Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a piece titled ‘The battle cry of the politically homeless’ in which I lamented the toxic tribalism that’s infecting our politics and pitting neighbor against neighbor, sister against brother, parent against child. ‘Democracy doesn’t die in the darkness; it dies when politics become team sports, in full view of a bloodthirsty, cheering electorate.’ At the end I wondered, ‘We will return to the Dark Ages or we will evolve. Is that likely? I dunno. Have we evolved that much from the Roman Colosseum? Barreling into 2020 — it doesn’t seem like it.’
In the last year, the globe has been ravaged by a pandemic that put the ineptitude of American institutions and leaders on display for the world. The pandemic has been mishandled from top to bottom. We had to turn to China for PPE to protect our healthcare workers on the frontline; we still haven’t dialed in a national system for testing; many of our major cities have been in a perpetual state of lockdowns, protest, riots and unrest. Experts, politicians and the media have lost all credibility — what little was left. The President, state governors and city mayors have used the chaos as an opportunity to take their petty tyranny for a test ride. Our betters shut down the engine that drives commerce, made oodles in the stock market, gave us $1,200 and basically told us ‘Good luck’, like we were all partaking in a real-life version of The Hunger Games.
Formerly a beacon of hope and paragon of innovation, America has revealed her truth. We are already slipping into the Dark Ages: we’ve just been hiding it. Our downfall was concealed in plain sight: incompetence, arrogance, too much government, a lack of preparedness, crumbling infrastructure, an uninformed electorate easily manipulated by fear and conspiracy theories, and a feeling that it’s every man for himself. The state of the union seems more divided than ever before: you can now split the country over the question of whether or not you’re for or against wearing a mask.
So, call me crazy, but I’m not optimistic about the future of America heading into the 2020 election. I’m not alone. Our (primarily liberal) cities are falling into ruin and anarchy, places where wealth inequality exacerbates homelessness and crime. I’m no military genius, but when the alpha males start retreating, it’s a pretty good indicator that conditions are deteriorating. When men like Joe Rogan and Elon Musk are taking their creativity, capital and empires away from the West Coast, that’s a glaring sign that it’s probably time to get the hell outta Dodge. Almost everyone I know here in LA is buying a gun, stocking up on water and wondering what the aftermath of the election results will look like. If Trump wins, I reckon America will burn. If Trump loses, America will burn. Either way, I’m preparing for America to burn.
Putting aside my immediate safety concerns, I’m also distraught by the national options we have in the face of such pressing challenges. This is the best we’ve got? It’s an impossible decision. It’s like being a child caught in the middle of a divorce and having to choose between an alcoholic mother and a father addicted to opioids. Do I poke out my left eye? Or my right eye? Do I want death by crucifixion, or do I prefer death by being burned at the stake? Fascism or communism? Do I vote for a man with a personality disorder or one with a cognitive impairment? I refuse to vote for a man so selfish and incompetent that it would be comical if the stakes weren’t so high. A man with no character, no sense of service, no respect for sacrifice. A man who cannot see beyond his immediate whims, his lust for power and his petty grievances. And the alternative is a man who may or may not be slipping into dementia.
Now, many people on either side of the aisle would argue this isn’t a hard decision. They’ll tell you passionately that this is an election for the soul of America, repeating the Biden campaign’s mantra. And both sides will tell you that not voting is a vote for the other guy. They’ll also tell you the other candidate represents an existential threat to the foundations of our democracy. But many of us independents, libertarians, centrists, moderates, the politically homeless — whatever dirty word you want to label those of us who don’t fall into the Red/Blue binary — see totalitarianism encroaching from all sides, cultural and political.
The upcoming election perfectly reflects the dire condition we are in as a nation. Most days, I find it too upsetting to face head on. Somehow it’s even more depressing than it was in 2016. Perhaps it’s because we know exactly what we will get when we hold our noses and register our votes. Or perhaps it’s because America as we knew it is already gone. And those of us in the center are watching someone we love circle the drain, feeling powerless to stop them from destroying themselves, and hoping their rock bottom isn’t death. But realizing…it might be.
So unless I’m inspired by a third-party nominee, I refuse to partake in this sham of an election. If it’s true that we elect the government we deserve, I’m opting out of this cycle of voting for the lesser of two evils. I’m going to detach with love. I have to care enough to not care. America needs to hit rock bottom so that we can look around and realize: we have no one to blame but ourselves.
This article is in The Spectator’s September 2020 US edition.