Midterms Between Ages

On November 8th, the United States will have their midterm elections. Amidst the hectic, even apocalyptic atmosphere, clear pleas for fundamental social, political, and economic renewal can be heard.

These midterms deciding who fills the seats of 35 Senators, 36 Governors, and each of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, who are re-elected every two years. The tangible outcomes of the election do not have the executive and symbolic power of the Presidential election, though, nor do they draw as many voters, but this year’s midterms are an important next step in one of the most contentious political periods in United States history.

Although a handful of issues are certainly pressing for this election – gun control in an era of rampant school shootings, abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade, an economy plagued with inflation and amidst a noticeable recession, an educational system wracked with exorbitant student debt and attacked by parents afraid of ‹woke ideologies›, an expensive healthcare system dealing with rampant chronic illness, the continuation of Covid and drama and trauma around vaccines, and foreign policy in an era of a proxy war with Russia and the rise of an ultra-powerful China – it seems that the questions at play in this election are for the most part about American politics itself.

Over the last year, the Senate and House have been less a source of major focus than the Presidency and Judiciary, as the oversized influence of Trump’s three judicial appointments to the Supreme Court in his four years of office became clear. This is just one way in which our present moment still exists in the shadow of what unfolded through the past several years. Political lines changed noticeably during the Covid era. The end result has in large part been the reinforcement of a generally oppositional atmosphere – it seems that the two political poles truly live in separate realities, fueled by social media algorithms tuned towards attention-grabbing angst.

It seems the Republican party has de facto doubled down on Trump’s brand of vitriol and a vision of an isolationist America – most of the new Republican candidates in elections across the country have sought out his support or have been directly catapulted into the spotlight by him. In this regard, Trump seems to be continuing to have a hold upon the Republican party. On the other hand, in no way does Biden inspire the sort of hope for major reform that Obama or Trump did – his election was at best motivated by a desire for relative normalcy and a hope for a couple steps in the direction of moderate liberal policy advances, which has unfolded to a certain degree. Biden often seems altogether incoherent, albeit usually nice, a somewhat comical contrast to a president that spoke with the tone and language level of a fifth grade bully.

At worst, Biden’s incoherence depicts him as a puppet of an opaque, shadowy government. In this regard, Biden has only provided fuel for the sort of revolutionary zeal still held by many of of Trump’s loyal supporters, many of whom are rising to power and leading the most activating campaigns in the Republican party. At the moment, the Republicans are the party of revolution, rather than reform, even if elements of reactionary fascism can be seen in their vision and hatred towards the Left’s increasingly Brown, Green, and Queer visage. Although many more moderate Republicans remain, and by no means is Trump universally loved on the Right, many smaller elections feature candidates whose platform seems to exclusively focus on Trumpism and overturning what they see as a corrupt electoral system. Many of these candidates still believe the 2020 election was stolen, and many key, minor positions that direct and certify the electoral process have been targeted by Trump supporting candidates, such as the Secretary of State in Nevada. In this regard, the consequences of this election could be critical for the entire democratic process, at least in certain parts of the country. In other parts of the country, notably Arizona, ‘Ballot Watchers’ dressed up in military gear are going to poll locations to intimidate early voters.

Tangibly, Republicans are strongly favored to win the House, while Democrats are forecasted to keep a narrow hold on the Senate, although 2016 certainly showed us the unreliability of polls and forecasting algorithms, failing to take into account the ‹Silent Majority› that surged Trump to victory. In the same vein, it’s hard to say whether there are unpredictables of this year’s election. Rather, it might be better to think about what this election forecasts for the entire future of American Politics. If there’s a subtle signal to surmise amidst all this noise, it’s a clear request for a renewal of the political sphere, in such a way that stays true to the American spirit while granting a much needed system upgrade or reboot, recognizing and taking accountability for the ways things have gone wrong in the last 246 years and corresponding to a rapidly changing world – one that looked very different from that of the Founding Fathers.

Altogether, I find the current situation weird and uncomfortable, tinged with a Sci-Fi horror. Scrolling social media, I sometimes find myself adopting hateful thought-forms from all sides, a taste of the War of All Against All. It seems fitting that UFOs have become a collective topic, as different branches of the government reveal the results of investigatory projects and former governmental leaders step forward to speak about the strange phenomenon which have previously been kept hush-hush. Meanwhile, a trickster-techno cultural superhero has emerged in Elon Musk, breaking barriers, moving mountains, and triggering endless controversy. Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party’s uncharacteristic political overtures suggest the machinations of a ruthless, shadowy machine. Meanwhile, threat of nuclear war strikes apocalyptic chords long-dormant in the collective consciousness. Meanwhile, this election takes place the day of a total Lunar Eclipse. In the wee hours of Tuesday the 8th, the full moon will turn an orange-blood red, visible from the Western half of the United States through most of Oceana and the far East and Northeast of Asia.

At the moment, it seems that we’re a step beyond the age-old scenario of pervasive, grumpy displeasure with the unfolding of politics. There’s a clear compounding of the feeling of alienation from the political sphere, as technology takes us into the overwhelm of an abstract global awareness. This same technological advancement provides opportunities for politics and democracy to develop and evolve, even or especially on a local level, but our governmental institutions are lagging behind, except perhaps in developing out weaponry and the surveillance state. My fear is that, if there is no clear, healthy, and inclusive idea of a future put forwards, the ossified structure will crack, clash, and combust, and some terrible power will take hold, trapping us in a violent regression. This may already be happening.

These nightmarish themes play out intimately for me – at home in Texas for the holidays, I saw that a family member had a book by Alexander Dugin, a preeminent Russian esoteric-fascist, who I perceive is striking a resonance on the far Right of America in his depictions of a decadent and corrupt West. I see how Dugin’s thinking, like Trump’s, contains ugly prejudice blown up into a violent worldview. This bespeaks a desperate need for renewal, contorted into a drive towards an apocalypse.

This potential for tragedy is more easily grasped from my remote standpoint in Switzerland, but so are the beautiful aspects of America. Even through the digital sphere, in my circles of friends, I witness a basic, generative goodness. Texas can be a dry, harsh land, but it is also incredibly warm, in such a way that transcends cultural boundaries. Around the country, I see friends living with a noble, clear-minded ingenuity and industriousness. There is a quiet heroism to serve the Good and visionary enthusiasm for the future in becoming, however nascent and quiet amid the backdrop of so much clash and clang. These are spontaneously developing seeds for social renewal, even if their glow, like stars, can be hard to see in the light-pollution of our contemporary climate. Perhaps the biggest struggle is coming to a standpoint where one can pierce to see and trust in this inherent, subtle human goodness, so full of promise.

Image U.S. Capitol Building, Andy Feliciotti/Unsplash

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