Looking over my last four years of writing I note the gathering dyspeptic tone. If I had to draw a graph of it there would be a steady downward “tone” line with a sharp descending drop at the onset of the pandemic. Before that point, there was still theatre, music, literature, and travel to think about, enjoy and write about, a distraction from the Anvil Chorus of Trumpian Transgressions.
This is not my first self-assessment. A few weeks ago I wrote “We are all in survival mode now. "This has all sorts of practical ramifications and seems to rob us of other activities. For instance, my reading of fiction, for which there should be more time during this pandemic, is nearly impossible as existential dread has supplanted my patience. “
That “existential dread” was one of the reasons I couldn’t bear to watch the virtual Democratic National Convention these past few days. I feared the Democrats would do something spectacularly dumb to jeopardize our one and only chance to remove a spectacularly amoral, non-presidential person from office who lost the popular vote by 3 million four years ago, but managed to inveigle his way into office via collusion and the outdated Electoral College.
As Tyler Elliot Bettilyon explains in Are You Suffering From Existential Dread? I obviously have AED (Acute Existential Dread), “an intense feeling of inconsequentiality triggered by external stimuli.”
There is enough anxiety in our lives now, a deadly cocktail of environmental degradation, racial inequality, pandemic and healthcare hazards, main street economic woes, Internet facilitated conspiracy groups, militant supporters of a mostly unregulated 2nd amendment, and the decline of American participation in world cooperation, to indeed trigger AED. When you add Trump’s vitriol to the equation, it is exponential.
Joe Biden had my vote a long time ago. Anyone from the Democratic Party would have had my vote. AED indeed blocked my watching most of the DNC, fearful that we might unintentionally alienate voters we need to show up in the swing states. But, the last night of the convention, I felt it I wanted to see Biden’s acceptance speech, watching it as I would the 7th game of the World Series, bottom of the 9th, bases loaded for my team, one run down, and one out. Any baseball fan now understands the depth of my AED.
First, I saw 13-year-old Brayden Harrington who met Biden on the campaign trail and talked to him about his stuttering. Brayden, when you bravely took the virtual stage and said "He told me that we were members of the same club: We stutter,” my hopes were raised for Biden’s subsequent speech.
Biden's speech was the pinnacle of his political lifetime, and ours as we are all struggling, swimming in the muck towards the light. My AED will never be gone until the swampster-in-chief, along with his criminal cronies, are gone, gone, gone. But after Biden’s speech, particularly its tone of inclusiveness, there is hopefulness. I really believe, for the first time in four years, that there is a chance to address the fundamental existential threats to our way of life and life itself. Maybe indeed we can make America great again.
Unfortunately, we see how Trump is setting this up, undermining the Post Office and already questioning the legitimacy of the election, preparing to challenge the results, no matter what they are. The more he can make this close and the longer the final tally can be delayed, the higher the probability he can throw the results into a chaotic challenge. This will not be like the disputed Gore –Bush 2000 contest, where the Supreme Court made the decision and it was accepted by Gore (who really did win). No, Trump might undermine this for weeks afterwards, trying to throw it into the House of Representatives where each state gets one vote (even through there are more Democratic Representatives, there are more states with a majority of Republican Representatives and therefore their one vote counts disproportionately).
I don’t know how they (the Republicans) always seem to have an unfair advantage, but it is even more reason why Democratic turnout MUST be massive and there can be no question of the results, although they will still be challenged by Trump. We might all have to go to DC with pitchforks to remove him. Ah, that’s my AED speaking again.