almost immediately, when they read past the headline and discovered my plans to (again) abstain from voting in the general election.

With less than 100 days left, its probably time to more fully explain my rationale. Why is it that I, an outspoken Never Trump conservative well versed in Trump’s failings, am unwilling to pull the lever for Uncle Joe? Two significant reasons have stayed my hand: one is seen, and one is unseen - but both are related.

Let’s start with my visible (if only in an ultrasound) reason: the unborn child. Last year, Biden decided to drop his decades-long support of the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funds for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the mothers life is in danger).

For me, Biden’s flip was a deal-breaker, and I said as much at the time.

If you believe (as I do) that the unborn child (call it a fetus if you like, but nobody calls it that if the baby is wanted) has the same right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as, say, a 1-year-old child does, then this is a weighty moral issue that cannot be easily brushed away or bargained over as a lesser-of-two-evils decision. It’s on par with Trump’s uncompassionate mistreatment of immigrants and refugees, his divisive rhetoric about race, and his willingness to sacrifice vulnerable Americans for the sake of the economy.

There are, of course, other, less incendiary, areas where I disagree with Biden. I’m a conservative, after all. But in the context of trying to replace a horrific president like Donald Trump, none of those other reasons would disqualify him. Let’s take, for instance, Biden’s opposition to fracking (which is complicated and nuanced) or his plans to raise taxes (more than $3 trillion over a decade). I might disagree with his plans in both areas, but they pale in comparison to Trump’s (past and current) atrocities.

Abortion, though, is a moral issue.

What makes this situation even worse is that, for much of Biden’s career, he agreed with me - or at least he did before the Democratic Party moved leftward.

In a 1974 interview, Biden said, “I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far.” According to NBC News, in 1986, Biden told the Catholic Diocese newspaper that “abortion is wrong from the moment of conception.” And in a 1994 letter, Biden reminded a constituent that on no fewer than 50 occasions, he voted against federal funding for abortions, adding that, Those of us who are opposed to abortions should not be compelled to pay for them. Now, however, Biden thinks that those of us who are opposed to abortions should, in fact, be compelled to pay for them.

Why did he change his position on such a deep and fundamental issue? Because he wants to be president and was pressured by the left. It sounds harsh to say that about a guy who seems generally affable, but I don’t think it’s an unfair or unreasonable conclusion.

Consider this Fortune magazine headline from one day before Biden flip-flopped on abortion: Joe Biden Still Supports the Hyde Amendment - and 2020 Democrats Pounce. The article includes criticism from his rivals as well as from progressive activists. It must have done the trick. And fast.

This brings us to the other (unseen) reason Biden’s newfound abortion stance matters: the notion that Biden is susceptible to being pushed leftward.

This is what Trump has been opportunistically warning against, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Biden is a centrist only in the sense that he has historically positioned himself in the center of the Democratic Party. The thing is, the Democratic Party has shifted leftward on multiple issues, which means that (on paper, at least) Joe Biden would be (as Bernie Sanders said) “the most progressive president since FDR.”

Regardless, even the most energetic and competent of presidents will nominate countless judges, officials, and bureaucrats who will implement policy. Most of these nominees and hires, I suspect, will be younger and more progressive than Joe Biden. Just as there was immense pressure for Biden to flip on Hyde, he will face significant pressure from the likes of Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and House Democrats to move leftward on everything else. But even if he doesn’t move leftward, the people he will necessarily delegate responsibility to are already there.

Again, though, this is only a second-order concern that is related to his support of abortion.

As I have said hundreds of times, there is no way I could vote for Donald Trump. But now I hope you at least understand why I feel the same way about Joe Biden - who is admittedly a more decent human being.

And I suspect there are a fair number of like-minded people in America who simply cannot bring themselves to vote for a pro-choice politician. In 2016, many of them held their noses and voted for Trump. Will they do the same in 2020 - or will they (like me) simply sit this one out, thus depriving Trump of votes a Republican should normally garner?

If the polls are to be believed, conscientious objectors like me won’t be decisive. This time. Unless the race tightens.

Regardless, if Democrats want to woo us into their coalition - if they want to corner the market on compassion for the vulnerable - they would do well to consider that there are millions of Americans who care so deeply about this issue. Indeed, it is a litmus test.

