Skip to main content

Here Goes, Doug

Berkley MI
Saturday
I’ve been challenged by my friend Doug, an Ontario resident, to explain to bewildered Canadians “why the current health crisis will/will not move the U.S.A. toward universal health care.” He provided an imaginative list of colorful words that he admonished me not to use, but he didn’t include “dumbfuck,” which has been used in these pages previously, and will no doubt continue to find apt uses.

The answer to Doug’s question is, of course, it depends. It depends—more than it’s ever depended before—on what happens between now and the November election. The future of American healthcare is only one thing—and by no means the most important thing—that will hang in the balance.

America as a concept has been breaking down before our eyes for some time. This virus is exacerbating all the forces contributing to that breakdown, and injecting a panicked urgency into the mix. The possibilities for the next eight months are as staggering as they are fraught with peril.

The happy ending would be that Republicans are overwhelmed in the election, ceding the presidency and all of Congress, ushering in a Democratic administration that (a) immediately brings criminal charges against a hundred or so people starting with Trump and his entire family, and (b) moves to restore enough of both the government and the healthcare system that a universal plan of some kind can, however painfully, emerge.

I’m rolling my eyes even as I write this, but it must be said that this outcome is significantly more likely than it has ever been. Which is not to say it’s likely. But I’m guessing some 60 percent of the electorate is enraged at and embarrassed by our dumbfuck president (there, I got one in). Not to mention everyone around him. And that was before the virus. In a fair election, I have no doubt he will lose. But let’s not be naïve.

At the extreme other end, the nightmare scenario would be that the country devolves into a dystopian anarchy that our methodically dismantled government simply cannot deal with, which moves Trump to declare emergency powers and cancel the election. This would be a shitstorm I can’t even get my brain around, which would, among other things, surely spell the end of the healthcare discussion for many years—which would be the least of our problems. As crazy as this sounds, can anyone looking ahead at the next few months seriously dismiss it as a possibility? Again, let’s not be naïve.

Of course, there are any number of possibilities in between these two extremes, and any scenario will be subject to a whole deck full of wild cards:  the course of the virus, the damage it does to the economy and society, the chances of holding a fair election (not promising), the chances of holding any election at all (better than 50-50, but not by much), and whether there’s anything left of either our institutions or our medical system once the dust clears. And that’s leaving social breakdown and civil unrest out of the equation.

I feel like I’ve answered a question with a question, or with a lot of questions, but only because the real answer is Who the fuck knows?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Dobbs is Just the Bludgeon We’ve Been Looking For

I recently had occasion to engage in a brief political discussion with a bright and well-spoken woman in her mid-twenties. She was clearly perturbed at what she considered the failure of Democrats to push through the progressive agenda she and her generation have long been promised. I felt her pain, knowing how hard the next twenty or thirty years will be for her age group, not just in this country, but planetwide. She will surely be a witness to spontaneous atrocities, environmental calamities, and a competition for dwindling resources that will reduce many of her fellow humans to savagery. At the same time, I was embarrassed — as I often am — that I’m passing along to her a nation in far worse shape than it was when I found it. Even so, I felt she was being a bit hard on the Democrats in power, most of whom have, more or less, behaved admirably in pursuing basically the same agenda as hers, even as they remain shackled to a constitutional system on the very c

Putin’s Information Bubble Springs a Leak

The cat is out of the bag. The Russian citizenry can now be quite sure there’s a real war on, with real people dying. Something about a 300,000-man military draft — more likely a million — serves to focus the mind. It was only a matter of time before even the most brainwashed of parents would figure out that their sons were highly likely to be blown to pieces sometime soon. Who would have thought Putin’s hermetically-sealed information bubble would be pierced, not by liberals or intellectuals or human rights activists, but by the militant right? I suppose it does make a certain weird sense. The left has either fled the country, gone to jail, or — in most cases — opted to shut up and lay low for a decade or so. So it’s the far right that, curiously, is giving Putin the most heartburn. Specifically, it’s the ultra-militarist bloggers on Telegram — boasting millions of followers — who are reporting from the front lines of the war. And they’re telling it like it

They’re Using ‘Trump’ and ‘Espionage’ in the Same Sentence

It isn’t every day that a former president gets investigated for espionage. One more first for Donald Trump. Yes, we’ve all been titillated by every sordid new development in the ongoing saga of the Mar-a-Lago files. But the big question, at least for me, remains: What was he thinking? Why would he take state secrets out of the White House, knowing full well it’s a felony? Not that he’s a stranger to felonies, but still. The press has focused mainly on the make-believe theories thrown up by the wingnut right to explain away the obvious. But I’ve not seen much on the espionage angle itself. Which is strange. Because the very word ‘espionage’ puts an unmistakably sinister spin on Trump’s motives. It’s not a word that either CIA or DOJ throws around a lot. But it’s a word both are using. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Trump it’s that life is about transactions, about trading favors. He is, by nature, a quid in search of the perfect pro quo. So while we don’t know how s