How low can the US go?

This morning I switched on the news with trepidation and it turned out the feeling of trepidation was not unwarranted. Reporting on last night’s debate between Trump and Biden was flabbergasting to watch. It was a clusterf—, really awful, and I cringed to see even snippets of it. Really, how do you shut up a bully that is the current US president? The man doesn’t know how to debate an issue, he can only shout and interrupt and rant. There was a repeat of the whole debate on CNN and after seeing news coverage on Dutch TV and on the BBC, I could only take about three minutes of the repeat before deciding to switch it off and spare myself even more seething anger than I already feel towards Donald Trump. I have two take-aways from this:

1: Confirmation yet again (how many times do we need to see this confirmed?) that Donald Trump is a racist, endorsing and emboldening racist, neo-Nazi organizations…

2: The man is a bully and after only watching clips here and there of the debate, I totally agree with Joe Biden here… I so do not like name-calling but really, what else was there left to do than ask Trump to just shut up? Maybe the moderator could’ve had the Trump microphone cut off when it wasn’t his turn to talk but I guess that doesn’t make for sensationalist TV.

I literally feel like I am witnessing the collapse of the US here. How sad and awful is that? I was talking to my brother in London over the weekend and he was telling me too that, like my own teenage kids, my 16 year old niece is also completely disillusioned with the US. A racist bully in the White House is responsible for that.

How can anyone even endorse such an openly racist man as the current US president? How can 40% (or more) of Americans still stand with this guy? There is always a basic extremist percentage that will support a hate monger but 40%? Really? After last night, I hope the Trump approval ratings plummet but I don’t think they will, I even think he has a real chance of getting re-elected and I just don’t understand it. This man has to be stopped! Vote him out.

I probably shouldn’t post all of this but I can’t not do it; it’s the only thing I feel I can control and contribute in a world that feels like it’s spinning out of control. The standing of the US in the world is crumbling further and further and will continue to do so if Trump stays on for another 4 years creating even more chaos before the US implodes completely, leaving a dangerous vacuum. So, to anyone who can: vote this man out in very clear and unmistakable numbers and vote Joe Biden, the decent guy with constructive plans who does listen to experts, in!

This was my rant. Over and out.

22 thoughts on “How low can the US go?

    1. I hope he is going to lose and get thrown into jail but I still very much fear that won’t happen…

      There is a fellow RA fan who I used to follow on Twitter but is so rabidly pro Trump I couldn’t bear it anymore and I unfollowed her a very long time ago. I do sometimes lurk on her Twitter feed, just to see how the other half feels, and I swear, it’s like they are living in some alternate la-la-land universe! I just can’t wrap my head around how certain things are justified, how Trump is ‘not racist’ to them and how all they can mostly do if someone asks them a question is retaliate with something complelety different, e.g. “but her e-mails…”, “but antifa…”, “but Joe Biden’s son…” instead of friggin’ answering the question! Same strategy Trump was using in the ‘debate’ last night, deflect and attack, and it means no meaningful exchange is ever even possible. Thus the worlds drift apart and you get people completely ensconced in that la-la-land. I can’t tell you how frustrated and angry I am.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I agree. It’s tearing the fabric of our society. I was against Biden at first, but I think he represents bipartisanship and that’s something we need to try to regain–but without compromising fundamental values.

        Liked by 3 people

      1. The thing is, if you live in such a bubble, seeing the other side is just not something that reaches you. If you’ve always been thinking one way surrounded by people who think the same, it is very hard to change that. Goes for my own anti-racist, democratic bubble as well – there’s no way I could ever see the Republican views as good. How to penetrate the bubble or at least meet in the middle is a huge challenge that I hope Biden can rise to.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Servetus

    We watched live b/c dad wanted to. It was one of those moments where you wonder what planet you’re on. Some of my former students have started to talk about alternative timelines in quantum reality. Life has come to visibly resemble science fiction.

    re: Trump supporters, from the swing state perspective — I drove out into the country today and back, to the farm,about 30 mi each way, and I didn’t see any Biden / Harris signs at all, not one. All of my dad’s friends voted for Trump, and I don’t see any of them changing their votes. Hereabouts, events in Kenosha have really served to solidify people’s feelings that a Democratic presidency would lead us into actual chaos and violence. Kyle Rittenhouse is seen by many as a hero. The second I saw that happen, I knew it would give Trump a big boost. So it’s really going to depend on people in the cities, their willingness to get out, and the ability of many of them to surmount the obstacles placed in the way of their registrations. Nationally, Nate Silver is giving Trump a 21% chance of winning. I think Silver gave him 25 or 26% in 2016. So there’s been some movement, but not much.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It must be like living in a huge bubble, surrounded by Trump supporters like that, I so feel for you!
      I don’t know Nate Silver, but he predicted 75% percent for Hillary winning in 2016? I wish he’d been right…

