The Personal Presidential

Kamala Harris is elected the first woman [1]—a black woman—to the white house as Joe Biden’s vice-President, defeating Cheeto Hitler and unseating an incumbent president. In eleven weeks, during which I hope the stochastic cultists face consequences for their support of a deranged narcissist who was openly fascist in ambition.

The work is ongoing, and there are many material problems facing the US, but now the burning airliner of this nation can hopefully glide to a softer landing than going straight down in flames. There is time to find parachutes, maybe repair an engine, find a body of water to land in.
The analogy is imprecise, but illustrative of the state of the US.

Joe Biden is not going to save the US, no matter how pervasive this cult of presidential personality is (for Trump, the fascists’ hold a religious fervor), a change of the executive is not enough to resolve the humonguous structural problems plaguing the country. [2]

Is Biden “better” than Trump? I would answer “yes:” provided we get actual “progressive” policies that lead to material change, and not more neoliberal shock-doctrine rulings. The wealthy have won the class war (under the idiotically named 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act), maybe now the machinery of public administration can spare some crumbs for the public.

It does seem as though an era where there was always too much and far too little to think about may be ending. The absolute hegemony over attention that Trump commanded has exhausted me, even as the clicks keep money flowing through platforms made hugely powerful and wealthy from consolidation, even as legacy newspapers thrive on their subset of doomscrolling.

Biden and Harris’ winning of the presidency is important for it’s symbolism, and for what we hope will be the end of the wanton destruction of the nation’s federal apparatus. It’s a good time to feel some relief, and take these moments of celebration to continue to organize and push for real change. Symbols matter, especially in so heavily memed and virtual a world as our present one.

It’s a good time to celebrate, because the work ahead is going to be long and hard. There’s still a pandemic, still an epidemic of police violence, a body politic infected with racism, patriachy, and class war (not to mention imperialism and global warming). But maybe, and this will likely prove a lukewarm eventuality, there will be movements towards this on the local level, supported by national programs.

Twilight Empire

I return to this phrase, wary of being merely the latest in a long line of analysts who consider US power to be waning. But as we enter the twenty-twenties, it seems increasingly delusional to talk about US power staying at its present absolute and relative level.

Not only with the “rise of China” (I maintain “return” is more apt), but with the immense damage done to US relations, perceptions, and material by the Trump administration, the horrors of which were lucratively covered ad nauseum by US corporate media these past five years.

It’s dangerous to offer predictions, and I proffer none here.

I hope that the fascists are as disorganized as they are stupid, I hope that Black Lives Matter keeps its ground with police abolition, that the milquetoast white liberal does not abandon advocacy and return to complacency (already visibly mocked in the “everything is normal, let’s go to brunch memes).

And what will happen to those who have shown themselves so ready to support open fascism, so willing to attack other humans, and cheer a shallow man-baby narcissist? How to deprogram such virulent hate?

I worry that the next few weeks will see a number of stochastic attacks on vulnerable communities, that the white nationalists will take their righteous indignation of the inadequate and attempt to make good on their threats.

But there is also hope in the fact that, despite the removal of the Voters Rights Act, despite the gerrymandering, despite the open voter suppression, despite the underhanded tactics, the GOP lost. Lost in multiple former strongholds, lost in local races, in state legislatures. A party that so willingly backed fascism as a “blunt instrument,” in the words of Bannon, is not to be taken lightly.

There’s not the same enthusiasm as with Obama’s first term—I don’t think anyone expects a Biden administration to usher in a golden era of eco-conscious economic progressivism. But compared to the past 4 years, a respite from chaos is to be appreciated. Time to think and gather, to push and no longer merely survive.

[1]: NY Times. 2020 November 7.

[2]: «The Black Hole of American Electioneering»
A decidedly different take on US elections, from a Chinese leftist. Power is fragile, and quick to react with anger at such suggestions as 兔主席 puts forth. There’s white fragility, fragile masculinity, fragile hegemony.