Yes, we all received a small burst of optimism from seeing Michelle Obama speak. And we got a tiny jolt of hope from witnessing progressives, establishment Democrats, and even a few moderate Republicans unite in defense of sanity. And we savored an infinitesimal sliver of joy from realizing that Trump has only a 27% chance of winning the election.
Well, that was all great. But the fun times are over.
You see, the GOP will hold its convention this week, complete with smirking teens and gun-toting rich people and conspiracy cranks, all of them wildly enthusiastic about the possibilities of four more years of right-wing deviancy and madness. And this gathering of lunatics will make an impact, because the race will tighten, and we all will be tense as hell until November.
But that’s not the extent of the negative news.
Because even if Trump loses and voluntarily leaves the White House (not a given on either count), the United States is so deep into chaos, so submerged into catastrophe, that Biden will spend his entire term just trying to get us back to where we were in 2008. On a cultural, social, economic, and political level, we are screwed for the foreseeable future.
Let’s start with our favorite virus, COVID-19, which has killed 170,000 Americans so far and continues to ravage the nation. You might be thinking everything will get back to “normal” as soon as that ruggedly handsome and/or stunningly beautiful scientist holds up a test tube and shouts, “We’ve found the vaccine!”
Well, there are just a few problems with that Hollywood ending.
First, most experts think a vaccine is unlikely to become widely available until mid-2021, at the earliest. Keep in mind that this “would be a huge scientific feat, and there are no guarantees it will work.” Developing a vaccine could, of course, take a lot longer. And rushing the process would only lead to a horrific backfire. Also, there are numerous issues with production, cost, and accessibility when it comes to distributing a vaccine. And finally, because we are Americans, there’s a good chance that anywhere from 30% to 50% of us will refuse to take it.
So yes, we could easily be years down the road, still fighting this damn bug. That scenario would naturally prolong the economic recovery.
And speaking of the economy, the early talk of a rapid rebound now looks as accurate as those predictions that we would be ditching our cars to buy Segways. No, the economic recovery is going to be long and drawn out, wavering up and down, struggling to take off. The reasons for this include Trump’s botched response to the pandemic, the haphazard methods that the government took to fight the economic meltdown, and the complete lack of guidance on reopening schools. All of these factors have combined to dropkick us into economic calamity.
Also, please note that our last economic disaster under a Republican president (i.e. the Great Recession) was a top-down recession. That is, it hit the wealthy first, then filtered down. For this reason, it was taken more seriously, in that rich people demanded immediate action and got it. This current catastrophe is hitting the poor first and then moving up. And of course, our government doesn’t actually care until the rich donors are suffering, so it will be a while before shit gets real. In the meantime, the housing market will take a hit (sound familiar?), cities will hemorrhage residents, prices will go up, and we will still have massive unemployment and/or parents struggling to work and homeschool their kids simultaneously.
Now, don’t you feel better that the stock market is doing ok?
Meanwhile, on an international level, Trump has damaged America’s standing so badly that we may become permanent laughingstocks. Russia and China are both poised to dominate us. And no self-respecting nation is ever going to enter a treaty with us again.
Back here in America, the conservative judges that Republicans have littered throughout the federal system (including a possible rapist on the Supreme Court) will have us chained to oligarchy for decades.
And finally, please note that our most virulent racists, conspiracy nuts, and homicidal right-wingers have all been emboldened. Do you really think that if Biden wins, they are going to collectively shrug and say, “Guess we were wrong, so we will now go peacefully into the night”? More likely, “if Trump loses and QAnon evolves into a narrative about how a conspiracy of pedophiles won, then it’ll become even more violent than it already is.” And white supremacists will feel even more victimized, with many of them willing to go out in a theoretical blaze of glory.
Basically, the legacy of Trump will not just linger for years, but fester and boil and seep and decay and infect. If everything goes right, it will be years of struggle to climb out of this pit of despair, fear, ignorance, hatred, and paranoia that this man and his sociopathic supporters have flung us into. It may prove to be impossible, leading to a future America where we all wonder, without thinking about it too hard, how everything went wrong.
But on the plus side, Barack Obama gave a pretty good speech the other night.