There is a wall between today and Inauguration Day. No one can guess what is on the other side of that wall.
When I imagine peeking over the wall on the good days, it is a place of healing. Birds are chirping. We are looking at each other with less suspicion, daring to hope that we can talk to each other again.
On the bad days – well, I don’t want to describe the hellscape of my imagination on the bad days.
Has there ever been a time like this, where the possible outcomes of an upcoming event are so different, so consequential, and so unknowable?
I’m going to share an article written by Chuck Wendig, posted on Tuesday, October 27, a week before election day. It sums up my thoughts about what’s going to happen, and it’s far more entertaining than anything I could write.
Chuck Wendig is a bestselling author, most recently of Wanderers, named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, NPR, The Guardian, and a lot of other places that make lists. Wanderers was released in July 2019, so it’s a coincidence that it’s about a worldwide pandemic. Wanderers is compulsively readable and highly recommended, a magnum opus with the scale (and length) of The Stand by Stephen King. Chuck Wendig writes about many things at his blog Terribleminds, which is where the article below appeared.
I’m saying nice things about Chuck Wendig because I don’t have permission to reprint his entire article so I’m hoping he won’t be mean to me.
Please look away if you blush easily. As Wendig says, “It is NSFW. Because fuck yeah, that’s why.”
CHUCK WENDIG: TERRIBLEMINDS
October 27, 2020
We are at the hinge point — the door is opening, or the door is closing. We are seven days away from Election Day, and millions of people have already voted. The Senate is up for grabs. The presidency is up for grabs. Our current president thinks women’s body parts are up for grabs. It’s a lot. So, I figured, why not offer my thoughts? Why not dig into the polls, do some nitty-gritty, examine the possible outcomes, and lay out what I think will be the likeliest course of action on that day.
Here it is:
I HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA
I am a wildly vacillating ping-pong ball in a table tennis game played by angels and devils — my heart goes from table side to table side, from WANTON FOOLISH OPTIMISM to GUT-CHURNING SOUL-CRUSHING PESSIMISM, with little chance to settle on either. My hope is Schroedinger’s Cat in the goddamn box: it is dead and alive at the same time, its fate unknown until the box is finally opened and the cat is revealed. I have literally no idea what is to come. How could you? This is 2020. This is the year of CHAOS INCARNATE. Come Wednesday we might’ve elected a hive of giant hornets to the highest office in the land, and honestly, it’d be an improvement on what we got.
I mean, in a logical year, I see how this goes, right? The polls are strong for Biden, stronger than they were for Clinton, and more stable across vital districts and states. None of the shit they’ve tried to stick to Biden has stuck, and Trump appears, from my window at least, to be flailing — and I don’t say that as a Triumphant Liberal, because generally liberals are the first to be like OH GOD MY CANDIDATE IS DROWNING IN THE ABYSS THE OTHER GUY IS GONNA WIN. There’s a stink around Trump that’s like what you get off a car-struck raccoon — a rotten, bloated odor. Doesn’t help that he’s incredibly unlikable, and has accomplished almost nothing in his four years. Certainly nothing good. Oh, rich people are getting richer, that’s nice, if you’re mega-rich. Otherwise, where’s his health care plan? Where’s his COVID plan? Where’s Infrastructure Week? Anything?
His priorities have been:
a) rich people
All in equal proportions.
Beyond that, he’s got nothing. He’s proposed no agenda for 2020, and the GOP’s agenda for 2020 is, “uhhh, what’d Trump say?” and round and round we go.
So, in a normal year, in a normal country, the writing is on the wall.
But this is America in 2020. The writing is centipedes. The wall is a glitching TV screen. There’s no stability. No sense to what’s going on. Part of that is intentional — it’s not that 2020 is some kind of CURSED YEAR (except it totally is), but that the Grand Ole Party has committed a violent psychological assault on our brains. They are hypocrites at every turn, they are liars, they question expertise, they lie, they turn their face from basic facts — the ground beneath us is unstable because they have committed to its instability. If we are unstable, they can get away with more bullshit. If we’re trying to catch a bunch of falling plates and cups from rattled cabinets, they can steal our money and jewels and pets while we flail. We’re constantly on the defense because they’re constantly on the offense. All we can do is block punches because it’s INFINITE PUNCHES.
Could Trump win? I didn’t think he could win the first time. Hell, one could argue that he didn’t — between losing the popular vote and a bevy of inference, it remains unclear how “legitimate” that election even was. Do I think it’s possible he’s built on his coalition from 2020? That he’s gained voters instead of lost them? It’s hard to envision, because I’ve seen anecdotally (local and nationwide) a number of Republicans who have bailed — they saw a “businessman,” wanted some change, and got nothing for the bet. He’s withered on the vine and spends his time just shit-barfing on Twitter all day, and meanwhile farms and factories and small businesses are kicked to the curb. So it’s really hard to imagine people getting onboard a hayride full of manure as it totters drunkenly toward a cliff.
But, it’s 2020. And white supremacy is a helluva drug.