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How Bad Will a Second Trump Term Be? Even Worse Than You Think.
You Know itll Be Bad. But How Bad? Catastrophe Like Americans Have Never Experienced.

By umair haque
Eudamonia
September 5, 2020

How bad would a second Trump term be? I’m sure at this point you’ve asked yourself the question - and entertained some pretty dark intimations. Your worst fears aren’t nearly grim enough. A second Trump term would be absolutely catastrophic to the point of ruin for America. It would be rock bottom at a whole new level.

Let me begin with America’s immediate twin crises, and zoom out to the bigger picture. America’s being wracked by two interlinked crises, both of which have already reached catastrophic proportions: Covid and the economic ruin its igniting.

That’s not a natural outcome: its a result of Trump’s fatal negligence, indifference, and recklessness. He encouraged the virus to spread at precisely the moment it should have been contained, he minimised its danger while it was exploding - telling people to drink bleach no less - and to this day there is no coherent national strategy for fighting Covid. The result?

Somewhere just under half a million people are projected to die by the end of the year. Half a million.

Those numbers are baked in: they’re going to happen regardless, because Trump won’t leave office until then. They’re the best case scenario.

That one goes like this: Biden takes power, and not being a complete moron, heҒs ready to put in place a national strategy to fight Covid. Numbers peak from there. But you can expect just as many to die on the way down as on the way up, so Americas total Covid death toll is somewhere around a million people.

If Trump stays in power? CovidҒs eventual death toll is north of a million Americans.

How far north? First let me pause to put that in perspective. How much is a million people? The mind struggles to process a number of that magnitude. Its about ten Hiroshimas. If Trump stays in power, he will dropped the equivalent of ten nuclear bombs on America. HeҒs already dropped about five. Trumps tenure will be the equivalent of America launching a nuclear war Ғ against itself.

No, thats not hyperbole ג its a fact. The question is why anyone at all would disbelieve these numbers. One answer is that theyגre horrific, but its not a very good answer. A better one, a truer one, is that Americans either play dumb or theyҒre indifferent. So let me try to say it again, even more strongly. Trump staying in power means the equivalent of nuclear winter in America, a death toll at the level of multiple nuclear bombs going off. Trump staying in power is the equivalent of America fighting and losing җ a nuclear war.

And yet thats just the beginning. In a second Trump term, how far north of the one million mark ג remember, thats now the best case scenario for Covid ג would deaths rise? Trump not only doesnt have a national strategy, heגs not interested in having one. America will never have a national strategy under Trump, which means that if theres another Trump term, Covid will just go permanent, become a kind of new flu which Americans suffer but most of the rest of the world doesnҒt. How much death are we then talking? Well, Americas going to hit about 500K in 9 months, which is about 666K over a year.

Hmm, maybe he really is the Antichrist. (I’m kidding.) That death rate, continuing over four years, since Trump will never be able to contain Corona, since hes both uninterested and incompetent? That’s 3 million people or thereabouts. Now were talking death at the level of a large-scale nuclear war. That’s half a major city, dead.

Go ahead and do the math yourself. Its easy enough. If you’re skeptical, let me remind you, America’s already at 200K dead - and its only been six months of Covid. The death rate has stabilised at about 1,000 people per day. We are talking horrific, unbelievable numbers of deaths, so I don’t blame you for finding it hard to process. But if you want to understand the stakes of another Trump term - you’d better find it in you to grasp the horror of the numbers.

What kind of effect does that have on the economy? Well, America’s already spiralling into something very much like a Greater Depression. Sure, the economic statistics such as they are don’t quite tell the story but they haven’t told the story of American life falling apart for decades now. Sure, Apple and Amazon, Gates and Bezos and Zuck and so forth, all became mega richer. The stock market boomed. So what? Its been about 25 weeks of about a million people or more filing for unemployment. That’s half a year.

As a result, there’s an emerging shock front of bankruptcies, which is causing short-term unemployment to go long-term. Meanwhile, what jobs are on offer are mostly “ow wage service work. But while driving an Uber or working in an Amazon warehouse might - just might - provide a tiny temporary income for a desperate family, it’s not even enough to put steady food on the table, let alone provide healthcare, education, retirement, and so on. Americas middle class was collapsing - that began in 2010 or so. Now? It’s imploding, thanks to Covid allowed to simply wreck people’s lives.

