“Donald Trump’s presidency has been a dark time – but it won’t end just because he’s left office. Rooting out corruption and incompetence, rebuilding our government, and ensuring it will work for the people will require painstaking work. I’ve got a serious plan to get it done.” –Presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren
We are still drowning in the muck that is Presidential Primary Season, that interminable, exhausting period in which we armchair politicos and “high information voters” cannot tear ourselves away from the slow-motion train wreck of Seeing Who Wins Iowa, no matter the toll on our moods and mental health. Only magnifying and compounding that exhaustion is that no matter how many lies he tells, gaffes he commits, disastrous interviews he gives*, or cash his campaign hemorrhages, somehow Joe Biden is still a frontrunner perceived as “electable” and “the safe choice” by the masses.
I know it’s not yet time to give up hope, but this subconscious undercurrent of gnashing teeth marches forward in a quiet but relentless drumbeat, softly chanting in a catchy rhythm:
We. Are. So. Fucked.
Fucked, fucked, fuckity fucked.
We. Are. So. Fucked.
Fucked, fucked, fuckity fucked.
Here’s the deal, and I’m not going to sugarcoat it: If the general election comes down to Donald Trump or Joe Biden, then we are getting four more years of Trump, no matter what the election results.
The most likely outcome is the literal one. Biden has a slim chance of beating Trump. So to restate the obvious, we’re most likely to end up with, literally, four more years of Trump. Which will be America’s undoing.
But let’s say Biden, by some miracle, pulls off a decisive win and even gets himself inaugurated. People will cheer, but it will hardly matter. Trumpism, and everything that paved its way, is fully entrenched right now, and will be more so a year from today. Because Biden has based his entire campaign on the assumption that his mere presence will instantly return us to pre-era Trump, it would seem he lacks appreciation for the fact that when a new law (or new agency or new war) is established, it quickly becomes deep-seated normalcy, no matter how horrific or morally abhorrent or inefficient. It establishes strong, far-reaching roots, and while not impossible, it is very arduous to upend and erase it. Remember right after the 9/11 attacks, when we were assured those new airport security measures were just a temporary safety measure? And now, almost twenty years later, what are we doing? Evangelizing TSA Pre-Check, that’s what. This phenomenon of staying power is largely why Republicans have never been able to overturn the ACA. It’s why they can’t seem to get rid of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It’s also why the Obama administration couldn’t shut down Guantanamo Bay or get the military out of Afghanistan.
Once these laws, agencies, and establishments became firmly embedded, a lot of people depend upon them for their livelihoods. They sprout octopus limbs that affect far more people, government agencies, legislative agendas, and private corporations than immediately meets the naked eye, and when a president even hints at getting rid of them, resistance is swift. And strong. It’s not impossible to change things, but it’s usually damn hard. And Biden hasn’t once indicated that he has the spine or the political will for it. I highly doubt he’ll instruct his DOJ to prosecute Trump officials who’ve broken the law; he definitely seems more like a let bygones be bygones because it’s a new era kind of dude. He won’t take on the heavy, grueling task of firing ALL the Trump political appointees – many of whom aren’t household names – who are working feverishly behind the scenes to shore up an authoritarian theocracy. He won’t get the vast majority of Trump’s policies reversed or destroyed. It’s way too much tedious work, and Biden is in this race purely for his ego.
I’ll take the example of stochastic terrorism. While not officially codified, it is now a form of entrenched Trumpism. White supremacists have been emboldened to commit hate crimes, and this snowball is gaining momentum as it rolls down the hill. Hate crimes by white supremacists are, in a way, a new norm. They won’t stop simply because a Democrat is elected president. Will Biden engage in stochastic terrorism from his bully pulpit like Trump? Of course not! But that won’t be enough to stop this horror. Just no longer engaging in the stoking behavior is nowhere near enough to roll the snowball back up the hill. Is Biden prepared to officially declare white supremacists terrorists? Will he assign an FBI task force to eradicate this danger? That level of decisive action will be necessary, but it will also piss off a lot of people, including a decent swath who’ve never themselves committed a crime. Does Biden have the balls? Frankly I don’t think he does, especially if you take his own internalized racism into account. I gather he thinks that it’ll tidily go away on its own, like a rhinovirus that ran its course, so long as the enabling speeches stop. That’s not going to be anywhere near good enough. So with Biden, the hate crimes will continue, if not escalate. Lives are being lost. We can’t afford that. And this is just ONE example of many. This mess will go on and on and on for four years. Nothing will materially change save for some pleasant speeches, all while the mainstream media gleefully points out Biden’s failures and Republicans tee up a perfect shot for a competent authoritarian in 2024. Which will be an open election inherently favoring them since Biden is so fucking old he won’t be able to run for a second term. The whole thing will be an extension of Trumpism, intentions be damned.
Encroaching autocracy is like a cancer that is metastasizing far faster than we’d like to think. Telling people to vote for Biden because he’s safe and electable is like telling the patient that the cancer will nicely and magically leave on its own if they just quit smoking. That’s not how any of this works.
You heard it here first: Biden won’t even get the kids out of cages.
I know it sounds so grim to say that a Biden versus Trump election literally does not matter and won’t change much of anything. But that doesn’t make it any less true, and saving our democracy means facing this harsh grimness head on. We can’t panic and hide behind perceived electability and short-term measures.
Biden doesn’t want to BE president, he wants to HAVE BEEN president. His privilege and arrogance and wealth and overall mediocrity blind him to how dire things really are. Worse, he’s fine with that. He calls Trump “an aberration” and claims Mitch McConnell will “have an epiphany” once he wins. A Biden presidency will also be America’s undoing, just at a slightly – but only slightly – slower and more complacent pace.
*To clarify, Senator [Patrick] Moynihan did not introduce crack to the United States.
Buttermilk Skillet Cake with Walnut Praline Topping
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- 6 tbs unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup buttermilk, well shaken
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup 1 stick unsalted butter
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- Generous pinch of kosher salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 375 F. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 10-inch cast-iron or other oven-proof skillet.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until well incorporated and lighter in color, about 3 minutes. Add egg, then egg yolk, beating well - about 1 minute - after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
- With the mixer on low, add half of the flour mixture. Add the buttermilk. When just combined, add the rest of the flour. Beat on low until the flour mixture has almost incorporated, then shut off the mixer and finish incorporating the ingredients by hand. This step sounds superfluous but I assure you it’s not. Ignore it at your own dry cake peril.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared skillet and spread evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean and the top of the cake is springy when lightly tapped.
- You want to make this praline topping WHILE the cake bakes. In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, cream, and salt over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a soft boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla and walnuts. The mixture will probably look loose and not quite right, you’ll probably need to let it sit in the pan off the heat for up to 20 minutes. It’s ready when it’s about the texture of honey - thick but still pourable.
- After you remove the cake from the oven, let it cool just slightly, and pour the praline topping over the warm cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.