Monthly Archives: November 2016

I Need Your Help

HELP LAUNCH FORBIDDEN CITY!! Next Tuesday, November 29, is “#Giving Tuesday,” an annual event that’s gotten traction in the last couple of years, in which people are encouraged to donate for the holiday season. It’s a fine idea, but one that seems kind of backwards to me: the notion that we should, on each Tuesday after Thanksgiving, give to our favorite causes after we’ve spent all our money on “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” Seems to me it would be a stronger statement against holiday consumerism to encourage people to prioritize giving first. Like, say, today.

By the time of this year’s election, I had hoped to have a new media project launched that I’m really excited about. Forbidden City is a social media, web site, radio and video project that offers full time reporting and commentary on local and national issues from the standpoint of those of us who are resisting the pressure to abandon Seattle. Nobody ever voted to swap out Seattle’s entire population for a newer, wealthier, whiter, more culturally homogeneous population that enjoys and can afford exorbitant homes in ugly buildings.

While there’s a number of great alternative media outlets in Seattle now, none of them are being written by and for people interested in personal and political resistance to this transformation of a city we love into something unwelcoming, forbidden, to anyone without a six-figure income.

That includes me, of course. As many of you are aware, for the last couple of years most of my time has been consumed by two major tasks: managing the health of my partner, Revel Smith, and myself; and scrambling to find the money that our staying alive requires. I live with the effects from long-term immunosuppression from my kidney and pancreas transplants and from the slow failure of my non-native kidney; last year, for example, I spent eight long months dealing with a nasty and persistent e-coli infection. Revel has multiple sclerosis, and various complications from that. We’re both remarkably functional considering, but we’re still both disabled and our health isn’t predictable enough for either of us to have regular employment. Moreover, this country’s medical system isn’t exactly friendly to people who are permanently disabled and on fixed incomes.

My health is much improved this year, and Forbidden City is what I want to be working on full time. And now there’s also an urgent need to share information on the many attacks on poor, working, and middle class people that the surprise election of Donald Trump are already generating. What I’d like to do is to be able to raise enough, from people who want to help sustain Forbidden City, to be able to reimburse me for my professional time, so that I can devote my non-health management time to it – rather than to the scattershot work and help from friends that has taken my time instead of late.

This month, instead of launching FC. I’ve been helping support Revel as she’s dealt with a significant MS flare and a course of home IV steroids that in the short tern has left her weak and seriously ill. That has had to take priority over Forbidden City. Tomorrow I’ll need to spend much of the day going with her to two more medical appointments. She’s not strong enough to ride a bus right now, and as I write this we don’t have enough money in either of our names to pay for cab fare. She’ll recover soon enough; the IV steroids are a treatment she’s had a dozen times before over the years, and while the side effects are brutal, they’re also predictable and it just takes time to heal. But in the meantime we still have to cope with it, and to find the funds to deal with the unexpected costs of illness. And poor is, in and of itself, also incredibly time-consuming. This morning, for example, I spent two hours waiting in line at a neighborhood food bank, only to discover that it had mostly been picked clean by the 200 or so people in front of me.

It’s Time to Change This

This is the reality for many thousands of people in what has become a staggeringly wealthy city.

This carousel of need is what I’ve been doing instead of full time writing and editing about Donald trump’s America and Ed Murray’s Seattle. But on this, more sensible Giving Tuesday, you can change that.

You can not only help me deal with our immediate need over this holiday week of navigating Revel’s recovery, but help cover the costs and time of the remaining web development, graphic software, and other expenses I need to meet to launch Forbidden City – with the information, strategies, and resistance we’ll need to navigate TrumpTime.

I’m well aware of the irony of having been too poor to afford to launch a media project dedicated to combatting the class war being waged in our city and country. But I also know our strength, politically and culturally, is in our community. And I know I’m the right person for this project, with decades of front line media and activist experience; it’s the right time; and if it’s up and running, I’m also confident there will be plenty of people who want to contribute time, content, and funding to tearing down the walls of our Forbidden City..

