A BLEAK AMERICAN FUTURE?

The New Yorker titled a May 27 article by Susan Glasser, “American Democracy Isn’t Dead Yet, But It’s Getting There.” Hyperbole?

Senate Republicans blocked the formation of a bipartisan commission to examine the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

At a Memorial Day weekend QAnon-affiliated conference, “For God & Country Patriot Roundup,” Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s first national security advisor, suggested the validity of a violent overthrow of the American government. (He later said his comment had been distorted.) But in December, he proposed that Trump could invoke martial law to overturn election results in swing states.

A poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, released May 27, revealed that 15 percent of Americans, including 28 percent of Republicans, believe that true American patriots may have to resort to violence. 

And, according to numerous media reports, Donald Trump has been advised that he’ll be reinstated in the Oval Office come August. 

Is the U.S.A. and its democracy about to become history? That’s the thrust of my new novel, 2084.

In the year 2044, the Covenantal States of America constitutes a white-Christian autocracy echoing George Orwell’s banned classic, 1984. Washington pushes back against armed rebels, all forms of humor, and graffiti—2084—referencing Orwell’s novel. Sam Klein, a member of the Minyan, a clandestine group of stand-up comics, organizes a July Fourth comedy protest while his Indian-American wife Indira, a native Californian, faces deportation.

Is America’s future this bleak? 

New laws in numerous states aim to deter minority voting. A dwindling Republican party can then reaffirm “majority” status to control Congress and state legislatures. 

Meanwhile, many Republicans in Congress, fearing being primaried by the far right, still refuse to accept the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. They seek power for its own sake—truth and decency be damned. Along with Republican leaders on the state level, they’ll say anything, and support anyone, to raise money and hold their seats rather than advance policies helping all Americans to live better lives. They ignore the moral dimension of political leadership, cling to hypocrisy.

The late former Chief Rabbi of Britain, Jonathan Sacks, referring to Moses’ sharing the spirit placed on him by God with 70 Israelite elders (Numbers 11), commented on the difference between power and influence. “Power… is a zero-sum game: the more you share, the less you have… When it comes to leadership-as-influence, the more we share, the more we have.”

Rabbi Shai Held notes in The Heart of Torah: Volume 2: “Leaders who needily pursue their own glory…—sometimes even at the expense of the very values they purport to uphold—are sadly prevalent in our world.”

The year 2044 lies a generation off. The nation’s white population will be close to a minority. In response, many white Trump followers now circle the wagons. But grievance politics—white or Black, right or left—fractures our body politic and promotes opportunities for demagogues to tout replacing our democracy with racial-religious totalitarianism featuring liberty and justice for some.  

Democracy requires respect for truth, humility, compromise and the worth of every person. If we fail to uphold these principles, the power-hungry will devour the American dream, leaving both our Constitution and society in tatters.

Order 2084 in softcover or e-book from Amazonbarnesandnoble.com or your favorite bookstore.

This marks my 500th post. Enjoyed it? Please pass it on. 

5 Comments

  1. jean wright on June 4, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    I think we have a chance to pull out of our potentially bleak future. The last year and a half has been uniformly de-humanizing. From news commentators costumed in shirt and tie… and pajama bottoms, to virtual medical visits, to off-site schooling, our lives have not been true. It appears that we have been actors in a TV show or a movie. Perhaps as all of us become aware of real, live, human beings that have value as such, and hold each other, laugh with our mouths full, cry tears that wet each others cheeks, we will be able to see ourselves as part of a living whole. This, I hope, will be our future. It is possible.

    • David Perlstein on June 4, 2021 at 12:25 pm

      I’m not predicting the future, Jean, but am providing a scenario. Hopefully, you’re correct: We begin to see each other as living, breathing human beings. But the threat from the right (I’m not a fan of the left, either) started brewing long ago.

  2. jean wright on June 4, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    baby steps, little baby steps.

  3. Sandy Lipkowitz on June 4, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    I think we are coming closer to China. Financial gains in exchange for political freedoms.

    • David Perlstein on June 4, 2021 at 7:16 pm

      That, Sandy, is another novel.

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