It warmed my heart to read in The Wall Street Journal that Hillary Clinton is preparing to re-enter the Washington DC swamp from her deluxe exile in the woods of Chappaqua, New York, and make another run for the White House — though it’s hard to calculate how many porters in sandals and loincloths will be required to lug all her baggage around the campaign trail. Will hubbie hit the hustings with her? That would be rich. I can just imagine the pussy-hatted legions shrieking #MeToo at every stop. Surely there is no better way to put the Democratic Party out of its misery.
The post-election melodramas in Georgia and Florida grind on, despite the various rules and laws about deadlines for certifying ballots and accounting for their origin. What is a ballot after all but a mere scrap of paper, easily reproducible, and interchangeable. Sometimes, they make strange journeys out of election headquarters in trucks and SUVs, seeking fun and excitement, and they have been known to mysteriously turn up by the hundredweight in broom closets where they retreat to caucus. Only one thing is certain: the ballot fiasco is a billable hours bonanza for DC lawyers arriving on the scene to sort things out — which they may not manage anyway.
If the vote count somehow remains in favor of the provisional winners — Republicans Rick Scott, Ron DeSantis (Fla), and Brian Kemp (Ga) — you can be sure we’ll be in a frenzy of sore loserdom that will make the Medieval ergot outbreaks of yore look like episodes of Peewee’s Playhouse. If the provisional votes get overturned, the attorneys billable hours will quickly exceed the national debt, and we’ll find ourselves in a new era where the free citizens of this republic can‘t be trusted to the simple task of counting ballots, or even holding elections in the first place.
This epic confusion is of a piece with a prediction I made about what happens to government in The Long Emergency: it becomes impotent and ineffectual, and can no longer be depended on to carry out the simplest tasks. The process goes from the top down. At each step, the public loses faith that government can accomplish anything. The Trust Horizon shrinks away from distant authorities… the DC Swamp, the state capitals, and soon the people don’t believe anything or anyone they can’t reach by throwing a rock.
And so we enter a new stage of collapse. It will be made very much more emphatically worse as the money issues underlying this American malaise unravel in the months ahead. The reason that nothing will be done is that nothing can be done about the country’s intractable technical bankruptcy. The wealth we assumed was there is a fiction and will be expressed in plunging asset values, especially stocks and real estate. And any attempt to “fix” that by the Federal Reserve and its TBTF handmaidens moving to stop losses will only redirect the destruction to the currency itself. When citizens trust neither government nor their money, really bad things happen.
This polity is too far gone in lying to itself for official corrections to avail. Sometimes the only corrective is sheer failure. At least it presents the option of starting over. Of course, Mr. Trump made the fatal mistake of claiming ownership of a “miracle” economy that is about to get stranded on the beach like a dying grunion. His inclination, I’m sure, will be to pretend loudly that nothing is wrong — even as the new model pickup trucks gather dust unsold on the car lots, and the “for sale” signs multiply on lawns everywhere, and the pink slips land at the cubicle work-stations, and the skeleton crews of waiters stand around the empty Olive Gardens and Chipoltles playing liar’s poker with their depreciating dollars.
Meanwhile, the new Democratic majority congress prepares to ramp up its longed-for multi-committee inquisition against Trump and Trumpism, and the Republican Senate will counter-punch with binders of criminal referrals against the superstars of the Resistance. C-Span will be livelier and more colorful than the WWE Wrestlemania round-robin, midget division.