Election Day 2020 - polls across the USA have opened, in what centrists are claiming is clearly and unequivocally the most important election of our, neigh, of any lifetime, between the two bitter and barefaced enemies, of: "Trump" and "The System that gave us Trump".
It goes without saying that there's a lot on the table, today. Wherever you look, and on whatever side of the aisle, you find people who are deeply convicted, putting everything on the line - with half the die-hard supporters in the country seething to start a new race war, and the others desperate, so desperate, to go back to brunch. Whichever way it goes down, history is about to be made/repeated.
But what is this election really about, what's gotten us here, and where is it likely to lead us, afterwards?
As a disclaimer, I want to just say that if Trump goes down tonight, it will be a glorious day in political and human history - I can't wait for that to happen. At this stage, nothing would make me happier than to see Trump and his monstrous cabal crumble, and be flushed away from the annals of human history. But there's more to the story and to the future, than just seeing Trump defeated.
Many are hoping the outcome of today's election will lead to a bright and shining future, where citizens can finally pick and share the richly bared-fruit from the tree of America. The reality, however, is that that fertile (stolen Native American) ground has been well and truly pissed on by the corporate-elite, and that fruit is rotten. Whichever way this historic vote goes tonight, America unfortunately isn't inline for a clean break and a fresh start - and that's because, no-matter how much each side screams about their (many noted and important) more-surface differences, both teams, at their core, are just two sides of the same electoral coin.
Understanding why that is, and how we got here, is the real key to understanding what this election's really about, and where it might lead us, in the future.
The truth is that it's been an intense time of suffering in America - and not just within 2020, but for decades. An unprecedented amount of inequality and anguish of all types, not just economic, has been choking the US, and the world, for generations. This suffering has came about due to the unending greed of capitalism poisoning democracy - an ever hungry cabal of the super rich buying off elections, mainly through campaign donations, getting politicians to write laws that drive the bare-bones wealth of the ninety-nine percent to the one. This unending cycle of crushing the people into pulp to feed the appetites of the elite is kept churning efficiently by each major party, in two separate ways.
Since Reagan, the GOP has ever increased their efforts to pour, en-masse, as much vile hatred, bigotry, and ignorance into their base as possible, as well as engaging in rampant campaigns of voter suppression across the nation. The aim of this is to keep their working-class voters distracted and blind to the obvious cause of their crushing poverty - the GOP's total subservience to the super rich - and instead 1) make them believe that '(fellow) poor people & the Other' are the real enemies, and then 2) enabling them the heroin-like rush of punishing those 'enemies'. Combined with suppressing the average voter across the nation, this has been an intensely successful strategy for turning out extremely loyal, energised and fanatical fans, that GOP leaders have enjoyed for decades. The Trump supporters you see today thus are not over-night creations of Donald himself, but rather the product of 30+ consistent years of the hardcore Foxification of America's right. A base that Trump stole from the other Republicans in the 2016 primary (and of course very much hardened still), because as a reality TV star and truly shameless liar, he knew how give the rabid GOP base what they wanted, better than any of the other empty-suits in the GOP lineup back then could.
The Democrats since Clinton, in the mean-time, have become the "party of platitudes", also serving their own base and the nation everything but real solutions - except they do it with a smile. Claiming to be the moral and polite people's party in front of the camera, and then cutting some of the most deceitful and destructive deals against the people, behind it. The Democratic Establishment is iron-clad, firm-formed, lock-stock and barrel invested in the mantra of corporatist neoliberalism - they get the money to fund their campaigns from the 1% just like the Republicans do, and so the laws they pass and the way they govern is explicitly engineered to serve those donors, too. They just put on a publicly-polite face, whilst doing it - "fiscally conservative, socially liberal", is the well tossed about phrase of who Dem figureheads truly believe/wish the American people to be. They serve the people wishy-washy, flowery rhetoric and empty promises on TV, whilst providing ordinary people less than absolutely nothing.
Now don't get me wrong - the Republicans absolutely are worse. But that's a low, low, bar. Trump has violently and grotesquely accelerated every major problem the US has, and certainly has created whole new ones. He's been a disgusting and vile stain on history, and we all will be thoroughly pleased if he is humiliated at the polls tonight, and hope that he will be forgotten - as much as his horrors won't be. But when you think about those kids separated at the border and kept in those awful conditions, know that it was Obama who built those cages, and set the precedent for record deportations. When you think about brown people being the subject of racism and brutality, know that it was Obama's Middle Eastern drone policy that had a 90% civilian kill rate - 90%. Innocent kids and families. And it was Obama who stood back and purposefully did nothing whilst Native American protesters were having their skulls cracked in by militarised police, at the behest of oil companies, at Standing Rock. It was Joe Biden's legacy that destroyed the lives of millions of black and low income people, through the draconian 90's crime bill, and the War on Drugs, which Biden was a major proponent of.
