Prisoner’s Dilemma

Due to developments over the past couple of weeks, I am slightly altering my prognosis for the U.S. political and economic landscape in the coming months. It’s gonna get ugly(er). The words chaos and anarchy come to mind. What we’ve got here is the perfect storm: hyper-polarization of an “us-versus-them” mentality, the ongoing madness of the COVID-19 pandemic, a ton of bottled up social unrest and anxiety, an utterly nonfunctional congress… all set on the backdrop of a deeply divisive presidential election.

What I hadn’t counted on in my last post was that congress would literally do nothing. Instead of finding a way to reach an agreement on a stimulus package, they packed up their bags and went home! In the middle of the worst crisis since the Great Depression! Tens of millions out of work, small businesses dying off by the thousands, and… nothing. What can you even say about it? It’s absurd to the point of hilarity, some twisted game of political chicken at the expense of the everyday citizen.

And I don’t see any way that this impasse works itself out in the near-term. We are just too close to the election. The Democrats are not budging from their position, nor do they have any incentive to do so. To capitulate and reach a deal at this point would be basically handing Trump a second term, the stock market would turn into a rocket-ship. And the Donald, to his credit, has played it about as well as he can, painting himself as the victim of a broken system who is trying to go it alone for the American people. And then there’s Kanye.

So we are looking at another two months of political shit-slinging, people getting more and more angry with no solutions, and then we are going to attempt to have an election by mail for the first time ever? And we are expecting that to actually go smoothly and fairly – we’ll just tally up the votes, declare our uncontested winner, the loser will gracefully depart and the country will get right back on track?

Not a chance in hell. Sorry, folks. We’ve come too far.

I hate to be all doom and gloom, but from my perspective the chaos that is about to unfold is long overdue and very necessary. This broken machine needs to do just that, break. And it appears we have reached the point of no return. If there was a clear, popular candidate here I would say maybe this will work itself out. But the Roosevelt’s are long gone. There’s no one to rally around, no unifying vision for us to get behind and push through the darkness together, coming out the other side stronger like World War II. We’ve got an amoral narcissist versus a near-octogenarian with acute cognitive decline.

Good grief, Charlie Brown.

Financially and economically, the U.S. is fine. If I were running the show – and sure, I’ll accept the position if it’s offered šŸ˜‰ – I would remove every politician from office, institute a UBI and/or public jobs program a la the WPA from the New Deal, offer free public options for healthcare, education, and banking, and then set up an online voting apparatus for citizens to weigh in on most issues in lieu of corrupt politicians. Direct democracy. We can and must get involved and work together to make democracy work. We have to take responsibility for this country for ourselves, “elected” career politicians relying on donations from the mega-rich simply aren’t gonna cut it. Given the events of this past year, could it be any more clear that the U.S. political machine is beyond repair?

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