Ten Not-So-Grim Things Two Months From Election Day

1) Polling demonstrated a minor to non-existent “Trump bump” after the Republican National Convention. A desperate liar, demagogue, and con artist with the full force of the federal government at his literal beck and call should be romping to re-election. Fascism has never lost at the ballot box, but there is a chance here.

2) There is a broad and wide coalition arrayed against Trump, one too large to be co-opted or overrun even if he wins the Electoral College again. The Resistance will continue—at least if I have anything to say about it.

3) Republicans have no chance to win the House of Representatives, and Democrats have a strong chance of taking the Senate. Indeed, suburban voting patterns suggest Republicans may be headed for another two-generation stint in permanent minority-land.

4) Trump’s authoritarian instincts are certainly served by executive orders, but his unilateral lawmaking is generally as fake as his “tan.”1Admittedly though, the roving death squads are an unpromising preview of a potential second term.

5) The 2020 election has expanded the electoral map in a manner unseen for a generation. Multiple Sun Belt states, including Texas, are competitive. To the extent there is something beyond Trumpism in 2024,2It is this page’s strident opinion there is not, but would not rend sackcloth to find that fascism went quietly into that good night competitive elections will help it emerge, if in fact the Republican Party exists to win elections and not simply preach white power.

6) As dangerous as its Commander-in-Chief is, the military itself is as well-trained and loyal to the nation as can possibly be expected. Though believing that generals would imbue his administration with authoritarian power, Trump ultimately found that the generals in his employ were intelligent, dedicated, and loyal to law and nation over him. This is why they were fired and replaced by pliable empty suits like Mark Meadows and Robert O’Brien.3Who? Yes, yes. We know. The military is far more likely to escort Trump to the door than ensconce him in his favorite bunker. Indeed, a recent (unscientific) poll of Military Times subscribers showed Joe Biden ahead by seven points.

7) Social justice issues are woven into society’s fabric. Major League Baseball shut down in protest of something other than player salaries. The NBA is playing only because players believe they can make a stronger statement than by not playing. Trump recently has gone quiet regarding the sports situation. Perhaps someone finally convinced him that bringing additional attention to the epitome of peaceful, meaningful protest probably doesn’t help him.

8) Penn & Teller still have new episodes of Fool Us every week. A small deed in a weary world.

9) Though suffering from withering attack from the Administration’s daily barrage of lies and disinformation, the free press survives. Not everything is right-wing paranoia propaganda; indeed, many of the media’s citadels have been all too solicitous of Trump’s gaslighting chaos. Trump does not “misspeak.” He lies, without exception. Nevertheless, there remains a tether to reality, if tenuous.4This does not include the Wall Street Journal editorial page. That is a reality-free zone.

10a) As unnecessary as the resulting carnage has been—a result of gross Administration negligence and rank-and-file5Mostly rank Republican malevolence—the COVID-19 pandemic has hastened a decade’s worth of positive change into a few short months. More of life is online, taking people off the roads and, at least in Los Angeles, horrific commuting schedules. As non-office work shifts to the norm, entry-level costs for any number of professions will shrink. Talent will be less geographically limited, making it easier to find and employ. No downside, except for white male boomers who still value facetime like it’s 1992. FaceTime is an app, boomer. No, not that one. That’s Facebook.

10b) Also aided by the pandemic, larger and larger majorities of the American public are warming to a single-payer health care system. If I had one policy wish for the next decade, it would be this one. Indeed, if we can simply borrow a trillion dollars to make it so, apparently we have the means.

Our current system is nonsensical. Private businesses must become health insurance experts at extreme cost, while the risks to employees of losing their insurance are obscenely high. Indeed, the prospect of losing a current health insurance policy is what keeps many in dead-end, stagnant-wage jobs.6Which, ahem, should be your first clue as to why Republicans pine for the pre-Obamacare catch-as-catch-can insurance system, while everyone else dies and reduces the surplus population. Obamacare created the state exchanges to alleviate this problem, but Obama’s political realities were constrained by platitudes about costs. Newsflash: Healthcare costs are not going down. They are the wrong target. The healthcare takeaway from the 2020 pandemic for healthcare boils down to five words: Port A Bill A Tee. There are likely ways to structure healthcare portability in a market-based system, but Republicans haven’t had a new idea since Jack Kemp left Congress.

Thus, single-payer advocates have a robust opportunity—if a long-term one—to further turn the debate toward sensible reform. Indeed, a populace able to sensibly manage what was once wildly arbitrary and asymmetric risk suddenly opens many options previously closed to it. Rather than risk medical bankruptcy, people can take on additional business and financial risk, commensurate to sound practice. Republicans are fans of dynamic economic scoring when it comes to measuring the impact of fat-cat corporate tax cuts. But make it possible for people to start running their own businesses instead of being wage slaves? Yeah, that’s going to be the Democrats who get that done, if anyone at all.

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