Life During The First American Republic’s Twilight


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Whatever happens in the between now and, say, about April, is going to be cataclysmic. Either we turn into a despotic, autocratic managed democracy (of some sort) or we have a fucking civil war / revolution.

The interesting thing is, if we do go the latter route, it will be specifically because conservatives-who-are-not-MAGA get woke. In fact, I would say that’s our only hope at this point. If that doesn’t happen, then we really aren’t a free country anymore. The only reason why Trump might not go “full Putin” on us is he’s too lazy and incompetent to pull it off for a few more years. But the backbone of any type of real “resistance” to Trumplandia will be broken.

It will be just a matter of us slowly lurching politically, at least, to being nothing more than Putin’s America. We might have some continued delusion about how free we are because Trump won’t go after freedom of speech directly for a while, but that will be very ephemeral.

The weird thing about all of this, at least to me, is two absolutes are now racing towards each other. On one hand, we have the dead hand of history’s decision that our democracy is dead. On the other hand, we have the continued belief on the part of most Americans that we are a “free country” and effectively a democracy.

So if Trump and Barr aren’t able to win post-election via management of the media narrative we’re all in for a lot of trouble even if Trump wins a 5-4 vote at SCOTUS.

2020 is not 2000.

And if Trump / Barr have to force the issue to win, we are going to be facing an unprecedented existential threat to the Republic. In a way, I would even suggest that the treat is bigger than even the American Civil War because WMD might get involved. And no institutions may survive the conflict.

Regardless, I have no idea what is going to happen.

Things Don’t Happen In A Vacuum


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

One of the reasons why I feel the United States is careening towards an implosion is the Republicans are making a number of significant political misjudgements. They are acting as though their numerous provocative actions are happening in a political vacuum.

They seem to think that if they get their wish of overturning the ACA and Roe V. Wade that there won’t be any political consequences for them. Or, if there is, so what, fuck you.

So, either we turn into an autocracy or, more likely, we implode.

What I mean by this is, the United States will become so divided into Red and Blue that some sort of major violence will break out across the country. This will probably happen after many, many people become domestic political refugees as the two sides consolidate. Then some sort of Fort Sumter happens and a way we go.

It sounds really, really bonkers now. And maybe it is. I would like to make my abstract fears about the future concrete so they’re easier to manage, however. But it will be interesting to see if the “red line” for conservative-but-not-MAGA people is Trump staging a real-life coup. That will be interesting.

If you take my theory that Trump is “Gorbachev in reverse,” then, well, we’re fucked.

2021’s ‘Political 9/11’


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

The United States, the most powerful and prosperous nation in the world,has two possible fates ahead of it: despotism or collapse. When I’m in a good mood, I say there’s something of a spectrum with one of these two possible futures at either end. But, it could be a lot more extreme than that. It could be there are just two fates with little in the way of granulation.

Or, if you really want to be more specific about things, the dead hand of history has already decided that the United States is going to slip into autocracy. All of the momentum and “logic” is on Trumplandia’s side. The nattering nabobs of negativism of Blue Check Twitter liberals won’t know what hit them.

And, yet, it hasn’t happened yet.

The argument could be made that the absolute last gasp of liberal democracy in the United States, which would happen at some point between November 2020 and about January 2021, would be the thing that prompted the United States to completely implode. Trump and Barr, realizing the “soft power” of managing the media narrative isn’t going to work, decide to get rather thuggish in an attempt to maintain power. This would like be something akin to a political 9/11.

It would be something, done either by House Trump or MAGA-Qanon, that was so brazen, so outrageous, that no amount of talking heads trying to calm everyone down will work. It could be, on a political level, something that is obviously a coup — or is, at least, to everyone but MAGA-Qanon.

I’m thinking there could also be a sort coordinated attack on the leadership of the opposition to Trump or an Oklahoma City-type explosion somewhere. Or, if you really wanted to go full Nazi — some sort of major false flag operation so Trump could take “total control” as we got closer to January 20th.

I say this because of the number of people who have already voted –an estimated 800,000, compared to 10,000 four years ago. As such, a lot — a lot — of things go wrong for Trump / Barr and their absolute last attempt at staying in power is a 5-4 vote at SCOTUS, things may not go the way they did in 2000. Maybe. It’s possible that any real world opposition to Trump’s final consolidation of power will be little more than a death rattle, just like the August Coup of 1991 was little more than a death rattle for the Soviet Union.

