Friday, December 18, 2020

the 2020 election and terminal illness

Over the course of a terminal illness, crucial decisions have to be made—decisions very much rooted in a person's values.  In many cases, people have no idea what their own values are until they find themselves in extreme situations:  that's when true character reveals itself.  There's no objective goodness or badness to this "true character"; if, for example, someone decides to yield gracefully to his disease and die with dignity, how is this better or worse than another person's decision to fight his disease until the bitter end—to go down kicking and screaming as opposed to going "gently into that good night"?  Which option manifests the greater dignity?  Which option reveals greater courage?

Right now, if the comment threads at Instapundit are a reliable core sample of what's happening on the right (or the Trumpian non-left, if you will), a huge debate is raging over whether we should simply bow to the reality of a Joe Biden presidency or fight to the bitter end.  Go gently into that good night, or rage against the dying of the light?  "Trump isn't giving up.  Why should you?"

Some might say that the analogy with terminal illness is flawed:  a terminal illness leads to death, but a Joe Biden presidency, while a setback to Trumpians, is not the end of the story for American politics, nor is it the end for America as a country.  If it's true that the 2020 election and terminal illness are disanalogous, then there's probably less reason to submit meekly to fate and accept a Joe Biden presidency:  the fight goes on, even with Biden in the Oval Office.  But is terminal illness really the wrong image?

Think about how the left tends to view the right in apocalyptic terms.  From the modern left's point of view, everything is a mad Darwinian struggle for survival and power.  This why every Republican who gains the White House is immediately cast as Hitler:  this Hitlerizing drives home the point that the fight against the right is urgent to the point of being existentially significant:  the left's very survival is at stake.  From that perspective, an electoral loss is a kind of death.  The reality, of course, is much less dramatic, but lefties are known for being hyperventilating drama queens:  every molehill becomes a mountain for them.  This doesn't absolve the right, however, because the right can be just as queeny when it wants to be.  Is the nation really on the brink of self-destruction, as many on the right contend, or are we simply riding an enormous pendulum back and forth, like a cosmic Miley Cyrus on a planet-sized wrecking ball?  Maybe we're living that story about the poor old man and the horse.  Maybe history is less linear and more sinusoidal.

I think the analogy with terminal illness holds true.  As with actual terminal illness, we see people in this knock-down, drag-out election cycle who are in denial, people who think a miracle will occur, even when the odds are plainly against such miracles happening.  I see people who—like those who cope with terminal illness—steel themselves for the inevitable disaster, but who, in bracing for impact, ready themselves in a healthy way to deal with the tragic aftermath and find something constructive from the experience.  Death is an ending, but it is always also a beginning.  Either way, whether one goes gently or rages, there are reasons to live and act with hope for the future.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I'm personally in acceptance mode I suppose, but only to the extent that Biden is inevitable. I think that is bad for America but not fatal. Unless Georgia gives the Senate to the crazy left.

    We are destined to live in interesting times I fear. China will be so pleased!



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