Cole is not at home at the moment, so he just wrote and asked me to publish some of the write-ups that came in. Hopefully whatever he is unexpectedly up to is more like the missing mustard and less like the shattered shoulder. ~WaterGirl
In taking a minute to look back, I have this feeling since November 2016 of just everything in my life getting put on hold because of what happened to put donald trump in the White House. It was like, here’s the universe chugging along, Hillary Clinton certain to get the popular vote, the political landscape mostly in lockdown because the Congressional Republicans were likely to freeze anything Hillary could do, and yet it felt rather normal: Because since 2011 those Republicans had put a hold on Obama’s ability to transform much of America, and yet we still had a more progressive nation with Gay Marriage rights legitimized along with a general sense that the long arc of history bending towards Justice was still bending that way.
And then trump won the Electoral College and that long arc turned into a pretzel.
I still remember two days after the results were pointing to trump’s victory over normalcy, where one of my library co-workers came up to me and said “get familiar with this word ‘kakistocracy’ because it’ll be everything that trump’s misrule will be.” Good thing I was in a library with a dictionary and found the definition: “government by the least suitable or competent citizens of a state.” I knew with trump in charge – having witnessed up close some of his atrocities of broken land deals and his destruction of a decent spring football league (BRING BACK BANDITBALL) – we were facing a dark era in our nation’s history, but now I had a word to explain it and a way to define it.
And trump still went beyond the definition of Kakistocracy to create something worse: a hellish almost-dictatorship based on fearmongering against non-Whites, refusing to lead during crises that wrecked our society, and committing domestic and foreign faux pas that can take generations to repair. All of that seemed to sap the will and psyche of nearly every person I knew, myself included.
I am reminded of the Harry Potter series, when it was prophesied that the Dark Lord Voldemort would return, more terrible than before. How Rowling depicted it with Voldemort achieving a political coup with his lackeys seizing control of the Ministry of Magic, by showing the damage done by the racist, ignorant stances that Voldemort imposed on the Wizard community. You might wonder why an author would allow the villain of her series to actually win, even for a book or two, but it makes literary sense: Our heroes – and the readers following them – have to learn just what the hell is at stake for the world they’re trying to save if they fail. You need to show just how bad it could get under the misrule of the Big Bad, so that everyone else would realize the good things they are fighting for.
And with trump as the Big Bad, we saw for four years just how bad it could get under his rule or the rule of anyone who hates and fears as much as he does. We saw what we needed to do once he was out of power, what needs repairing in our nation so that we can become the better angels of our nature in our future.
So to that, we can look forward to a few things (depending of course on what tricks and disasters trump and his cultish followers have planned to disrupt Biden’s arrival as the new President of the United States).
We can look forward to a federal government restocked with employees and leaders who actually care about their jobs, the impact they’ll have on the citizenry, and with a level of competency that ensures things should and will get done.
We can look forward to a return of sensible policy initiatives, towards the economy and towards the environment, that got sidetracked during trump’s misrule. We should see action taken towards better wages, better job security, more employment opportunities, things geared toward growth rather than mere profits going into the pockets of billionaires who don’t need more money. We should see action taken towards renewable energy sources, cutting carbon emissions in ways that can profit us, realigning our energy markets to be more secure and focused on long-term growth rather than short-sighted greed (goodbye, coal companies).
We can look forward to legal reforms, cleaning up the corruption in law enforcement that has been threatening poor ethnic communities for decades, with more accountability for police departments riven by racism and brutality. We can look forward to more resources for social aid to help reduce the stresses put on our communities that have made policing harder for cops.
We can look forward to a focus on education turning away from for-profit greed, away from questionable charter school systems that weakened accountability and failed more families than helped. A renewed focus on education to make sure more Americans are trained and ready for the jobs we need to fill in this decade, well into a 21st Century that needs more tech awareness and skill.
We can look forward to a Biden administration that ought to respond better to crises and manage our nation’s needs. A Biden administration that ought to follow through on a lot of promises the Democrats made – forgiving personal debts like college loans for example, and helping families with housing and employment funds – that would benefit not just the younger generations but ALL Americans struggling to survive both a pandemic and the darkened remnants of trump’s broken dystopia.
We should look forward to a Far Right media that will obviously unleash their rage and fear on a new Democratic world, but a Far Right Noise Machines that’s more in disarray than before as their focal point and spiritual object of adoration (trump) gets kicked from the stage (and towards the nearest courthouses where civil and criminal charges await him). We can look forward to a more self-aware Democratic party that knows they need to fight back now against that noise and to challenge every lie and misdeed the Republicans will unleash to keep their Far Right Narrative going.
We can look forward to another round of Republican gerrymandering and warfare on American voting rights, as their desperation to delay the inevitable demographic shift away from older (dying) conservative voters towards younger (reaching voter age) liberal voters. If there’s anything the Biden administration and the Democratic Congress need to do, it’s fight every bad state map the Republicans are bound to draw up to unfairly favor their own party over the rights of the voters to have genuine choices to vote for. Guaranteeing every American’s right and power to vote should be a major policy push for the Democrats, and breaking the suppressive tactics of the Far Right a must.
We can look forward to two years of heavy spiritual and verbal fighting against the Republicans, twisted by their greed and lust for power. We can look forward to a midterms election that STILL requires massive voter turnout by Democrats to ensure the Republicans never get near federal power for the next ten generations.
Welcome to the eternal struggle, America. We’re fighting for your soul and your safety against the Dark Lords that would rather feed their own greed and satisfy their own cruelty towards the rest of us.
And while that all seems unsettling and serious and dangerous – as we’re heading into a civil war of sorts between the MAGA trump worshipers and honest governance – we are looking at brighter and happier days. We have causes and reasons to fight FOR, in terms of rebuilding the United States and creating a better future for our children and families. These are good things, things that matter, things to defend and things to create.
These ARE good days ahead. Never lose hope we’re building a better America, everybody.
Thank you, Paul, for your thoughtful essay!