The Fire This Time: It Will Keep Burning Long After November 6

The election will be a moment of truth for the country, and then what?

Perhaps enough Americans in enough numbers in enough places have woken up to the wildfires consuming our country. Perhaps these woke Americans will throw some water on the fires in the November 6 election. Perhaps an emerging American majority will slow the Republican burn of American idealism, decency, and justice. Perhaps an emerging American majority will elect enough new Democrats to prod old Democrats out of their lazy collusion with burning the country down. Perhaps.

Whatever happens November 6, the fires of political fascism and capitalist authoritarianism will continue to rage out of control. The conniving right has been feeding these flames for decades and it’s likely to take more decades to extinguish them, if that’s even possible. The Long March of the right from the debacle of Goldwater in 1964 to the triumph of Trump in 2016 has been astonishingly Maoist in its determination, orthodoxy, and political correctness. One has to acknowledge them for their sheer ruthlessness and determination. Minority rule is no mean trick.

The Republican right had help from supine Democrats with no coherent alternative. They had more help from media quislings and collaborators (yes, that’s Fox) whose idea of analysis involved telling “both sides” regardless of what might be true. They had more help from an educational system producing increasing compliant, ignorant voters who could no longer reliably assess what was real or important or even in their self-interest. And they had still more help from elitist leaders who, rather than engaging the country as a potential unity, dismissed millions of people as deplorables in love with their guns and their religion (as if either of those were unquestionably evil).

Whatever happens November 6, we’ll still have a president who aspires to dictatorship, as illustrated by his assertion that he has the power to rewrite the Constitution all by himself. We’ll still have a ruling party that relies on racism to maintain power, that enables its bigots to spread hate by graffiti and murder. We’ll still have concentration camps full of migrants and migrant children separated from their parents, rounded up and held with no due process of law.

We’ll still live in a country where Twitter enables the president to release a shamelessly dishonest racist ad scapegoating immigrants and libeling Democrats. We’ll still live in a country where Facebook profits by selling lists of likely customers to white nationalist marketers promoting myths of “white genocide.” We’ll still live in a country where the dominant culture makes it unsafe and sometimes lethal to be different, where the president invites the military to kill innocent, unarmed people with impunity. This is not politically correct, but it is true: even as we mourn the synagogue murders in Pittsburgh we remain silent about Israeli executions of innocents in Gaza or Saudi genocide in Yemen.

We’ll still live in a country where the government no longer makes grants to organizations fighting US terrorism. We’ll still live in a country where the government deliberately pursues policies that threaten the global climate. We’ll still live in a country that abrogates nuclear weapons treaties and pursues new, “usable” nuclear warheads and the domination of space.

In a sense, November 6 is a moment of truth for the country. In a deeper sense, that’s fundamentally facile and false. Nothing magically changes on November 6, no matter the outcome. The election of a Democratic House looks like the most likely best outcome. But that Democratic majority wouldn’t be seated till January, leaving Republicans two months to feed the flames consuming us. The reality is that every moment is a moment of truth. Radical Republican reactionaries internalized that decades ago. Perhaps the realization that the moment of truth is now, always now, has finally generated a humane, tolerant, democratic majority in America – and maybe even an enlightened majority that can sustain itself. It’s worth dreaming.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. This article was first published in Reader Supported News. Read other articles by William.