COVID is the British gunboat blasting America's junk fleet to pieces
For about twenty years now I have been saying that America has entered its Brezhnev period. The thing is, Brezhnev was in power for eighteen years. We are well past the Brezhnev years now.
Back in 2016 I felt that the election of Trump represented something far worse than the stasis and rot I had witnessed for so long. As I said at the time, we were all headed into the fire. Some of us would get burned, some would be consumed, none would be the same. And so, almost four years later, a pandemic is raging through the country enabled by incompetence and malice. I live near the epicenter, but because I live in a "Democrat state" the lives of my family and neighbors are not worth saving. There are armed mobs descending on state capitols, as in Michigan today. In states where the infection rate is going UP they are sending people back to work.
My day to day existence has become so completely frantic that I haven't had as much time to contemplate what it all means. However, right now I see clearly that the American empire is in its death spiral. Perhaps a Diocletian is on the way to pump in some blood to reanimate the corpse, but maybe that was who Obama was. I used to think that America was headed the way of the UK. In the early 2000s I figured the over-extension of the empire in the GWOT would soon be manifest, and the US would quietly move to the second rank, consoling itself with memories of past glories.
Now it is obvious that the United States has gone for the hard crash. Our gerontocracy resembles that of the Soviet Union. The president is in his 70s, Joe Biden is even older, and Bernie Sanders, the supposed breath of fresh air, is even older than him! The opposition party is paralyzed and stuck in the past, its leadership aged and incapable of adjusting. The "left" that fancies itself to be the future is also stuck in the past, wedded to the dead ideologies of the 20th century's failed revolutions. All the while the Republican Party is waging an all-out assault on the public sphere. There is no political force capable of stopping them. Even if Biden gets elected, they will not go away. As under Obama, they will use their state governments and the power of the filibuster to prevent any forward progress.
Of course, there's a good chance Trump still gets reelected, considering the fact that Biden is MIA and hasn't addressed the Tara Reade accusations, and that so many on the left want to throw a temper tantrum and undercut him because it's the only political power their failed movement has. If he is elected I do not see any kind of program capable of meeting the challenges of the current crisis or the tactical ruthlessness needed to combat conservatives.
I had once thought there would a slow decline and muddling through, but the coronavirus has been like an out of control ship slamming into a rotting dock. The rate of collapse has been drastically accelerated. We see that this nation's failure to provide health care, its failure to treat its workers with dignity, and its failure to be able to come together in times of crisis is completely toxic.
At this point I just pray for a managed decline, not an outright collapse. It might be fun for some folks to root for the end of the American Empire, but knowing what Russia was like in the 1990s, I take no pleasure in such a possibility. I also wish more people were willing to face up to this reality. Before the first Opium War, China saw itself on the pinnacle of the world. The same goes for the Soviet Union before Chernobyl, Britain before the Suez Crisis, and Napoleon before he invaded Russia.
In the meantime I will just try to put my shoulder to the wheel and to salvage what can be salvaged. That's really the best we can hope for.