This time, I think the wolf really is coming

It is an animating sentiment of today’s political discourse that things have only got worse: that we are in an existential struggle for the future of the country against an unseen, unknown, unknowable evil. Republican voters mill about in flyover country, which might as well be another planet; our elections, rather than a banal exercise in choosing our political representatives, have become a proxy battle for our very lives against these roving hordes. And while nobody has quite come right out and said it, there is a distinct sense — evinced by both the Democratic Party leadership and a politically obsessed media class — that Americans face a binary choice come November. You can vote for Joe Biden for president, or you can vote to destroy democracy.

Meanwhile, the possibility that Trump might win legitimately — that indeed, a hazard of a healthy democracy is that the will of the people, sometimes, is to be governed by a buffoon — has been banished to the realm of the inconceivable, as illuminated by Hillary’s dire warning about what will happen if voters don’t make the right decision”. Gone is the notion of an election as a question to which there are no wrong answers, only majority rule. Gone, too, is any sense that we ought to preserve equanimity in the event that the majority disagrees with us about which candidate is best for the job. In this paradigm, Republican voters are either wrong, as in error, or wrong, as in evil, but either way, they’ve made a terrible mistake.

It’s hard not to see the current state of the discourse as an obvious outgrowth of an earlier phenomenon that Vox writer Emmet Rensin termed the smug style” in American liberalism, predicated on the belief that American life is not divided by moral difference or policy divergence — not really — but by the failure of half the country to know what’s good for them”.

Kat Rosenfeld

I had almost reached this kind of equanimity a few weeks ago — equanimity with my fellow Americans electing a buffoon. But I’m currently leaning toward this time, the existential’ wolf is actually coming.” I still resonate with the Apostle Paul’s I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” but I’m very concerned that by 2028, the American state will be fundamentally changed from the liberal democracy I grew up and lived with, beginning soon after World War II, if Trump is elected.

June 4, 2024

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