Death and Loathing Are on the Ballot

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

A frightening report that appeared on CNBC “Key coronavirus forecast predicts over 410,000 total U.S. deaths by Jan. 1 ‘The worst is yet to come’” (September 4, 2020), is worse news than the fact that other signs of death will be on the ballot in November. The Newspaper of Record takes a somewhat similar tack in “America’s summer failure,” (September 4, 2020).

The Orangeman himself mirrors the worst fascist society in world history, Nazi Germany, in his disregard for science, attacks on the left, support of police violence, denial, demonization of people of color, and attacks of varying kinds against immigrants and women. One of his advisers, Stephen Miller (“Stephen Miller’s Dystopian America,” New York Times, August 28, 2020), has been an architect of the demonization of immigrants, including immigrant children. That Miller was born a Jew does nothing less than cause me great pain.

The list of Trump’s fascistic policies and behaviors goes on and on, ad nauseam. We’re not only not the enlightened society on the hill, but we’ve become an epicenter of hate, fear, and the leading center of Covid-19.  The new political populism has found a strong foothold in the US, partly due to the bipartisan policy of buying into globalization hook, line, and sinker. The few and the very wealthy love the skyrocketing stock market and unending tax cuts along with endless war spending: What a perfect storm for the 1%! The election of 2016 was a journey into the fishing expedition where hate and deprivation met right-wing electoral populism. Trump even ridicules fallen soldiers from World War II, calling them “losers” and “suckers” (“A Furious Biden Calls Trump‘s Reported Insults of Fallen Soldiers ‘Disgusting,’” New York Times, September 4, 2020). Nothing is sacred to this wannabe führer. The wannabe führer ridicules those heroes who rid the world of the Nazi führer. We’ve come a long way, baby!

What happens if hate rears its ugly head again in November 2020? Will those on the left, those who protest, and those who protest and write on the left remain safe? The police have already been unleashed on both people of color and those who protest on the left with often lethal results. Will we be safe if Trump attempts an election coup d’état in November?

I don’t know, but what I do know is that it will be impossible to seek asylum outside of the US because the borders will remain closed as Covid-19 begins its fall leap (The feds and many states will probably not lockdown the economy again and the virus will spread when doors and windows are closed). How bad will it get? It’s hard to tell, but Trump has all the mechanisms of power at his disposal and not one iota of intelligence or humanity. He is savvy in terms of his inclination toward dictatorial powers, but his lack of organizational acumen might mean a hiatus in how far the US government moves toward fascism and how far state governments move along or go along with Trump.

Many of my generation left the US during the Vietnam War to seek asylum, primarily in Canada, but it would be impossible to even think in that direction with the pandemic raging. Fear and loathing stalks the land, and it’s anybody’s guess where all of this horror is heading.

I agree with the late Emma Goldman and Philip Berrigan that elections are pretty much a ploy by the ruling class and they eventually lead to the same, or very similar, outcomes. There is a point in the life of a protester, however, when being driven to the road of flight and salvation is not the best of any world.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).