I think we might all be craving some normalcy while we know that the old normal is not only gone but needs to be gone. Truth is, we're not in either place yet, that is, we're not normal enough to pause in our big hunker down and we're not rid of the old normal nor have anything better having really taken its place.
The pandemic exacerbated what was already underway and the upheaval is real. Interestingly, a better future is being wrought rather quietly and competently by a near-octogenarian president who wants normalcy but knows the old sort has failed. He's making amends about his role in those failures and seems to express urgency for the Paradigm Change that we so desperately need.
The core of the past failure entails America's more recent history and our original sins. The combination of the two plus some puts us in a fragile, dangerous place as a society and as nation heading into this post-industrial age. To revert back or attempt to sustain the models of the past as advocated by Republicans (insofar as they advocate anything but culture wars) is to doom the planet, not just the nation. Our topdown industrial economy is now global and digital.
Part of what troubles us is where and how industrial needs are met that create a viable, sustainable earth. It seems to take years to make anything new that meets our needs---buildings, cars, trains, you name it, we seem incapable. The vaccines give us some signs of hope that goodness can happen when the best and brightest are fully engaged and the government is run by competent people. There is hope that the end of Reaganism is finally here, that government is not the problem or the enemy but rather reflects us. That is precisely the problem and the possibility.
When you look at the likes of DeSantis, Noem, any of the other hopelessly vile, incompetent regressive deniers, you see government being the problem. Others are vile, say, Cuomo but in different ways and some, particularly Joe, are selling decency, more openness, and honest effort to address and redress. Americans are sorely under prepared, under educated, and poorly informed. Remember that Trump sold coal to West Virginians and Rs have no plan but their mendacious slogan about making American great "again." For whom? That we shall take up with alacrity.
But even those who know the Trumpists are a scam, a grift, and a lie are not prepared for the work that lies ahead if we are to emerge the better. "Infrastructure" must now mean training and education, child- and senior care, and it must somehow raise the information level of a populous that has a short attention span, low capacities for comprehension, and seemingly little interest in the serious issues we face. When half the country watches Fox and the other half is either exhausted, disinterested, incurious, or somehow beleaguered, the really consequential changes we need to make are denied, sabotaged, or ignored.
We can be grateful that there is now someone in charge delegating to others committed to paying attention but for how long? Will this last past 2022 when the process of competence comes to a shrieking halt with Republicans taking Congress? We are closer to worsening entropy and collapse than anyone likes to imagine. Imagine it, if only because what's true is always the best place to start. If America does not build back better, as the slogan goes, we're screwed because "back" doesn't mean back then, it's got to mean what's next now.
Those old jobs either won't exist or they won't pay the bills. The bills are already outta' hand: kids, education, medicine, age, retirement, working to exhaustion, just getting to tomorrow. Our economic opportunities must be re-envisioned with a population prepared to do the work. We have no such population ready for these challenges or even seemingly committed to making these changes a part of their personal lives.
Everyone seems to want things to work out without having to do the work. We are too busy telling ourselves that we would rather be entertained, that our fantasies and grievances matter more than doing anything unpleasant, like re-imagining ourselves. Now onto the 21st century implications of our original sins. These are finally coming home because we are at last becoming by demographics a multiracial society.
In less than 20 years whites will comprise less than 50% of the population and, say what you will about the ignorance of Trumpers, this is fact is not lost on Republicans. The majority of whites still vote Republican even when it is against their economic interests and not merely out of force of habit. Rather, they vote because they know their dominance is being replaced and all of these bills in States aimed at restricting voting are the plain and simple evidence that white people are desperate, scared, angry, fearful, and armed.
January 6th was not the end or an aberration if you consider the fact that this hardened, bleached with Fox and worse crowd is saturated with conspiracies, lies, misinformation, and anger worthy of an id that knows it's losing. The majority of insurrectionists were middle class people and they came principally from towns and cities that are experiencing these demographic changes. In other words, the Trumpists aren't just rural people buying guns because they want to be ready when "they" come for them but your neighbors on the cul-de-sac whose deep structural relationship to racism is being reinforced everyday by their television and media choices.
The information war is real and sanity is losing. It's an easy sell because the truth is always more complicated, more difficult to fathom or accept, and because those selling them the lies stand to profit from their manipulations. Greed is an inexhaustible motive for those without conscience or care. The Murdochs know this the way Amazon apparently does too. If corporations can't be brought to sustain the calls for change because shareholder profits are their only purpose for existing, then we may not survive either economically or socially.
Mitch thinks Coke and MLB will cave before he does and that they will continue to give him and his cronies money because they deregulate and cut their taxes at any cost to any other real concern. Greed only fails when the greedy have to find another, a different way to profit.
So this transition to a digital economy and a multiracial society is contending with two principal forces: those who think things are changing too fast and those who know that they cannot change fast enough. Those who don't know they are one side or the other are merely blithely ignorant or indifferent or just being left behind with little hope for anything but more of what's really painful. There's the hope that Coke and Delta and professional sports and the like will choose the right side but do note they were late to the game in Georgia and will be bullied, cajoled, enticed, and even induced to return to their craven ways because capitalist profits must be made for shareholder gains to continue.
If Biden succeeds in raising corporate taxes to pay for goodness that may only continue to happen for two years (sure to be reversed at the first opportunity by the vile Republicans) then we may see the core inequities shift just a tiny bit. Where goes the money has always been the issue in America. That white people want it to go to themselves because they live in some kind of zero sum game racist delusion is nothing but familiar. That corporations have managed since Reagan to make their profits passed on to shareholders and used to bolster their own power is the real name of that tax game.
In an Eisenhower world, America's corporate money was spent on American needs and the middle class reaped much of the benefit, albeit without minorities gaining much in the process. Our new and shoulda' been old variable was not only class but race, because white grievance and corporate greed are now intractably linked and will bring us to the precipice of failure if we do not address inequality and inequity simultaneously.
The right and the Trumpists will use their culture wars to frame the issue. It won't matter if they are as stupid as Mr Potatohead or Dr. Seuss and they don't care if the Big Lie has always been a lie. What they care about is seeing their power diminish, their futures displaced, and their resentments left unfed. The Cold Civil War shows no sign of relenting and, in fact, we know it's getting worse. Just damage about to be done with voting laws and gerrymandering insures that the white minority has disproportionate power and that democracy is on the brink.
We are one election, just one election from autocracy. That autocracy not only means to set back further any strides towards equality, it means to deny and reject every plan for a viable future planet and a population equipped to deal with what is already here. I see no end to the partisanship nor any reason to hope or believe that those who resist, deny, or reject the change upon us will wake up, much less compromise. The opponents to change, the white supremacists, the authoritarians, the fearful, angry, misinformed Fox and worse viewers are likely to become more mired in conspiracy, denial, and rejection.
Because there is no hope for their redemption or sanity our only hope forward to move faster than they can stop us. If we effect and sustain the changes we mean to make---so that we are a more just, equitable, and sustainable society---then the planet has a few more years before environmental collapse.
Earth will regenerate if we give her space and stop this race to the destruction of life as we know it. We cannot stop change but we can ruin what good is possible if we somehow don't rally our exhausted, indifferent, torpid society to understand the gravity of our situation and the need for collective response. If political outcomes lag behind these needs, we're doomed and I say that without hesitation or hyperbole. If we can marginalize and care for those whose poor judgments will ruin every worthwhile end then perhaps we stand a chance. Those of us who care had better care more.