We have the worst president ever. The worst congress ever. The worst Supreme Court ever. Every event is the most crucial thing to ever happen. Nothing will ever be the same. Government has never been more corrupt. Americans have never been more divided. Women have never been treated worse. The poor have never struggled more. America has, almost certainly, never been in more peril than it is this very second.
“We’re in the most dangerous position we’ve ever been in as a nation,” claimed Senator Inhofe, the top ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee not long ago. John McCain warns that the “Islamic State is the “biggest threat we’ve ever faced.” More dangerous than the strife experienced during the Civil War. More serious than facing fascism. Scarier than the atomic age. A greater existential threat than communism during the Cold War. That’s chilling, for sure.
So what happens if America fails to engage ISIS in the manner prescribed by these senators? Well, as Lindsey Graham recently noted, the “president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed here at home.”
All of us?
Well, most of us, I’m sure, will concede that a terrorist army running a modern-day Caliphate is problematic. But if a citizen really wants to save Duluth from annihilation, we would start by not voting for Republicans. “It would be very important for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi explained to comedian Bill Maher recently. “Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if the Republicans win the Senate.”
Well, Madam Speaker, what’s so great about civilization as we know it? One Daily Beast writer argues that the “Summer 2014 Was the Worst Ever.” Ever. Worse than the summer of 1967, when major American cities burned. Worse than the summers Americans fought World War Two or lived through the Depression. Worse, even, than the summer of 2013, when we were arguing about the same exact things that we argued about last summer.
Not that we’re going to able to do anything during the summers for much longer. Climate change will lead to more rapes, prostitution, war, and poverty. It will induce more normally rational people to adopt childish exaggerations for their agenda than ever before. The UN World Meteorological Organization has produced “imagined weather forecasts” to help. Our own Science Czar has predicted far worse, though. “If we don’t act now,” climate change will bring cataclysmic weather, underwater cities and it’ll be so hot you’ll be praying for sweet death.
Actually, if we “don’t act right now” …
… your grandkids will be fat.
…Ebola will kill all of us.
… the entitlement system will collapse.
… and our economy will never recover. Ben Bernanke, the former head of the Fed, says we’re still climbing out of an economic downturn worse than the Great Depression. I suspect anyone who’s read “The Worst Hard Time” by Timothy Egan would disagree. But never mind. The great unraveling. The great stagnation. The unwinding. Robots are coming to take your jobs.
The very foundation of our system is falling apart. African-Americans are losing their right to vote. Women are losing their right to buy contraception. What’s going on is unprecedented. Let’s blow it up. Though nothing, and I mean nothing – if we judge the magnitude of a crisis by the time the Senate spends talking about it – is more insidious than rich people. Ask Tom Udall and Bernie Sanders and you’ll learn that democracy is about to crumble under the stress of free speech. “No single issue is more important to the needs of average American,” says a couple of guys who clearly worry a lot about mortgages, car payments, grocery bills, the state of public schools and health insurance premiums.
And yes, this is the worst Senate ever.
Linguist Noam Chomsky, darling of many progressives, recently predicting that the end of history was here (and where have we heard that before?):
It is not pleasant to contemplate the thoughts that must be passing through the mind of the Owl of Minerva as the dusk falls and she undertakes the task of interpreting the era of human civilization, which may now be approaching its inglorious end.
Actually, the Owl of Minerva would be rather impressed by our glorious accomplishments, considering the terrible place and time it was hatched. It’s too bad we forget. As Gustav Le Bon, in his famous study of human behavior, “The Crowd,” argues; though we may think very highly of ourselves, large groups of people are almost always won over by demagoguery. So it’s not surprising that Mencken’s hobgoblins are everywhere in politics. Or that the most vital election is the one you’re about to vote in and the most crucial movement ever is one you’ve adopted. History culminates right here. The arrogance of the times demands it.