Further, they’ve created a pipeline that pumps shit into people’s heads while convincing them it’s caviar. Fox and OANN are just a steady parade of lies, lies, lies, there to lube up King Dump and keep him slick and gooey. People have built for themselves not so much an echo chamber as a Jonestown enclave with all the “””definitely unpoisoned””” Flavor-Aid you require. I mean, you try to tell people “hey that’s not a true thing you just said” and they snap back with WELL DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH despite the fact they did literally no research at all except reading an e-mail from Old Uncle Dave who said that the Democrats are aborting babies in Brooklyn pizza ovens in order to appease the Demonic Socialist Treaties. “Someone on Facebook said that masks don’t work so I believe them unreservedly and that is my idea of ‘research,’ please and thank you. COVID is a hoax and it’ll disappear on November 4th like magic!”
So, in a normal time, he couldn’t win.
But this ain’t normal.
Could Biden win? I didn’t think he could back in the primaries. I was wrong. He’s run a far better campaign than I expected. He’s taken serious steps to actually bring onboard a diverse coalition of voices, and he actually did move in a more progressive direction in places it counts. He’s made it clear he’s the guy who embraces compassion and science and while normally I’d hope those would be obvious picks for campaign planks, it’s 2020 and we’ve got a president who jerks off to Q-Anon propaganda and who lacks basic competency in nearly everything. (God, I really wish for a journalist who would simply ask him to explain basic facts about our government. A journalist who plays dumb and who asks for his explanation, and then you watch him just stammer through some gibberish answer like an 8th grader who didn’t read the book he’s currently giving a report on.) So, Biden could win too. The numbers favor him. Sanity favors him. Basic humanity favors him.
But the Cursed Year 2020 may have other things in store.
And part of that is down to the fact that this binary outcome is by no means the only, or even likely outcome. We have far greater shenanigans that could occur, friendos. Biden could win, and Trump could contest it, and now that he’s got Supreme Court Justice Handmaid’s Tale in the seat, she could throw the election to him. Especially if Biden doesn’t win in a landslide, the kind that ends up decided on Election Night, even though no election is ever actually decided on election night. If we have anything approaching Bush V. Gore, they’ve packed the courts so hard with corrupt bastards, that fate is written. They’re glad to do the devil’s work on this one.
Then there’s all the extra fun add-ons — protest! General strike! Civil war! Shit, if I woke up on Wednesday and the news said, “Both presidential candidates were eaten by starving polar bears, which throws the election to Kanye West,” I’d be like, yeah, that tracks. Because I don’t know! I don’t know what’s happening! I don’t know what’s coming down the pike! It’s probably not going to be great. Shit’s on fire! We’re under the boots of a burgeoning theocratic kleptocracy, and even just saying those words makes me feel like I’ve lost my marbles. It sounds too extreme, too fearful — it can’t be that bad, right? Except the majority is ruled by a minority who is increasingly pushing religion over science, who urges white supremacy and misogyny over inclusion, who is continually working to undermine the vote rather than get the vote out, who is expecting grand overtures of gratitude for doing literally nothing except hurting people, who supports a president that routinely makes comments about being president for an extra four years, or eight, or for life, or demanding his children become president next, or, or, or. It’s seeing a house and saying, “Well, that house is clearly fine, it’s a house, it’s just standing there,” while simultaneously realizing the whole thing is riddled with termites and will fall down in a stiff breeze. It looks okay from the outside, but it’s rotten to the core.
I don’t know what happens! I have no prediction! Revolution! Coup! Evangelical pogroms! Trump eats babies while accusing Democrats of eating babies! Democrats treating all this as normal until they’re thrown into jail! Boogaloo-slash-Proud Boy TV network! Fire bees! Laser bears! Holes! Holes opening up underneath all of his, holes from whence goblins crawl, holes that stink of sulfur and moan and gibber! Aaaah! HAhahahaahAHAHA AAHHH WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING WHAT THE SHIT IS GOING TO HAPPEN ARE WE GOING TO BE OKAY ARE WE NOT GOING TO BE OKAY JESUS EFFING CHRIST ON A CRAPWAGON THERE’S STILL THE PANDEMIC AND STILL THE RISING BOIL-TIDE OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND AAAAAAAH PLEASE MAKE THE SHITTY PRESIDENT SHUT UP AND GO AWAY I NEVER WANT TO HEAR HIM OR SEE HIM OR LAY EYES ON HIS MAGGOTY FUCKING TWEETS EVERY AGAIN AAAAAAAAEEHhhghghhhrrble
I got nothing.
What I got is this:
The one place I have some hope — some persistent, steady hope — is in each other. I’ve seen that in the last four years a lot, where people — a lot of people — come together and stand for one another, and who have stood up for what matters most, which is a democracy that benefits not only the few, not even the many, but a democracy that serves everyone. And I know that if the shit hits the fan, we can count on the people to get on some comfortable shoes and a jacket and hit the streets, particularly for those who can’t. And I think we need to be ready for that. To raise a ruckus. To cause that good trouble. To disobey non-violently and to choke the gears of the machine until it shudders and breaks. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I know it could. Anything could happen now. This is the final run-up and the chaos will continue. The chaos will worsen. We must be there for each other and for our democracy, in the voting booths, on the streets, in the charities that need us, for everyone who is reaching out and will be hurt by four more years of this venomous, inept administration.
You’re not alone.
I’m not alone.
I have hope in you.
Also, the laser bears.
I have hope in laser bears.
Because, I mean, at this point, why the fuck not?
LASER BEARS 2024