More than 130,000 dead, over three million confirmed cases in the U.S. The actual final numbers will be, with absolute certainty, a lot worse. The antithesis of a corrective response by the Trump administration now looks exactly like a deliberate attempt to seize the day and get rid of as many of us as possible.
More than thirty million are unemployed. Most likely, up to a third of small businesses — small restaurants, mom and pop stores, souvenir shops in tourist destinations and the like — will go out of business permanently, adding further to the numbers of unemployed.
Those closing businesses have suppliers who will face financial difficulties soon, if not already. The factories that supply the suppliers will have smaller orders to fill and will in turn order less raw materials and/or new equipment. The providers of raw materials to manufacturers of the needed equipment will be impacted soon after, if not already. The economy will inevitably shrink further, and larger percentages of permanent jobs will be lost.
Add automation to the picture, and it gets worse.
There will be even more doctors and nurses laid off in the midst of a global health-related pandemic which, you’d think, would have a lot more need for doctors and nurses.
Isn’t that last item the ultimate proof of an utterly broken system? Broken for us, of course, not for them.
No matter who wins the presidential elections this November or gains control of the congress, all manner of social ills will get crueler. The system is simply not capable of, nor even intent on, improving the wellbeing of tens of millions of its citizens in distress, staring down an existential abyss. In fact, the system seems to be intent on quite the opposite.
Things will only get much worse.
The economy will tank more. But only for us. Not for them. More schools and local health clinics will close. More people will file for unemployment ‘benefits’ that are not there. The measly insult they call ‘benefits’ are there, of course, but the political representatives in the executive and the legislative branches will not disperse them.
They will only bail out banks and large corporations in a hurry. Forget any sympathy for the ‘small guy’. They don’t even pretend to care about small businesses anymore, the very constituents whose ideological allegiance they need.
More people will lose access to healthcare. Whatever health benefits they have paid for will be denied as long as possible, delayed again and again, disappeared under piles of convoluted grammar. Insurers have trained their entire professional lives in the art of denying benefits. Their training manuals will get fatter, and more precise language will be developed by the HR’s legal department to deny benefits. There will be more deaths of non-insured and under-insured. Deaths or bankruptcies.
More insane irrationality will take wings. Anti-science attitudes will climb to fantastic peaks. Wearing face masks becoming politicized seems outrageous? Rightwing media and politicians and national leaders will soon argue against the very concept of healthcare. “Healthcare is the spawn of the devil! It makes people complacent. Doctors & nurses are naïve pawns of foreign enemies bent on destroying our very immune system!”
More people will commit suicide, and deaths of despair will rise exponentially, as increasing numbers of people face old age with little-to-no retirement funds or benefits, miserly social security incomes, inadequate or nonexistent healthcare, no housing security or even food security.
Things are so bad that Democrats don’t even have to work that hard to shock you into donating, filling out surveys, signing this or that petition. Yet, here’s their glaring failure in being, just on the face of things, a responsible social organism: In the midst of this nightmarish global, pandemic-induced catastrophe — and in a country where the ‘healthcare’ system guarantees only death or bankruptcy for most — and given all the health-related social misery, they still cannot commit to something as basic as Medicare-for-All, which a majority of Americans support. Why then should we trust them on anything? It cannot get any more basic or any more real. They don’t even have to actually deliver! They just need to say the words to that effect and look sincere doing it. They do it on a whole host of other issues, all the time.
Here’s another indicator of things to come: Doctors Without Borders, for the first time in their history, are operating in the United States. For a short list, they normally operate in places like Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Liberia, Syria (if Assad hasn’t bombed them yet), i.e., places with extreme poverty or ruined by civil war, violent drug gangs, or war-ravaged locations. But, never, as far as I know, in a First World country, much less the richest nation on earth, with supposedly the best medical science and technology. That’s how low real-life in the USA has sunk. Yet, only for us; never for them. Oh, never for them.
Homeless populations will grow, as more families lose their homes. Those homes will be swept up by banks and large investors, rented out, with the rents rising annually by eight-to-ten percent, while wages stay stagnant and actually lose out to inflation, leading to more people not able to afford rent, so more homelessness. This cycle will repeat and expand.
As the misery index keeps ticking skyward, the fight will not be won by incremental reformism proceeding at glacial pace leading to assured legislative inaction. The street is where the battle of democracy is fought. The right wing knows this well. Look at the absolute miniscule fraction of the population, a few hundred here, few thousands there, of the lumpen yahoos organized by well-funded agitator-provocateurs, who have force-marched the nation into a position of hundreds of thousands of more confirmed cases, and tens of thousands more deaths, due to COVID-19, with a phony and sociopathic take on ‘liberty’.
There is a correct dynamic between reform and revolution. It does not start by begging for crumbs. It starts by shoving whole loaves down the throats of the rulers. That takes place on the street and through organizing and building infrastructures and scaffoldings for long battles. And, having seen what you can force on the ruling class, and examining the limits of the system as they get exposed as a result of your actions, you start seeing more concrete paths to demanding bigger changes and, down the road, to replacing the system.
The current Black Live Matter movement has shown us that it is possible to force a retreat on the system. This is not to say that BLM movement has the answers to all the ills in our society. It needs not have any answers to most ills; its legitimacy comes from the specific and righteous demands it represents.
BLM does of course suffer from inadequacies of vision, scope and a programmatic platform. As well, BLM may in the long run be derailed by Democratic Party operatives and corporate leaders, all doing their best to superimpose their agendas on the movement, reroute it through ‘legitimate’ channels, asset-strip it of all its goods, and kill it off.
