Sunday, November 22, 2020

Still An Optimistic Catastrophist

                                                                                                 written 15 November 2020

                                                                                             published 22 November 2020


   reported that on Friday, November 13th, American Covid cases increased by 222,056, passing 11 million, and 1,846 more died, for a total of 250,681.  To put that in perspective, the largest passenger aircraft is the Airbus 380, with 853 seats, and a fleet of 242 planes.  If one Airbus 380 crashed every day for eight months, wiping out the entire fleet, it would account for only 80 percent of our current death toll.  Friday the 13th was more than two Airbus 380's in a single day.  Imagine the news coverage of such an ongoing disaster.  Imagine how the government would respond.

             In contrast, since the election (which he denies losing), Trump has said little, and done nothing, about Covid.  Instead, he played golf, filed multiple lawsuits to challenge the vote, fired people, and began planning his next administration.  As the economic devastation of Covid continues to grow, Republican Senators have done nothing for the economic relief of their people, their cities, or their states, let alone the rest of the nation.  Instead, they work to appoint more conservative judges and support Trump's fantasy that the election is in question.  This is what passes for leadership in our country today.

             Some people feel that all this will pass, it is just a final Trump tantrum, and Republican "leadership" is just humoring him, or afraid of vengeful retaliation.  Another explanation is that Trump won't open the White House to the Biden transition team because it is such a clown show of incompetence that he is embarrassed to reveal it to adults.  Others fear a more malevolent root, that this is in fact a slow-moving coup and the end of the American democratic experiment.  

            I have noticed that liars believe that everyone else is lying.  Crooks believe that everyone else is a crook.  Trump's entire career has been built on cheating and lying, so it is no surprise that he sees fraud all around him.  His father taught him there are only killers and losers, so accepting that he lost is a structural psychological problem for him, and such a public loss could actually derange him further.

            But democracies require national consensus to function.  Much like agreeing to always drive on the right side of the center line, we must agree to abide by the result of an election, and accept a peaceful transfer of power.  For Republicans to question the integrity of the vote erodes our democracy, and threatens the very republic these people claim they represent.

            The addiction to power can erode the original integrity or principle of any organization.  For decades, the Republican party has been working to suppress the vote in order to stay in power.  I am sure they are very frustrated that despite all their efforts, Trump still lost.  You can see the reaction in Georgia, where Republican senators called for the resignation of a Republican Secretary of State, because the election didn't turn out their way.  This is autocratic thuggery, not what we expect in a democratic republic.

            These are unprecedented times, and we don't know how this will turn out.  My hope is American democracy is still strong enough that Biden will be sworn in on January 20th, 2021.  If there is any irony in the universe, Georgia will elect two more Democratic Senators on January 5th, 2021, allowing Vice President Harris to break ties in the Senate, possibly causing Mitch McConnell's head to explode.

            But even that happy scenario will play against a backdrop of an out of control pandemic, an economic collapse rivalling the Great Depression, deep partisan divides, a dying planet, and an increasingly chaotic climate.  Once again, the Republicans will hand a crashed nation over to Democrats to fix.

            But I trust that there is more going on than what we see or understand.  That egos, and the power trips they support, are only part of what makes us human.  That we are in fact expressions of a unified whole, which nourishes every part, with compassion and wisdom.  That the evolution of humanity is a journey to transcend the limited self and experience that unity in our daily lives.  That is the more perfect union referred to in the Constitution, and we are here to help make it so.