Responding to yesterday’s Backchannel …
You asked for our thoughts RE: Can Any Centers Hold?
Like you, I seem to have had a revelation (somewhere around 2022 but continuing this year) that the good people of America will be fighting Trumpist authoritarianism for decades to come. It’s become the new American sin – not the original sin, but the adopted sin. A sin that was completely avoidable yet irresistible to the power-hungry and to the ignorant. One thing that makes it so dispiriting is that broad swaths of the American public either don’t take it seriously, or they actively (think they) desire it. Life since 2016 has resembled a horror movie where people become zombies not because they are bitten, but because they go down the wrong internet rabbit holes. The mainstream press isn’t immune, either, having developed an insatiable thirst for “Forgotten Man” blood long ago.
I’m not highly optimistic, but I do remember that in most elections since 2020, Democrats have performed better than expected. The red waves of doom never crashed upon the shore. Can we keep that momentum? Can we pull another one off and ensure Donald J. Trump finally faces justice? God, I hope so. But he’s lived so long without consequences, it seems difficult to imagine a legally chastened Trump. I take some small comfort in the fact that time and health are not on the man’s side. But he’s been ridiculously lucky his entire life – even when he wasn’t trying hard to win, he often failed into victory anyway.
I think many of us would feel better having some sort of direction if Trump does win re-election. An assessment of what Trump can realistically accomplish with a divided Congress, and a realistic set of things regular people can do to survive and thrive. It seems hard to believe the free press and future elections will simply cease to be just because “Trump II” happens. They could be threatened, they could be changed…but for democracy to end entirely? I don’t know.
At the end of the day, Americans don’t like kings. Maybe that’s where what’s left of my optimism kicks in. Maybe it’s the same for you, too.