I got burned with impeachment, so it seems the most likely outcome is so subtle that we barely even realize what is really happened — Trump and Barr using the Muller Report strategy of controlling the media narrative. They go to SCOTUS and get a 5-4 vote in their favor.

For about 18 months, a lot of liberals on TV and Twitter rant about how America is “turning into” an autocracy. As we get closer to the 2022 mid-terms, it will be pretty obvious that we already are an autocracy, it’s just liberals aren’t willing to risk what’s important to them in the real world to do anything about it. So House Trump wins.

Or, put another way — either Trump consolidates power peacefully by fucking with the law post-election or the entire American Ancient Regime collapses into Blue and Red and may the best man (or woman) win. Things really are that dire.

Trump is absolutely never leaving office for any reason. He would rather destroy the United States than leave office and risk personal criminal liability. He and Barr believe they can simply message the post-election media narrative and use soft power to win.

If that doesn’t happen, they will grow more radical and more thuggish in their efforts to stay in power. This, in turn, might get a lot of people you don’t expect woke and the whole edifice collapses in on itself.

The Pink Elephant


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

What we fail to notice is there is a big old Pink Elephant staring straight at us: on one end of a spectrum is despotism and on the other is collapse. The one thing that won’t happen is the peaceful transfer of power.

A lot of Twitter liberals keep missing this. They keep musing about the strange dynamics of the 2020 race, totally missing the obvious.

‘Manhattan Commune’


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Revolutions have a dynamic all their own. It seems to me that there’s a big old pink elephant staring us straight in the face and we refuse to acknowledge its existence: something is deeply wrong on an existential level with the American Ancient Regime.

Coming soon to 5th Avenue?

This rot pops out every once in a while in a very conspicuous manner. The most recent instance of this is the absolute craven need on the part of Republicans to name Amy Coney Barrett to SCOTUS no matter what. The logic on the part of Republicans is so disconnected from any form of adherence to liberal democratic norms — or common sense — that is makes you sit back and think about the whole edifice.

Republicans aren’t shy to make it clear that they’re gunning for two politically popular aspects of modern American life: Roe V. Wade and the ACA. Both of these poll well above 50% and yet Republicans are lulzing this and licking their chops at the idea of doing away with them altogether.

This is not something that would happen in a functioning liberal democracy. Doing away with both of them would not happen in a vacuum and there would be major political consequences. In fact, I would go so far as to say Republicans are setting themselves up, at least in the case of Roe, for something akin to a reproductive rights Dred Scott Decision.

But there’s a chance the whole country might implode before that even can happen. It makes you wonder what that implosion might look like on a practical level. I would suggest you keep an eye on New York City. Because of its Deep Blue nature, should the absolute worst happen — some sort of implosion — New York City seems like the place where some sort of radical event might happen.

Something like The Taking of Trump Tower. Or maybe the gutting of Fox News headquarters in the city. That could set off a cascading series of events in which the populace rises up and sizes control of municipal government and some sort of revolutionary commune-like governance arises.

This sounds pretty bonkers. But if take a step back from the United States and stop looking as what you think it is and, instead, what it really is, it’s at least possible that this otherwise fantastical thing might happen. Once House Trump loses the Mandate of Heaven in Blue States, some pretty fucking nuts things might happen very, very quickly.

One thing I struggle to figure out is if you start at the end — the United States imploding — and work back, how, exactly, would Blue States defend themselves from Mad King Trump if he really wanted to take “total control” as suggested by his best bud Roger Stone. A lot would depend on what happened to the US Military.

If even that venerable institution wasn’t able to stay together, then, I guess, Blue States would have to organize their own New Model Army (or whatever) under the guise of the governors of individual Blue States. The legal justification for such a call up of forces eludes me. But if you have Red States breathing down your neck, I guess you could pull something out of your butt.

And, remember, the key thing to think about is any type of civil war or revolution would only happen if the natural inclination of the Fourth Estate to calm everyone down was unsuccessful. So, as such, it’s very possible that despite all my wargaming, we don’t implode at all, we just slip into an autocratic managed democracy with our eyes wide open. Barr will give Trump a thin veneer of legitimacy and, as such, he will be able to quickly consolidate power.

