Stormy Weather Come November

Roughly three months out from the November elections, the pundits and prognosticators are predicting a landslide for Democrats. Perhaps this time they are right—or perhaps not. If we learned no other lesson from the shock of 2016, we know we must be deeply suspicious of pre-election polling, which more and more seems to be but a form of either statistical astrology or paid political advertisement.

It seems to me that the best we can do now is attempt to find clear indicators of our fears, hopes, and frustrations as we veer into what is certain to be an onslaught of venomous political and personal attacks that will be short on thought and long on hatred. Given that our two major political parties today seem to share only a mutual disgust with one another, which leaves the moderate voters of our nation in a bit of a pickle, the electoral choices for many will boil down to deciding which candidates will be less offensively destructive. Positivity is a lost political art today.

Therefore, let’s examine all the negatives for clues regarding the elections dead ahead.

The economic pain caused by the utterly insane decision to lock down and shut down our nation in response to a viral infection is about to become much, much worse as we stare down the possibilities of a commercial real estate collapse, a tsunami of individual evictions and foreclosures, mass state and local government layoffs, and heart-stopping tax increases meant to refill empty government coffers.

Having been thrown off a fiscal cliff by politicians who put their faith in experts who—as experts are wont to be—were proven to be dead wrong, Americans are going to have a very long climb back to whatever the “new normal” might turn out to be. The booming economy of the distant past—that is, back in February—has been replaced by an unending litany of doom, gloom, and despair that will drive many voters to make wholly unexpected decisions.

Some still prefer to call them peaceful protests, but the urban riots, arson, and destruction of the past several months, which seems to have less and less connection to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, have rattled many. Gun sales are through the roof right now, and the fears driving so many Americans to buy weapons and ammunition are a direct result of watching our major cities sink into anarchy while law enforcement was ordered to stand down.

In just the first half of this year alone, 2.5 million Americans became new gun owners, and interest in concealed-carry permits has skyrocketed in the last couple of months. This translates into a lot of voters who are signaling a total lack of faith in the ability of the government to adequately protect them and their families, which will certainly have an effect on Election Day.

Finally, the certain deaths apparently awaiting the insufficiently terrified at the hands of of the Coronavirus, which health agencies report has killed less than 1/2 of 1/10 of a single percent of the U.S. population thus far, still completely preoccupies news and social media and, as a result, our minds.

We attempt to survive while the lockdowns and shutdowns are emptying our bank accounts, circumscribing our daily activities, interfering with every level of education, and resulting in a roller coaster of closures, openings, restrictions, and partial re-openings (not to mention six foot tape lines, hanging plexiglass partitions, mask mandates, random temperature checks, employer and retailer CYA requirements, and bottles of hand sanitizer on display everywhere we look).

Unsurprising, this is all driving us slowly out . . . of . . . our . . . minds. To remain rational in an completely irrational situation is nearly impossible, and even the most even tempered among us are becoming a bit frayed due to the dueling advice, silly self-contradictory guidelines—and a growing sense that what is supposedly benefiting us is actually destroying our futures. This also will factor into ballot box decisions.

The Magic 8 Ball I owned when I was a child could pretty much nail the nation we live in today: “Outlook not so good.” The economy is a self-created train wreck, we have greatly diminishing faith in our safety, and we live Groundhog Day existences of masks and madness. To try to predict how voters will react to our wildly crazy world today—one that could be rattled further still by some fresh scandal or revelation—is an impossibility. Even a toy as idiotic as the Magic 8 Ball was smart enough to admit “Cannot predict now.” I will try to be equally as sage.

Five hundred years ahead in 2520, some smart semi-robotic graduate of Jeff Bezos University with a double major in Asexual Reproduction and Wind Farm Arbitrage will write a definitive history of the definitively unsettling times we live in today, so I will leave it to future Professor Thomas Amanda U-257-X to explain the thoroughly inexplicable world that we live in today. Come November will have some unclear answers regarding the short-term direction of America that will leave roughly 50% of our nation in a shaking rage—no matter the outcome. That is, sadly, probably the best we can hope for.

Until future events rouse me to tap out a few more thoughts of my own, I will leave you with one last bit of wisdom from the silly plastic orb that was the oracle of my youth to explain my actual, true, honest, and uncensored opinion regarding the looney world we live in today: “Better not tell you now.”

This is because I was taught as a child never to use foul language in public.

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