      Like

      1. Servetus

        it hasn’t been easy, but I think it’s been good for me. There are a lot of people around me whom I would characterize as “good people” who are voting for Trump. (And they don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t.) As I’m always mentioning on my blog — the women who taught me in Sunday School are our poll workers. They voted for Trump. They also buried my mother in the kindest way possible. They worked hard their whole lives. They would never tamper with an election. They’re not narcissists. Farming is complex — I would never say it is a noble career in all of its facets; it’s often destructive and environmentally unsound — but dairy farming on a small scale, which is what most people in this community do, or did until recently, is pretty much the opposite of narcissism. I share the frustration of country people who see people who sit in offices all day point fingers at them for alleged selfishness. A farmer’s life is not his own. That doesn’t mean there’s no pleasure in it — just that he’s at the mercy of so much. Everyone who works sacrifices some freedoms for others, but the farmer often seems like he’s at the end of a whip that’s constantly being viciously cracked.

        This is turning into a monster comment, and I don’t want to be read as defending voting for Trump, so I’ll just say, for most people the reasons why are pretty complicated, even if they don’t see their own decision in such fraught terms. There are a few true believers (like the former fan you referred to) but most have other reasons and they’re not meaningless. I do think that most people around here who support him are *not* consumers of the 24 hour news cycle — they have jobs that keep them away from the media, which take up a much smaller portion of their daily lives — so in that sense they are less exposed to constant outrage, and maybe somewhat less or at least differently sensitive / immune to it. What I struggle with, and where I just can’t sympathize with the rank and file Trump voter around here, is the racism. That, too, is weirdly hypocritical. Latinos are doing about half the work on WI dairy farms these days. I find it very weird to hear someone praise his own hired hands for being hard working, family oriented people who will take jobs that Americans are “too lazy” to do, but then go on and on about how the state and country are being overrun by “foreigners.” I still want to post about the Kenosha situation so I won’t get into that here, but there are also a lot of hypocrisies there.

        Honestly, though, I do also feel like many of my left friends are living in a bubble, and their thinking and actions are riddled with inconsistencies as well. People say they support Biden’s message of unity, but then rail about how clueless Trump supporters are. Like: you want cooperation, but have you thought about the people you are saying you want to cooperate with when this is all over? Are you willing to make any compromises? Which ones? Maybe you should just be honest and say that if the Dems were in power, you’d want them to do exactly what the GOP is doing now, just with different public policy. (That’s what Republican voters think / fear, and part of why their turnout rates are so high). You’d justify it in highflying, moralistic terms, but in the end it would just be a left version of “the strong can do what they will and the weak will accept what they must.” Or, for example, the vegetable guy that most of my handful of leftie friends here buy from. He is frightening — belongs to a very conservative Christian church, his wife wears a head-covering and believes that she is subject to the headship of her husband, he’s always talking on FB about the end of time and how it’s practically here — honestly, if I knew them personally I would avoid them, and I don’t buy at that stand. However, he also is one of the only farmers running a farm stand who is fully organic. He’s kind of a Johnny Appleseed character. Liberals *love* farm to table restaurants, farmers’ markets, etc. But I don’t think they would like or approve of most of the people who grew their food, if they knew them, or if they knew what a lot of those people say about them behind their backs. So it’s not like the left is any more coherent either in its political ideology or its personal expression of that.

        In 2016 every pollster predicted Hillary by a landslide until the last three weeks or so, and Silver (one of the more respected pollsters) was one of I think two who said, hey wait, Trump has a solid chance. There was another one (maybe Real Clear Politics? I’ve forgotten.) I also wish she’d won. But I also think I didn’t understand fully how badly she was hated around here (either personally, or as a powerful woman) and how many people would vote for Trump just not to be voting for her. (Fwiw it seems like that was even more decisive in Michigan.) Silver is also noting at the moment that Biden has a roughly 28% chance of winning with a blowout. I’m not very sanguine about that, but a lot of people are pointing to that as more significant than Trump’s one in five chance of winning.

