Jonathan V. Last, writing in The Bulwark, explains how Next Year Will Be Worse.
The five things you need to understand about 2022.
(1) Nearly 1 million COVID deaths by mid-April.
(2) The fate of Roe impacts the midterms less than we think.
(3) Republicans pick up > 50 seats in the House and take the Senate.
(4) Kevin McCarthy becomes speaker of the House.
(5) Good things happen, I guess.
JVL expands on #5.
I’m sure many nice things will happen in 2022. That’s the thing about regime collapses: Even while the government is falling, people still get married and have kids and go out to bars and watch TV.
I keep coming back to this essay by Indi Samarajiva:
I lived through the end of a civil war — I moved back to Sri Lanka in my twenties, just as the ceasefire fell apart. Do you know what it was like for me? Quite normal. I went to work, I went out, I dated. This is what Americans don’t understand. They’re waiting to get personally punched in the face while ash falls from the sky. That’s not how it happens.
This is how it happens. Precisely what you’re feeling now. The numbing litany of bad news. The ever rising outrages. People suffering, dying, and protesting all around you, while you think about dinner… .
As someone who’s already experienced societal breakdown, here’s the truth: America has already collapsed. What you’re feeling is exactly how it feels. It’s Saturday and you’re thinking about food while the world is on fire. This is normal. This is life during collapse… .
As Colombo kids we used to go out, worry about money, fall in love — life went on. We’d pop the trunk for a bomb check. Turn off our lights for the air raids. I’m not saying that we were untouched. My friend’s dad was killed, suddenly, by a landmine. RIP Uncle Nihal. I know people who were beaten, arrested, and went into exile. But that’s not what my photostream looks like. It was mostly food and parties and normal stuff for a dumb twenty-something… .
If you’re waiting for a moment where you’re like “this is it,” I’m telling you, it never comes. Nobody comes on TV and says “things are officially bad.” …
Perhaps you’re waiting for some moment when the adrenaline kicks in and you’re fighting the virus or fascism all the time, but it’s not like that. Life is not a movie, and if it were, you’re certainly not the star. You’re just an extra. If something good or bad happens to you it’ll be random and no one will care. If you’re unlucky you’re a statistic. If you’re lucky, no one notices you at all.
So yes, lots of good, normal things will happen in 2022. But none of that will change the basic trajectory this country is on.
We have a major political party which is now explicitly anti-democratic. In 2024, this party will have the support of at least 44 percent of voters. This level of support might be enough to win a legitimate victory via the Electoral College. But if not, this party is openly preparing a series of novel legal maneuvers to seize the executive branch through alternative means.
This is the backdrop of 2022: A period of procession on the way to a showdown which will either uphold or overturn America’s democratic order.
Happy New Year.
I know that this isn’t a nice message. But it’s the truth. And truth is what we [at the Lincoln Project and Bulwark] do here.
collapse:I Lived Through Collapse. America Is Already There. Living in Sri Lanka during the end of the civil war, I saw how life goes on, surrounded by death.