Voting Only Works If We Follow Through With What Happens Next
This election is not over when we find out who wins, but what we do over the next several years.
There was literally a candidate on the ballot that had a vision for a healthy future for the country. One that foresaw a need for accessible healthcare for everyone, a distributive model of economy that would uplift so many. A pandemic revealed innumerable weaknesses in the US superstructure and yet, the electorate dumped that candidate for the more stabile, more approachable, more classically political candidate.
And here we are, on election day, making a civic choice between a leader who refuses to lead in any meaningful way, and another candidate with decades of political experience. And somehow, it’s a toss-up.
At the end of this week I’ll order the new iPhone. Where I live and who I am give me immense amounts of privilege to pretty much continue to live my life, even under a second Trump term. To hundreds of thousands of people, citizens, there has been no recovery or nor will there be. The spiraling effect will be exacerbated in a second term.
There’s been many op-eds written to support Trump, and all I can think is how many words are wasted when all they want to say is “I really don’t care about anyone but myself.” The media is playing this entire scenario as a horse-race, as it always does, even when one horse is dragging cart full of screaming racists with blue and white flags while the other is just pulling a cart of boring bureaucrats seeking to return to a normal system.
Trump’s second term will be disastrous. There will be no solution to the virus. He doesn’t believe in it. Which, when you really set your mind to it, is completely wild. Forget travel, the US will become a global pariah — yes this will damage economies elsewhere who rely on US tourism as part of their gdp. Those who are seeking refuge in this country from strife [the US likely had a hand in causing], will be turned away, a literal humanitarian crisis. Further children will be separated from their parents and blunders in these policies will warrant trials at The Hague.
Biden is not the best candidate, he holds many flaws. Sanders would have been the best for the moment. The US will not return to normal and any person considering that it will is so deeply privileged, they cannot see the US for its faults and if they had the time, they’d also likely pen many words that similarly say they don’t care about anyone but themselves.
Within the next two decades, climate disasters will become more frequent, prevalent, and disastrous. Only tough decisions and radical change will mitigate that. It will hurt the economy, but honestly, shit, what won’t at this point. In the end, if we make change toward the protection of the environment we may continue to have an earth to live on and the earth in turn won’t turn against as as terribly as it definitely could.
Culturally, we’re at a breaking point as a country as well. After studying digital culture [see also: far-right extremism] and memes for five years, I can tell you that we’ve seen an evolution from shareables and distractables to images emboldened with energy — hateful, spiteful, violent energy. These energies were dogwhistled after the media’s mishap with the Covington kids, but then it was blared through stadium speakers after Rittenhouse. How do you fix that?
The divide is large and the tether to reality is nearing untenable.
Sometimes I think to myself that Trump needs a second term for the hashtag resistance types to know what could really go wrong, what fascism really looks like so they can actually enable real change. But then I’m overwhelmed by the existential damage that cannot be undone to culture, the environment, to migrants, to progress. There’s a tension there. The idea that civic action results in a better future but forgetting that you have to look 10, 20 years ahead with these decisions, not just wipe your hands when things are “done.”
Things got so weird over the last 5 years that I gave up tenure at a private college because I couldn’t level its malevolent complicity with my future endeavors. I had literal fascists in my class emboldened by Trump’s rhetoric. The college more often than not replied with a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when I asked for strategies on how to deal with this behavior. They crossed their fingers and hoped that election day would solve all our problems.
Here we are. And I can tell you that today will not solve our problems. I now teach digital activism at a public college and it’s a far different situation, but one that requires a lot of work.
Problems will persist. If Biden wins, we take a day off and then we have to get back to work. Fighting fascism is difficult and exhausting, but complacency and indifference is the failure of all progress. Under Trump, we’ll have no choice but to fight endlessly; under Biden we’ll have to work just as hard because we didn’t defeat fascism, but let it move underground in wait.
Regardless of who wins, there is work to be done. In my choice, I voted for Biden. I did it because Trump is a shell for his cadre of monsters from Steven Miller to Bill Barr to the numerous grifters in the digital spaces that employ vicious vitriol and attempt at normalizing actual terror.
Vote for those who do not have a voice. Even if Biden is not your choice as he wasn’t mine either, remember that you may still get to buy an iPhone. You still may get to pay rent and your car bill. Tens of thousands will spend their day silenced by depression, but disenfranchisement, by pain, by sickness. Vote for them.
Soon we figure out what to do next.