I just need to get from here to there, and you can help bridge that. There’s a PayPal button to your right; all money raised will go to Forbidden City’s launch. Or, for the old schoolers, the mailing address is Forbidden City, PO Box 85541, Seattle WA 98145. And message me if you’re interested in helping with content. There’s thousands of stories waiting to be told in the Forbidden City. Thank you very much for your help!!

Seattle’s Challenges Under Trump

The election of Donald Trump as president, and control of all three branches of government by radical Republicans, will drastically impact what are already a surprising number of urgent social and political crises for a city experiencing such unprecedented economic growth.

That growth, as the Census Bureau has reported, has included both rapid population growth and the enormous relative wealth of Seattle’s new residents. That, in turn, has led to far greater income inequality, especially for people of color; interrelated crises of lack of affordable housing and homelessness; and an exodus, to distant suburbs and beyond, of people who can no longer afford to live in the city of Seattle itself.

At least three actions, expected to happen early in a Congress under Donald Trump, will make all this far worse:

1) Repeal of ObamaCare: The likeliest scenario is that the Affordable Care Act won’t be “fixed” – it will simply be abolished, replaced by nothing. That means that a cash-strapped state, whose legislature is already in contempt of the state supreme court for failing to adequately fund K-12 education, will either need to find the money to fund AppleCare on its own or face the prospect of several hundred thousand Washingtonians, many in the Puget Sound region, suddenly having no health insurance.

Two other factors will compound that crisis. The first is that the state is likely to lose a lot of education funding under Trump, who has endorsed far right plans to abolish the Department of Education entirely. That will throw the state’s education funding into even greater disarray. At the same time, Republicans also retained control of the state senate in Olympia, meaning they will be likely to block almost any state revenue increases – let alone the desperately needed structural reforms to our state’s antiquated and uniquely regressive tax system, a system that has left state budgets in chronic disarray despite the Puget Sound region’s prosperity. For at least the next two years, any such reforms would need to come though the initiative process. Even if such a measure were to be passed by Washington voters – voters even more likely to be tax-averse once Trump controls the economy – it couldn’t be implemented quickly enough to help alleviate the loss of federal funds
2) Unprecedented federal tax cuts: Trump’s tax cut plan is at least three times bigger than the 2001 George W. Bush cuts that almost immediately devoured the federal surplus built up under Bill Clinton. Not surprisingly, the Trump plan skews heavily toward reducing taxes on the extremely rich – it would blow a gaping hole in the federal budget while providing little or no consumer spending stimulus to the economy, increasing the likelihood of an economic downturn. Washington’s tax system, with its reliance on sales taxes and no income tax, is especially vulnerable to such downturns – compounding state and city budget problems.

And the same ideologues who’ve forced multiple federal budget crises over their opposition to raising the debt ceiling or paying existing debts now control both Congress and the White House. A completely gratuitous economic depression is always a possibility.

3) Housing and Social Services cuts: The most commonly mentioned names for Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services are all men with histories of dubious ethics: Florida Gov. Rick Scott, former Rep. Newt Gingrich, and, most often mentioned of late, Christian con man Dr. Ben Carson. None of them have expertise in administering health or human services, but all are committed budget warriors ideologically opposed to a social safety net. It’s safe to expect that federal funding for programs like, for example, Section 8 housing vouchers will be cut harshly or entirely eliminated. Privatization of Social Security and Medicare will be on the table as a priority. Just about any nonprofit that gets United Way funding benefits from the federal government at some point in its operation, and they’ll all be reeling in the new regime.

The Impact in Seattle

I wrote last month about Seattle’s closing progressive window, and how its new, more prosperous residents are, by sheer demographics, far less likely to support the kinds of liberal social legislation, especially for the most vulnerable among us, that has been championed by the current council.

