Austin At Large: Chronicles of Deaths, Foretold
The coronavirus works for free and cares not about its approval rating
Having already failed on a horrendous scale at the most fundamental requirements of the jobs they sought so fervently and at such great expense, President Apesh*t and Gov. Greg Abbott and their hangers-on have decided not to be the least bit sorry about it. At the first sign that the measures they'd reluctantly taken to limit the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic were becoming unpopular, they abandoned even the pretense of standing tough in the face of crisis.
They have now fully thrown in their lot with the weak and stupid people who have, amazingly, been given control of the Republican regime's fortunes. Both the White House and the governor had set guidelines for reopening the economy that they now pretend don't exist, even though they made a big deal out of doing so. There's no point in expecting them to care about this; the daily demands of the Fox News noise machine require each and every action of the ruling Red Team to have as its first goal the Owning of Libs. Once the COVID-19 crisis was reducible to this first-grade schoolyard level, it was inevitable that other goals, such as keeping people alive, would no longer matter.
We Wish We Knew for Sure
So what do we do now? Those of us who are strong enough and smart enough to not ride along with the Freedom Shriekers face a quandary. It would be nice to know for certain that truth will out – that it will not take too long, or cost too much, to make plain that public health and economic health and political health cannot be separated. The virus is hard at work, does its gruesome job for free, and cares not about its approval rating. Forcing sick people back to work, reopening businesses whose customers don't want to return, bringing students back for educations that are no longer worth their sticker price, and hoping there's enough health care to go around are, at the very best, large gambles, and more likely will make things worse before they are better.
But having seen the clownery and corruption and bad juju that we have for three years straight without respite, we are naturally afraid that the bill won't come due until it's too late to banish our ruling regime to whatever nasty wilderness awaits them. (Siberia may actually be an option.) I continue to believe that throwing Orange Julius over the side will not be as hard as people think or fear, but I also worry that in the absence of an actual campaign season, we won't have the obvious momentum we'll need for the actual, crushing, existential defeat the GOP deserves up and down the entire ballot. So we need to do whatever we can to hasten that outcome.
I frankly don't give a damn about Joe Biden; our mission right now needs to be unalloyed negative partisanship. Whoever you want to win, the GOP must lose, because its iniquity is actually costing us thousands of lives right at this moment. There is no harder, more unambiguous way for a political party and governing regime to fail than what is happening right now; it's so bad that even Joe Biden, the most replacement-level of all possible nominees, has a landslide victory within his reach. Keep pushing.
What’s Worse Than Losing
The alternative, we can feel in our bones, is much, much worse than four more years of political dissatisfaction. I do not subscribe to the more florid #resistance paranoia about American democracy itself being at stake; our nation, even at its very worst, is strong and smart enough to not be vulnerable to the ham-handed inadequacies of Donald Trump. Much of our current thousand-yard-stare reaction to the Apesh*t administration acknowledges, if only tacitly, that he's gonna be gone soon, down one of several possible exit slides. What will be left behind may suck really hard, but it won't be categorically different than prior American bad times.
What will be worse is the unavoidable conclusion that, in the absence of a comprehensive repudiation of the 21st century GOP, a whole bunch of intolerable realities are actually acceptable. COVID-19 will continue to kill people needlessly, and we'll have accepted that because so many of those people are not white – right now, Latinos in Travis County appear to account for a profoundly disproportionate share of coronavirus infections – and do jobs that we consider menial, this will not stop us in our tracks. We will accept that our right to vote without infringement has been abandoned, a key accomplishment of our elders' epochal fight for justice simply undone, and that it along with many other rights must continually be claimed rather than received. The surviving GOP elite will simply never mention Trump again, or pretend they were likewise his victims, and that in his absence they retain the right to rule in only their own interests.
This cannot be allowed. Whatever happens between now and November, the work of reclaiming our history and our future from these malevolent and defective bozos cannot end in 2020. Engaging with their madness now is madness itself; we have lots of ways, and lots of power, to replace what's broken and rotten in our society with a sturdier frame built of justice and, yes, of love. Our lives now literally depend on it.