If we’ve learned one thing from the first seven months of Joe Biden’s presidency, it’s that there seems to be no “bottom” to incompetence in American politics. Eight years of Obama-induced malaise and divisiveness ushered in the bull-in-a-china shop that was Trump, and the increasingly binary partisanship that sorted us like a magnet pulling iron filings. Many hoped that there’d be some sort of return to normalcy by installing a career Beltway type in the White House, even if his political leanings were those of the “other team.” They eschewed the more radical candidates in favor of the most moderate alternative offered them.

Boy, what a surprise he turned out to be. Ranging far to the left of his former boss, Biden and his cohorts on Capitol Hill have embarked on a massive left-ward transformation of the American economic, social, and political landscape. Spend, tax, spend and tax some more, give money away to everyone they figure can be bought (or will give some of it back in the form of donations), and violate the rights of anyone they don’t figure can be drawn to Team Blue. Biden’s been a great big fuck you to half the country, and resentment is boiling over.

Still, the wheels of government turn slowly, and many (including myself) have been hoping that the hair-thin majority the Democrats hold coupled with the sharp differences between the moderates and the progressives would keep the damage they do to a manageable level ahead of the 2022 mid-terms (which will assuredly put the nation into gridlock – which would be a welcome relief).

Then, Biden one-upped every one of his predecessors with a stunningly incompetent extrication of America from Afghanistan. Tens of thousands who should have been extricated from the country prior to our troops’ departure are stranded there. Who knows how many who assisted us across the past 20 years have been butchered by the Taliban already? Our civilian and military leaders have just about thrown their hands up in the air over the crisis they perpetuated. The magnitude of this cluster-fuck is almost beyond reckoning. What’s worse, he’s lying through his teeth about it.

And far too many of his supporters, apologists, and whataboutists are squirming all over the place trying to wave away their dissonance.

The right-leaning press is all over this, as it should be. The left-leaning press? Not so much. As I write this, MSNBC’s front page is all about right wing extremism, America’s vaccine selfishness, the “sexist, toxic, distinctive-as-white-bread” Jeopardy host, and how Republicans suck in general. Two small Afghanistan op-ed headlines on the lower part of the page, among several dozen other links. CNN? Lots and lots about vaccinations, a bit about Biden and Europe, some smaller print Afghanistan coverage that offers nary a peep about Biden’s screwups. At least the Times is bannering Afghanistan, but theirs is neutral language about Biden “addressing” the crisis. All these outlets were screaming bloody murder about Israel’s human rights violations, but go mostly mum when it comes to the Taliban’s treatment of women, by the way.

Biden’s strategy after the fact? Wait for the outrage to fade away.

Meanwhile, our cultural establishment is teaching us to hate either ourselves or each other, based on the color of our skin, and flat-out lying about the true intent of the various Critical Theories that are being inculcated as unchallengeable truth in both our educational system and Corporate America. This is obviously also contributing to the partisan divide. While some liberals are starting to reject the rise of the totalitarian Left, I fully expect they’d rather chew hot asphalt than not vote for their team next election, no matter who the other side runs.

Oh, and lest I forget, we have an unimpeded wave of, well, whomever, streaming across our Southern border, creating a humanitarian crisis on our home turf to bookend the one in Afghanistan.

In the face of all this, the #1 with-a-bullet debate in our political sandbox is over mask mandates. Not masks themselves – but the mandate to wear them vs prohibitions against their being mandated. I haven’t heard any bans against mask-wearing itself, and I doubt there are many Americans who’d look to rip masks off others’ faces (or have the government punish people for doing so).

But, mask mandates (with vaccination mandates catching up) are this moment’s litmus-test differentiator of people’s political alignments.

As such, they displace the long string of previous binary differentiators – everything from Black Lives Matter to Trump himself. Lost in the absolutist noise is any sort of nuance, or qualified position, or “yes… but” or “no… but” suggestions that it’s not as stark as Blue or Red.

The “a pox upon both their houses” viewpoint seems to be losing some ground as well. This evolution, I’d argue, has some merit. As regular readers know, I actually broke my decades-long habit of voting for Libertarian presidential candidates, and actually voted for the Untethered Orange Id this past election. Or, more accurately, signaled my rejection of the Left’s plans by voting symbolically for the primary opponent. When D and R appear as two different bites out of the same rancid sandwich, not much is lost in choosing not to partake. But, when Team Blue appears to be abandoning the very fundamentals of Western liberalism, it’s a bit harder to equate the parties as “equally bad.”

Of course, the same has been argued about the Republicans’ embrace of the Untethered Orange Id, a man that some found so personally loathsome that expulsion via “vote for his opponent” was the route many took. I’ve taken a more transactional view of Trump and his tenure, focusing more on policy rather than personality. I do this not only because policy decisions survive the departure of personalities, but also because I’m convinced that most politicians, especially those of a statist stripe, are lousy people. They just hide it better.

That personal opinion aside, it’s increasingly clear that we are coalescing around two opposite poles, rather than remaining distributed across a political spectrum. As I’ve blogged ad nauseam, I believe social media is a huge player in this polarization, as it has depersonalized us, rewarded the loudest and most obnoxious, and killed nuance, comity, and compromise. Orwell predicted this, via the sheep of Animal Farm that endlessly bleated empty, binary mantras in order to drown out dissenting voices.

Igor Panarin, a Russian professor and former KGB analyst, predicted the fracture of the US back in 1998. This disintegration would follow “a civil war triggered by mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation.” Clearly, it didn’t happen… yet. But, the factors he pointed at are looming again, with the party in power actively supporting mass unchecked immigration, an ever-increasing economic burden on the nation’s most productive citizens, and inflation caused by massive borrowing/printing of dollars to support obscenely bloated spending and handout programs. As for moral degradation? While I don’t subscribe to the “morality” of the social conservatives, I do believe that there is a gross immorality in the socialistic tendencies of today’s younger Americans. When one believes that he or she is entitled to control or take the fruit of another’s labor, when individual rights are subordinated to the collective will, there’s an immoral foundation that mirrors the monstrously callous disregard for people that was at the core of the brutal totalitarian regimes of the 20th century.

Is America heading down a road to fracture? It’s not as inconceivable today as it was a couple decades ago, I’m sad to say. Too many of us loathe their fellow citizens of the opposite political stripe, and politics has devolved to power and dominance plays – especially from leftists. The de mode political philosophies: the “critical theories,” reinforce all this by teaching that everything is about zero-sum power. If you don’t have power over others, that means that others have power over you, and your only path forward is to take it from them. Either by convincing them to give it to you or to simply seize it via government coercion.

Can we steer off that road? If something hasn’t happened, there’s usually a chance it can be avoided. Those driving us in that direction are suffering defections from their ranks, with some prominent liberals rejecting the censorious and totalitarian Left, but when the terrible tetrad that’s running the country is hell-bent on spending trillions we don’t have, imposing massive new entitlement programs we can’t afford, ignoring a tidal wave of bodies crossing our southern border, destroying the energy sector in pursuit of a quixotic and useless “green” agenda, writing laws that deprive many of their rights in order to favor others, and treating the economically productive as mosquitoes treat cattle, minor defections from the ranks of the insane Left may not be enough. A loud and ruthless minority is dominating the political landscape right now, and while I expect its worst proclivities will be stanched by loss of power in the mid-term elections, the damage it can inflict in the next 16 months may be fatal.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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