Monday, October 19, 2020

Weeks Where Decades Happen

I hazard to say this will be the most historic year I have yet lived through. It is scary to write that, as it is only mid-October and there is time yet for things to become more memorable.

January and February seem decades ago with the simple excitement of the Democratic primary. Then Covid-19 and the inept response from the Trump administration leading to a year's worth of death, social isolation, and economic suspension here at home. As the months have gone, by add to that mass protests against racist police brutality, the west coast catching on fire, the death of RBG, and now a general election where we're fighting to keep the US from falling further into fascism.

During this all, I've barely written. I've written in my own journals, but scaled back writing publicly. Four years ago in the last presidential election, I was writing and arguing regularly, but now, not so much. Retweeting or reposting the works of others, but less to say myself.

Perhaps it's that the divides have solidified. I certainly don't feel it's worth arguing with anyone who is still a Trump supporter at this point. The few acquaintances I had who voted for Trump were cut out of my life a good while ago. The only person I've talked to this year who I know voted for Trump in 2016 is my grandfather. 

There is still a good amount of debate between the left and the liberals, or between the mods and the progs here in San Francisco, and I'm happy to listen to all those sides when deciding on ballot propositions and the like. Still, I'm not out there arguing. I have more and more disagreements with the local political groups, and feel less a part of any of them. Here in SF, I find myself to the left of SF YIMBY and to the right of the DSA. I've been a member of the Sierra Club for a decade plus, but here in SF they've become a hypocritical anti-environmental org for wealthy pastoralists. Hell, I'm even irritated by an organization as focused on the Bicycle Coalition over their endorsements or lack thereof in this race. Fights over ideological purity and personal grudges make local politics a painful investment.

I do regret being more passive than I would like while history is happening. I could be out at more protests, more involved with political organizations. Maybe it's just the social isolation of sheltering in place and rarely seeing or talking with anyone in person. Maybe this is just what happens in a pandemic.

With national politics, there are some parallels, but the story is different. Within my wider social circle there is some divide in opinion, but a fraction of what I see locally. Biden wasn't in my top five choices for the Democratic primary, but in fighting against Trump and the GOP I can't say I lack for enthusiasm in this fight. While I am writing less, I am spending more time volunteering with get out the vote efforts and donating more than I was four years ago.

The Republican Party must be destroyed. The Trump administration has taken the mask off and shown the authoritarian drive of the GOP. If this election goes well, and it is such a blue wave that we can keep Trump and his lackey judges from stealing the election, I have a slight amount of hope that the Democrats will take thing seriously enough to make fundamental changes to erase the conservative biases in our government. If we don't, and there is another economic depression and the Republicans come back in 2022 like they did in 2010, there won't be much of a future to America. Gerrymandering, packed courts, and voter suppression could stomp out any hope for free elections in this country for a generation. 

If the Democrats take the Senate and the Presidency, we have a chance. We should end the filibuster, pass HR1, work on adding six to twelve Democratic leaning states to the Union, increase the size of the House, increase the size of the federal court system, and add six members to the Supreme Court. I'm doubtful we'll do all that, but I have some hope that we'll do at least a part. Any part of this wish list would be more than we've done in my lifetime.

First we have to get there. If the election is close enough that the Republicans can attempt to steal the presidency or any Senate seat, I believe they will try. In fifteen days we will have to be ready to fight to keep them from throwing out the votes they don't like, and to force Trump to accept the election results.

Here's hoping the rest of the year doesn't become that historic and that Americans don't have to learning the meaning of the word "autogolpe".

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Welcome to the Twenties

Looks like I haven't written here since 2017. I suppose habits change in adulthood. Or it could be that I got depressed with politics after 2016 and grew tired of shouting into the void.

However, with a new decade it seems a good time to record some thoughts. The next ten years might not be easy. Our senile and racist conman of a president opened up the year assassinating a top Iranian general, so things are already off to a worrisome start. Good luck to us all avoiding a war. I hope the elections go well in America this year, but worldwide the political environment is frightening with right-wing populists ruling Russia, China, India, Turkey, the UK, the Philippines, and Brazil.

To counteract the pessimism, the last decade did have a fair amount of good news. Childhood mortality and extreme poverty fell significantly, literacy has increased, and birthrates have continued to drop.

That said, I feel like I'm starting this decade with less hope than I did the last. Only part of that is politics. A greater part is environmental damage and global warming. I've had the same concerns for decades, and humanity keeps putting off doing anything close to what it needs to do. We are far past the point where we should have taken action, and the debt we have built up is significant. Even if we act decisively now, we can still expect rising sea levels for the rest of our lives to cause trillions of dollars of damage to coastal areas. Given what we've seen this century, I am pessimistic we'll act with anywhere close to enough speed, and that is going to mean even greater costs and suffering.

Solving things will not be easy. To simply get to a neutral position where we aren't digging ourselves deeper into environmental debt is going to require sacrifices to our standard of living. Technology will not improve fast enough to eliminate those costs. Imagine the disruption of setting aside half of all land area as a wilderness reserve, eliminating 90% of cars, reducing the number of plane flights by 90%, reducing meat consumption by 90%, and eliminating all usage of fossil fuels. We should be making changes along those orders of magnitude within the next ten years.

That will be expensive, but it is cheaper than the cost of inaction. I hope we make those changes before too many decades go by. It could be a beautiful world if we make make that transition.