        Biden: If the US presidential election were a one-person, one-vote affair, it wouldn’t matter how these candidates play outside of the coasts, Florida, Washington, and Chicago. But it does matter. I think we ‘ve talked about this before, and I am not enthused (I wanted to vote for Harris in the primary), but the thing is, in this swing state with 10 electoral votes, anyone who labels himself a “democratic socialist” is not electable as long as the non-urban, white, non-youth vote dominates the election. (I also think Bernie is basically “left Trump,” although I probably would have voted for him had he been the nominee. Thankfully Black Americans intervened — another thing we all owe them.) Warren ticked all the same negative boxes as Clinton did. If *all* the rest of the Dems are going run so far left, and they can’t get their voters out in swing states (which is what happened here last time — 29,000 people voted Green, way more than usual, because they had convinced themselves that Hillary was dangerous to the future of the US, and Trump won by 22,000 votes), then they are setting themselves up for an impossible situation. Biden isn’t exciting and he is way too old but if there’s any interest in unity or compromise (which I hear so often from my left friends), then he was basically the only choice left. Wisconsin isn’t the whole US and this situation is in many ways unfortunate. But given things as they are and not as we would wish them to be, the party had to pay attention.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Thank you so much for this! And from someone who always tries to see two sides to a question I am very much with you on the impression that the left in rhetoric and putting down the other side can be just as bad as the right and yes, how will compromise ever be possible after that? Hariclea was just saying below, and I agree, that such a divided bi-partisan system does not lend itself to compromise and working together, which is becoming increasingly clear to me when I look to the US but also when I look to the UK. I very much worry about that for such influential countries as the US and the UK are.

          Having said that, I think all parties really should agree on some very basic universal values, like the value of democracy, the importance of climate change and, the most important one of all for me, the commitment to work against racism and discrimination. Yes, it says that all people are created equal, but many sure do not act like it! I could never ever in my life support any party that had overt racism at its base, no matter how wonderful all other policies they could have would be. I remember when I was young living in Germany, people said of the Nazis “but they did some things right, they built the Autobahn!” Sure they did, for the war, but at what cost? They sold their soul to build a road? I don’t think that is worth it. But if you’re a struggling farmer in the middle of America, you may not see basic human rights as the basis of everything the way I do. Somehow, certain basic values will need to be agreed on from all sides and then, with compromises from both sides, change needs to happen. I have no idea how or of this can even be achieved with the deep entrenchment there is now…

          Like

          1. Servetus

            The Framers of the US Constitution did not want a party system of any kind. (I won’t bore you with the details, but this comes up in week 2 of “American National Government”.) What they found was that without any parties, it became very hard to accomplish anything as you’d have a president from one party and a vice president from a different one. One of the first amendments after the ratification era modified the selection of the president / VP in a way that made parties more or less necessary to the operation of the system. And the first-past-the-post system as it’s set up in the Constitution and also various local jurisdictions practically guarantees that there will be two parties. (Third parties in the US have tended to have had the disastrous effect of strengthening their opposition — that’s week 5). I want to say I’d prefer a system with more parties — that seems to work in Germany most of the time — but it seems like it only works if no one can hold power for very long or if political power stops being a desirable goal (not sure under what circumstances that might be true). I have admired the German political sphere but there, too, you end up with parties with elected majorities that can’t form governing coalitions, both on the national and the Länder level.

            racism: I think the thing is that most voters who support the GOP would agree that racism is undesirable and state that they oppose it. (Far Right organizations aside, who may or many not also vote GOP and many of whose members certainly vote for Trump.) I won’t get into that further here, although it seems to me an increasingly relevant question whether US conservatism in the post-Civil War era is inherently racist. Until recently I would have said no, but my thinking on this is changing. If you’re interested, I found a lot of this argument quite persuasive.

            https://religiondispatches.org/the-only-common-denominator-of-american-conservatism-is-anti-blackness/

            However, on the question of whether voters and parties support democracy, I read a really interesting commentary recently that said more or less that the real problem with the Trump base is not their political opinions per se but rather that they are inherently anti-democratic. We could point out that apart from the people who cynically manipulate that sentiment in order to profit from it, many / most of those people may have life experiences that make democracy seem meaningless to them. I won’t add that link here in order to prevent this comment from getting caught up in moderation, but I thought it was interesting. The Trump voter realizes that his continuance in office endangers democracy and sees that as a feature, not a bug. What I find persuasive about this possibility is the way it recasts supporting Trump as a political, rather than a moral, behavior: you can be a psychologically average, basically good-hearted person, and *still* not believe the democratic system is the most advantageous.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Like in Germany, we have a similar multi party system here. Yes, it can take a long time sometimes to form a government and then once it’s formed, it can be tough to keep it together but most of the time it works out well and everything is done to keep it all together. On rare occasions the government does fall and the choice is given back to the people and new elections are held. In some countries a multi party system is less stable (like in Italy where governments have fallen a lot and Belgium has had a lot of trouble trying to form governments, this past government formation has taken a year and a few months!), but it does seem to work well for us up till now.

