Subcontinental Divide - 2019


2020: A Blurred Vision

By Ahsen Jillani

Depression has many manifestations and people react to its crushing weight by using unique techniques. Indeed, you can come full circle and pull yourself up by the flip flops and get back on your feet. Or not. But one fairly common coping mechanism entails blaming everyone and their brother for what ails you. This year will be my 40th in America; and during this time, I have known people whose pay has not increased by one cent. Every small business boss keeps giving them the same lame excuse: they are lucky to have a job - the economy is terrible.

Since most of us are not economists, we believe the higher ups. After all, the president, the Congress, the governor, the boss, well, these are rich people and should know what's best for us. Truth is always the first victim in the tsunami called Ignorance. As I write this, the government is under the longest shutdown in US history. 800,000 federal employees and perhaps millions of contractors are now in danger of losing homes, healthcare, cars, and possibly their livelihoods and life savings.

Some stats say that 60 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. While millions of us deplete those to pay bills, we are watching a constitutional crisis play out on a daily basis. We have a president who has never told the truth and doesn't plan to start now. We have cracks in our democratic system which, with or without Russian intervention, are starting to show signs of becoming dam breaks. In 2000, the Bush/Gore controversy in Florida gave the nation a preview of what Electoral College flaws can yield. In 2016 and beyond, we learned that the system can easily be broken. The firewall in the US Senate is formidable and analysts are now wondering why Rhode Island (population: 1 million) and California (population: 40 million), both with two senators, carry the same weight in deciding America's fate.

Depression. Why Donald Trump is still commanding 85-90 percent of Republican support is not a mystery and liberal commentators are constantly harping on the psychology of it. I now firmly believe that even if not a single meme was designed and posted on social media from the outskirts of Moscow by the Internet Research Agency, Trump would still have won the Electoral College. The reason was depression. We as a nation are at that stage of denial where our misery is always someone else's fault: It's the Chinese, the Mexicans, the crime, the abortionists, the gays, the terrorists, the Obamacare insured losers (many are low-income Trump voters as well, but who cares).

And when depression mixes with WWE wrestling as smoothly as vodka with orange juice, you say What the Heck and go home with the alpha male at the party. Of course, the next morning you find out that his Rolex is fake, his fancy car is rented, and he is only house-sitting the fancy home at the beach. But you waffle because anything is better than blaming yourself and you were able to live out the fantasy for a night.

America, this is the morning after.

Much is playing out as so many of us are washing our faces to return to low-paying, dead-end jobs. Ocean waves are still breaking behind us. We feel strangely better with bull stats slung at us about immigrants, the trade war, the beauty of the stock market, the liberal fantasy about climate change, the respect for the flag from a draft dodger, the abhorrence of abortion by a man whose lawyer arranged abortions for rich Republicans' mistresses. It's not my boss, it's the Mexicans—the president says so. Time to return to the coal mining job I love so much while I cough out black gunk and struggle to breathe. The president says so. A fake Rolex is okay. Fake wrestling is okay. Fake stats are okay. I just want to feel better.

Many liberal pundits are screaming about 2020 already as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), is first out of the Democratic gate for a presidential run. While Rome collapses, the 5th grade bully in the Oval Office is busy thinking of new nicknames for the opposition as the government grinds to a halt and the stock market flirts with recession-level drops. The left, however, seems to have a handle on what has been learned from 2016. Firstly, Americans want someone else to blame in this global economy where they are not faring too well in manufacturing—where blue collar income lies.

Secondly, the 2018 midterms proved that the GOP platform has basically vaporized besides The Wall. Americans still want healthcare, and not promises. And jobs, well, what politician doesn't bark about those mystery jobs for unskilled workers who in the best circumstances don't have the stamina to compete with driven and motivated foreign labor that depends on the paycheck for the family's next meal. And lastly, what matters….

Short of Sen. Jeff Sessions (later Attorney General), nominee Trump had about zero support amongst the shocked Republican leadership. But they not only followed their constituents who in turn were following this foul-mouth, womanizing Pied Piper dog-whistling racist tunes, they proceeded to become his disciples just to avoid being on his morning Twitter Broadcast from his bathroom. But even the spineless have a brain:

What matters to the GOP (besides keeping their names off of Twitter), is that they are already in a minority amongst registered voters. Without vote suppression, fear mongering and gerrymandering, they can never really win any election in an America that is headed toward being a colored majority by 2042.

Putin or not, where the colossal and generational battles of a democracy are fought are in the courts. Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation circus in the Supreme Court was just a preview of how far the Republican leadership is willing to go to rule the soul of America in the generation to come. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is sick, and as I write this, the White House is slobbering over a conservative replacement.

There is not much love lost between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump. While Trump entertains the depressed base with The Wall, McConnell will fill the national judicial benches with judges who will cripple the ideals that make America America. 2020 may not have any relevance if the judiciary is compromised for three decades. Now that is depressing.

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Ahsen Jillani a former editor and publisher, is originally from Islamabad, Pakistan, and now lives in Mint Hill. He owns Must Media, a PR company focusing on both political and corporate clients.