The movie Don’t Look Up is an obvious metaphor for any situation in which a population carries on with business as usual as doom rapidly approaches. Obviously, that could be climate disruption or the COVID-19 pandemic. In both cases, there is something we could do to mitigate and resolve the situation, but still we fail to transcend the greed and stupidity that keep us stuck.
The third crisis for which Don’t Look Up serves as an appropriate metaphor is the impending fascist takeover of the Federal government. We are, at least, seeing media coverage of the January 6, 2021 putsch which came close to installing a fascist autocratic regime. Media outlets, like Frontline, are sounding the alarm that the threat is still very much with us.
One can come to the same conclusion that it is by reading coverage of all of the Republican-controlled state legislatures passing laws to make it difficult to vote for people with less means than your typical white Republican voter, which is going to be mostly BIPOC persons and the young. Republicans have also gerrymandered the districts in their states in order to dilute the representation of left-leaning voters.
And as if that is not enough, along with the historical pattern which almost guarantees that the party that does not control the White House ends up in control of Congress after the midterm elections, Republican-controlled legislatures are installing their own operatives in their respective state election agencies and making it legal for them to arbitrarily call elections in favor of Republicans, regardless of election results.
Unless Senators Manchin and Sinema have some kind of A Christmas Carol epiphany, Democrats in Congress will not only fail in implementing the social measures in Build Back Better that are so desperately needed by working people, they will also not pass the Freedom to Vote nor the John Lewis Voting Advancement Acts that would at least nullify the election rigging by Republicans at the state level.
And so it appears that a comet in the form of a Republican-controlled Congress is certain to strike in the US on November 8, 2022. Based on the behavior of the Republican Party since the 1990s, we can probably anticipate that they will begin impeachment proceedings against Biden and Harris almost immediately. On what charges? Well, it could be almost anything that Trump pulls out of his, um, hat. All products of said hat are the absolute truth for the Republican base. No evidence is required. I would guess the charge would be stealing the 2020 election. Since the Speaker of the House (third in the line of succession to the presidency) will be Republican—possibly Trump himself—the Republicans could have complete control of the Federal government by early 2023. At that point, it’s game over for US Democracy.
I don’t know of anyone else suggesting the possibility of the impeachment scenario. Regardless, the final collapse of US democracy, already in tatters, seems imminent by 2024. How are we—the climate justice movement and the political left generally–going to respond and prepare for this impending disaster? Will our diverse movements finally form the united front necessary to preserve US democracy? Might we also finally join together to hammer it into something that reflects the our nation’s supposedly most dearly held value: liberty and justice for all? Or, will we proceed with business as usual, isolated in our respective issue silos as the very vehicle we need to address climate change, end systemic racism, and build a fair and just society for all is commandeered completely by Medievalists and white supremacists? It’s now or never.
Photo credit: Wendy Emerson, a mashup of stock images. Don’t worry. It’s not a comet, just a flaming a##hole.