Let’s get straight to it! No, we aren’t talking about legal shenanigans today, it’s all just so incalculably stupid and depressing. It’s American Thanksgiving this week, and we plan on celebrating with Indian takeaway and wine in our own home without fear of becoming infected or being a vector of infection. We strongly encourage you to do the same.
Of course there is no plan, only vague media ambitions (my bet is still on a media company attempt, though I’m not willing to bet on a successful one…) and the continuing grift of announcing hilariously pathetic lawsuits as an excuse to ask for money from their supporters multiple times a day.
It’s fascinating – FASCINATING – to see everyone in government, media, global politics and so on just sort of slide their attention away from Donald Trump this past week. Of course, he’s apparently lying low for once which is certainly helping, but the discipline the Biden team is showing by simply not validating (or even acknowledging) the Trump team antics is telling. It’s the equivalent of an adult not giving the screaming toddler attention…and it’s working. Which is all the more damning for the way so many institutions have handled the Trump years, especially after every good faith effort to engage with him as though he were a normal president, abiding by and upholding the expectations of his office. He isn’t, and he never was.
Spiking the postal service, sowing distrust, decades of gerrymandering, lawsuits to close and reducing polling locations, AND a global pandemic and this election broke participation records.
This doesn’t unmake damage, and it’s no substitute for the systemic work that needs to happen to live up to the promise of our national mythos. I’m still afraid of possible anger or disappointment turning to violence, I’m still not hopeful that the gridlock strategy won’t rear it’s horrible head again, I’m still convinced that the conservative pivot to “the debt ceiling” or whatever is going to give us all whiplash, and I’m certain that the incumbent administration can do a lot of damage on their way out. Hell, I’m not sure Don Jr. won’t announce his candidacy next week or something moronic.
I’m most afraid that a lot of (white, comfortable, middle class) people are going to think “Job done,” dust their hands, and go back to being complacent. Women’s marches, BLM marches, indigenous peoples marches, the active role in promoting not just petty fandoms but the democratic process…that needs to keep happening. We need people of all stripes to push for the world we want.
The thing about democracy is that you have to keep doing it.
But just for this weekend, in this incredibly exhausting and bonkers year, I’m just going to enjoy the many reminders that activism and civic engagement work.
I have to say, the media is doing a better job this time around of not jumping to be the first to call the results and insisting on vote tallying.
I also have to say, for anyone declaring that “This is not who America is,” in response to any of the bullshit of the last four years…have you learned nothing? This is, in fact, who we are. It’s who half of our voters are. If you aren’t all in on the cruelty, the norm breaking, the manipulation of legal privileges for profit and gain, the attempted/successful coopting of members of government for private gain, the cozying up to enemies, breaking of faith with our allies, the breaking of our treaties–and that’s to say nothing of the petty, vindictive toxicity of behavior including sexism and accusations of assault, racism and coddling of actual Nazis, and the slow, grim slide into stupid fascist
You might not be all in on any of the above…but none of it was a deal breaker. For half of Americans. #MeToo, #BLM, indigenous peoples’ protests, the Womens’ March…all of this is happening for a reason.
And to anyone who thinks fascism-lite is acceptable because it’s happening on “their side” forgets that sooner or later, everyone ends up on the enemies list. Everyone.
Whew. Okay, some links that have little or NOTHING to do with the election. Britain is in Lockdown 2.0
Poland has been rocked by almost constant protests for months now, and I’m amazed at how little attention it gets. It’s a major front in the western culture wars, including horrible LGBT crackdowns and now additional restrictions on abortions. I salute those in the streets.
I mentioned this in my Sunday post, but that sensation that time is a flat circle? No, you’re not imagining it, and we have no idea what the long term effects are going to be. Normally things that mark the passage of time like holidays, weekends, birthdays, regular appointments, or even just scheduled dates with friends or family help you feel that life is being lived. You’re moving forward in someway. Absent that, we’re all kind of just…existing.