It was Clinton who green-lit the deregulation of the financial markets leading to the world-wide economic crash of 2008, then George Bush who kicked back and let mindnumbingly destructive, irresponsible, and criminal fiscal activity take place to make that crash happen. It was Obama who then let the worst financial criminals of a lifetime all go scot-free, completely unpunished after destroying the world's economy for their own private gain, because "their crimes were in the past" - and because their cash was in his campaigns' accounts.
It was Bush who started two disastrous US wars, and Obama who took that number to seven. It was Bush who got record-breaking tax cuts for the super-rich passed for 10 years only, and Pres. Obama who then made them permanent. It was Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin who said "drill baby-drill", and then eventually Pres. Obama who brought the US to record fossil-fuel production levels.
It's Republicans who make violent gun-culture a way of life in America, but it was Obama who purposefully did nothing to change the system after Sandyhook.
It was Trump who's grabbed, groped, molested and raped who knows how many girls. But it was Joe Biden who, with very-credible claims, has raped a woman, too.
And I could go on, and on, and on.
So, after decades of 'both sides' being adamantly subservient to the rich, what you have is everyone suffering, with the majority of the electorate broken and totally exhausted, and the remaining fraction frothing at the mouth to take out their suffering as vengeance on the even less fortunate. You have both parties ardently, consistently and overwhelmingly dedicated to continuing that agenda, that cycle, and forcefully rebuffing any attempt to open up a new politics that works a different way.
That's what got Donald Trump elected in 2016. That's what made him president. A nation being ground down into desperation and fodder, til they were rightly desperate, frantic for change.
But then the next four years happened... and particularly this last one. And that's what's led us, in a comparatively brief and fleeting summary, to today. Though, in 2016, the electorate was angry and truly in despair about their material circumstances and the unending corruption in government across the aisle, with the people demanding change above all else, now they want an end to the more acute, current nightmare, as an even higher priority.
The Democrats have hit pot luck soiled-gold, in that on top of Trump's enormous unpopularity, his stunningly inhumane and idiotic responses to the crises of 2020 has left the American people with an overwhelming desire to flush him out, and to accept or ignore Biden's firm, focused pledge to get right back to the crushing business as usual, with that usual fake Dem smile. Trump was horribly unpopular before 2020, he always has been - people rightly hated him. But the electorate in 2016 was so totally demoralised by the awful choices of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton that overall voter turnout was low, and the undecided voters were sucked into Trump's promise of change, as well as his own base being so highly motivated, that in combination it was all enough to put Trump over the edge in the electoral college.
It took the pain of four Trumpian years, but truly most of all the history-defining cataclysms of this year to make the undecided, the older voters, the vast majorities of white women, and the non-voter in general, to break for Biden, and potentially put Trump in the ground. All whilst many of the most marginalised have been screaming in agony and in true political resistance against Team Trump, this whole time.
Once again, it's important to point out that it will be fantastic to see Trump get booted out of office, and that Trump is definitely the worse candidate, for many, many reasons. And the celebrations of Trump's dismissal should be truly grand, and America and the world will breathe, probably scream, a well earned gasp of relief to see someone else takeover in the White House. But just like going from covid to syphilis is an improvement.... it's a hell of a low bar, and it still leaves a damnwell dangerous lot to be desired. In more ways than one.
Not only will the crushing conditions the ordinary person lives under worsen under Biden (as they would under Trump), Trump's violent alt-right fanatics aren't just going to go away. The next gambit of the new, up-and-coming GOP leaders will be to capture Trump's rudderless base - and put them on steroids. The Republicans are not going to get saner just cause Trump's gone. An even worse Trump-like figurehead - someone who's just as ruthless and cold, but actually relatively smart and relatively hardworking - is going to seize control of his supporter-base, to get in power. Then, believe me, we'll really be in trouble. The only thing that can realistically put a dent in that attempt is to try and materially improve the lives of those Trump supporters, and show them your bold policies were what did it. Biden and his Democratic decedents could not be more against that.
At the same time, the entirety of establishment politics, cabal news punditry, and beltway consensus will coalesce around the new prim and proper Dem machine to form an anti-criticism fortress so armed and robust, the great, lidless eye of Money In Politics itself could sit atop it.
So the choice America makes tonight will truly be between Trump and the system that gave us him.
But that doesn't mean that hope is extinguished. If Trump goes down tonight, the celebrations should be loud and everlasting. But in parallel and immediately, the work begins to revitalise the left in America, and around the globe.
2020 almost saw the end of old world, many times over. The time is now to start working together to build a new one.