The President is Dead. Now What? (A hypothetical)
So the President is dead, a victim of the pandemic he denied. I’ll spare you the hot take on how you should feel about it because it doesn’t really matter now. Time is a wave that continues to move forward, and in the grander scope of our collective journey, his sudden death will be no more special than yours or mine. The question we must ask ourselves at this moment is, what’s next?
Let’s frame our point of departure, the immediate present. Many things have changed over the past four years, and I imagine I speak for many when I say tensions are high and the air is anxious. There have been significant political changes, like our courts’ politicizing, regressive environmental policies amid a crisis, and the creation of a secret police force through the DHS. COVID-19 has devastated lives and economies worldwide, throwing many of us into moments of uncertainty and struggle. Meanwhile, American billionaires increased their wealth by $685 billion during the roughly first four-and-a-half months of the coronavirus pandemic—a 23% spike in wealth. It’s also easy to overlook the environmental crisis that is still happening, ice caps are melting beyond any hope of return, and mass extinctions surround us. Socially, we’re also not doing so hot. Our population is being manipulated through social media behavior modification techniques, and we’re angrier than ever. We have begun to see others as inherently evil, a dogma placing us far beyond discovering what we actually want, and how we can work together to get it.
There’s also the elephant in the room; violence is on the horizon. Observing the social sphere tells us that an expanding minority predicted, prepared, or considered armed conflict possibilities arising during the election before Trump’s death. Before his passing, Donald Trump made his intention clear that he was unwilling to vacate the office without a fight if he lost the election, which predictably triggers massive civil unrest and violence. For better or worse, that’s no longer a scenario, so we have to ask ourselves—where do we stand now? Are we ready to confront the truth, or will we continue down our default path as blind as ever?
There is plenty of blame to go around, but most of it would be wasted breath. Our problems are systemic, meaning that our game rules create disadvantages for the majority of players. That includes you and me. I know, conservatives are dumb, liberals are idiots, blah, blah, blah. In truth, most of us are pawns in a game where we don’t even understand the rules. Our elected leadership has been serving unseen masters for decades. These puppeteers see this violent eruption as a means to concentrate their power and resources further. I hope that in this moment of shock and awe, we can breathe deep enough if only for a moment, to clear our minds and open our eyes to the realities surrounding us.
For the American conservative, does the interim president Mike Pence deserve the same support given to Trump? There is little doubt that he views his ascension as a gift from the god he worships, do you? What I’ve learned about your perspective over the past four years is that you want to live the way you want to live, without interference. I can respect that, after all, liberty is a founding principle of our nation. You and I probably differ in our approach of how to maximize it for every individual. Still, maybe now that we’re free of Trump’s persistent distractions, we can focus on the task at hand? Not everything is as simple as us versus them. Believe it or not, many with opposing views believe that one of the most direct pathways towards American transformation is to invest in your communities. Are you open to hearing how, or does Trump’s death do nothing to dull your fervor?
American liberals, now what? You’ve made it clear that you support corporatocracy as the defining structure of American governance. This strategy is directly responsible for the destruction of conservative communities, the environment, and the moment’s astronomical wealth inequality. What has submission to the oligarchy given you? Minor social victories and a policy strategy of simply rebranding conservative policies with a slightly more human touch. With Trump’s death, your boogie man is gone, so what’s next? Are you ready to be honest with yourselves? Admit that your refusal to embrace progressive policies for change is less about the quality of ideas and more about maintaining your own (minor) wealth and power. Or is the goal to resume our death march towards environmental apocalypse for the sake of profits? A future where the majority of negative impacts fall on poor human beings of color around the world, but hey—you got yours, right? Your narrative over the past four years has been to defeat Trump. Well, he’s gone now, so what’s next?
For the progressive, socialist, and communist factions rising in the United States—how does Trump’s death impact our vision? Suppose we contrast the conservative strategies against our own. In that case, one thing becomes apparent, they are highly organized and we are not. This is partly due to time and the importance of money’s influence in our politics, and because we don’t have a clear vision of what we’re proposing. I do not deny the great policy strides that have been made across the country by several progressive groups; frameworks for progress are plentiful. But let’s not deny our lack of transcendent vision. If we cannot couple systemic transformation with a unifying narrative, we have no hope of accomplishing the change necessary to avoid the crisis. Trump’s death provides a brief moment of reprieve, a universal breathing out that is clearing what was. The question for you is simple: Do you possess an imagination expansive enough to develop solutions that can simultaneously support shared progress and individual liberty desired by the collective?
What about the white supremacist? For many, empathizing with you is difficult. Your present actions will likely follow you for the remainder of your life. You have chosen a path of oppressive violence against others in an illusionary quest for personal security. In truth, you are pawns of the ultra-wealthy conservatives who have shaped your minds and spirits. The violence you would bring upon the world will do nothing but destroy you. You are lost. With that said, I understand that if my journey followed the same totality of experience as yours, I might be waving guns and hating brothers and sisters I have never met. Not because I sympathize with your views, I don’t. They are wrong from both the moral and systemic perspective. You have no plan. When the violence is over, you will have played your part in creating the hellscape you were so desperately trying to avoid. Our journeys have been radically different.To be candid, you have not had access to the same opportunities I have. Well-funded public schools, access to emerging technologies, and diverse friends and experiences among others, have taught me not to fear the universe but to embrace it. With your primary enabler gone, who will rise to take his place? More importantly, are you so confident that this path is as inevitable as it was before Trump’s death? Here in this moment, you have an opportunity to rejoin the fold uniting together in focus against the real enemies of the people. It is not minorities who have destroyed your way of life. It is those living above the clouds who view you as disposable cannon fodder. The truth is there are pathways available for you to live the experiences you want to live, even if it is isolationist and fearful—but only if you’re willing to embrace the possibility that you may be wrong. Can you be that human?
Donald Trump’s sudden death changes everything, a dominating silence in a sea of distractions. At this moment, we recognize the latent possibilities within our power. Where once our cascading towards violence seemed unavoidable, now there is a rare opportunity for redirection. A collective refocusing on our problems beyond the rhetoric is a moment of honesty with ourselves. The fact is, opportunity exists in the United States to support many different desired lifestyles. We have the resources, technologies, and human creativity to create these systems. Before we can do that, we have to take a step back and realize the farce of this entire circumstance: that we can be so divided over problems within our power to solve rapidly, knowing full well that manipulation is occurring. Will this moment of silence bring with it new ideas for cooperative progress, or is it merely a pause before resuming our mindless march towards oblivion? I suppose ultimately the answer is up to you.