That demographic trend will amplify the federal budget buzzsaw. For example, Mayor Murray’s homelessness program, which deemphasizes shelters in favor of temporary market vouchers in part to appeal to federal funding guidelines, may now see that federal funding disappear entirely anyway – at the same time homelessness continues to explode and the local political backlash against the homeless increases. Trump’s climate change denial, emphasis on fossil fuels, and on-again, off-again vow to abolish the EPA entirely mean that funding for both the state Department of Ecology and a host of city programs, from cleaner watersheds to cleaner energy, will be in jeopardy. And so on, throughout every city department.

In addressing such problems, the city, like the state, will be cash-poor even in its opulence. The city’s insistence on shouldering many of the financial burdens caused by hyper-development won’t likely change in the face of economic uncertainty, and the city is constrained, just like the state, by limited taxing options as well as a full plate of bonding obligations. At the same time, Seattle’s newer, wealthier voting base is less likely to support more radical measures to fund what will surely be a staggering human need. The city will need to make hard choices. Without concerted public pressure, in such situations the most vulnerable are almost always the first ones sacrificed. Advocates for human needs programs better get busy.

One piece of good news, sort of: Trump’s new Attorney General, expected to be Rudy Giuliani, likely won’t care much about any future Department of Justice monitoring of the Seattle Police Department.

So there’s that.

The Road Ahead

I wrote earlier today about the scale and urgency of the political crisis now before us, globally and nationally. Now, I want to address how best to tackle it. There are urgent local challenges as well, both related and separate; I’ll write about that next.

First, let’s start with what I think are some extraordinarily wise words this morning from my friend and colleague Martin Longman, aka Booman:

I’d like to discourage you from engaging in widespread recriminations against people who you will now need as your allies. Some of it you might just need to get out of your system. Say it and be done with it.

There’s a lot of places to place blame, but most of the people you’d be blaming are feeling just as upset as you.

Try to have some dignity. And don’t make things worse than they have to be. Maybe look for some new voices who weren’t aggressively wrong all year long. Give others a chance to put their brains to this new set of daunting problems and challenges. Don’t let old habits and animosities blind you to the fact that you have a lot of new people on your team now who are interested in making peace at least long enough to make common cause.

Most of all, be forgiving to each other.

I would add to this that while understanding how we got to this point is essential, much of it we already know. Progressives have been pointing out the rot at the core of our body politic for years, from our public institutions to our major political parties to our economic and environmental recklessness to our corrupt corporate media. Many of us have already been under attack for years; you already step over some of the victims each day. This war already has casualties, in our cities and around the world. The problems are known.

The best ways to combat those problems? That’s where our failures lie. Already, we live in an oligarchy, not a democracy. Already, we live in a society with a serious disconnect, in issue after issue after issue, between what polls tell us the public wants and what the public officials we vote for actually enact. The reasons for that disconnect are also well known, the solutions also elusive.

The silver lining to this catastrophe is that nearly half the country voted against Donald Trump and all that he stands for. Certainly, very few people voted for Hillary Clinton, a widely disliked politician whose rise to and exercise of power almost perfectly encapsulates the institutional rot at the core of our politics. This election was a referendum on that institutional rot, and Trump won, despite his obvious flaws and dangers, because he was willing to name it. It’s his proposed solutions that are so wildly destructive (and that are the heart of his con). We have to stop him and his allies, and we have to do better. In this, we have some 150 million allies in the US, and billions more around the world. You are far from alone.

Our challenge is twofold:

1) To protect what we have. This means obstructing, in every way possible, the tsunami of bad legislation that awaits us, and the politics of hatred Trump’s election has inflamed and legitimized. It means standing with and protecting the lives of the most vulnerable among us. It means using the power we do have at the state and local level to mitigate the damage inflicted nationally. It means building and sustaining community institutions that can help mitigate the damage. It means saving lives.