We’re down to the penultimate month of the weirdest year of my lifetime, and it’s gonna be a doozy.
Boris Johnson (finally) announced what we all knew was coming: Lockdown the Second is coming. COVID stats are now exceeding the “peak” in many metrics and once again a lot of powerful people are having to mumble miserably about this lasting longer than is politically convenient for them.
Meanwhile: America. Perhaps my cynicism is just out of control at this point, but anyone who thinks this week is going to bring some sort of resolution is delusional. If Trump wins, we get four more years of the corruption and ignorance that’s making all our societal problems worse. If Biden wins, he’s entering office in a hostile environment during a crisis.
Trump and his ilk aren’t just going to go quietly into that goodnight. He’s in office until January (and going to receive security briefings for the rest of his life, please remember) and since attention is his currency, he’ll continue to wreck havoc on Twitter and whatever his next grift is. My bet is a media company. And that’s before the actual militarized radicals and QAnons react which could span so many outcomes (and so many of them bad) that it makes my head spin.
Either way, if you’re thinking of Election Day or December 2nd (the end of British lockdown 2.0) as some kind of deadline…don’t. I know we’re all desperate to mark the passing of time, to reintroduce some sense of seasonailty to give us closure to various moments, and its exhausting that time has become a flat circle. But things are not going to be magically fixed, vanished, somehow put back “the way it was” if that’s something you want, or somehow magically institute your preferred ideal future. We need to keep going.
SO. This November, do what keeps you healthy and comforted. We’re streamlining the things that need to be done so that you can accomplish what you need while preserving your energy. If you’re still at home, make it as pleasant a place to be as possible. That food, makeup, wine, clothes, gift certificate, or whatever that you’ve been saving for a special occasion? This is it, pumpkins. Eat it, slap it on, gift yourself or someone else responsibly.
Stay prayed up, kittens. Next week is going to be trippy in the extreme. Wear a mask. Look after other people as well as yourself and your own. Accept that life is tough right now and maybe doing the right thing is inconvenient, but do it anyway. Don’t confuse discomfort for oppression. Don’t give into bad faith attempts to draw you into conflict. Don’t argue or debate with people who aren’t actually concerned with hearing your POV and giving it a measure of respect. Save your energy. Wash your hands.
Friend of the Blog Caitlin’s latest piece on Americans choosing to move or live abroad in this day and age. Topical.
Amazing that such a historically documented (and still important in pop culture) event still has some secrets!
Why you may not “get” all the Hunter Biden “news”: you’re not supposed to unless you already live in the very specific media world it’s intended to appeal to. And as we have seen with QAnon and others, they will do the work of constructing the narrative they want for one another.
Finally, I have been obsessed with following this saga and there is a new chapter. First your refresher on the nuttery of Omegaverse, various copyrights related thereto, litigious authors…and a misfire!
Ducklings, how are we all doing? I ask because we’re moving into month eight of some version of social restrictions here in the UK and staring down the barrel of an increasingly grim winter season as infections continue to rise. The States…well, I’m glad I live where I do. But yeah, 2020 continues to be A Lot.
I’m personally coming off two back to back weeks of significant work projects which were very satisfying to complete but rather stressful to get over the line. Not a small portion of my job involves media monitoring, prep, and response which – again, in 2020 – is not conducive to remaining calm or thoughtful.
And so, a casual reminder that it’s okay to not have all your shit together or an answer to the huge amount of complex issues we face as individuals and collectives. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed by work, isolation, family, boredom, economic anxiety, existential threats, and common everyday irritations. These are not normal times, it’s okay to have weird reactions or coping mechanisms.
Just remember that these times are not going away soon. It’s comforting to look at set deadlines like elections or year ends as some sort of arbitrary goal to be reached after which Things Will Be Different, but I’m convinced that’s a mistake. We need to be able to think about hard things and times in the long term, so we can build the resilience we need to navigate it. If you are lucky enough to have the time or money, donate to causes you care about and make a plan to stay involved in issues long after the media spotlight turns away from them. Stay engaged and informed in difficult topics. Stay prayed up, as the kids say.
