There is still so much we don’t know about the 2020 election—such as, uh, who will be the president, though Joe Biden still has a very good chance. (Which, yes, is an extremely big deal.) But we know enough for me to be able to confidently say: fuck this fucking country.
A defeat for Donald Trump would be a thing of glory and joy, something to celebrate. But the lingering feeling from the 2020 election will be, yet again, that the United States is a place of poison and sickness whose institutions need to be broadly razed to the ground no matter who wins.
Here is a partial list of the people and institutions who should go fuck themselves.
Our system of government
We should never forget that, in a country with a different, better political system, we would not be spending literal days wondering when 10,000 votes in a Philadelphia warehouse would be counted, because Joe Biden would have already been declared the winner of the popular vote and that would have been that. As I write this, Biden is winning by millions of votes across America. He has received more votes than any candidate in American history. And yet, here we are, with Biden perfectly capable of losing the race to Donald Trump, and the world hinging not on what the broad cross-section of the American people think but rather on what a few thousand people in a few places in the country decided they wanted the presidency to look like. This all happened against the backdrop of a system that has been precision-engineered to favor Republicans and white people. It happened amid a systematic assault on the right to vote which surely robbed millions of people in crucial states of their ability to influence the outcome of this election. It happened in a country whose judicial system is now little more than an outpost of GOP nutjobs who could very well jump at the first opportunity to hand this election to Trump on a platter.
This all strikes me as pretty fucking stupid and wrong!
Burn down the Electoral College and its disenfranchising, anti-democratic sibling, the Senate, please. Bulldoze the Supreme Court building. Toss the Constitution into the shredder and write a new and better one. Give us a system where the person who wins the most votes wins the presidency, every time.
The Republican Party
We all know why, really. Do I have to spell it out? The GOP is quite possibly the most evil institution on the face of the planet (I guess maybe ISIS could give it a run for its money but let’s be real—the Republican Party has done way more damage).
I should repeat that: the Republican Party is pretty much trying to do a coup. Right now! This is happening. It’s wild that we’re just, like, rolling with it, waiting to see what Arizona does or whatever, but we should not forget that Donald Trump is explicitly trying to shut an election down, right now. American democracy baby!!!! There is no hell hot enough for these people, I don’t know what else to say.
The Democratic Party
There are nearly 233,000 people who have died in this country from the COVID pandemic. The man in charge of the response to that pandemic is a vile fascist who made it clear, over and over again, that he didn’t care about all of the tragedy and loss spreading over the country he led. He even got the virus himself! He has been a terminally unpopular figure. There is still mass unemployment.
And yet here is where the Democratic Party finds itself: either ekeing out a dreadful, nail-biting victory over Trump or losing to him altogether. The dreams of a Democratic Senate appear to be hanging by a thread. The party’s House majority—that vaunted center-right behemoth seemingly built on the backs of every former CIA agent and prosecutor in America and used as a weapon against the left for the last two years—has had historically large chunks taken out of it. House Democrats who confidently talked about expanding their power are now spitting tacks and pointing fingers, wondering where it all went wrong.
I do not wish to diminish the significance of a Biden victory, if that is what happens. It’s hard to get an incumbent president out of office, and Trump is a cancer on this country. We will all breathe a huge sigh of relief.
But I am not here for the “wow why can’t you be satisfied” strain of thinking that will inevitably come with a Biden win. We absolutely should not be satisfied with of one of the most uninspired campaigns in living memory.
We should remember that Biden’s campaign was built consciously around vibes rather than material change; that one of the final messages that the Biden team had Barack Obama deliver to the country was to vote for Biden so that they wouldn’t have to think about him—literally telling people to turn out so they could tune out; that the Democrats deliberately centered white, wealthy, Republican-leaning suburbanites while scoffing at people who told them to, say, knock on more doors or come up with a serious offering for Latinx voters, many of whom have broken for Trump by drastic margins; that Democrats and their allies persuaded their supporters to throw absolutely staggering sums away on doomed candidacies and Republican grifts; that after the horror and hell of the last four years, and particularly this last year, Trump has expanded his base. And yes, there are many structural reasons for this, the system is bad, we are a highly polarized country, but maybe, just maybe, people deserve a better Democratic Party than the one they have? Biden was supposed to be the safe choice, the one whose coattails the rest of the party would ride to power. How’s all of that working out?
I will say it again: a Biden win would be a big, big accomplishment. But, if the GOP keeps the Senate, which seems more likely than not right now, we are being left with the possible best-case scenario of a divided government in which Senate Republicans kneecap even the merest hint of progress, and in which Biden’s terminally centrist instincts bend him towards compromise with the devil time and again. Meanwhile, the planet will burn and boil, people will still be at the mercy of their insurance companies, the Supreme Court will settle into its far-right groove, and the misery in this country will deepen and deepen. Let’s pop the champagne!
Wow, wow, wow, I hate these people, these numbers people who hold us all hostage for years on end and then, oh would you look at that, they don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about!!!
Thanks for absolutely nothing. And thanks to the media infrastructure built around the polls. Maybe we can send all the Nates on a 150-year voyage somewhere, starting tomorrow. I’ve seen enough!!!
This does not include my family and friends from my home state, but I can’t let it go unmentioned that California voted for Prop. 22, perhaps the worst single measure on the ballot in the country, a hammer blow to workers’ rights and a gift to Uber. They also rejected rent control and affirmative action. Fuck you, California!
Not to repeat myself but: fuck this fucking country, this place where nearly 70 million people looked at a rancid, racist, male supremacist fascist presiding over mass death and said “wow sign me up for four more years of this,” this mean and cruel and miserly place that does everything it can to grind its people down to dust rather than help them, this place with its politicians of all stripes more committed to each other than to the rest of us, this white supremacist trash dump we all have to call home. Fuck all of it.
There will be a mighty temptation, if Biden wins, to say that there is nothing too wrong with us, that the system can self-correct, that we chose decency in the end. Let us not kid ourselves about what this country—or, if you want to be more specific, the majority of this country’s white people—is, what its priorities are. Just because you dodged the bullet doesn’t mean someone didn’t try to shoot you.
I have never been one to look to electoral politics as the vanguard of liberation, and nothing has underscored that reality more than what we are currently dealing with. The need for people to be united and organized and make politicians fear them and create a better world outside of the options the powerful want us to have has never been greater. The challenges currently in front of us have never seemed more insurmountable. There is no way through but together—not in the cheap toxic “no red no blue just USA” together, but in the togetherness of everyday people who shake the chains off and bring this place to its knees. What other choice is there?