in newsletter, politics

This one is for all the marbles

There’s a tweet thread I haven’t been able to get out of my head recently. It comes from Brynn Tannehill, who recently expanded her viral thread into an entire article for Dame magazine. You can read the whole thread here but I’ve also reproduced some of the text below:

The more I write about this, the more it becomes plain: if Biden loses, 2020 will be the last remotely free and fair election we have for decades, and certainly my lifetime.

We are in the middle of an autocratic attempt, and it looks so much like Hungary’s. The courts are being packed with loyalists. Most state legislatures in swing states are gerrymandered beyond belief. The executive branch is gaining unitary power. The Dept of Justice is blatantly selectively applying the law to favor the autocrat. IGs are being destroyed. AGs are being replaced. Congress is no longer a check on corruption, as the Senate has been captured by Trump loyalists. RBG is in bad shape. Ditto Breyer. Hybrid regimes (competitive authoritarianism) are remarkably stable. This is why 2020 is for all the marbles.

This is why I have no use for people who whinge about Biden/Harris not being far enough left for their tastes. They are under the mistaken belief that if Biden loses, they will have another chance to elect people that are far enough left for their liking.

The truth is, if Biden/Harris lose, there isn’t going to be an opportunity to elect someone they like in their lifetime. Not without secession of blue states. That’s the only plausible scenario I can come up with after the autocratic breakthrough. The people who study autocracy are all singing the same tune: American Democracy is not strong enough to survive another 4 years. The guardrails are already almost completely down. This is entirely consistent with how others have fallen in the post-Cold War period. […]

Beware, be warned, or don’t. Because once this election comes and goes, if Donald J. Trump is still President on January 21st, 2021, We’re Fucked. Democracy in America is not coming back. In most states, your vote no longer matters. We are rapidly approaching it at a federal level.

The thread does a great job of summarizing the direness of the situation but also pointing out the bizarre delusion that many people seem to be laboring under: That being dissatisfied with Biden and holding out for a better candidate in the future is a viable option to effect change.

The truth of the matter is that America is already operating under minoritarian rule. Increasingly, the makeup of our government no longer represents the will of the people, as gerrymandering and the electoral college continue to entrench the GOP despite the fact that Democrats have won the popular vote and lost twice in the last five elections. Soon, the work of these institutions will be complete.

Over at Eudaimonia, Umair Haque makes a similar case in his ominously titled piece, “We Don’t Know How to Warn You Any Harder. America is Dying.” Haque warns that all the signs of authoritarianism we’ve witnessed in other countries are happening right here in the U.S. We just don’t have experience in recognizing them:

America already has an ISIS, a Taliban, an SS waiting to be born. A group of young men willing to do violence at the drop of a hat, because they’ve been brainwashed into hating. The demagogue has blamed hated minorities and advocates of democracy and peace for those young men’s stunted life chances, and they believe him. That’s exactly what an ISIS is, what a Taliban is, what an SS is. The only thing left to do by an authoritarian is to formalize it.

But when radicalized young men are killing people they have been taught to hate by demagogues right in the open, on the streets — a society has reached the beginnings of sectarian violence, the kind familiar in the Islamic world, and is at the end of democracy’s road.

On Instagram, filmmaker Ava Duvernay wrote an excellent summation of the situation on the occasion of Kamala Harris’s nomination to the Democratic ticket:

There is no debate anymore. There’s no room for it in my book. We either make this happen. Or literally, more of us perish. People are dying. Someone I love died. This virus is real. If it hasn’t visited your doorstep, it will. Oh but, Kamala did this or she didn’t do that. I hear you. I know. And I don’t care. Because what she DIDN’T DO is abandon citizens in a pandemic, rip babies from their mother’s arms at the border, send federal troops to terrorize protestors, manufacture new ways to suppress Black and Brown votes, actively disrespect Indigenous people and land, traffic in white supremacist rhetoric in an effort to stir racist violence at every turn, attempt to dismantle most American democratic systems of checks and balance, degrade women all day everyday, infect the Supreme Court with another misogynist hack, demolish America’s standing on climate, actively cultivate and further white supremacist structures and systems across all aspects of American daily life. I mean, that’s what she DIDN’T do.

So I don’t wanna hear anything bad about her. It doesn’t matter to me. Vote them in and then let’s hold them accountable. Anything other than that is insanity. It’s ego. It’s against our own interests. It’s selfish. It’s disrespectful to our elders. It’s nonsense. It’s talking to hear yourself talk. This is a matter of life or death. We need all our energy focused. This is a fight for more than can be expressed here. There is no debate anymore. Not for me anyway.

Some citizens believe that one’s vote is a sacred thing. That one most vote for a candidate that represents one’s true beliefs and that it’s a violation of one’s obligations to compromise in any way.

It’s a perfectly valid way of approaching voting but it’s not one I subscribe to. I think you should vote to effect a specific outcome. And all the available evidence we have indicates that voting for Biden offers us the best opportunity to continue our democracy and achieve an outcome that’s closest to what progressives actually desire.

I hope everyone who’s undecided will wake up and decide the same thing. This one is for all the marbles.

A few things I’ve made recently:

Some other things worth checking out on the internet: