George on Georgia – Nothing Ever EndsGeorge Chidi. Photo by Dean Hesse
“In the end? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.” — Doctor Manhattan.
My wife is calling me over to watch Donald Trump depart the White House. I don’t care. He should have been arrested a month ago. I’ll watch if he’s being arrested. Aside from that, I don’t want to give him more attention.
I’m writing this before President Joe Biden gives his inaugural speech, which I will watch. I always watch the inaugurals. Even Trump’s. There is value in bearing witness, more so when lies will be told later, as they were. Brave, florid, memorable lies.
Inaugurals are about setting a tone for leadership from the bully pulpit. I expect Biden to be … boring. I voted for a quotidian servant to the constitution, a product of process and longevity. But Biden and the country faces the greatest American leadership crisis since perhaps Franklin Roosevelt, if not Abraham Lincoln.
No president — not even Barack Obama — faced expectations from African-Americans as high as those Biden must meet. There are 50 million Black people in this country who no longer want to wonder if they aren’t getting hired for a job because of the color of their skin, or why their home is appreciating at half the rate of the same houses in white neighborhoods, or whether they’ll get the wrong cop if they call about the guy who tried to sell their kids drugs.
We know the benchmarks. They’re fairly obvious.
– Reduce income inequality in general and racial disparities in wealth in particular.
– Create real consequences for business owners who discriminate.
– Reduce bias in policing and hold police agencies accountable for misconduct.
– Do all of this while ending the spike in violent crime and ending the pandemic.
And yet as Biden speaks, dark thoughts will be close in mind. If it had rained in Atlanta on the wrong day three weeks ago, Biden might not have the senate. If Marjorie Taylor Green had been marginally less stupid, depressing Republican turnout by 40,000 votes less with her seditious rhetoric, Ossoff would have lost.
The terrorists who stormed the Capitol will not be satisfied today.
The goal of the far right now is to render the United States seemingly ungovernable, so that they can call for a fascist to restore order. If I were on the far right, plotting that out, that would mean attacks on infrastructure. AWS data centers. Internet switches. Major intersections. Courthouses. Shipyards. Power plants. Hacking.
Each act will come with a challenge to opponents of “liberals,” in whatever debased term they use. If you’re not willing to break things fighting liberals, you’re not a real “patriot.”
That’s the challenge Biden is called to address: to ward off the emergence of an IRA-style insurgency in the United States while meeting the needs of a Black political constituency which will shrug in the absence of justice and stay home in the next election.
– George Chidi is a political columnist and public policy advocate. He also writes for The Intercept.
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