Trump’s such a fucking self-own artist, however, that even if he and Barr win the election through the “soft power” of media narrative management, he could single-handedly bring the country to its knees (and incite a revolution) from sheer incompetence.

A fish rots from its head, afterall.

I’m not advocating any of this. But New York City is a very interesting political situation. If my worst nightmare happened, NYC would likely be the first surreal flashpoint in the even more surreal collapse of the most powerful, most stable nation on earth.

American ‘Ancien Regime’


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Before I begin, let’s put things in context. I’m a big old nobody in the rural portion of a flyover state. Absolutely nobody gives me any mind for any reason. I could literally vanish off the face of the earth and it would take a few days for anyone to notice. And, in general, I’m a pretty copacetic, easy going guy. And I’m definitely NOT a “loner who keeps to himself.”

Power To The People

I’m actually quite extroverted and honest, to a fault. Generally, if I’m thinking about it, you’ll hear about it if you’re paying attention to me.

I say all that to make it clear that this is nothing more than a thought experiment. It’s not like this is meant to be some sort of liberal-progressive Turner Diaries. It’s just interesting to look at the State of the Union with a critical eye. That’s it. That’s all that’s going on. If this was 10 years ago and I was living in NYC, this the type of thing that might pop up on the old Gawker blog.

The Case
America’s Ancien Regime is, at least on the surface, rock solid. It’s been around for about 240 years. The very idea that it might rather suddenly grow extremely unstable to the point of collapse is not something that the average person even contemplates as possible.

And, yet, something is existentially wrong with the American Ancien Regime. There is now an enormous disconnect between people and the government. Because they’re the most vocal, we often see this disconnect through the lens of the Far Right. But the argument can be made that, if anything, the rise of Trump gives us an indication that we’ve reached the stage where the rot inside the ostensibly stable American Ancien Regime has grown so severe that something truly astonishing might happen far, far sooner than anyone could possibly imagine.

But what, exactly is wrong with the current American system? I would suggest that a number of major macro trends are all coming to a head at the same time. The United States is no longer a liberal democracy that represents the people, it is a plutocracy that is one election away from turning into something akin to an autocratic semi-monarchal managed democracy. In fact, I would suggest that the dead hand of history has made its decision.

Trump’s “Spaghetti Strategy” for “winning” the 2020 election is going to work. It’s all over but the shouting. We’re not the United States anymore, we’re nothing more than Trumplandia. My fidelity is to the United States, not Trumplandia, and, as such, at least on an abstract thought-experiment basis, I am prepared to mull how to, uhhh, make America great again, if you will.

When You Come To A Fork In The Road, Take It
So, we have before us two options — let Trumplandia consolidate or we renew the American Covenant. Let me be clear — this is meant to be a very abstract text. I’m not advocating anything. I’m simply saying — should the moment arise when we’re actually given the opportunity to do something about Trumplandia we can’t be afraid. We have to stand and fight.

That opportunity may never come. We may slip rather quietly into Trumplandia and not look back for decades. This is a very real possibility.

But while Trumplandia probably started the moment Trump was aquitted, the case could be made that American self-perception hasn’t realize it yet. And, as such, there is a window of opportunity. Again, not advocating anything. This is more about pointing out opportunities than it is telling anyone to do anything about it.

In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that for those “opportunity” to arise, it wouldn’t even be in the hands of the governed — it would happen because of a historic miscalculation on the part of Trump and Barr. And, honestly, it might not even be an actual miscalculation.

They know that relative to all the metrics they have at their disposal that should Trump not win outright on Election Night that everything after the election is simple media narrative management. They got away with it with the Mueller Report, they have every reason to believe they can do it again with the 2020 Election.

And, at this point, there’s absolutely no reason not to think they aren’t right.

Trump won in the Senate. He’s going to “win” the 2020 election and, later, he’s going to win with the Constitutional Convention he inevitably demands.

So, really, all I got is Trump’s a massive self-own artist. A fish rots from its head, as they say. Therefore it is, at least possible that Trump is going to screw up on such a massive level at some point between November and January that the country implodes. (Not something I want. Just a possibility.)

