Paul Campos at LGM has a post about the prospects of an actual slide into authoritarianism post-election, and despite my vacillations over the past few months, I actually tend to share that cautious optimism.
Part of that cautious optimism is more recent, though, and due directly as a result of Orange Foolius' catastrophic debate performance the other night. Obviously, as we found out the hard way in 2016, debate "wins" or "losses" don't matter all that much; it is universally agreed that HFC "won" all three of her debates with #Brokeahontas, and lotta good it did her, right?
But that was then, as they say, and this is now. The people who decided to "take a chance" or "vote for change" now know what that entails. He is no longer an unknown quantity. There is zero chance he will "learn" or "grow into" the rigors of the job. He's done everything he can to cater not just to his base, but to the basest elements of that base, the worst fucking people.
Obviously this doesn't mean anything should be taken for granted, either -- just as he's never made a single honest dollar in his rotten excuse for a life, Trump has never been in a fair fight. The office he defiles daily also confers an array of powers he can deploy, and already he is trying every trick in the book, and some that aren't even in the library.
But the fact is that after months of trying to delegitimize the vote (unless he wins, of course), no one outside the cult is buying it -- in fact, no one outside the cult is buying anything he's selling at this point. People have had enough, they're exhausted, and it shows. They don't want another four years of this bullshit, accelerating into decline and incoherent fury.
And that's really what you saw in full bloom in that debate -- the heedless cruelty, the indifferent mendacity, the raging incompetence. It's been there the whole time, you know. I saw these things in him back in the 1980s, when I barely paid attention to the news. But I know a fucking asshole when I see and hear and smell one.
I honestly cannot believe anyone ever sat through five fucking minutes of his stupid show. There's a part of me -- the part that despises stupidity, that sincerely wishes for the worst things to happen to willfully dumb people -- that unfortunately believes that to some degree, this nation deserved Trump, if only to see that there is a difference, that these things do matter, and that you have to pay attention and stay engaged and take action once in a while.
I have for some months considered this election basically as a choice between Terminator 2 (where Schwarzenegger is the good Terminator) and Ike Turner. Trump goes off the rails, raging incoherently like the fundamentally abusive male that he really is at heart, saying, bitch, look what you made me do, while Biden looks out at a bemused, enervated citizenry and says, Come with me if you want to live.
That is what the choice really comes down to, and it's true all the way down-ticket. Either you support these monsters or you don't. It is that simple. Anything else is just empty, self-serving rationalization.
Two hundred thousand dead in six months is an atrocity, a grim milestone that speaks volumes about the players in question. In a nation of 330 million people, it is proportionally few, so the majority of 'murkins have had the luxury of not having had it personally affect them. I know of people second- and third-hand who have contracted the bug, maybe one person (who was nearly ninety years of age) who may have died from complications (details were not clear as they were relayed to me indirectly). I suspect many, many others are in a similar boat.
But everyone has been affected by this, regardless. At best, each and every one of us lost an entire year from our lives from this shit -- and it ain't over, not by a long shot. It is resurgent in many areas, it will gain more traction during flu season, and actual doctors are saying it could be another full year before they really have a handle on it.
So even a die-hard supporter of this raging clown has to acknowledge, if only to themselves, that their blind, stupid devotion has directly cost them a year and probably two of their actual, literal life. And it was completely preventable. All that was required was leaders who cared about their country. Instead we had a feckless dope and his scumbag enablers, people whose first and only thoughts were how to monetize the disaster.
That may not cost him the cultists -- if anything, they've shown conclusively that literally nothing will sway them, and they can go straight to hell with him -- but it doesn't gain him any converts. And the math says that the hardcore base simply isn't enough, even with the EC advantages in those states.
(I would also assume a fair-to-high probability that Brad Parscale's weekend meltdown is directly related to some serious criminality in Dear Leader's money-grab of a campaign, and that Parscale can easily be leveraged to flip on his bosses, who are already dumping him under the proverbial bus. The real question is how soon all that takes place. The guy is clearly unbalanced and stressed out. There's nothing stopping him from going straight to the media the second his 5150 hold is up.)
The other thing is that despite the constant dog-whistles and calls-to-arms for the various fascist gangs out there, there has been relatively little actual violence perpetrated by those elements, considering the scope and scale and sheer volume of the protests, and the ample opportunities for them to commit real mayhem, were they so inclined. The daily displays of vigilante theater have amounted to very little.
I don't think anyone would miss the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers if they disappeared tomorrow, but the fact is that nearly all of their activity has been the usual social-media woofing. It's disturbing that so many active LEO are affiliated with these creeps, but I bet most of them aren't willing to throw away their ability to get pensioned at forty-five or fifty years of age and start up their security consultancy or whatever. They cannot just show up and "poll watch" wherever they feel like, and the precincts that do let them get away with it are likely to be blood-red (politically, of course) anyway.
I mean, do they think we don't all notice that they never seem to show up in any, ah, black areas? You see any of these Meal Team Six boogalosers in fuckin' Compton or Milwaukee or Atlanta? There's a reason you don't, just as there's a reason that aside from a disaffected teenager who went looking for trouble in Kenosha and found it, there has been very little major violence.
Think about that for a second -- they've been encouraged for the past month from law enforcement and the highest levels of government, that there are no consequences for murdering "leftist" protesters in the middle of the street. We all assumed that they would take the wink-and-a-nod as official assent, or at least a promise to look the other way.
And yet they haven't done much of anything except get all their pieces of flair together in their gaping-asshole suburban-commando gas-guzzlers, yee-haw and stroke each other in the nearest Wal-Mart parking lot for an afternoon, and maybe cruise a few blocks in Portland with paintball guns and pepper spray. This is not to say that none of them will ever do anything, but the threat of actual, systematic political violence has not occurred, despite official approval.
(The BLM street martyrs seem to have gotten wiser about their good trouble as well. If you're not going to arm yourselves and come ready to scrap, then it's best practice to do your thing in daylight, and get home before dark. It should be clear by now that your sacrifice will change nothing, and there's nothing in this hollowed-out husk of a nation worth getting maimed or murdered for. Everyone knows Kyle Rittenhouse's name; very few people still recall the names of the people he killed and wounded.)
It may turn out to be wishful thinking, but if we get an actual landslide, the surprise might be that he and his shitbird minions will have to stand down and go away. I wouldn't be too surprised if there is at least one really ugly incident between now and, say, Thanksgiving. There's a decent chance that the mutants are keeping their powder dry for a close aftermath.
So it's up to all of us to show up and make that happen, to make the margins wide and clear enough so that the shenanigans can't work.