The Dying Light of Democracy

I remember the year leading up to the 2020 election vividly, it was not a good year for me. I spent the majority of it with a constant drip-feed of rage and hopelessness.

Fear and Doubt

Trump was doing his usual shtick of calling his political opponents evil, and ramping up claims of impending fraud. I was exasperated with my friends and family, having spent months attempting to convince them of what would soon come to pass. Trump had essentially spent his time radicalizing men and women into believing that he was their savior, another golden calf for them to praise. I spread far and wide what I believed would come to pass, Biden would win, Trump would call it a fraud, rally his base around him, and right-wing terror attacks would spike.

Incoherent Claims

Shortly after the third of November, Trump walked out on stage and said “Frankly, We Did Win This Election”, I knew it was coming. This turn of events was obvious, but I was practically numb at this point. I spent the month arguing with people both online and in real life about it and came to a conclusion I should’ve already known. The people who believed his lies knew absolutely nothing about the election process. I had a bet with a friend of mine, in fact, $100 dollars on Joe Biden winning the election, made about 3 months before he won. It wasn’t until shortly after a throng of Trump supporters attempted to invade the capital that he paid up. He didn’t pay up when the AP, who has never erred in calling an election, announced Joe Biden had won the presidency, nor when the electoral college voted. Until they stormed the capital, I had to wait for Trump’s suits, which were being thrown out left and right by Trump-appointed judges had all been finished.

Assumptions of Illegality

Virtually every action that was taken by poll workers or those around them was declared “Illegal” by people who had no idea what the election process entails. I argued with many about reports by such sites as “TheGatewayPundit”, and “ThePostMillenial”, and went through piece by piece dismantling their statements. “They brought in ballots after 8 PM!”, their article would exclaim, with the conclusion being that this was illegal. But it wasn’t. In that particular case, the ballots were being brought in through a county clerk van, the official that ballots were mailed to. The law says that voting ends after 8 PM, there are absolutely no laws about bringing cast ballots to the polling station after the deadline because the deadline only applies to casting your ballot. In fact, the law clearly stipulated that the ballots must be brought to the facility, as soon as possible, in a van clearly marked as belonging to the county clerk. Sure, it’s not my duty to try to convince people they’re wrong, but I felt it was a calling. And lord did I have a lot of bullshit to get through.

A Stupendous Self-Coup

I’ll be honest, when I first woke up that day and read the news “Shot fired in Capitol Building”, I didn’t really care. We’d been barreling towards this for the past 4 years, and whenever any of us tried to explain the harm that was occurring to our nation, we were branded with “Trump Derangement Syndrome”. Couple the past 4 years with the 2 months after the election I spent arguing with republicans or so-called “Centrists”, and lord I felt so dejected. My grandmother called me that day, “Josh! Josh! Did you see what they’re doing!”, and I told her that it didn’t matter. It was what everything had been leading up to, and I wasn’t surprised, and no one else should have been either. I took a nap, and when I awoke they were still in the building. I launched the discord app on my computer and joined a server of right-wingers I’d known for a while that often watched live streams of events like this. One of them was a 19 year old fascist, a liar, and a general malefactor. I still didn’t feel much, until he started talking. He taunted me, telling me that now I get to feel what they felt during the 18-month period BLM protested. I was incensed. Absolutely, utterly, incensed. I couldn’t believe I had just heard someone say something so un-American, so blindingly stupid. We should’ve all been enraged at the people storming our nation’s capital. I launched into a fury, hurling expletive after expletive at him. After nearly 5 minutes of an uninterrupted tirade in which I named him a traitor to the nation, I left the discord room, my righteous indignation only inflamed. I could feel the rage inside of myself burning at my skin. I breathed in deep and caught up on the news. It took several hours for that rage to leave me.

Vindication at Last?

On that day, there was public condemnation of the attack by nearly everyone. Ben Shapiro, Mitch McConnel, Lindsey Graham, and many others seemed to finally put their foot down. It was clear, Trump had tried to steal the election by inciting a riot. We were starting an impeachment process, and McConnel seemed to be fully on board with holding Trump accountable. But… we all know how that turned out. Although it was the most bipartisan impeachment process that’s ever occurred in this nation’s history, it failed. And slowly but surely the right-wing media machine, led by Tucker Carlson and the entire right-wing food chain all the way down to Alex Jones were downplaying what happened. The right-wingers that were temporarily embarrassed had completely and utterly pivoted, following their thought leaders’ directions. “It wasn’t that bad”, “It wasn’t Trump’s fault”, “Nobody planned anything”, or “It was really Antifa!”. And any other number of excuses that we’ve all heard before.

What Comes Next?

What comes next… I truly don’t know. I have to hope the January 6th commission gets something done. If they don’t, and no one gets held accountable… then this wasn’t a failed coup. It was practice. And under the auspices of someone with a modicum of political knowledge who can actually harness both the mechanizations of the political process, and the devout base Trump cultivated, the dying light of democracy might truly be extinguished.

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