Between Hope And Annihilation
It’s the morning after the election, and I am sad to take note of how many people voted for our unstable, mercurial, homicidal incumbent. It’s clear that we on the left have not come fully to grips with who we are as a nation.
As the land lays right now (8am), we don’t have a clear winner yet. Mail-ins favor Biden, and we already have a Trump campaign a) declaring victory. and b) announcing it’s going to go to the mat to stop votes from being counted. The latter activity seems to me to be a good sign that the Trump machine is worried about the result. But hope has been hard to come by these last twelve hours; we were all heavily invested in a “blue wave” that broke well before it could drown Trump and anyone he trucked with in these last four years. It never materialized. Our Senate is going to be lost to the GOP again and that should tell us something (EDIT 11/5: this observation was faulty and premature).
It’s time to start understanding that we are not a righteous or a particularly smart nation. But is it our fault we are always so wrong about it? Or have we been so psychologically tormented by Trumpist control of the nation that we will latch on to just about anything that claims it can end it? I am not sure. But this is the year that we should disabuse ourselves of the notion that good will always triumph over evil. Evil always has even odds. I’m reminded of Hunter S. Thompson’s somber coda in Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas which goes a little like this:
There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .
And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.
Those of us who read know how it all turned out; the American dream was too elusive for capture. That was true in 1971 and I suspect not much has changed. Lucy, ever the little white supremacist, has always had the football and ever it shall be. They had acid, we have Twitter. We believe in each other’s inherent power but I’m afraid that’s not always the stuff that moves a mountain.
I hope everything turns out the way we need it to. But we should gird ourselves for a bitter conclusion because our fellow countrymen, women and otherwise clearly do not know up from down. If we win, let’s not forget too easily that we came close to being blown out yet again. If we lose, let’s nonetheless remember that optimism is not the elemental force we thought it was. We shall always continue to vote for what is correct and proper, but we must leave a little room and prepare for annihilation. It’s the only fair thing we can do for ourselves in this cussed nation. This is a fight, and you always stand a chance of getting hit with a punch you weren’t expecting.