American Eclipse: Into the Dark, Alone and Together

“Yeah, and jobs in sending Morse code and driving carriages are coming back, too,” my West Virginia pal Duke told me this morning.  He was pissed as hell about all the people around him who are absolutely sure that Donald Trump will be able to “bring back” the coal mining industry and all the jobs that go with it.  They don’t want to lose their way of life, they say.

“Too fucking bad,” I answered.  “It’s lost.  That’s what happens.  That’s the way shit goes in every business everywhere.”  For instance, if you take pictures on film, it’s an expensive, indulgent activity done just for the sake of doing it.  Talk to goddamn Kodak.  No one agitated for a return to film because digital photography changed an industry.  (Please don’t tell me about the superiority of film to digital images.  That doesn’t change the point.)

Duke continued, “And other places have learned that. North Carolina shifted from textile mills and tobacco to base its economy on other things.”  (Note: I’m calling him “Duke” because I know that it’ll irk the hell out of him.  He’s a UNC grad.)  He went on to explain that as China moves to greater reliance on renewable, clean energy like solar and wind, far outpacing the United States in that area, demand for coal has plunged worldwide.  In fact, China is overwhelming its grid with wind and solar power so quickly that it has had to slow down a bit. T

Of more direct impact on the U.S.  is the mismanagement of the entire coal industry by its corporations, not to mention the explosion of fracking giving us cheap “natural” gas.  Forget it.  Coal is fucking dead.  “I’d love a job doing Morse code,” Duke reiterated.  And he would.  He knows how to send messages in Morse code, which will be handy in the inevitable future of a Trump-fucked hellscape.

Then we turned, as it’s impossible to avoid, to talking about the white working class voters who went for Trump.  “Fuck ’em,” Duke said. S ee, right now in West Virginia, the Obama administration is pouring millions of dollars into job retraining programs because, you know, coal is fucking dead and the government wants to help people who need to transition out of the dying industry.  “I’ve heard people say that they don’t need to get retrained because Trump is gonna bring back the coal industry.”

Except Trump is not going to bring back the coal industry unless it becomes a government-dependent entity, constantly in need of funding because it can’t pay its bills.  Trump was lying about coal, as he was lying about most everything he claims he’ll be able to do.  But his voters didn’t care because what Trump said spoke to their deepest desires, like a demon promising pussy and chocolate in exchange for your soul.

You need to understand this, if you understand nothing else this week: You have no idea how bad it’s going to get.  Trump is going to get to ram what he wants through Congress because the members will be scared shitless of Trump’s idiot hordes turning on them.  The easiest way to explain how fucked we are is that I’m hoping that complete dickholes like Lindsey Graham and a couple of other Republican senators are honorable enough to leave the filibuster in place.

But I’m not sure that the filibuster will be sufficient (especially when Democratic senators from states with Republican governors suddenly get sick with radiation poisoning or something).  And even if a conservative Supreme Court declares some of Trump’s new laws or actions unconstitutional, I guarantee you that we will see the impeachment of one or more justices.

All the norms are gone now.  Everything you thought about how the government ought to be run is going to get thrown out onto its ass.  You are going to see citizens dragged before congressional committees in order to face interrogation for being Muslim.  You are going to see immigrants turned into scapegoats for anything that Trump wants to do that fails.  You are going to see an even greater proliferation of illegal guns and the rolling back of civil rights and environmental regulations and financial industry restrictions and food safety measures.  That’s on top of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Don’t fucking pretend that Trump will moderate or rise above himself.  He will out-Nixon Nixon in cruelty, and he will out-Bush Bush in disastrous actions.  But he will out-Reagan Reagan in making it seem like he’s so goddamn great despite his cruelty, incompetence, and lies.

Ask the coal miners how it’s going in a couple of years.  Of course, you’ll probably have to communicate with them by Morse code.  And they’ll probably still say Trump is awesome.

Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on November 11, 2016, on The Rude Pundit, a website featuring commentary by Lee Papa.  It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Papa.

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