CJ Miller Column: An obituary for America in a time of uncertainty

CJ Miller, Staff Writer

          As you all know, there was an election in the most powerful nation in the world. Joe Biden won it. He became the oldest President in the world’s longest standing republic; a republic divided and on the brink of imaginative greatness or ultimate destruction. I unfortunately believe the former is a dream that died long ago and the latter is likely a brutal reality.

         I am a black man a part of the LGBTQ+ community, so my view on this country, particularly its history is not one of great fondness, but even then I still believed that this country could be better, that we could be the perfect union we all dreamed and hoped and prayed it would be, but this election it seemed to be a wake up call. We are Rome, its best and its worst. The 45th and soon to be former President of the United States, has refused to concede the election and has even gone as far as to claim fraud without any proof, deepening the divisions to a point which, one could argue, goes beyond that of Civil War. The Civil War was a bloody and miserable conflict, and in that aspect they got us beat, but the underlying hatred between the average northerner and southerner was not as deep as the division between the left and the right in this country today, which is apart of the reasons they called the war “brother against brother.”  People on opposite sides of the political spectrum today are not calling themselves brothers.

 There is no underlying unity today

                  The two sides have such a fundamental hate and distrust of one another that neither man can unify the nation. The soon to be former president has dragged the rest of his party down the road of conspiracy theories and mindless conjecture.  Many senators and Republican officials have stood behind this president’s baseless and conspiratorial claims with only former President George Bush and Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) taking the high road. But even worse than that, even worse than the GOP being cowards and towing the line straight to the abyss, the base of the party has been led into the unfortunate and disturbing land of falsehoods. Before this election most voters had a semblance of faith in the election process, that has now been shattered as 70% of GOP voters believe the election process was not fair, with even a third of them thinking the results will be overturned. There were armed Trump supporters at some polling stations banging on the windows and demanding that they “stop the vote.” The president and his supporters even want to overthrow a democratic election by appealing to courts that they strategically packed with ideological conservatives over the last four years. 

Healing under Biden? 

           This nation is not in a good spot — but there is a chance it can heal. Biden has the opportunity to be a good and popular president, with a Covid vaccine arriving soon and the recovery of the economy happening under his leadership, there is a chance he can get real things done for those who feel forgotten. While there are those who voted for Trump because of his worst impulses, I still believe there are a significant few who voted for him despite of them. Because of genuine economic anxiety, poor Democratic messaging, and stringent right wing propaganda, they believe only Trump has their back. Maybe Biden can counteract that with an active administration. It is also likely that Biden will be able to pass sufficient police reform or some sort of bill that would help bring real change to African American communities stifled by socio- economic oppression since our battles with the Red Coats. Or maybe even immigration reform, the fool’s gold of Presidents of both parties. Immigration reform could potentially bring in millions of new voters, predominantly of color, and it would also stifle the GOP talking points about illegal immigration that often lead to fear or hatred of the “other” within the electorate.

 Herein lies the problem though: I don’t think any of that is gonna happen

                   We have seen how Mitch McConnell deals with Democratic presidents, it is not one with grace and bipartisanship. He told this nation that he would make Obama a one term president and while he failed in that position, he was a thorn in the side of almost everything he did. Biden will not have the luxury that his longtime friend did, Mitch will be leader in the beginning of his term and will deny Biden any meaningful reform, economic or otherwise until the next election; and if you don’t believe that he will then you are stuck in a “West Wing” view of politics that was gone long before most of us were born. Mitch will deny Biden a chance to be an economic progressive president, something most of the country wants (i.e. Florida $15 minimum wage despite going for Trump). Making Biden focus on social issues as opposed to economic ones would be disastrous as white rural and working class voters often hold a deep resentment towards the Democratic Party for being against them in favor of social justice or as Andrew Yang put it, the Democrats are a group of “coastal urban elites who care about policing cultural issues.”

Social Justice in Rural America ?

                       Here is the thing though, it’s not just that they don’t care about social justice; they actively oppose it. Rural voters were decimated by Trump’s tariffs, so much so that he had to bail them out, they still voted for him. White blue collar workers were deeply harmed by Trump’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, they still voted for him: it’s not about economics, not entirely, it’s about culture. In 2014, Arkansas voted to raise the minimum wage while simultaneously voting in Tom Cotton Who would become one of the most right-wing senators in the nation, in 2016 Florida and a few other states voted to legalize weed, even as most if not all of those states went for Trump, in 2020 the State of Florida vote to raise the minimum wage while voting for Trump by four points. 

It’s the culture, stupid

Which brings me to my main point, what will happen to America? Well, it seems that we have a fate that was set in stone long ago, an ideology so decrepit it will lead to fascism, our fate is fascism; and our fight for social justice will probably be the reason for it. I know there are those out there, probably an overarching majority, that believe this democracy can stand the test of time and that no matter what happens that age old document written hundreds of years ago will remain the blueprint of our country, and they are wrong.

 Let us take a look at the 14 signs to fascism: powerful and continuing nationalism, disdain for human rights, identification of enemies/scapegoats, supremacy of the military, rampant sexism, controlled mass media, obsession of national security, religion and government intertwined, corporate power protected, labor power suppressed, Disdain for intellectuals and the arts, Obsession of crime and punishment, Rampant cronyism and corruption, Fraudulent elections. America ticks the box of 7 of these (1,3,7,8,9,11,12) without much of a doubt, and one could make the argument that we have the others, just less widespread than the ones aforementioned. I know there are those that will say that while many of these traits have been part of the nation’s psyche, they will die as millenials and Gen Z come of age, as they are more progressive on social and economic issues. That is certainly possible, America’s psyche has never really changed and I don’t predict it will. 

America’s fall to fascism will not come in a swastika while hailing Hitler; it will come in a ‘cross wrapped in a flag’ while resenting those who seek to fight it’s original sin: hatred for the other; and I fear that not even the election of the old Catholic from Scranton may stop our march to fascism.