game reset

Well, here we go again. San Mateo County has just restored the mandate for masking indoors in public places. The Delta variant has become the dominant variant nationwide, and while the vaccinated are testing positive – and in some cases symptomatic – the bad sickness and deaths seem to be reserved for those who have refused the vaccine. To the point where the Enemy establishment feels compelled to tell people that the vaccines are good and they should get them – albeit sandwiched between conspiracy theories and reassurance that you’re a very good person to refuse it.

Naivete, hope and appeals to logic versus performative redneckery weaponized in bad faith. Welcome to 2021. Actually welcome to the 21st century in general. I don’t know why anyone is surprised at this point; every time the Enemy loses, the response is to double down and go even harder on delusion and fascism. In 1998, the GOP was batting around impeachment, got their clock cleaned at the polls, and rammed through an actual impeachment while they still could. In 2009, after America looked at Sarah Palin and chose Team Obama instead, the GOP elevated Palinism to its only belief system. And now, with Trump decisively thrashed and his followers discredited by an actual attempt by force to derail the transition of power, the Republican party has nailed its colors to the mast as the party of Trump. 

This would be different if the Never Trump GOP would accept defeat, accept that they cannot ride the tiger any longer, and supply the votes to rebuke Trumpism at every turn until it’s dead and buried at midnight with a stake through its heart. That appears to be too much to ask of anyone in office other than Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, though. It also appears to be too much to ask the American news media to call a spade a fucking spade, but then, the New York Times’ self-loathing is always enough to green-light another safari of the “economically anxious.” 

Why is this? Why are we stuck with this seamless garment of bullshit as the Republican shibboleth? Part of it is the inherent reflexive loathing of “politics” – the only field where people seem to think amateurism is the most desirable state. Do you want a pilot who’s never flown a plane of any kind? How about a surgeon who’s never handled a scalpel? Hell, most people wouldn’t go to a mechanic that had never lifted the hood of a car, but “not a politician” is supposed to be a positive endorsement for a candidate for high office? We don’t want to acknowledge that politics is the process by which we order our society, and so people lie and call themselves “independents” and swear they vote for the man, not the party label (always the man, though) – and that’s why Democrats almost invariably have to produce the most centrist-looking white male they can churn up, because anything darker or more X-chromosomal causes the dullard masses to recoil at “politics”. And then things get worse, because Republicans will ride the Trump turd bomb to the ground, but Democrats bail out the second their feelings are hurt.

None of which is a consolation. We’re hanging onto the Senate by our fingernails, and if you can’t shift the moral defectives in Arizona and West Virginia – and you can’t, especially in West Virginia, where a Democrat-in-name-only is the only kind that can win – then you don’t have the votes. The main thing at this point is just to ensure that they don’t either, because if the GOP suddenly gets 51, the Biden administration is over. So get what you can, now, as quick as you can, and hope against hope that maybe you can change the picture a little in 2022. Diplomacy, especially in the Senate, is the art of saying “nice doggie” until you can find a rock.

Nothing has changed in our politics. We wrenched the nuclear button out of the hands of a weak, senile, stupid man, but his followers are unbudged from where they were five years ago, and we have done nothing to make them anathema or circumscribe them from political power. “Trump voter” needs to garner the same public reaction as “child molester” and until it does, we will be cursed. All we’ve done is pull the knife out. We haven’t stopped the bleeding at all. I don’t know how we can unless people agree that what happened since 2016 was wrong and they’re willing to accept a mild tax increase or two to fix it.

But if you had hope after January 20, it’s probably time to think about wising up.

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