The Goals
So what if my worst nightmare happens and the United States implodes? Then what? Well, the key thing to remember is should the American Ancien Regime collapse, the Fourth Estate is probably going with it. The American media has been so complicit, timid and oblivious to the rise of Trumplandia that I honestly don’t see how it, as an institution, would survive any sort of theoretical “Second American Revolution.”

As an aside, I think it really would be a revolution instead of civil war. I say this because a lot of Twitter liberals are so full of themselves that they seem to think some sort of utopia (with Canada?) will happen if only Blue States can leave the Union. The issue is, outside of some chunks of California, I just don’t see actual secession taking hold in most Blue States. This would be a revolution against the moronic tyranny of one man — Donald J. Trump. As such, it makes a lot more sense on a number of strategic levels to stay and fight rather than attempt to leave the Union altogether. All of this is extremely difficult for me to pace out because of how speculative it is. So, it’s very possible I might get a lot of things wrong.

One thing I spend a lot of time thinking about is how, exactly, this so-called “Second American Revolution” might begin. There are a number of scenarios. But one might be that Trump simply screws up. He does something so outrageous that even conservative-but-not-MAGA people get woke. If that happened, then Trumplandia will be stillborn.

The goals of any Second American Revolution would likely be to “renew the vows,” shall we say, of the American Covenant. There are a lot — a lot — of popular ideas and policies that have not been implemented because of the extreme corruption, and lack of representation found with American Ancien Regime.

I might suggest codifying some sort of protection for reproductive rights in a new Constitution. A re-imagined Senate would also be a goal for any Renewed American Covenant. And, some sort of addressing of systemic racism in the United States as well.

For my part, if I had any say in the matter — which I obviously never will — I would codify the nullification of Trumplandia with extreme legal prejudice. Everything Trump did while in office would be vacated. Just thinking about that makes me feel smile.

This is just a rough back-of-the-envelope sketch of what the aims of any Second American Revolution might be.

Like I keep saying, I fear I’m being both “delusional and stupid” to even broach the subject. Trumplandia is here and we’re just going to have to get used to it.

‘A Historic Miscalculation’


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

It continue to elude me what, exactly, the agenda is of the Far Right paramilitary groups that have begun to mence the United States population. What, exactly, are they trying to achieve? Trump loves him some Far Right support, so their efforts at intimidation seem rather redundant since they’re getting everything they want politically through Trump himself.

But here we are.

While a lot of people — like me — who use Twitter too much are freaking out about our obvious decent into autocratic managed democracy once Trump and Barr steal the 2020 election (probably through controlling the media narrative), the average American has been extremely complacent about all of this.

As such, I have no reason to believe they won’t continue to be so, no matter what happens over the course of the next few months. The political opposition to Trump — be it in Congress or the media — is extremely weak and timid. And they only do anything when they absolutely feel they have some sort of support for their actions — in other words, they don’t really show a lot of leadership.

So, the entire fate of the Republic (or what’s left of it) is hinging on Trump making some sort of historic miscalculation, some sort of self-own that I simply can’t predict. I simply have no way to predict what it might be or if it will even happen at all.

It seems safe to assume that even if there were mass protests as Trump began his final consolidation of power in the lead up being sworn in again, that the average American would be more concerned with any violence that might happen and Trump’s “law and order” reaction to it. The average center-Right-but-not-MAGA person, the support of whom would be crucial for any sort of effective mass response to Trump’s tyranny, simply won’t be there when we need them.

So, again, I have to assume that Trump is going to get his wish. In the end, he “won’t lose” as is the case with all autocrats and gradually between 2021 and, say, the fall of 2022, the final throttling of American liberty will occur. People will get snatched off the street and pushed out of windows on a regular basis. Major Democrat leaders will mysteriously be indicted or, worse yet, poisoned.

In other words, barring something I can’t predict, we aren’t even going to put up a fight.

‘Something’s In The Air’


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I feel an existential unease in the United States right now. I’m reading a new biography of President Grant right now, and it alludes to how in the late 1850s everyone saw some sort of conflict rushing towards them.

While I may openly mull some sort of armed conflict in the United States, be it civil war or revolution — or both — as of right now I have no actual reason to believe any of that is possible. The United States is to big and too stable for it to simply, well, collapse. If anything, it’s going to slip, with its eyes wide open, into some sort of autocratic managed democracy like what is found in modern day Russia.