But no outcome is inevitable. It all depends on how everybody acts. Movements are born out of deep contradictions in a society, and their growth and development depend on a whole host of factors, so there are never any guarantees. For any side. There is only the struggle and the degree and strength of its self-awareness, and both of those take collective effort to sharpen and push forth.
Trump has never pretended to be the president of the country. He has acted as agitator-in-chief and a hate monger. He has consistently tried and succeeded in dividing the country along racial lines, all the while redirecting as much wealth upward as possible. Liberals who complain about Trump’s lack of ’empathy’, or lack of ‘leadership’ or ‘decorum’ actually downplay Trump’s true mission: he’s here to destroy liberal an neoliberal myths and replace them with far-right-wing myths.
Under Trump, in such a short time, a number of major holes have become exposed: the notion of separation and balance of powers has lost a lot of its advertising power. Powers allowed to a president have been exposed to be almost dictatorial, with little in the system placing a check on presidency, if favorable conditions prevail. Also exposed, the circus-like role of the congress of do-nothings who still get paid; and finally exposed, the myth of ‘objectivity’ of the judicial system. Given a friendly Supreme Court and a friendly legislative branch willing to cover for a corrupt president, there really is no limit to what a single person can do the country.
Liberals cannot admit openly that ‘country’ and ‘economy’ are, in reality, two or three different countries and economies inside a geographic boundary. There’s always one country and economy for the top one percent, where they make all the money, bag all the wealth, and break all the rules, then re-write the rules and pardon themselves. In the other economy and country inside the same geographic boundary, the rest of us live and work (if we still have jobs), but we have zero representation, zero rights to healthcare, zero rights to safe housing, zero rights to clean water and air, or healthy neighborhoods, zero rights to job security or safe working conditions, zero rights to meaningful rights even. In this other country, we are all precariats: disposable, dispensable, but good renewable energy source for them.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed all this. Yet, look at the easy smiles on the faces of Trump, his cabinet members and GOP Senators. Nothing to them is wrong with their response of deliberately sabotaging every step of the process to do with anything that would have helped us the people, making absolutely sure more of us died. What are they smiling about? That many tens of thousands of fewer social security checks to issue; healthcare costs of hundreds of thousands saved; rising prices of their shares in healthcare and pharmaceutical companies; the dead no longer organizing for, or demanding, mail-in ballots. All those, and more, are good news to them.
COVID-19 has made all the social ills even more visible. But the rulers have no real remedies for any of the structural problems the system creates on a regular basis.
Currently, there are only two officially sanctioned paths available. To deflect and pretend everything was OK before Trump got elected; argue that, overall, the system is sound but could be improved and updated for a 21st Century ‘new economy’, yet still basically the same as ‘Before Trump Era’ (BTE) times. That’s option number one. As if BTE times can be brought back by just closing our eyes and wishing so.
Or, option number two, go on an intense and violent attack. Divide us based on race, gender, ethnicity and whatever else they can throw in there; get us to fight each other; if people go out to protest against the ills of the system, send out the armed goons to beat up protestors, run them over with cars; call in the national guard; have the police use more tear gas and more military equipment; work day and night to deepen the racial hatred among the unprivileged, uneducated, evangelized rural and suburban whites.
Liberals in the U.S. may be horrified by Trump’s openly racist policies, acts and speeches. Their horror is deceitful, of course. For decades, they’ve enacted racist policies. What they are truly horrified at is the openness of Trump’s racial animus. That egregious openness is an uncomfortable reminder of what the system was built on and has exposed them all.
Everybody who is rightly worried about a Trump second term should be even more worried about (and start organizing for) a Biden first term if Trump loses his reelection.
During Biden’s first term, all the racist masses — reanimated, reenergized and ready for street fights — will be brought out to fight. They will be riled up daily with demagogic statements from the bitter Twitter King and his cohorts, who will not have lost their multiple platforms: Trump’s Twitter account with more than eighty million followers, Fox News and their millions, QAnon and assorted others like them multiplying like mushrooms on cow turd after a rain, racist billionaires funding racist politicians, militias and media. Republicans in the Congress will not suddenly ‘see the light’ and change their tune to ‘reach across the aisle’ (and if they do, watch out!). Quite the contrary, they will double down on their obstructionism and will use even more incendiary rhetoric and triple up on their efforts to push the agenda that screams, “Government is not responsible for taking care of the people.”
In closing, a reprimand and a suggestion for supporters of Senator Bernard Sanders in the Democratic Socialists of America, and in other independent leftist organizations and publications (outside the Democratic Party) supportive of Senator Bernard Sanders, who is considered a Saint by his staunch followers:
You were herded into the Democratic Party, as per St. Bernard’s directions. You have actively advised socialists to support Sanders, and the Democratic Party by extension.
Alternatively, you could have encouraged people to do what some of your leaders eventually came around to doing: encourage a vote for Howie Hawkins! Even if they did so out of spite, not principle.
You led giant amounts of youthful energy down a dead-end alley: that precious, idealistic (in the most honorable and positive sense of the word) energy, all that vital youthful energy that could have gone into bolstering Green Party’s presidential campaign, all the energy that could have gone into spreading the words and the demands of an actually existing socialist-leaning platform. All wasted on a Democratic Party candidate. And now, your people are deflated with confusion as to what to do next.
As penance, you should campaign for, knock on virtual doors and collect actual donations for, then gather your friends and family on buses, take them to polling stations and encourage them to vote for … Howie Hawkins. Do all that with as much energy and enthusiasm as you showered on Sanders.
St. Bernard will not like you doing so, of course. But he led you to a dead-end. Now you must take your first steps on the road to redemption. Redeem your radical soul now or lose it for good.