A lot is happening.
It’s tough to know what to write about, or think about, when events are unfolding at such a rapid pace. Though the high stakes of the upcoming election make it a magnet for attention, this is our least competitive race since ’96, with a hardened electorate unlikely to be moved by any late-breaking events. Trump is fading in the Great Lakes states that gave him his ’16 miracle while Democrats ride four years of outsized voter mobilization and turnout, outperforming in almost every race since ’16.
No race is over until the votes are counted, but if Republicans have to spend millions to hold Texas it’s hard to see how they win this thing. If Trump actually wins a legitimate, defendable victory in this election it will be for reasons no one is seeing, no one is predicting, which show up nowhere in the available data. And before you start talking about “polls getting it wrong” in ’16, let’s remember that the polls were right about everything but black voter turnout in the Great Lakes states, predicting the popular vote margin almost exactly. If the polls are almost as accurate in ’20 as they were in ’16, then Trump is done. Honestly, I’m not following it all that closely.
I’m more interested in the shitshow that follows the election. Trump has left most of the country ungovernable, wrecking the bureaucracy, discrediting the courts, and fostering a death cult mentality among evangelical and less-educated whites.
Democrats and their momentary allies are in a justifiably vengeful mood. Even if Trump loses by the anticipated 8-10 point margin he will insist he’s been robbed. It won’t help him hold the White House, but it will leave the country further wounded, making any near-term reconciliation impossible while fostering Bundy-esque brush fires of redneck resistance and terrorism likely to last beyond the next Administration. Americans have learned to hate each other in ways not seen in living memory. This division is not just an American problem.
Democracies all over the world are facing similar breakdowns between economically successful, culturally diverse urban centers and their bitter, left-behind country cousins. A long period of relative political stability in the liberal democracies is at an end until a new order can be set in place. New governing arrangements seldom arrive peacefully.
Candidly, I’m struggling to pick a thread to pull from such a miserable tangle of events, trends and factors. My attraction to narrative rabbit-trails makes this a very difficult challenge to navigate. These are some of the concepts vying for my attention. Which ones do you think are most relevant/interesting right now?
The biological challenge of living with spectacular volumes of data.
Race as America’s founding ethos, its “load-bearing wall.”
Artificially inflated housing costs as an obstacle to political realignment.
Whiteness, though still central to an American identity, has lost its power to hold the country together.
Can whiteness retain its cultural hold by recruiting enough Hispanics and Asians to the club?
Implications and potential responses to climate change.
Moral panic over social media threatening to obscure larger questions of influence peddling, technology and grassroots politics.
Looming population decline, with demand for land and natural resources already beginning to wane.
A shrinking world is bringing people together, not always in the best ways.
The destabilizing rise of a large, diverse upper middle class, tied together by education, increasingly earning a living in capital as much as wages.
Concentration of economic and cultural power in a few megacities while those cities’ political power lags.
Steeply declining fortunes of rural residents and those who live on more traditional labor.
What else? What am I missing?