2) To win back power. In this, we cannot return to the complacent politics that have failed us. The progressive candidacy of Bernie Sanders this year showed the possibilities, that tens of millions of people can be mobilized to work for a better future. Conversely, the failed campaign of the Green Party’s Jill Stein shows what happens with inadequate resources, poor organizing, and a message that doesn’t resonate. Sanders reached far more people running inside the Democratic Party – even as the party’s leadership rejected him entirely – than he would have running as an independent or with a third party. There’s a lesson there, as well as in how radical conservatives have seized unchecked political power through the Republican Party. We need to build and expand our own institutions, but that takes time. We also need to work within and supplant the leadership of the institutions, like the Democratic Party, that have failed us.

Political parties are organizing vehicles, nothing less or more. Fifty years ago, the Democratic Party was still the party of southern segregationists. It changed in character when the Democrats’ embrace of the civil rights movement caused that bloc to flee. (Moderate Republicans are now fleeing their own party due to that bloc’s spiritual descendants.) The Democrats are now facing another fundamental shift due to the near-unanimous support of the young and of people of color. Those elements control the Democratic base now, but not the leadership. Changing that would result in a far more progressive party – and one whose response to economic displacement is constructive rather than being built on corruption, corporate power, fear, and scapegoating.

Even at their best political parties are only a reflection of popular will. Our will, and our resistance to fascism and the politics of hatred and abuse, must be demonstrated in our communities and in the streets. We must practice what we preach, because that is how our ideas will be judged. Our vision must be reflected in who we are and how we act: inclusive, caring, united, trading in hope rather than nihilism. We are stronger when we work together and respect both our differences and our similarities. We are stronger when we learn from the wisdom of people who’ve been through these struggles before, and when we elevate new leaders and new ideas to carry us forward.

The popular will to resist Trump’s America is enormous, here and around the world. The resources available to create and expand progressive community and political institutions will never be greater. As I see it, here are our greatest immediate needs:

1) Organized pressure on state and local elected officials to step up, and use their public resources to protect us, where possible, from the national train wreck about to unfold;

2) Support for organized private initiatives that provide additional direct assistance to those most in need;

3) Widespread independent media that reports on and advocates for those of us who aren’t welcome in Trump’s America, and that embodies cultural as well as political resistance to it; and

4) Organizations that can turn people out in the streets and that can engage in direct actions, with messages that are clear, focused, constructive, represent our values, and reach across cultural and ideological barriers.

Protests and resistance will happen. Reagan’s 1980s, the closest modern parallel to today, had several major grass roots movements that mobilized millions and that made a difference, especially in preventing even greater abuses by the reactionary forces in power. However, Reagan was never explicit in his scapegoating of minorities and the powerless; Trump is. Reagan never had a Congress, let alone courts, controlled by his own party. Nor was there the kind of existential crisis we now face in climate change. Reagan started the expansion of income inequality, but now we have to deal with the human casualties of three decades of class warfare. And the Reagan opposition had the living memory of effective anti-war, civil rights, and even union organizing movements. The current generation has no such large scale people power memories to draw from.

In retrospect, the organizing of a generation ago was enormous, but it is now largely forgotten and its tactics ridiculed because it wasn’t enough. Its history shows us some of the logistical answers to what we need, but the scale this time must be greater and our ambitions broader. We need not only to stop abuses, but to fundamentally change our existing institutions and build creative new ones to help people survive, change societal priorities, and prevent appeals to fascism from ever taking root again.

That’s a tall order, one that’s impossible if we expect it to happen overnight. It won’t. This is the challenge of a generation, a project that is both immediate and will in some ways take years to bear fruit. We can’t get too exuberant or complacent in our victories, nor alarmed or despairing about our setbacks. The long haul awaits. People and issues will come and go; it is the values, of life and compassion and empathy and unity, that must remain in our hearts and our goals. We must represent life.

Our survival demands nothing less.

The Morning After

You just had a really bad nightmare.

No, you didn’t dream it.