In a second Trump term, you can expect the Covid Depression to go nuclear, too. Trump has no inclination to provide Americans the support they need to weather this historic crisis. Not only does he not understand why governments must support people in tough times to stave off depressions - like his cronies in the GOP, hes ideologically opposed to it. Hence, Americans are now going without any support, which is causing a massive eviction crisis and debt crisis both.

Where are all those millions of unemployed who can’t pay the rent or their mortgage going to go? What about their kids? Nobody appears to care very much in America about these questions. But they should. This is what depressions look like. Millions homeless, unable to feed their families, with no futures in sight, not enough jobs, incomes, savings to go around.

In a second Trump term, all of that would become endemic. It would be normal even more normal than it is now җ for American families to live in shocking levels of poverty. In homeless shelters, in their cars, on the streets. For kids to grow up without decent food, education, housing. For society to simply become an arena where the strong survive, and the weak perish which is what every good fascist really wants.

Americaחs been on the way to becoming a poor society for decades now. You can mark the turning point in the 70s, when wages stagnated, in the 90s, when savings did, or in the 2010s, when the middle class finally fell apart. In a second Trump term, though, America would finish the job of becoming a poor country for the 90%, everyone thatҗs not Bezos or Buffett or their minions.

Let me make that concrete. Pre-Covid, 80% of Americans lived paycheck to paycheck. But those paychecks werent enough to pay the bills: 75% of Americans struggled to pay for basics, like water, food, energy, and healthcare together. Hence, just a tiny fraction of Americans Ғ around 25% could raise a thousand dollars for an emergency. Hence, the average American died in debt ח something American shrug at, but shouldnt: nobody but a peasant or serf should die in debt, it means youגve never saved, owned, or earned a thing across a lifetime.

How much worse can an economy like that even get? The answer, unfortunately, is: a lot worse. Americans in a second Trump term would begin understanding what real poverty is. Right now, most Americans struggle to afford basics. In a second Trump term, they would simply go without. True poverty as in a lack of decent food, water, sanitation, energy, resources, basics җ would become a new normal. That is the difference between relative poverty I have less than you ח and absolute poverty: I have less than I need to survive.

Americas been making the transition to absolute poverty for about a decade now, and in a second Trump term, Americans would learn the hard way what it really is to be poor.

They simply wouldnגt have the luxuries they are used to, or the necessities, either. Not only because theyd have grown too poor to afford them anymore, most of their income going to service Ғdebt.

But also because many of those basics simply wouldnӔt be available in society anymore. Energy grid? Sorry, it doesnt work reliably anymore. Water? Go ahead and drink it at your own risk. Schools? They barely function.

America’s underinvested in its basic systems for decades now, which is why they’re mostly falling apart, on the brink of failure. In a second Trump term, those basic systems will begin to fail, starved of even the basic investment they need to go on functioning. And that;s because, in turn, Trumps extremists, his army of American Idiots are opposed to everything from public healthcare to public schools.

So imagine this. A nation that’s descended into real poverty. Which doesn’t have the money to pay the bills for basics anymore. And every year, those basics get more and more expensive. Now the water system is owned by a Trump crony, who charges you three times as much as you used to pay. Now the banking system is too, and your money seems to mysteriously dwindle, sapped away by fees. Now the healthcare system Ғ what there is of it is, and if you want that life-saving medication, you must pay whatever you have.

That kind of nation is a place of true desperation, of agony, of ruin. People’s living standards begin to crater. They live shorter lives, poorer lives, unhappier ones.

And as they grow poorer, something happens that accompanies poverty: social bonds disintegrate. Thats how Americans came to mistrust one another Ғ they grew poorer, and social cohesion fell apart, because as you grow poor, you must fight for subsistence against everyone else, and neighbours who were once friends regard one another as rivals, adversaries, and then enemies.

In a second Trump term, we can expect Americas stunning disintegration as a society to quicken. Itגs true that Trump will go on emboldening everyone from Neo-Nazis to white supremacists. But its truer that in a society growing poorer, social cohesion cannot ever really be regained, fixed, healed, grow. Friendship is the luxury of stability and prosperity. Social cohesion comes from economic development and growth, and in a Trumpist America, hate would flourish not just because Trump himself would encourage and incite it, but because the conditions for it would ripen, like oil spilled under a match.