And look out for everyone else trying to do the same
PS – If you’re American, VOTE GOD DAMN IT. Just don’t mistake November 3rd for some kind of endgame, regardless of the outcome. Our problems didn’t begin in 2016, and they’re not going to end in 2020.
And while we’re being grim, it’s not going to get better if Mr. Trump loses. Do you think he’s just going to fade away? That his Twitter feed will go dark? That his scions won’t position themselves in the media or political landscape for the next election cycle? And as for the most cultish of his advocate, do you think they’re just going to vanish into the night? As much as I hope Trump loses, I don’t mistake that for actually fixing so many of the things that got him elected and allowed people to build an actual god damned mythology around him in the first place.
Natalie is here to deliver a lecture – on why Twitter isn’t real life, why “both sides are bad” discourse isn’t just unhelpful it’s not even correct, why we are not anywhere near socialism and everyone can calm down about that, why we need allies whether your goal is incremental change or violent uprising, and imperfect allies are all we’ve got. The hard right has a plan, and the hard left has a pipe dream. Vote accordingly.
I did not watch the Coney Barrett hearings this week, and I only read recaps of the town halls. We sent off our ballots for early voting (I complain a lot about Utah but they have a great election system with copious public information resources for voters, and a robust and trusted system for remote and mail in voting).
The world is not getting safer for LGBT people, which is why activists are scared and things like lifetime appointments to positions of power matter. Theocratic based rule or ideology is on the rise in secular countries and it’s frightening.
A telling sentence in this piece about alt-right darling Lauren Southern could easily be applied to almost any woman who achieves prominence in the manosphere (or any hyper conservative, gender traditionalist, or fascist movement): “While the alt-right’s men were forever putting Southern in her place, they simultaneously venerated her as a goddess.” It’s not inherently feminist to succeed as woman within a patriarchal system, especially if you intend to use your power to uphold that system (cough Amy Coney Barret cough!). And patriarchy may like female spokespeople, but by its nature, it is antithetical to actual feminine power.
What a dumb week this was. That’s the thought I keep circling back to. The US president getting COVID? Dumb. Predictable and dumb. The ridiculous irony that he’s once again promising health care whilst his administration sues to remove Obamacare and protections for preexisting conditions in court, in the middle of a pandemic? Dumb. The spiking cases here in the UK? Completely avoidable and dumb. The debates? Exhausting and dumb. The racism and misogyny hurled at Senator Harris? Expected and horribly dumb. The looming Brexit smash up? Completely avoidable and dumb.
Why are so many people fighting so hard to get back to “the way things were” when it’s abundantly clear that the way things were wasn’t working? Not politically or economically, not socially or personally. We have a generational opportunity to think about how we might want society to work and push for it, and we’re mostly…dithering.
Dumb. Infuriatingly dumb. I’m fighting against cynicism by maintaining a sense of humor, but I’m more convinced than ever that so many of the challenges we face as a species are self-inflicted and perpetuating. Because we’re dumb.
To be fair, this comes after a particularly grueling week at work where I’m really pleased with my team’s professional efforts and simultaneously dispirited when I raise my gaze beyond my own sphere of influence. So as always, here are a few of the things that caught my eye on the interwebs this week. Share your notable finds in the comments!
“Maybe you do not care much about the future of the Republican Party. You should. Conservatives will always be with us. If conservatives become convinced that they can not win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. The will reject democracy.” David Frum, wrote in Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic. I literally think about that quote at least once a week.
Irony is dead. Just fucking deceased. If this were a TV show, we’d all be screaming at Netflix about how this plot twist is just unbelieveable/on the nose and has totally ruined the show. What a stupid year this is.
In my continuing quest to spread the word that any understanding of our current media, political and cultural moment requires a high degree of internet literacy, a very good piece in The Atlantic.