Monday, October 15, 2018

Hanging Chad

I was thinking today about how, sometimes, the course of history seems to bend around seemingly inconsequential moments. Moments that might even seem consequential at the time but only in the way that a kid thinks any given Christmas is consequential but, then, easily forgotten. So the moments, no matter how anticipated they were, fade into inconsequentialness, and we never think of them again even though they turn out to be pivot points of history.

So... here we are on the brink of environmental devastation... the end of life on Earth in its current incarnation... and I was wondering how we got here.

It's not like this was all of a sudden and we couldn't have made plans long ago about how to deal with it. It's been more like a gas gauge in a car, and we've been choosing to bypass all of the gas stations along the freeway telling ourselves we'll be fine even though the gas stations have been fewer and fewer along our drive...

Have you ever driven through west Texas? I have. Granted, it's been a while, but I can't imagine it's changed much. When you drive through west Texas, which is vast, there are signs along the freeway that say things like "Next gas station 48 miles," which may not seem like much, but it's a long way when your gas gauge is riding the empty line.

We're in a car running on fumes and about 20 miles into that 48 mile trip to the next station.

You do the math.

The thing is that the driver of the car has been choosing to drive past gas stations for hundreds of miles. We, as passengers, haven't been paying attention, but the driver has known all along.

See, it's a metaphor.

Scientists and politicians and corporations have known about climate change for decades. It's just the public that hasn't been very aware, and that was all the better for politicians and corporations. Still, with things like acid rain in the 70s and 80s, scientists almost convinced politicians and corporations to do something about the looming threat of environmental catastrophe all the way back in the 80s. Almost. Until corporations really looked into the cost and profit loss of fixing the planet, and they made the decision to fuck the planet and rape it for all it was worth on its way to ruin. By the early 90s, Republicans had us firmly on the path of unnatural disaster and did it gleefully.

But there was still a pivotal moment, a moment that probably seems inconsequential to most of us, right now, but that's only because we're not looking at it through the correct lens.

That moment was Al Gore's loss to Bush for the Presidency in 2000. We could even point, more specifically, to the hanging chad controversy in Florida and the subsequent Supreme Court case that handed the Presidency to Bush in a 5-4 decision. That one moment changed everything and sent us on a path to destruction that we seem unwilling to stop.

Hey, I get it. I was no fan of Gore at the time. He seemed like milk toast to me. And I never liked Bubba Clinton (still don't like him, though I'm a huge fan of his wife). Then, when 9/11 happened, I thought how fortunate we were to have Bush instead of Gore. Yeah, I was young and stupid, and, hey, I grew up in the South and still had some of that stupidity running around in my head.

Let's go back and look at that moment, though, that moment that gave us Bush, and wonder what things would be like if Gore, who WON THE POPULAR VOTE (sound familiar?), had become the President instead.

  • Gore was (and is) extremely environmentally minded. He would have put us on a path of environmental reconstruction more than a decade before Obama began making the attempts. (Attempts that Trump (#fakepresident) has completely reversed making things worse than ever.)
  • Gore would not have involved us in all of the wars that Cheney put us in. Wars motivated by profit and oil, not delivering democracy or freedom to people.
  • I'm just gonna go ahead and say that we would not have suffered the financial crash of 2008 if Gore had been in office. Much of what allowed that to happen can be traced specifically to, well, not exactly Bush, because Bush was too stupid, but to Cheney and his people. Profit at all costs and all of that bullshit.
  • Trump (#fakepresident) would not be driving our country and the world out into the middle of the desert right now in a car with no fuel.
I'm not saying everything today would be all sunshine and roses if Gore had been President; after all, there would still have been the scum-of-the-Earth Republicans (especially Newt and Mitch) doing all they can to destroy us all. But I do think things would be... better. And we would at least be on a path of environmental protection rather than one of environmental destruction. And, maybe, yes, MAYBE, the Middle East wouldn't hate us quite as much, because I'm pretty sure Gore's response to 9/11 would have been much more measured than the "bomb the shit out of them" approach the Republicans took.

It's all just something to think about. Hindsight and all of that.

It's also something to think about because I believe we're just a few weeks away from another of those pivot points in history. And, yes, we do see this one coming up as consequential, and that's because IT IS. We can't allow the Boomers another win in November. If they consolidate their power with this upcoming election, that will be the end. Authoritarianism will have taken root firmly in American soil, and there will never be another fair election in the United States again. Not without a rebellion. But, more importantly, it will spell the final doom for the Earth.

Sure, you go on and say that I'm being extreme, but, then, you go read the UN climate report and tell me if you still think that. If you do, you're one of the people in the car running on fumes, passing the last gas station while telling yourself, "We'll be okay." We're not gonna "be okay" folks. It's time to turn this thing around and start fixing the damage that's been done.


  1. I was only in high school so I didn't really take the election seriously, but I remember not liking that someone could win the popular vote and still lose the election. Over and over it was drilled in that the Electoral College was really fair, because otherwise it would be the big states that make all the decisions and the small ones wouldn't have equal say. I was stupid to ever believe that.

    1. Jeanne: heh yeah Of course, I learned about the EC before that had happened and it was all about how that was basically impossible and would never happen. It makes sense for there to be some state representation that makes states equal... which is the Senate. I think that's more than enough.

  2. I'm going to disagree with your 9/11 comment. Would 9/11 have happened if Gore had been president? Because, there is evidence that the intelligence community had intel on something big coming along, and Bush ignored it. Could it have been prevented? Maybe? Maybe not. But if Gore had gotten those briefings, maybe if he had done something differently...

    So many what ifs. How did we end up in the worst of the possible parallel universes?

    1. Liz: No, I didn't say that 9/11 wouldn't have happened. That was a long game plan by the terrorists, and I'm sure that would have happened anyway. What I don't think would have happened are all of the wars that we started in its wake.