The lab-engineered triumph of the demagogic presidential candidate – buoyed by racist appeals, racist voter suppression laws, unapologetically racist supporters, and a fundamentally racist electoral college scheme that has been (and can no longer be) justified by the founders as a means to prevent election of a demagogue – throws into doubt the future of America. Or even whether it’s worth thinking in terms of a future at all, since there really is no alternative to having one.
No, rather than whether we have a future, the question becomes only how brutal the service and how awful the food will be in our “banquet of consequences” and whether the nation formerly known as America shatters into pieces, lashes out violently against our fate, or simply shuffles out of front and center position on the world stage.
The fact of the lead-brained loser – by millions of votes – being transmogrified by the Electoral College alchemy into the golden “winner” of the White House derby only serves to show that Marx was right when he said that history does indeed repeat itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.
First came the tragic selection of George W. Bush — later shown to have lost Florida — by the Supreme Court , the great wounding of America that propelled the even greater tragedies of 9/11 and the foolish swan-dives into the quagmires of Afghanistan and Iraq. Now comes the farce, the election of a crass Clown Prince of the Great Void where normal people have empathy and ethics, two qualities entirely absent from the nation’s new Sociopathic Narcissist in Chief.
There are myriad causes for our plight, far too many to count or enumerate here. None of which were individually sufficient, and not all of which were necessary to produce this absurd result: a president-elect created from a content-free TV huckster so devoid of presidential qualities that even the genius of Paddy Chayefsky could not foresee that it would come to this. Recall that, unlike our current pending affliction, Chayefsky made Howard Beale, his crazed demagogue in “Network,” a jaded TV news broadcaster driven mad by the ratings chase and the idea that the only thing that mattered was “winning.” The stunning reversal – that America’s last reel can start with the demagogic madman instead of a serious figure – just goes to show that there is nothing in the country that hasn’t been corrupted and degraded by six decades of television dominance.
Lily Tomlin said it best: “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.”
But cynicism is armor that only protects against the threat of surprise, such as astonishment at the worship of cupidity and evil by the new administration. And cynicism is such heavy armor that the wearer is eventually overcome by the burden, which ultimately causes the cynic to quit the struggle, letting the racists and know-nothings proceed along their insane path.
So while cynicism is useful in small doses, it is important not to rely on that as the sole antidote to the looming problem. Instead of cynicism, the strongest antidote to the incoming kakistocracy the work of repair and restoration, banding together with others who are working on the deep structural problems that caused the festering orange-hued boil to break the surface.
But it’s not necessarily easy to know where to devote your energy and resources. For, as Thoreau noted, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” Thus, this issue of OregonPEN, published a few days before the recently named “Giving Tuesday,” is the first installment of three that will use 12 especially worthy organizations’ own words to introduce OregonPEN readers to those worthy “Best Investment” groups, groups that deserve a huge new bloom of support in the wake of the national electoral miscarriage.
The first four organizations that deserve all the support you can offer are Fairvote, Tax Fairness Oregon, Oregon Center for Public Policy, and the Rural Organizing Project.