Yes, it really happened.

The voters of the United States of America, in their finite wisdom, just elected as the most powerful man in the world a man who:

Has never held elected office of any kind; has never, in fact, ever demonstrated anything but contempt for public service or the public good;

A man whose entire life has been dedicated to a business model of feeding his boundless ego, ripping people off, and then declaring bankruptcy, over and over and over and over;

A man whose campaign for public office has been built explicitly and entirely on racism, misogyny, religious intolerance, appeals to fascism, and contempt for the democratic institutions he will now control;

A man whose party, one now also dominated by people motivated by fear, hatred, and defiant ignorance – a party which has tried to shut down the federal government and default on its bills multiple times – now controls all three branches of the federal government as well as a majority of state governments;

And a man whose election is all by itself causing global markets to collapse and governments and people around the world to recoil in horror.

There is no undoing what just happened. In the best case scenario, the damage will take decades if not generations to undo. Any remaining respect or moral authority enjoyed by the United States in the rest of the world is now permanently destroyed. Given that much of the world’s economic welfare relies on the prosperity of the United States, governments around the world are now moving to separate themselves from us for their own protection. The United States is now a giant international pariah, and will remain so until it can demonstrate that it deserves to be considered a part of the civilized world.

The time for complacency is over. The time to sneer that politics is boring and irrelevant, or that protesting and organizing is useless – claims that have always relied on the luxury of privilege – is over. Given the challenges of our times, nothing less than the future of life on this planet is at stake. The time for complacency, if it ever existed, is over.

This is a fight for our lives. This is a war for survival. Our lives, and the lives of our children and of billions of people, and even the future of our biosphere, are all at stake.

Hyperbole? I wish. Do you really want me to review the policies already championed by the party that now controls us? That party has been nearly unanimously rejected by people of color and the young. It wants to “drown government in a bathtub,” starting with the institutions that provide directly for the public welfare: access to health care, Social Security and Medicare, and help for the vulnerable among us. It denies science, starting with climate change. It opposes womens’ control of their own bodies. It opposes environmental protection or corporate regulation of any kind. It opposes public education, or, functionally, education of any kind. It opposes workplace or consumer protections of any kind. It champions voter suppression. It champions religious, racial, and ethnic intolerance. It thrives on dividing people. It believes in unaccountable law enforcement, torture, and in destroying the lives of the groups of people it fears and resents. It promotes endless war and the casual use of nuclear weaponry. It reflexively worships unaccountable power for transnational corporations that by law have no interest in the welfare of the United States, let alone in the welfare of those of us who live here. It now has near-unlimited power over the state.

Democratic defenses against this existential threat have failed us; those that remain, such as the Senate filibuster, will be quickly eliminated. Impeachment is limited to the president and even then would require the approval of a substantial portion of the party now in power. Future elections will need to be decided by those people still allowed to vote. The only reliable check at all on Republican power, the last line of defense standing between us and annihilation, is you and me.

Capitalism, over the past centuries, has not collapsed from its inherent contradictions. Democracy, however, is much more vulnerable. The United States has had a long and prosperous democratic run, a run built on geographic isolation and size, stolen land and labor, investment in the public good, and a remarkable degree of religious tolerance. Voters have now repudiated the last two of those elements, and the future of America’s long experiment with democracy is by no means assured. In some ways it is already lost.

Hyperbole? I wish. Instead, sadly, I can only conclude that it’s a brief overview of the size of the challenge before us. However, those democratic institutions aren’t dead – yet. The United States is not a police state – yet. Our social safety net has not been demolished – yet. Our personal freedoms have mostly not been overridden – yet. We still have freedom of speech and freedom from censorship, the right to assemble, and the ability to organize and to demand our rights and a livable future for our children. We had better use these rights while we have them.

Where there is hope, where there is determination, there is a way. The greater risk is despair and doing nothing.

Later today: Next steps.

