As I casually went through my daily press review, I came across one of those articles that paint Joe Biden as the future redeemer of the United States. I couldn’t resist the urge of commenting, even if that meant breaking the rule I had set for myself to remain a passive observer.
My comment questioned the physical and intellectual abilities of Uncle Joe, and the paranoid Facebook users didn’t wait, calling me a “Russian Troll” and reporting me for potential foreign meddling in US politics. I am neither a Russian hacker nor a Donald Trump supporter, but this small incident shows the extent of suspicion, tension and polarization preceding the US presidential election on November 3.
360° Context: The 2020 US Election Explained
The United States of America — which has been the sole hegemon of the world since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and a crusader for democracy in several areas across the globe, notably in the Middle East — is actually not a democracy itself. With its bipartisan structure, the country is actually a biocracy where two big blocs dominate the political sphere. A classical binary of Democrats vs. Republicans that obstructs any new thoughts or movements from penetrating the system.
Democrats encapsulate a big range of liberals, sexual and religious minorities, feminists, migrants and progressive ideologies, and they usually adopt a softer approach to foreign policy. On the other hand, Republicans are advocates of traditional family values, pro-life, the constitutional right of owning weapons, conservative beliefs and a more belligerent foreign policy.
The peril of biocracies is the high risk of radicalization of the two poles in cases of deep social unrest or economic crisis, leaving the society in a Manichean dystopia. And this is exactly what is happening today in America.
A Pre-Civil War Climate
The extreme polarization of the political discourse across the layers of American society forces citizens into an impossible either-or logic that divides the country into two conflicting factions with a completely different set of values, visions and perceptions of reality. For external observers, this may even be symptomatic of pre-civil war climates. Narrow political calculations continue to feed fissures rather than concord, as if both the donkey (Democratic) and the elephant (Republican) parties are determined to disrupt social cohesion and destroy institutions for the sake of electoral gains.
The media are undeniably aggravating the crisis. With the constant insolence of the current president to correspondents, many iconic staples of US journalism decided to breach their pact of neutrality and declared themselves as anti-Trump militants. Outlets like The New York Times and CNN have even campaigned openly for certain candidates as a first in a school of journalism that has been praising itself for its impartiality and distance from partisan agendas. In February 2017, The Washington Post introduced a new slogan below its online masthead: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” In this case, it willingly ignored that darkness also means a politicized, subjective and biased press.
One thing is for sure: Both presidential candidates are white, septuagenarian males who are equally uncharismatic, incompetent abominations. One is a populist reality-TV show clown with an obsession for posting blunt Twitter statements and making provocative, racist and sexist comments. The other is a demented “serial massager” with clear cognitive failure, doubtful links with Ukrainian oligarchs and whose only virtue is being Barack Obama’s wingman. Sometimes, I feel both parties are intentionally sabotaging themselves by presenting their worst contenders, or maybe it is another application of American chaos theory but domestically this time.
Hawaiian Shirts and Cabal Vampires
New trends are on the rise after this year’s Black Lives Matter protests and the calls to defund the police. Armed militias like a movement called the Boogaloo Boys started to appear during demonstrations armed to the teeth and wearing colorful Hawaiian shirts. This far-right, anti-government and extremist political group is not the only one. On the opposing side, we could observe organized armed African-Americans and violent Antifa activists. Limited instances of mutual provocations and incidents took place over the past few months between the two factions, but things could escalate fast at any occasion due the explosive mix of anger, historical baggage and firearms.
Another worrying phenomenon is the proliferation of conspiracy theories online. QAnon is the biggest online and offline umbrella movement that has boomed amid the COVID-19 crisis. Its followers believe that President Trump is a biblical savior sent to combat a shadow organization constituted of “Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are plotting against Mr. Trump while operating a global child sex-trafficking ring.” This mother of all theories then breaks into several tentacular sub-theories like 5G harms, human control through nanochips, alien and subterranean invasions, Bill Gates’ population control, NASA’s flat Earth lies and world leaders consuming minors’ blood, among more absurd and amusing conspiracies.
Social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, carried major crackdowns on accounts, groups and content promoting “the great American awakening.” Censorship is only aggravating the situation, promoting a single narrative and providing more reasons for conspiracies to flourish and become mainstream to the extent that many Republican politicians are publicly QAnon supporters. Some even call it a new religion. Add to the mix digital meddling and social engineering by Russian, Chinese and Iranian hackers and you will understand why I am being called a troll for expressing an unpopular opinion.
French philosopher and lawyer Joseph de Maistre used to say, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” That dictum does not apply to large portions of American society. A country that is a melting pot of ideas, innovations, hard work and diversity, and which cannot be reduced to its despicable leadership. Unfortunately, in politics, you only hear the loudest voices while much of the population lays in the center, silently observing the two clashing poles in horror as they un-unite the United States.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.