Biden and Trump’s United States of Chaos

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Rarely a week seemed to go by during the Trump years when the sky wasn’t falling. The cable news already has a tendency of covering every single day like it could be the last, but this was different. Even powerful people seemed legitimately confused and nobody seemed to know what the fuck was going on. COVID turned the whole country inside out and the sporadic government lockdowns only seemed to make shit worse. Riots raged through cities large and small while the police declared war on their own citizens. The borders became a warzone while ICE dragged children from hospital beds and locked them up in glorified dog kennels.

At the center of it all was a demented orange president with a seemingly zero game plan and an administration that couldn’t shoot straight. Most of the time they seemed to be shooting at each other; leaking sensitive information to the press, plotting wars that never materialized, sabotaging each other’s peace deals, and getting shit-canned left and right. The system literally seemed to be eating itself and the press seemed to vacillate between covering the spectacle with heartless glee and hyperventilating in a corner with a brown paper bag like the rest of us.

There was a very sick side of me that took a degree of sadistic joy in this myself. I’m not proud of this, innocent people were getting fucked, but after decades of holding the public in the palm of their hands, the establishment appeared to have lost all control of the narrative. Trump’s cantankerous ship of fools did awful things to poor people across the globe like any other administration, but they were too incoherent to do anything substantial on the world stage. Trump kept all the old wars he pretended to hate raging but he failed to start any new ones and it wasn’t like he didn’t try.

He did quite literally everything but invade Venezuela and Iran, but even despotic douchebags like Maduro and the Mullahs always seemed to get the drop on him. Everything Trump tried fell apart and the establishment was beside themselves. They seemed to take their anger out on Trump by insisting that he was a puppet of the Kremlin even while Putin’s supposed puppet was shredding Soviet-era peace treaties left and right like an Enron ticker-tape parade. None of it made any sense. All I knew was that there were no new boots on the ground in Caracas or Tehran and the whole world seemed to finally be waking up to the fact that this empire I’ve despised since I was 13 years old was a five-alarm dumpster fire.

But your average American isn’t a craven anti-imperialist anarchist like me. By 2019, the whole goddamn country was exhausted by the confounding hijinks of the Trump junta and was desperately seeking something old and reliable to comfort them by the fire of their smoldering super-state. Their miracle came pre-packaged by the equally exhausted elites in the form of Joe Biden, who was sold to the country across nearly every corporate news medium as the human personification of warm milk. Redneck country was still mad as hell and hopelessly in love with Trump’s strange populist cult of personality, but the suburbs rejoiced in a childlike opportunity to turn back time to the wonder years of the Obama era. But this prospect was what scared me most.

In my short life, America was never more dangerous than it was under Obama; a man who could arm Al-Qaeda in Syria, turn Libya into a scorched open-air slave market, back neo-Nazis in Ukraine, and deport more people in two weeks than Trump could in two years, all while charming the pants off of the international community and convincing liberal America that he was the reincarnation of JFK. This was the motherfucker who built Trump’s kiddie concentration camps at the border and gave him an arsenal of toy planes to bomb shithole countries with, and his consigliere was being ushered back into the White House by a united press corps willing to bury every dead hooker they found in the trunk of his derelict son’s Mercedes under a layer of censorship and shadowbans. God help me, but I was way more freaked out about Biden than I was about Trump. Trump only had Fox News in his pocket and the worst they could pull off was an insurrection at The Villages.

About a year later and rarely a week seems to go by during the Biden regime when the sky isn’t falling. Joe’s presstitutes in the Fourth Estate do their damnedest to sugarcoat the mess but even the suburbs aren’t buying it anymore. COVID is still raging, cops are still lynching unarmed Black men with impunity, and the borders are wilder than they’ve ever been as the concentration camps remain full and the Border Patrol corrals Haitians by the thousands like Ku Klux cowboys from hell. At the center of it all is a rapidly disintegrating old wreck of a president with seemingly zero game plan and an administration that can’t shoot straight. And with the confusing clusterfuck in Afghanistan, they seem to be on the brink of shooting each other over a foreign policy decision that nobody seems to understand, myself included.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happier than a heroin addict in Panjshir that we finally got the hell out of that mess, but I still have no know earthly idea why Joe did it. Even with dementia, Biden is a lifelong neoliberal chicken-hawk who has never made peace with anyone, and now he’s willing to piss off every industrial complex who made his toxic career possible to do the right thing for the first time in his life and die on a hill that even a Kennedy would have bombed to kingdom come? It doesn’t make any fucking sense, nothing about this administration does. It’s almost as if Trump never left the White House.

And that’s just it. Americans, even jaded ones like me, often make the mistake of defining the politics of the day by whatever asshole happens to be sitting in the Oval Office. But that’s not how this country really works. America has never really been a democracy. Every four years we vote for another sock puppet to run the PR campaign, but it’s always the same revolving door of generals, lobbyists, and deep state hacks running the show behind the curtain. The rhetoric may change but the motives remain the same. As I pointed out above, Obama built the camps and the drones and both Trump and Biden used them. Similarly, the chaos that defined the Trump years is still defining Biden’s reign as well.

That’s because the American Empire as we know it is falling apart. Biden and Trump are symptoms of this collapse, not the cause of it. After twenty years of trying to dominate the Middle East and Central Asia to choke off Russia and China from the rest of the world, the elites are still no closer to preventing the unstoppable rise of a multi-polar Eurasian century. So they’re losing their shit and dividing into warring factions; the Russophobic neocons, the Sinophobic realists, all of them are devoted to the same cause of preserving an empire that is crumbling through their fingers, but none of them seem to agree on how to prevent the inevitable.

Maybe Afghanistan was a concession to China. Maybe we made a deal with the Taliban to let the country serve as a base for destabilizing Xinjiang. Maybe Hunter Biden burned his dope dealer in the Northern Alliance. Maybe all of the above. I honestly have no idea, but it all points to an empire without a coherent game plan and perhaps that is the silver lining here. When powerful people begin fucking up, the powerless people have an opportunity to get the upper hand. My advice is to forget Washington and their vexing melodrama. It’s a rerun of Dynasty that you don’t have to watch. Build something new in your own neck of this dying empire while Washington burns. Start a commune. Buy a farm. Drop out of this shithole country while you’re young. Joe and Donald’s United States of Chaos is coming down with or without you. You don’t have to make this inevitability any more tragic by coming down with it.

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.