“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”Frederick Douglass
Ladies and gentlemen, the lights have dimmed and the orchestra is beginning to play. In a few moments (less than a month, actually), the curtain will rise, and the show will begin.
Based on what we know about the current political environment, it’s safe to say this this election cycle will be…something. Yes, we’re about to see show, though it won’t be like a movie, a concert, or a play.
Folks, this election cycle will be a shit show.
I can imagine pearls being clutched after reading my choice of words to describe this election. My word choices have likely disappointed my mother and pastor, along with a significant number of aunties, former teachers, and others who may have expected better of me.
I’ll make two points in my defense. First, “shit show” is the most accurate way to describe the next 11 months of American politics. The following definition comes from Urban Dictionary:
“A shit show denotes general craziness, debauchery, drug and/or alcohol use, drama and sheer insanity all occurring simultaneously.”Urban Dictionary https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=shitshow
I considered a few softer word options, such as “dumpster fire”, “hot mess” and even “hot ass mess”. However, none of those options truly capture this moment. I also thought that any mention of clusters would be a bridge too far.
Secondly, as a friend, I have an obligation to let you know what’s coming. Just like your team’s worst season in recent memory (ex. 2012 Auburn Football), the most unbearable shit shows are the ones you didn’t expect.
If you remember the “hot mess” that was the 2016 election (see what I did there?), you should be aware that the 2020 election will be next-level in every imaginable way. I expect to see just about anything…
- Some of the harshest, line-crossing political attacks in recent memory.
- Even more foreign involvement in our elections through social media and political contributions (looking at you, Putin).
- Facebook comments that are so woefully inaccurate that you’ll have to decide whether to call them out in the comment section or simply post a Snopes.com link.
- Racist statements, posts, and/or e-mails from somebody’s uncle, especially if there’s a person of color on the Democratic ticket.
- Insane comments, social media posts, and/or executive decisions from the incumbent president, regardless of where the polls are in the final weeks before Election Day.
In addition to these expectations (this is admittedly pretty dark), but I also expect violence. We’ve seen punches thrown at rallies, and we’ve seen a sharp increase in hate crimes in recent years. I expect this to only increase in the coming months, especially if it looks like Trump may be headed to defeat.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if there were more blatant attempts to deny people their right to vote beyond the voter suppression tactics we all should expect at this point (add that to my list of expectations). And if Trump loses, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see a routine “peaceful transfer of power”.
Granted, these aren’t necessarily predictions. This is me hoping for the best while expecting the worse. I hope I’m mostly wrong. Shoot, I hope I’m mostly dead wrong. But recent events suggest otherwise.
I should also point out that this isn’t the most volatile moment in U.S. History. There have been riots and a civil war in our past. And there’s a decent chance that you may know someone whose grandmother or great-grandmother brought sandwiches to a lynching. Yes, we know that times have been worse, but that doesn’t make the upcoming show any less frightening.
All that being said, I urge everyone to stay engaged, regardless of the vile and disgusting things you may see during the show. While I expect to see some pretty horrible stuff in the coming months, I’m still entering this election with a good amount of hope.
I’m hopeful that we’ll seen unprecedented civic engagement this year. I want to see record numbers of people giving their time and money to the candidates they support.
I’m hopeful that we’ll see remarkably high voter turnout everywhere, especially from younger voters and Black and brown voters, in spite of likely efforts to suppress their votes.
I’m also hopeful that people will make an effort stay informed about the issues that concern them the most. This includes finding out how candidates plan to solve problems, and how they plan to deliver on their promises.
This show is really just beginning, and there will be many many MANY opportunities to have a little fun (especially cookout-related fun). I want everyone to understand that there will be some pretty awful moments in the days and months ahead. If you know it’s coming, you’ll be better prepared to brace yourself and plow through.
Let’s start the show!