Put all that together, and what does America look like, in a second Trump term? ItҒs a place where mass death never stops happening. Just rolls on and on, into the millions, at the hands of a pandemic that in much of the rest of the world is becoming a distant memory. Its a place where poverty never stops growing. And so despair and anxiety and unhappiness never do, too: suicide and depression all go on skyrocketing. Life expectancies fall, as CovidҒs toll grows, and as Americas notoriously broken healthcare system canҒt provide, anyways.

And as poverty and despair spiral, so hate does, too. Instead of pulling together have we ever? җ Americans retreat into old divisions, groups, tribes, made of old hatreds. And pulled apart, the conditions are easy for authoritarianism to take hold, and keep it.

I havent discussed that part ג do I need to? Let me do so briefly. What can you expect politically? For Trump to take the gloves off. For his administration to act like Saddams, Gaddafiגs, or Putins. You can expect leading critics and opponents to be jailed after show trials Ғ and thats if theyגre lucky. The unlucky ones just get assassinated, poisoned, gunned down. You can expect disappearance by secret police like Kenosha and Portland and Chicago җ to become commonplace, everyday events, which nobody is safe from, which happen at the authoritarian regimes whim, for everything from mere criticism to disagreement to them just not liking you. You can expect beatings and gassings by Trumpגs shock troopers to be features of daily life and thatҗs when there is resistance. You can expect, in short, everything true authoritarianism and fascism are known for.

First they came for this hated minority, and I didnt speak up, then for that hated minority, and I didnҒt speak up. That part of Americas authoritarian-fascist collapse is now over. The next part is what will begin in a second Trump term. The part where they come for you, finally. The Ғreal American.

Protest on the side of the hated Mexicans, all those hated refugees? Maybe youӔre charged with a felony, maybe youre jailed for a decade, maybe youҒre ruined. Make too much noise? Maybe they just disappear you for a while, and teach you a lesson. Dont shut up? Maybe they take you away and torture you for a while.

I know that “real” Americans will think I’m exaggerating. Let us survivors assure you: “real” Americans have no idea what the hell to expect because they have never lived it. They have no experience with authoritarianism whatsoever. We do. And what we can tell you is that this is how it happens.

The next part of this is how it happens is all the above: authoritarians begin to abuse a society with true violence, even among the realԓ members, not just its hated minorities. The very same abuses of power are directed against people who’ve been foolish enough to think themselves immune, protected, safe, by reason of purity or blood or race or creed.

Do you know who’s safe in a collapsed society? No one. Nobody, and I mean nobody, except the ruling dynasty, is safe. In America, that’d be the Trumps. Everyone else is at their mercy. They can hurt and violate and destroy you in any and every way they see fit, whether financially, legally, socially, economically, or physically.

That is the part “real” Americans still don’t really grasp, because they have never been that unsafe in their society - only hated minorities have. But every American will learn, during a second Trump term, the hard way what it is to feel unsafe, insecure, terrorized, like blacks and Latinos and native Americans have long known. What it is to risk being beaten or jailed or gassed or violated, simply for saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time, walking down the wrong street, acting like - someone living in a free society.

Those are the stakes of a second Trump term. Let me sum them up. Freedom. Prosperity. Truth. Happiness. Justice. Reality. Democracy. None of that is exaggeration. The end of America is closer than you think, and worse than you can possibly imagine.

So take it from those of us who’ve survived the horrors of a nation’s implosion, of social collapse, of authoritarianism, and lived to tell the tale.

Another Trump term will be much, much worse than Americans can yet imagine. The orders of magnitude we are talking of death, disease, poverty, despair, violence, ruin, hate - are simply beyond their capacity to really understand, which is why nobody in America is really discussing them.

If Americans understood the stakes, they would be pointing them out to each other. But they don’t, not in hard terms, which is no such discussion is happening at all. And that’s because Americans have no experience of living in the kind of a society another Trump term would produce. It is simply beyond their imagining. But they need to imagine it now, if they’re to prevent it.

Let us survivors gently teach “real” Americans WHAT WE HAVE LIVED, then - but they haven’t. Another Trump term will be the end. The end. Of everything you once cherished, and you’ll barely have time to remember, because you’ll be busy living in fear, terror, panic, and regret.

Umair
September 2020

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Posted by Elvis on 08/25/20 •
Section Dying America
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