Election 2016: Our Dystopic Future

Prepare for economic hardship, endless war, climate change on steroids, and a federal government incapable of addressing any major domestic issue. And that’s if Clinton wins.

The near-global sentiment – not just of everyone living in the United States – is that we cannot wait for the 2015-2016 US Presidential Election to be over. Believe me, I’ve felt that way, too. But in recent days that sentiment has been rapidly replaced by dread over what comes next – no matter who wins.

In short, one of the two major parties in the United States has completely detached itself from reality, driven, after 30 years of Fox News and hate talk radio, by tens of millions of proudly ignorant and hate-filled individuals. This isn’t news. But because these people have nominated for the most powerful job in the world a narcissistic, bullying con man whose extreme wealth has enabled both his sociopathic behavior and his painfully obvious mental health issues – and because horserace-obsessed political media in this country have largely treated ideological extremism as business as usual – it’s easy to forget that a level-headed president dedicated to rational thought has for the last eight years largely insulated us from the kind of systemic collapse that could result.

That ends Tuesday.

I’ve been warning for months that Donald Trump has surrounded himself with world-class experts in dirty tricks and authoritarianism, employed to advance the interests of some of the last half-century’s worst dictators. I’ve been warning for months that all Trump needs to do is keep the election close – so that post-election ratfucking can either help him seize power or, at minimum, ensure that Hillary Clinton will be incapable of exercising it.

The release last week of an FBI letter announcing that it had come across e-mails from Clinton while investigating Anthony Weiner implicates Clinton. again, of absolutely nothing – but it enabled the horserace media and right wing fever swamp to yet again bring up “those damned e-mails,” one of an endless parade of ginned-up non-controversies Republicans have been trying for years to get to stick to her (Benghazi!!!). That “October Surprise” falls exactly in line with Trump’s plan. Clinton’s momentum from the debates has been successfully reversed. Nate Silver’s, the gold standard in data-based election forecasting, now gives Trump a one-in-three chance of winning.

That’s close enough for semi-plausible post-election monkey-wrenching and claims of fraud, at least for Trump’s gullible, hate-filled followers. And almost as importantly, the radical Republican congressional majorities that have enabled that party to block much of Barack Obama’s agenda for the past eight years now stand a better chance of retaining their majorities – meaning that either they’ll have renewed cause for all-out war on a President Clinton, or that their most extreme impulses will become law under a President Trump. Even the plausible chance of such a scenario has put global markets in a tailspin this week. It will be worse next week.

In the short term, for months Trump has been warning his followers – because Donald Trump doesn’t just have supporters, he has followers – that the election would be rigged. He’s also been claiming that Clinton should have been ineligible to even run for president because she’s a criminal (remember what I said about “detached from reality” – she hasn’t been charged with anything, let alone convicted). And for years groups of far-right white supremacists and anti-government fanatics have been rapidly growing, a growth fueled largely by the color of Barack Obama’s skin but given renewed vigor by last month’s acquittal of the far-right protesters who staged an armed takeover last winter of part of Oregon’s Malheur Wildlife Refuge – an acquittal supporters are reading as officially justifying any action, no matter how violent, anywhere, against anyone, in service of resisting what they see as an illegitimate government.

What does this mean? It means that if Clinton wins next week, Trump has a ready-made army eager to wage war on everyone it hates, or that Trump tells it to hate, to challenge her illegitimate reign. That list is nearly endless and already includes an overwhelming majority of Americans: Muslims and other religious minorities, Mexicans, Blacks, immigrants, and anyone else who’s not White; the poor, sexual minorities, liberals, the disabled, people who are educated (especially scientists and other blasphemous disciples of the Enlightenment), the elderly, the young…anyone who can be and thus has been defined as an “Other,” and whose removal will, in their eyes, help “Make America Great Again.” This is a fascistic army in waiting, terrifyingly reminiscent of the Red Guards, Hitler Youth, or any of the other enthusiastic tools of history’s worst mass murderers. All that’s missing is the critical mass that would give these fanatics power and free license. Next week could provide that.

