I have a mixed reaction to the vote. Admittedly it’s three days after the event and I still don’t know for sure who won. But it does look like Sleepy Joe has. Virginia Haffernan, of the LA Times, wonders, given his lead, why liberals are going around moaning about a disaster. She quotes somebody to the effect that liberals tend to care more about winning hearts and minds than elections, and drags in Richard Rorty to argue those liberals are just not sufficiently pragmatic. Well, ok, she has a point. And she puts it well when she reminds us of all we have to gain if Sleepy Joe becomes President:
Here’s what we know if Biden’s lead holds: In a few months Trump won’t be in office. America’s disgrace will start to fade and its spirits will start to rebound. We will not have to endure those loathsome people in power anymore: Bill Barr, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Don Jr., Mike Pence, Stephen Miller.
We can reenter the Paris Climate agreement. Ar. Antony Fauci will deliver briefings on the pandemic. Our leaders will know their ABCs: Wear masks works, systematic racism is real, and the climate crisis is dire.
She’s right. Maybe we can breath, for a moment, a little easier. Or maybe not. Maybe the despair and the handwringing have nothing to do with liberalism or pragmatism, but with the simple realization that the failure to reject Trump more overwhelmingly suggests Trump may go but Trumpism may stay. That’s what Fintan O’Toole suggests when he writes:
This is the most important thing to understand about the postmortem Republican Party. The logic is not that a permanently minority party may move toward authoritarianism but that it must. Holding power against the wishes of most citizens is an innately despotic act. From 2016 onward, the GOP has become not so much the RINO Party, Republican in name only. It is the RIP party, repressive in perpetuity. When Trump said on Fox & Friends at the end of March that Democrats want “levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” he was openly redefining the meaning of the vote. Voting, in this formulation, is something to be “agreed to”—or not—by Trump himself. Democracy is no longer rooted in the consent of the governed, but in the contingent permission of the indispensable leader.
Fake news from the fake White house! Extra! Extra! Read all about it! In a news release for October 27, the fake President lists among his other many accomplishments: “ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC”
That’s what it says! Can you believe it? Sure they could have made it more emphatic with “Ended the Covid-19 Pandemic.” That would have been a definitively inaccurate claim. There is a transitive quality to that “ing.” But semantic obfuscation aside isn’t the White House claiming that it has ended the pandemic.
Or maybe this is some sort of hopeful projection. As in be assured, the While House fully intends to end the pandemic. But that’s not what it says. It says the President and his money grubbing, power hungry cohort have ended–as in the past, that would be yesterday, at the latest–the pandemic. As in the pandemic, heretofore, is over and done with.
I swear I don’t get it. How could any person in his or her right mind have drafted such a sentence? This is beyond the mere misrepresentation of facts, a thing at which the President and his cohort, are past masters. This is downright delusional. A type of wish-fulfillment perhaps?
When it would seem at least, that the pandemic has far from ended, and in fact is making a a powerful comeback. A few days ago, I think it was, the country recorded 500,000 new cases in a week. And that–500,000 new cases in a week–was a record, never before surpassed. And, over in those foreign places, in Europe, they are buckling down and putting in more restrictions because they seem to feel the PANDEMIC HAS NOT ENDED.
Or maybe this is another example of “gaslighting.” the intended effect of which is to make a person doubt his or her sanity.
While the fake President is no zen master, he seems to be pushing a fake zen tonic for the anxious soul. Don’t think about the past, he seems to say, the agony endured, the lives lost. What’s done is done. That’s that. Why dwell on it. No use crying over spilt milk. And equally, don’t try to imagine the future, the many deaths sure to come, the misery to be endured. We can’t know the future. Who knows the future. You don’t. So don’t agonize in anticipation about what may or may not come. Because, you know, who knows?
And once you have stopped thinking of the past and speculating about the future, just breathe deeply and rest in the moment. And when you are there, neither in the past or the future, ask yourself, “Do I feel sick.” And if you don’t feel sick, why rest assured, in your narcissistic bubble, you are among the eight billion, plus, people who don’t have the COVID.
So why worry? And to maintain this worry-free state, be sure not to wear a mask, or wash your hands, or social distance. And, for God’s sake, don’t listen to CNN with its COVID, COVID, COVID or do anything to that might remind you of the deaths that have occurred and the ones that are sure to come. What are they to you, in your perfect moment.
But be assured, the fake President doesn’t mean a word of this. He only wants you to forgot just how badly he and his power hungry cohort botched the whole damn thing, how he and his useless bunch could have done much more to make us all feel better, but didn’t.
I don’t know why exactly, but as I try to think my way through the philosophical and moral morass raised by the fake President’s response to the virus, these words keeping ringing in my cranium: killing or letting die. That’s a distinction philosophers try to make. In a way it’s an easy. one. You stick a needle in a person’s arm and you inject poison. That’s killing. You (say you are a doctor) don’t stick a needle in a person and don’t inject anything. And the person dies. That’s letting die. Seems pretty clear, maybe.
Judith Jarvis Thompson writes that most people believe killing is worse that letting die. But she thinks up an elaborate example to cast provisional doubt on that assertion, as follows:
1. Alfred hates his wife and wants her dead. He puts cleaning fluid in her coffee, thereby killing her, and that
2. Bert hates his wife and wants her dead. She puts cleaning fluid in her coffee (being muddled, thinking it ’ s cream). Bert happens to have the antidote to cleaning fluid, but he does not give it to her; he lets her die. 1
Alfred kills his wife out of a desire for her death; Bert lets his wife die out of a desire for her death. But what Bert does is surely every bit as bad as what Alfred does. So killing isn ’ t worse than letting die.
So I guess I am wondering if the fake President’s plan is perhaps a form of letting die. His plan to just let the pandemic burn seems to me to parallel Bert’s failure to give his wife the antidote. Burt withholds the cure; the fake President fails to supply the leadership and the plan to curb the virus.
This is the sort of stuff stick in my brain these days.