Danger Ahead

There is a widespread sense of unease in the world today, not least in the United States. In fact, what’s happening in the U.S. is in large part responsible for the world’s unease.

America’s political dysfunction does not bode well for future world stability. Our political grotesqueries are in themselves enough to give any thoughtful person pause, but we seldom address their potential consequences.

Yes, it’s true that polls show many Americans (though not a majority) expect civil war to break out in the relatively near future. But this is simply another form of categorization, albeit a dramatic one. It’s a way to superficially acknowledge our political situation without making any real attempt to address it. In that way it’s similar to our collective categorization of Covid—we’ve pushed it to the background and gone on with our lives.

President Biden speaking in Philadelphia. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times.
President Biden speaking in Philadelphia. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times.

This is why President Biden’s speech last night, in which he bluntly called the MAGA Republican Party a clear and present danger to the nation, was important: it frankly acknowledged the peril we face.

Unfortunately, though, Biden’s address, with Independence Hall in the background and the Liberty Bell nearby, will probably not be enough to stave off the dangers he warned us about. Even as he spoke, shouts of “Let’s go Brandon” were audible from the other side. And Biden’s age and stammer did him no favors in terms of the speech’s presentation and impact.

What’s more, the president chose to dilute the alarm he was sounding by touting his administration’s accomplishments ahead of the midterm elections. “Vote! Vote! Vote,” he urged. None of the major broadcast networks chose to carry the speech, though cable news channels did. As of this morning, the speech is already receding into the background.

Best-case scenario: Biden helps to turn out some additional pro-sanity voters in the midterms and the Democrats hold the House and gain in the Senate. Trump is charged with criminal obstruction and prosecuted, then found guilty.

Likely scenario: Republicans take back the House. Trump is not charged with anything and runs for President again. Division widens. We collectively ignore the ramifications for 2024.

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