It has been a strange, scary, and distressing time for the United States of America. Anyone who has been following the news in any capacity these past five years would likely agree. Between the politics, the culture wars, and people whining about female characters in “Star Wars,” it has gotten quite ugly.
I also sincerely regret that I have likely contributed to that ugliness at times. I don’t deny that I have written things on this site that, in hindsight, were probably misguided in terms of both intent and overall point.
However, I won’t go so far as to delete what I’ve written or deny that I ever felt differently than I do now. I just accept that there have been times in my life where I believed, accepted, and propagated things I thought to be right, but eventually realized were wrong.
That’s neither good nor bad.
That’s just life and how your perspective changes with time.
Except now, I’m at an age where it’s a little easier to see the forest from the trees, with respect to current events. Not long ago, I thought I understood the general arc of politics, trends, cultural issues, and what not. I could see the patterns that began with people whining about Marilyn Manson and “South Park” in the 90s and culminated with people whining about diversity in children’s shows and boob armor today.
I now realize I was wrong, yet again.
I didn’t know just how messy, regressive, and irrational these issues could be, even in a first world country like the United States of America.
If I ever gave the impression that I was more informed than most, I apologize. I’m not. I know now that I hadn’t been on this planet long enough to see just how bad things could get or how much large groups of people could collectively deny objective reality.
As a result, the optimism with which I once harbored about the future of America and the human race in general has taken a severe hit. I won’t say it’s utterly dead, but it is on life support at the moment. With each passing day, I see people with objectively un-American ideas about freedom claiming they’re the true patriots. I also see people exercising blatant, unambitious hypocrisy and paying no price and feeling no shame.
Now, in wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and setting abortion rights back 50 years, I’m just about out of hope. It’s not just that I’m strongly against forcing women to have babies they don’t want or using misguided religious zealotry to justify certain laws, policies, or positions. These are all positions that a vast majority of people don’t agree with.
The same goes for organized religion. It has been in steady decline for decades. Young people, especially, are no longer buying into this old dogma. Despite that, the religious right has never been more powerful and it shows no signs of waning. And I’ve been on this planet long enough to understand something disheartening and distressing.
When uptight, repressive people gain power, they seek to use it. And they will use it in ways that are bound to be unpopular, damaging, and destructive. Since my beliefs, politics, and background are not at all in line with these zealots, I will likely feel that impact. I might not feel it as much as others, but I will feel it.
I don’t claim to know the future. I also know that things always change, no matter how hopeful or bleak they seem. However, given the cycles I’ve seen and the trends I’ve seen throughout my adult life, I get the sense the direction of that change is not going in a good direction. Moreover, it’ll never go in the direction it needs to for more people to prosper.
In order to illustrate this sentiment, I want to offer the following scenario that may or may not be a result of ongoing trends.
The year is 20XX.
The White House, both sides of Congress, and the Supreme Court are dominated by conservative Christian republicans. They’ve spent the past two years furthering their agenda, passing wildly unpopular policies that curtail abortion rights, denigrate LGBTQ communities, undermine public education, and embolden politically connected religious organizations.
Now, the mid-terms are coming up and it looks very likely that they’ll lose control of Congress. Several prominent democrats even promise to block any further policies by the religious right. However, rather than accept the loss of power that comes with every election cycle, leaders in the religious right decide to take action.
First, they start passing laws meant to “preserve democracy,” but end up limiting peoples’ ability to vote.
Then, they start promoting stories claiming that the other side is preparing to cheat during the election.
Then, they elevate news stories of questionable credibility that claim operatives within the democratic party have been arrested or charged with potential election crimes.
Then, in the name of preserving democracy, the upcoming election is deferred several months.
Then, protests and outrage break out across many major cities.
Then, the republican president declares a state of emergency, which includes enacting martial law within multiple states, especially those likely to have democratic governors or majorities.
Then, the National Guard and local police are deployed to quell riots and ensure peace.
Then, mass arrests take place. The fact that many of those arrested happen to be democrats or minorities is claimed to be just a coincidence or unrelated.
Then, voting rights for those arrested and charged with crimes are suspended.
Then, “special elections” take place, but under strict rules governed by a republican Congress and many republican dominated state governments.
Then, democratic leaders sue and attempt to block the act, but the conservative Supreme Court rules against them.
Then, the election results are in and, despite vast swaths of the public not being able to or allowed to vote, the conservative Christian republican candidates win and win big.
Then, armed with this new power, they alter more rules regarding elections and legislation in the name of “preserving the peace” or “protecting the public” or “maintaining democracy.”
In the end, the only citizens who are allowed to or are capable of voting are conservative Christian republicans and the only candidates they can vote for just happen to be conservative Christians. As a result, more regressive laws are passed that are not at all popular, let alone constitutional.
But that doesn’t matter at this point. It’s too late. They have the power and they’re never letting it go again.
Now, what I just described is only one possible scenario. I freely admit it’s an extreme scenario, not unlike what played out in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” However, extreme or not, the possibility is there, as are the disturbing trends.
The reversal of Roe vs. Wade and the domination of the Supreme Court by conservative right wing Christian may very well be the first act in a new trend. I’ve seen throughout my adult life how bold and unapologetic these types of shameless bullies can be.
It doesn’t matter if they’re caught lying.
It doesn’t matter if they’re caught in an act of blatant hypocrisy.
It doesn’t even matter if someone finds out they paid their mistress to get an abortion.
They face no consequences and feel no shame. They keep getting away with their deplorable behavior and they have every incentive to seek more power and influence. So long as they get the right people to vote for them, use the flaws of the system to their advantage, and depend on the relative apathy of most citizens, they’ll remain in power and they’ll keep securing more.
That’s always the endgame. It’ll go on as long as there’s are new opportunities and no obstacles, be they laws or people, to get in their way. And at this point, I honestly don’t know if there’s enough obstacles anymore.
Encouraging people to vote doesn’t seem to work anymore because voting has become so diluted in the United States. Unless you live in a swing state, it really doesn’t matter.
Encouraging people to protest doesn’t seem to matter, either. At most, it just inconveniences people who are rich, powerful, and capable of hiring private security. They literally have no incentive to change anything about what they’re doing or why they’re doing it.
I wish I knew of a solution or recourse. I really do. Maybe there is and I’m just not smart enough to realize it, let alone articulate it. But at the moment, I’ve never been less hopeful about the future of the United States and the human race in general. I really hope I’m wrong about my current outlook, but I’m not sure what could change these distressing trends.
If we’re at a point where we can’t even agree on objective reality anymore, then what hope do we have of creating a better reality for our future?