              Racism- To me there is a huge difference between stating you are not racist (DT says it all the time!) and actions clearly showing how racist you are, like saying sh**hole countries, ‘go back to your own country’, ‘good people on both sides’, dismantling anti-racism programs and so many more examples… Will read the article link later, not that much time now. Thanks!

              Interesting about being inherently anti-democratic. That can be said here too but only for far right groups, I think.

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              1. Servetus

                I agree there’s a difference between claiming not to be racist and not being racist, but in essence it’s a platitude at this point, i.e., all the parties would claim not to be racist whether they were or not. (I also think some of this hinges on definitions of racism.)

                Liked by 1 person

  2. Esther thank you for this post! I didn’t watch last night and just read bits this morning. Unfortunately unless Biden really blames Trump head on over and over and over and over for the pandemic in the US when Trump knew in January how bad it was well swing voters won’t listen
    I keep thinking where are all those leading Democrats and even celebrity influencers who could get out the vote and endorse Biden and Harris
    Dwayne Johnson stepped up and did where are the others? Because Americans are shallow we apparently drink the Kool Aid depressing as hell 😢😢

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Biden should not only play the blame game but also state very clearly what he’ll do differently, which he is trying hard to do. Just blaming to and fro doesn’t help, I think there needs to be something constructive there as well. Having said that, out of all democratic nominees he wouldn’t have been my top pick either but he’s doing OK and pretty much any democrat is a million times better than Trump could ever be. 😉

      As for the influencers – I see a lot of celebrities endorsing Biden like Clooney, Hanks, DiCaprio, DeNiro, Streisand, Goldberg, etc., even young popstar Billie Eilish who has a huge following among young people and Cindy McCain who is Republican. Heck, the whole Lucifer cast (who I’ve been following quite closely in recent weeks) is outspoken anti Trump and pro Biden. And as for leading Democrats – from what I can see over here, the Obamas are campaigning hard, as are many senators, and representatives such as Sanders, Warren and Ocasio-Cortez, etc. Have you heard of the Lincoln Project? They are Republicans who have turned against Trump (https://lincolnproject.us/) and make many short films they spread on Twitter (and probably other social media too). I think there is a lot of vocal celebrity support out there for Biden, far more than I see for Trump, and they are getting more and more vocal too. Where first they were saying ‘go vote’, they are now saying, ‘vote Biden’. But I think most die-hard Republicans won’t give a shit what these democrats and the ‘Hollywood left’ think. Maybe if some big name Republicans officially threw their support to Biden, that could help. Dwayne Johnson doing that may have helped. Arnold Schwarzenegger has expressed anti Trump views, but I think it needs someone who is really big and popular in the Republican camp turning against Trump to even make a dent, like James Woods. But Woods is just as bad as Trump, so that will never happen. Anyway, that’s how I see it from over here. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t want, nor do i plan to because i expected nothing else than what actually happened. I am surprised anyone was actually surprised by it tbh. I am increasingly not only loosing faith, but becoming truly worries about the scope of bi-partisan systems in a democracy. They only work if both parties play by the rule, but they almost seem set up to increase difference and create contradiction. And in difficult times they become a stimulator of conflict. It feels as if more plural societies are a safer model, more used to negotiation, to diversity of views, to decrease conflict and find the middle way. It feels very much like the US and to some extend UK model are obsolete and not fit for the future, especially as they come with first past the post systems which disadvantage fair representation. My worry is where this can escalate to, if people stay in their bubbles and don’t talk to each other it’s never going to get better. We need to understand other people’s values, ways of life and communicate across divides as it is much harder for people to hate people if they know more about them. I am worried about both sides as i see extreme reactions on both sides tbh. I never used to be uncomfortable on twitter but i increasingly am, nothing is normal conversation anymore. That in itself worries me even more, beyond individual unfit politicians at the helm in various places 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “It feels as if more plural societies are a safer model, more used to negotiation, to diversity of views, to decrease conflict and find the middle way.” Yes, Mr Esther and I have been saying this to each other as well!

      As for the debate, no I wasn’t really surprised. And yet, every time I see Trump like that, as an unapologetic, aggressive bully, I am taken aback again and again. How can he get away with such behaviour? And it just seems to be getting worse too, his questioning the election process and his emboldening of racists. It really scares the shit out of me.

      Like

    2. Servetus

      I think one thing we’ve seen in the cases of both the UK and the US is how important political norms have been in the postwar era. There are so many things that we’ve always done in a certain way that are not encoded in law. If someone — like Trump or Boris Johnson — just decides not to follow the norm, there is nothing that can be done, especially if their parties refuse to rein them in.

      Liked by 1 person

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