Sunday, November 14, 2021

O Democracy

I haven't written enough about the concerted takeover of our country that's underway, from state changes to voting laws to make one-party minority rule possible to the overt violence being threatened at school boards and against elections officials, to armed people (mostly men) stalking state legislatures and other places of public policy. Not to mention January 6 and all of its Republican apologists, of course.

I confess, it's too much to take in. What good will it do for me to write about it?

But if this is a chronicle of our times (and I guess my filing cabinet metaphor means it is), I have to say something about it.

Dave Roberts (via his Twitter feed) is one of many who is tracking this. Other voices: Bree Newsome, Ari Berman, Chris Hayes, Jared Yates Sexton. I'm sure many others, but it becomes a blur.

Here are a couple of tweets from Roberts today that made me start to write this:

There's really no way to exaggerate how fatalistic I feel about the next decade of US politics....

To clarify: when I say fatalistic about "the next decade," I don't mean I expect things to suddenly get better in a decade. I just mean, beyond that, the future is utterly opaque.

I expect the US to descend into something akin to Hungary, which at some point will cause civil unrest, which will likely lead to a period of chaos and violence, which may then result in something better? I mean, who knows? But things are definitely going to get much worse before they get any better.

I mean, North Carolina just basically made Democratic control of the legislature impossible, no matter how many Democratic voters there are. That's a state that is no longer a "democracy" in a meaningful sense. And it's just the beginning.

As with his February 2020 prediction that Republicans would start to routinely claim Democrats are cheating in all future elections, this feels like a moment when Roberts is leaving a note for the future. (Obviously a warning, too, but I'm not sure anyone who can do anything about it is listening.)

One of the respondents to Roberts' tweet said this, which I heard echoing in my own head:

The collapse of democracy and rise of authoritarian oligarchy as our climate becomes unlivable for billions cannot be overstated. Especially by a media paid to keep quiet so it can happen.

The role of the media in all of this was the subject of another Roberts tweet from an hour or so earlier today, about a Washington Post column called "Why do Democrats let Republicans set the terms of debate?":

Amazing that EJ Dionne can write a whole column on this subject and never discuss the fact that half of what the US calls "media" is explicit right-wing propaganda and the left has nothing like it. Why is this foundational fact so invisible to pundits?

I'm sure I've posted some of Roberts' analysis of the asymmetry of the Fox News/right wing media effect, but it's probably buried in a gigantic Twitter round-up somewhere. (I touched on it somewhat in this post.)

By not calling out right-wing media, by giving coverage to its fabricated stories and even beating the drum of fear of the Other and the "crime surge" (which is obviously related to the pandemic), the mainstream media is furthering the fascist coup. It's all completely obvious.

And as the respondent to Roberts said, all of this is happening in the last few years (decades if we're lucky) that we have to keep our ecosystem habitable for human civilization in some recognizable form.

It's easy to see why I don't write about this very often. We're all fiddling while rearranging the deck chairs on the roof of the burning crisis clinic as it goes over the waterfall.


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