I know from personal experience that in South Africa under the old apartheid regime, if one was white it was quite possible to live a comfortable, interesting, intellectually lively, politically engaged life in complete safety and tranquility. Because of the deliberate governmental policy of separating whites from Blacks (which is to say, in South African terms, Africans, Coloureds, and Asians), one could spend extended periods of time in South Africa and never actually see the conditions in which non-whites lived or the brutalities they suffered. South African academics were, I found, bright, well read, and familiar with the latest tendencies in continental and Anglo American thought. I don’t know, but I have often thought that if one were not Jewish, it would have been possible in the same way to lead an interesting, comfortable, lively existence in prewar Nazi Germany – certainly Martin Heidegger appears to have managed to do so.
I am an upper-middle-class old man living an extremely comfortable and secure life in pleasant surroundings. I actually know several Republicans personally – they live in the same building in which Susie and I have our apartment here at Carolina Meadows – but I am not aware that any of them is a Trump supporter. I know, but not from direct observation, that I live in a country roughly half of whose inhabitants actively support and are prepared to vote for a racist, misogynistic, autocratic wannabe fascist, but even if that fascist wins reelection – something that I considered unthinkable 48 hours ago – nothing in the safety, comfort, or immediate pleasantness of my life will change. And yet I am finding it difficult to face the fact that the remainder of my life will be spent in such a country.
As I’m sure you can imagine, there were a good many moments last night and this morning when I was consumed by such loathing that I thought, “to hell with them all, why should I go on worrying about people who embrace an autocrat hell-bent on robbing them blind to line his pockets and those of his rich friends?”
And yet, and yet. I cannot do it. I cannot stop fighting even though absolutely nothing in my personal circumstances requires me to fight. I cannot stop caring even if it would be less painful to do so. So I will set aside the things I was going to post here about the exciting opportunities for productive struggle that the election would present and instead try to think about what we can do to limit the damage. It is rather a pity that I am not religious. It is my impression that a serious religious belief is of use at times like these.
As for how things are likely to play out as of 12:30 on the day after the election, it looks more and more as though Joe Biden will eke out a win and find himself with a diminished but still majority Democratic caucus in the House but not with Democratic control of the Senate. This means no enlargement of the Supreme Court, which is an unmitigated disaster.
Ralph Warnock will have a runoff in the Senate race in Georgia and if we are really fortunate, when all the votes from the Atlanta area are in, so will Jon Ossof. In that case, I will send $1000 to the campaign of each of them. It is all I can think to do but it is something rather than nothing.
Oh by the way. If you are young and looking for a career, I wouldn't consider being a pollster if I were you.