So normally I try to record my diatribe before dinner on Wednesday so I can get the show out early for Patrons and get to be done working before midnight. But this week I didn't even start writing the damn thing until almost midnight. I kept on staring at the election map, waiting for some clarity, eager to properly calibrate my anger for this one.
Well, I didn't get clarity. Maybe you have some by the time you hear this. Hopefully things continue the way they're looking and Biden takes it in the squeaker. And if that's the case, we only need to turn the anger up to 10.998. Because as idiotic as this outcome is, at least it doesn't appear to be the stupidest thing imaginable - which, let's face it, is what we've come to expect from this dumb-ass fucking country.
All that being said, I'd say it's dumber than 2016, even assuming a Biden victory. Knowing everything we now know about Donald Trump; after four years of corruption, lies, incompetence, fraud, negligence, vituperations, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, self-dealing, nepotism, divisiveness, and - binding all that shit together like the mortar - the relentless, frothing-at-the-mouth stupidity ... after all that the best we as a nation can muster is a tepid "probably not, I guess."
I mean, I was wrong. I was so fucking wrong. I thought, because I had such a low opinion of the American populace I couldn't possibly be overestimating them. I thought so little of us that it didn't even seem mathematically possible for us to be worse that I gave us credit for. But we are. For there to be even the remotest chance of America rescuing some shred of it's international dignity we needed a goddamn landslide. We needed a mandate of historic proportions. We needed to stand up and say "enough" in a single voice. And I genuinely thought that's what we'd do. I genuinely believed that we never would have made this mistake in 2016 if we really knew what we were getting into. And I was wrong. Millions of us are just willing to march blindly in to some theocratic idiocracy even as the bodies drop by the thousands around us and for what!? What do they get out of it? It's literally just that they get to win. It's spite. There's no agenda. Trump hasn't accomplished anything. He hasn't promised to accomplish anything. He literally ran with no platform other than to agree with himself. And that was enough for damn near half of American voters.
And I honestly don't know what to do with that. It seems to undercut the whole foundation of humanism to me. Is it naive to hope that these fucking idiots will ever be worth our trouble? Should we just look after ourselves, gather in a tight circle, and point our guns outward in all directions? As bad as that sounds it's getting really hard to argue that anything else is more sensible. We're surrounded by idiots that would send you to the gas chamber just to avoid losing a Twitter fight. In 2016 I was left wondering if we could be saved. In 2020 I'm left wondering whether we should be.
And look, I don't want to promote hate. I don't want to say we should hate the other side. But ... we should kinda hate the other side. We're talking about people who have no particular qualms about kidnapping children as a deterrent to their parents. And if we insist on continuing to imbue people like that with some kind of basic humanity, we risk finding ourselves forever chained to this station: This position where we stand there gawking at the electoral map going "how the fuck can any of this be close!?" To ascribe some kind of moral foundation to the American people is to reject all the observable evidence at this point. I'm not saying that the people on the other side are evil, I'm saying that their actions are functionally indistinguishable from evil.
I mean, keep telling yourself that asshole with the Trump sign in his yard is the kind of person that would run into a burning building to save a neighbor. He won't put on a fucking mask to save a neighbor. And whether that's because he's evil, stupid, or undereducated and misled doesn't fucking matter much when you're that neighbor.
Our nation is rotten all the way through. It's deeply, fundamentally, foundationally broken. And our tendency to see the good in the people around us - our combination of empathy and cultural blindness - leaves us in a terrible position if we wanna fix it. We refuse to recognize the problem because to truly grasp how evil and shitty America is, you have to admit how evil and shitty the people you care about are. You have to admit that Uncle Frank isn't just an asshole, he's evil. Aunt Cathy isn't just stupid, she's dangerous. And even after you just watched them spend four years pledging undying allegiance to someone as unapologetically malicious as Donald Trump, you still bristle when I apply terms like that to them. Even now, as you watch them leap to his defense and threaten to take up arms against democracy, you can't help but think "Evil, Noah? Really?"
We can't afford that kind of naivety. This is a life and death struggle and the deaths are already well into the six figure range. We need to stare the ugliness of America right in the face without pretending that America is some immutable system that happens in Washington DC and state capital buildings. We need to see how evil and terrible this nation is even if we can only see some of its blemishes in the mirror. Because the story about the Emperor's new clothes takes on a much darker tone when it's twenty degrees below zero. And it's never been colder than it is right now.