A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
It’s been a time. We are spent, bereft, uneasy, deeply sorrowful to see exposed a country so broken, its myths so grievously extinquished, that almost half its heedless people would still, defying reason and decency, vote for an evil clown who’s so utterly failed us – that they’d look at the lies, crimes, cruelty, vengefulness, ineptitude, homicidal indifference, and decide they like it, and want four more years of it. Stunning. He got more votes than in 2016, reportedly winning by 15 points white voters grateful to indulge their racism, inchoate fear and sense of entitlement at the ballot box, even when it could kill them. He won Florida, Ground Zero for climate change, which he denies; notes one observer, “If your rational mind isn’t your primary residence, you’re easy prey for someone like Trump.” Mournfully, writes Charlie Pierce, Trump proved “we are what he thinks we are, a huge proportion of us anyway.” Asking the brutal question, “How low do you have to stoop (to) be elected president?,” Pierce recalls 1972’s doomed campaign of George McGovern, “the most decent man in the Senate” and deemed by Hunter Thompsonone of the few modern presidential candidates who “understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been.” After his loss to the venal Nixon, Thompson wrote, “This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves, finally (say) it – that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.” Really, how else to explain why anyone on God’s green earth would re-elect the reprehensible likes of McConnell, Graham, Nunes and fucking Susan Collins. She’d probably be troubled and concerned by the lack of decorum here, but we’re all out of fucks.
There are plenty of other hard truths and losses to lament – the Senate, above all – but still. If Biden removes Trump, it will be an incalculable gift to the republic. Biden won more votes than any candidate ever, drew more young voters than ever and (barely) overcame the largest ever disinformation and voter suppression campaign. He helped flip Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, hopefully Nevada, maybe Georgia, turning the incumbent pretender into what he most fears – a loser. If he comes to power, as is often noted, he will exercise it decently, legally, competently, compassionately. Many monsters – Barr, Miller, Jared, the three evil spawn – will be gone. Many lawsuits against Trump will proceed. Many good judges are still hard at work. There are many great victory stories: Charmaine McGuffey, the new sheriff of Hamilton County, Ohio, whose campaign focused on police reform, defeated the man who fired her for being an out lesbian and protesting excessive use of force. And because there are more of us than them and we’re far more entertaining, there is still a wiseacre Internet to leap into action when, say, Trump randomly declares the election over when it isn’t. After Trump announced he’d “claimed” Pennsylvania, Georgia, and North Carolina, and “hereby” added Michigan, one Twitter sage advised cohorts, “Y’all better hereby claim some shit while the gettins good.” They did, dutifully inserting a “hereby” to make it legal. People claimed a full head of hair, the Game of Thrones’ Iron Throne, Tom Brady, Liam Hemsworth, Japan, the moon, the sun, the solar system, the title of first Canadian U.S. President, Molly Ringwald in 1986, their kids’ Halloween haul including “MANY Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups” and, crucially, Trump a one-term president. In one final, bittersweet twist on that goal, votes still being counted in Georgia were coming in from Fulton County – John Lewis’ district. Historian Jon Meacham on the possibility a Biden win comes down to Lewis’ people: “There is poetry.”
First published in Common Dreams.