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Dark Thoughts About Dark Times

This coronavirus crisis is getting me down. I’ve been self-isolated for only two weeks now, but it’s hard not to despair.

Right now, we once again face dark political times. Some optimists believe that the looming COVID-19 crisis could provide an opening to push for progressive change – Medicare for All, paid sick leave, UBI, et cetera.

More likely, in my view, it will give neo-liberals and neo-fascists an opportunity to fast-forward their agendas.

We have a presidential election in November but that does not give me hope. So far, the neo-liberal Democratic Party and mainstream media have done all they can to halt the campaign of Bernie Sanders, whose policy agenda would actually address the underlying problems we face.

So far, it appears that the majority of Democratic voters have spoken, and they want Joe Biden. I don’t expect subsequent primaries, if there are any, to produce a different result.

It’s hard to understand why Biden ended up being the most popular of the bunch. He frequently performs poorly in public and, even worse, he espouses a nostalgic narrative that might make some people feel better – “All we have to do is get rid of Trump and go back to normal!” – but that fails to explain how we got to this Trumpian place or what is to be done now.

If Biden ends up being the nominee – if DNC operatives do not replace him with a more functional equivalent during the Convention – by the time November comes, the Trump smear campaign will have destroyed him. Instead of ending his long career of public service as Obama’s popular VP, his reputation will be in tatters. That makes me sad.

Meanwhile, Trump, who has thoroughly demonstrated his complete lack of competence, understanding, empathy, and leadership during this pandemic, rises in the polls! It’s unfathomable to me. Apparently, a lot of people want to be told beautiful lies: “All we have to do is end social distancing and go back to normal!”

I like to think that when the bodies start piling up, Trump will change his tune, but skeptics could be right: It depends on which bodies.

Trump and his 1% cronies might never see the light. Indeed, these are the people who admit they would sacrifice grandma to keep their profits coming. But if the crisis does end up slaughtering and immiserating as many as expected, and the government fails to help, there will be blowback. Hopefully it won’t come to some sort of Joker-style chaos. If it does, how will the unarmed left protect itself?

Maybe Trump won’t get reelected. If he somehow loses, we will no doubt be stuck with a neoliberal Democrat in the White House who will simply continue the same policies that brought us Trump in the first place. Rinse and repeat.

The last time I felt this grim was 2010 with the Tea Party uprising, which was largely a reaction to the 2009 bail-out that helped Wall Street but left Main Street devastated.

But then Occupy arose from the ashes and reframed the debate, and the left has strengthened mightily since then, particularly in reaction to Trumpism.

So, the struggle continues, even in, especially in, dark times, but it is my belief that we must make cultural change before we can hope for political change.

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