That’s true even if Clinton wins. If Trump wins, of course, his paramilitary radicals in waiting get the backing and blessing of the state.

If Trump Wins

A Trump win also likely means a collapse of global financial markets, who, despite Trump’s radical capitalist bent, hate uncertainty – and Trump is the most erratic major politician in modern world, let alone American, history. The financial “services” (sic) industry has grown from ten percent to approaching half of the US economy in the last 20 years – thank the deregulation of Hillary’s husband for that – and so if the markets tumble, so do we, much more directly than in the past. It’s easy to imagine a Trump victory leading immediately to a major global depression. With a Trump win, such an outcome in the US seems far more likely than not. One in three.

A major economic downturn, in turn, will require scapegoats – which is what Trump’s list of “Others” will become, especially in an economy that will leave almost everyone behind, many scrambling to stay afloat, and, for those already struggling, scrambling to stay alive while what’s left of the New Deal social safety net is abolished. And more than enough of those struggling to stay alive will be angry about it to justify the kind of police state that makes today’s “police state!” rhetoric by some leftists empty and laughable. President Trump will show you what a real police state looks like. Because, freedom.

More traditionally, a Trump victory likely also means full control by far-right fanatics of the presidency, Congress, and, at some point in the next four years, the Supreme Court. Abolishing access to health care for millions will be the first order of business. Tax cuts that, in combination with economic collapse, will gut the federal treasury will follow shortly, followed by the abolition of Social Security and Medicare as unaffordable luxuries given the struggling economy. State and local governments, long reliant on federal money, will be similarly gutted.

Things we take for granted, like universal public K-12 education or municipal water systems, will be, regretfully, privatized or abolished. And, eventually – depending on which of the current justices die first – you can also kiss goodbye to Roe v. Wade (and the Griswold decision that preceded it, codifying the right to privacy and making contraception legal); gay marriage; absence of Christianity from the public sphere; and any inherent rights to citizenship, due process, or, most importantly for cementing these changes, access to the ballot box.

A lot of people have noted over the years that if fascism ever came to the US, it would be done legally within our existing political framework. And so it is here. Most of this has already been widely advocated. Bircherite conservatives, of the type now prepared to seize power, have never reconciled themselves to the New Deal of 85 years ago, let alone more modern developments like the abolition of Jim Crow, women in the workplace, Medicare, legalized abortion (or even sex education), and so on. Trump has openly called for the jailing and deportation of 11 million people, and openly encouraged violence against people who oppose him. Abolishing environmental regulations is a far-right rallying cry. Republicans control Congress now because of gerrymandering and voter suppression, just as their ancestors controlled the franchise under Jim Crow; they know how well it works. So does bald-faced lying.

As for more modern issues, like climate change, or a free and open Internet? Authoritarian regimes in other parts of the world, especially China, have already shown how to control and suppress that. The possible loss of net neutrality is benign by comparison. And Trump would likely increase greenhouse gas emissions, just to demonstrate to his rubes what a hoax the whole climate thing was. And throw the scientists in jail.

And so on. With the steady drip of 24/7 news cycles, it all becomes a routinized blur. Most people have no idea what a future of all of these elements, taken together and enforced with technology unthinkable to past authoritarians, would look like, or even that it’s possible. It is.

Eight years after the exit of an unqualified president who was responsible for a global economic collapse, genocidal levels of death and displacement in Iraq, and the drowning of a major American city – among many other things – a possible majority of American voters are prepared to opt for a far riskier and more radical option.

That’s despite the president who served in the interim now prepared to leave office with record-high approval ratings. And that, in turn, brings us to Hillary Clinton, whose unique weaknesses as a candidate and leader explain much of that disconnection have put Trump within a plausible scenario of winning, only days before the election. What awaits us if Clinton wins?

