So tomorrow the election ends. Or at least I hope that it does. It has held a mirror up to this country, a mirror that reveals some pretty nasty things. Whoever wins, it will not break our national political deadlock, which has been in place at least ever since November 7, 2000.
That was the night that it looked like Gore edged Bush, then lost to him, and then ended with the outcome up in the air, to be decided by the Supreme Court. Up until that year someone could say there was little difference between the parties, and I would nod my head. I voted third party in both 1996 and 2000, disgusted by the Clinton administration's triangulation and its conservatism lite policies on incarceration, education, marriage equality, and the welfare state. The Bush administration would soon make it difficult to conflate the two parties.
After the 2000 election, in his only worthwhile contribution to world civilization, David Brooks talked of two Americas, one "red" and one "blue." Being a pundit, he missed (like most of his brethren) the deeper, and more disturbing reality. America, like France at the turn of the last century, was divided between those embracing modernity and those wishing to reinstall traditional society, and the reactionaries then and now would easily sacrifice democracy to get what they wanted.
Those who call themselves "real Americans" really do think that they represent the "real" country and that their opponents -enemies within- are out to destroy it. To protect the nation anything is permitted in their minds. Hence Bush won in 2000 after 1. Getting a fewer votes 2. Having a mob of Republicans shut down the recount in Florida 3. Benefitting from the Supreme Court ending the recount. In more recent years they have destroyed the Voting Rights Act and have actively worked to suppress the vote.
On the fringes the alt-right mushrooms have sprouted in the dank corners of the internet, feeding off of rhetorical feces. In an almost unbelievable coup, this faction has captured the nominee of the Republican Party. The militias, which once flourished under Clinton, vanished under Bush. Now, they are back, bigger than ever under Obama. After failing to hold the White House, the "real Americans" are even more inflamed than before, and increasingly impatient. Their allies in the Deep State have evidently tried to undermine Hillary Clinton via the FBI.
If Clinton wins, which looks likely, the 16 Years War will just keep going. The Democrats have failed and will continue to fail to gain control of the Congress and state governments. The reactionaries, seeing themselves as "real America" will man every battle station in their obstructionist fortresses. There is no end in sight, and if this election has proven anything, it is that an authoritarian demagogue is capable of subverting our system of government. Trump has been calling for voter intimidation, he has shown himself more than capable of inciting violence, and he has the police and elements of the Deep State on his side. If the election was as close as it was in 2000, I could easily see Trump as the caudillo, riding into DC on horseback/luxury jet, while law enforcement and military pave the way. Our militarized police would be more than capable of suppressing rebellion in the streets of America's cities. If Trump wins, the 16 Year War may likely end, with his opponents locked up in jail.
As I sit by the river of history tonight, watching its dark waters flow, I am having a hard time figuring out which way it is bending. We seem to be stuck in a permanent state of political war, and demographic replacement will not move fast enough to end it soon. In fact, it is the very changing demographics which are enraging the reactionaries and making them feel backed into a corner. It has to end, because the country cannot endure too much longer in this state. I fear that it may well end with a bang, and not with a whimper.