Don’t look now, but America could be plunging into our darkest hours.
Usually quite the pessimist, I’ve found myself flipping to finding optimism in a dark time. But I think that may be because the darkness ahead has become blinding, and for sake of my own sanity, I’m hoping that, somehow, we will avoid calamity.
Consider our position.
We are (still) in the grips of a generational pandemic that, while not all that deadly, is incredibly contagious, and has the ability to overrun hospitals and health care systems.
We have an economy that’s been shocked into stagnation — no one really knows what’s ahead. Consumer spending remains stifled as an effect of this pandemic, the effects of which stretch into their 5th month, in large part due to our nation’s collective non-response.
We have a government that seems willing to help corporations, but funds for small business and individuals come at a trickle. That has already caused many small businesses to fold up their operations. And we’re on the brink of a truly unprecedented housing crisis, with more than 4.7 million people late on their mortgage, with at least another 4 million late on rent , and no hope in sight of getting caught up before foreclosures and evictions start to shell our country’s most vulnerable.
The majority party is one of private enterprise — surely, when the weight of the depression begins to take hold on this country, we will hear the same thing we do whenever the economy falters: keep the government out of it.
It’s what President Hoover told Americans struggling through the Great Depression for 3 years, and the suffering continued. Then he lost in a landslide, FDR signed the New Deal, a massive government program designed to put people back to work, and just like that, our economy started up again.
We were a little luckier in 2008 — Bush was on his way out. Still, no action was taken until Obama was sworn in and immediately signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The economy turned on a dime. As someone that’s studied finance, it’s one of the most impressive bills in our nation’s history, for how effective it was at not just stopping the momentum of a plunging economy, but immediately putting it on the up and up. Lest we forget that FDR and Obama oversaw the two greatest recoveries in American history.
Neither from the party of the “fiscally responsible” (who, dare I observe, were in power for the two greatest crashes in our history).
This all combines into an awfully unpleasant pre-apocalyptical sludge.
I see little hope for this summer. I think COVID-19 will continue to ravage our communities and force closures (which, by then, will be supported by the Karens who are irate the government dare let it get this bad, comically unaware of their own contributions to our inaction).
That will cause the economy to tank, even if Wall Street, now totally detached from Main Street, chugs along at an anemic pace. The rich may well hold up their fictitious assets through pure denial of our reality for some time.
The government will have to issue more stimulus, but the “party of fiscal responsibility” will ensure it’s not enough (while, naturally, signing off on massive bills of corporate socialism). The plight of the rich — missed bonuses and vacations — will be carefully mitigated, even as a staggering one in four working class Americans have already begun to skip meals.
And finally, the house of cards that we’ve been building since Reagan’s attack on the middle class will come crashing down.
I have hope, though, for November. It will be impossible for an incumbent to remain in office with things as they are today, let alone if any part of my wretched prophecy comes true. And the polls already show that — Trump is now well behind Biden by most counts. The Senate is now not only in play, but looks like it could go solidly into Democratic control — something I thought was impossible just a few months ago. And that’s all today — when Americans still believe that the worst is over.
I also fear November, for our dictator-in-training may not make that transition it easy. And with the country reeling, it will be that much easier to interfere with the election. You can call this baseless fear mongering, but my sources are pretty solid: Donald Trump’s own words, and CIA retirees who have studied nations that have fallen to authoritarianism.
All that to say the future looks bleak. Even the best outcome puts us through one of the darkest times in American history.
And the worst outcome? Well, that would make these the final hours of the American experiment in democracy.
I do, sincerely, hope I’m wrong.
I would really hate to become a political prisoner.