Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Capitol Is Closed to Visitors


The US Capitol is still closed to visitors, and neither party seems particularly interested in opening it back up. The official reason is covid, but I think there’s plenty of anxiety on both sides about a crowded Capitol once again, that there might be more and worse trouble. The precedent was set on January 6. Now the building is in the gunsights of every extremist in the USA (a whole lotta people these days). It looks like the visitors’ galleries in the House and Senate chambers will remain empty indefinitely except for special occasions like the State of the Union speech (which looks more and more like an American version of The Queen’s Speech).

I’m very apprehensive these days. The GOP legislates itself into permanent rule in about 30 states. It’s putting its own partisans in formerly non-partisan state elections offices to make sure the outcome goes their way no matter what. The once unthinkable prospect of a state legislature throwing out the electoral college delegates chosen by the popular vote with a slate of their own in a presidential election is now very possible and maybe even likely. That means that probably after next year the GOP will have permanent control of the Senate (effectively making McConnell a co-President) and will be in reach of permanent control of the House. No matter how we vote, it won’t ever again affect the outcome that will be pre-ordained before the campaigning even starts. Popular elections that were once mandates will become suggestions at best and rubber-stamps at worst. That puts me in a dilemma. Under such a system, would I continue to vote knowing that it wouldn’t matter and that I would only be legitimizing a predetermined outcome? Or should I take advantage of whatever right I might have left to make my voice heard no matter how meaningless it’s been rendered? I don’t have an answer.

I am not at all looking forward to the template that our future leaders will require us all to fit into. We will all be legally required to conform to type or suffer consequences. “Freedom” will mean in the eyes of our rulers “free to be just like me, just like I tell you to be” and that will be white, Christian, hetero, male, and propertied. There will be penalties if we don’t at least try to fit into some of these if not all of them. Expect to find yourself labeled “deviant” with legal and economic consequences if you depart from the norm deliberately or not.

I think these folks will win, not because they’re brilliant, but because they are determined, and they are ruthless. This is the imminent culmination of a long project to roll back the legacies of the New Deal and the Civil Rights Movement. They want to turn back history at least a century to a time when there were no real regulations on business, the country was racially segregated by law and in fact, there was little to no public spending on infrastructure, and the gates to immigration were shut tight. Some would like to roll history back further to before the Civil War when the USA was explicitly a republic of white male property owners. When it comes to Jesus and the White Race, then the end justifies the means. Violence and terror are not off the table. GOP leaders refuse to condemn or even discuss these tactics. They are determined to win permanent rule no matter how big the price all the rest of us will have to pay. In the legislatures and the judiciary, they want to be there ready to rubber stamp the decrees of whatever Augustus they create. The Dems show up expecting a debate and discover too late that they are in a knife fight. The Dem leadership seems weirdly passive and uninterested in fighting this. I’m guessing it’s because they’re very dependent on corporate money and big money donors since funding from organized labor has all but dried up.

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