As I watch the Biden presidency falter and flop its way through numerous crises, from reigning terror from the sky on an innocent Afghan family to failing to use its advantage in Congress to pass, well, basically anything, my reaction is two-fold.
My first impulse is to tune out the Washington DC echo chamber, the chattering class on cable, and all the breaking news headlines. Apathy is not necessarily a bad thing when faced with so many issues I can’t possibly control.
I mean, chaos at the border? Again? How is this my problem?
A 20-year war that ended in the installation of the same regime that was in power when we invaded and bombed that third-world country into oblivion? I should have done what exactly?
A melting planet that will soon be incapable of sustaining life? Should I cease all activities that contribute to climate change? Shall I sit at home in the dark and chant like a monk? Would you?
After six-and-a-half decades of life one begins to sense that one has seen these acts before in various iterations. Vietnam is Afghanistan. Desperate people crossing the border has been happening since the first sea-faring boat was launched. The only thing new about global warming is that people are at last paying attention to a phenomenon that began in the early 1800s, long before Al Gore was born.
One eventually realizes that unless you are fabulously rich and powerful with aggressive take-no-prisoners attorneys on retainer, or unless you are an extraordinary human being like Gandhi, Gates, or King, all of these fast-moving currents of dramatic history rushing through your existence will proceed unimpeded by your mere presence.
So, sorry, I’m afraid we average blokes — and the vast majority of us are average, and, increasingly, an alarming uptick of below-average humanoids — have no control over the inevitable.
But, you ask, shouldn’t we be informed and engaged regarding these perilous issues? Being aware of all our current challenges might be good fodder for dinner parties and coffee talk, but have you noticed that the world grinds on nonetheless, with what poet Gary Snyder once described as “the pain of the work of wrecking the world.”
Keeping all of this in mind, my other impulse at watching our divided government stumble along with all the grace of a dancing Chris Farley is to sit back and let it all play itself out, perhaps with a deep bowl of buttered popcorn and a candy dish of cannabis gummies. In other words, I choose to merrily acknowledge the obvious — that Biden is simply a placeholder for the next autocratic president to be elected in 2024, that Joe is a nostalgic reminder that democracy once existed in the red, white, and blue.
Let it Play Out
What comes next? A continuation of the Trump years? Well, yes and no, my friend. Imagine someone slicker and darker; a huckster that will continue the violent and blatantly racist insurrection movement whose final act must be played out before we can move forward: if that is even possible.
True, this would be something I have never experienced or could have imagined in the United States during my six decades, but nonetheless, this future autocracy will resemble a form of nationalism that is spreading like an unchecked virus in countries such as Turkey, Hungary, Brazil, and Poland.
Can we prevent it? I can’t. Can you? Have at it, mate.
The powers-that-be will tell us, yes, you can impede the inevitable. That if we go out and vote we can overcome the new anti-voting legislations popping up in swing states, and that we can stem the tide of tyranny by filling in the appropriate box on the first Tuesday of November in 2024.
I will certainly march out and vote as I always do, but part of me, no, most of me, has a sneaky suspicion that our nation has to continue its race to the bottom before we can “build back better” or whatever the slogan du jour will be then.
Look, Fox News, the insurrectionists, the Proud Boys, the Trumpists, the pillow dude, Rudy, and about half of Congress are not ready to resume the journey that made the United States the envy of the world. The years 2016 to 2020 were their zenith, their golden years of full-throated flatulence, in which lies, misinformation, and unchecked ignorance were treated as a form of religion, especially on the talkie-talk shows on Sundays, that most holy of media days.
I say let it all play out. This will be a chance to see how (or if even) we react to an autocratic president as he squashes dissent, ignores the fires, floods, and hurricanes, expels immigrants and their offspring, offers women the same freedoms as the Taliban does, bombs yet another third-world nation into the Stone Age, makes ownership of assault weapons mandatory and generally finishes the ruination of democracy that the previous president and his obedient lackeys set in motion.
One thing is for certain. We did have a damn good run.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.