That definitely seems to be our fate.

I say that because of Trump’s “Spaghetti Strategy” when it comes stealing the 2020 election. He’s simply throwing everything he can at it in an attempt to see what sticks. And, really, from his point of view, you could say that he knows that post-election, all he has to do is control the media narrative and he is going to win. People will grow too frustrated with the process. Or too nervous about armed conflict. Or to confused. Or what have you.

Again, as of right now, I have to agree with him.

But I do like a good thought experiment, so I guess you could speculate he and Barr might be setting themselves up for a historic miscalculation? Maybe? And the source of that miscalculation would they would not appricate that no matter how much they control the media narrative there’s a chance that the whole thing would smash up against American self-perception. Americans believe they live in a free country and the “soft power” attempt to steal the election Trump and Barr are hoping for might not work.

If it doesn’t then — since autocrats never lose — they might be a bit more ham-handed in their attempts to steal the election, which would only make matters a quantum leap worse. But I’m making a huge strategic bet on something that, to date, simply hasn’t been there — the average person who is not on Twitter being willing to risk things that are important to them in real life in an effort to protect the sanctity of the Republic.

For the last five years, Trump has faced no real accountability. He’s had his worst impulses blunted, but in general, he’s gotten everything he wanted because of the Vichy, callow nature of Senate Republicans, among others. And there’s no reason to believe that if Trump took “total control” as Roger Stone would suggest that the entire edifice of the Republican Party wouldn’t go along with it.

And, as such, the final arbiter of this particular situation would be the American people, the volk, themselves. If nothing happens, then the First Republic fails and we enter the Trumplandia Era of the United States. After about 40 years, when the last of the Baby Boomers finally croke, then we can think about maybe founding a Second Republic from the ashes of the old.

Something pretty astonishing would have to happen, at this point, for us to not to slip into autocracy. Something I simply can’t predict. We have our fate in our own hands, but nothing to date has indicated we really care all that much.

Prove me wrong.

‘The Whisper’


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

It’s time America had “the talk.”

Not about where babies come from, but something just as existential — our national covenant.

I only even suggest this because there may come a time — very soon — when that particular issue is not nearly as abstract — or completely bonkers — as it seems right now.

We to start to at least think about re-imagining, rededicating, and renewing the social contract. How — or why — such a momentous decision might be foisted upon us remains a mystery.

But better to at least ruminate on what the goals of a Renewed American Covenant might be instead of being surprised when the question is poised.

Trump’s ‘Spaghetti Strategy’


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

These are times that try men’s souls, as Thomas Paine would say.

The dead hand of history is well on its way to “sweeping aside the last vestiges of the Republic” as they might say in Star Wars. It’s all because risking things that are important to you in the real world — especially if you’re a member of the existing establishment — isn’t exactly something you feel obliged to do.

As such, definitely seems to me that it’s a foregone conclusion that the United States will be an autocratic managed democracy by the time Trump is sworn in for a second (stolen) term.

I say this because of Trump’s “Spaghetti strategy” for winning re-election — he’s simply going to throw everything he’s got at the wall and see what sticks. So if it’s not fucking with the postal service, it’s fucking with the actual selection of Electors. If it’s not that, then it’s the bullshit Durham Investigation. And, after about a half dozen other things, he’s assuming that the Russians will — as part of a quid pro quo for removing 1/3 of our troops from German — hack directly into our election systems.

So, in a sense, I’ve reached acceptance — there may be moments in the next few months when we think somehow we’re going to escape living in an autocratic state, but in the end, mysteriously, Trump will still be in office.

Autocrats, as they say, never lose.

As I’ve said many times — really, the only person who can change both our fate and that of Trump is, well, Trump. He has the entire edifice of the Republican Party at his disposal. So unless Trump self-owns in a pretty massive way, we’re going to collectively buckle and fall to our knees before Mad King Trump.

Something pretty spectacular would have to change for this not to happen. Something I can’t predict. And I just don’t see it happening.

I keep vacillating wildly between having hope that we might all get woke in time to fix this problem and acceptance that in the end not even Trump’s tendency to self-own would fix the problem.

I don’t know. Surprise me folks.