The Clinton Scenario

If a Trump victory is the dystopian nightmare scenario, a Clinton win gets us to almost the same place, only not as quickly.

First of all, in the short term, things are close enough now that Trump is guaranteed to refuse to honor the results, for all of the reasons – voter fraud, rigged elections, biased media, Clinton being a criminal, etc. – we’re already familiar with. There will be riots, and armed attacks. (One person’s terrorist is another’s “freedom fighter.”) People will die for the “crime” of not being, in Sarah Palin’s memorable formulation, “Real Americans.”

Markets won’t crumple in a Clinton win the way they would with a Trump presidency, but his refusal to honor the results will have an immediate economic impact. Trump is likely to refuse to recognize her legitimacy, and to encourage tens of millions of Americans to follow his lead. That means low-grade guerrilla war, but it also means Republicans in Congress and the states doing everything possible to obstruct her.

Clinton will be, in any likely scenario, unable to get any of her domestic agenda approved by Congress. That includes, in the last two weeks, Republicans talking openly about refusing to consider, let alone approve, any Supreme Court or other judicial nominations at all for the entire length of a Clinton presidency – essentially, attempting to destroy one of the three branches of federal government for nothing more than partisan political advantage. A lot of people on the right seem to like this idea, and why not? They’ve paid no political price at all for their refusal to consider Merrick Garland’s nomination. Ditto for passing federal budgets, paying America’s debt, and other forced crises of the type that have already been narrowly avoided multiple times, along with the global market collapse they’d trigger. The Constitution is sacrosanct to these people, at least as a piece of paper to wave around in front of the rubes. It’s more socially acceptable than the Confederate flag.

One way or another, the days are likely numbered for even the limited economic recovery Obama has managed to shepherd almost wholly by executive fiat.

If Clinton can’t get her reasonably liberal social or economic agendas passed by Congress, she’ll try to work with them on the areas where she does agree: corporate power and military spending. The latter will be made much, much worse by Hillary Clinton’s long and well-documented love of discretionary warmaking as a first option for dealing with conflict – or any behavior seen as contrary to America’s economic interests – anywhere in the world. If Donald Trump can’t be trusted with the nuclear codes, neither of them should be trusted with the most powerful and lethal military in the history of the world.

It’s hard to say what impact Clinton’s warmaking and market-induced economic misery would have on each other. Most likely, Clinton would use the only economic stimulus path available to her, which would be more war and further military expansion. Regardless, her legitimacy, let alone her agenda, will be questioned at every step. The impeachment papers are already drawn up. If Republicans control the House, passing them will be the first order of business, even before she’s done anything; and (if Republicans retain control of the Senate) a Senate trial will commence. They won’t have the votes for conviction – unless Clinton hands it to them the way she’s threatening to hand them the election, which is always possible – but it will further poison an administration where she already begins as the second most-disliked major party nominee in modern US history. (Trump is #1.)

Hillary Clinton’s opponents have no compunction about using the most radical remedies available, including triggering a global economic collapse, to disempower her. Republicans have far fewer Senate seats to defend in 2018 and will almost certainly win (or win back) Senate control then. And if Clinton has been wholly ineffective, with a diet of domestic misery and foreign war, come 2020, almost any Republican nominee can beat her – and given the extremism of the Republican base and the types of candidates they seem to adore, we’re right back where a Trump win would put us next week.

Sadly, Washington state residents can’t do much about all of this – our electoral votes will almost certainly go to the Democrats in this and in all foreseeable years, as will our Senate and most of our House seats. But it’s very, very hard to see this ending well – next week, let alone over the next four years or beyond. It’s been widely thought that politics in the United States would be revolutionized by demographic change. It’s looking more and more like that wasn’t quite right. The US is instead at dire risk of being revolutionized by the resistance to demographic change. That resistance has hit on a radical but unassailable truth: Larger and larger numbers of people who aren’t white Christians matter only if “one person, one vote” matters.

I hope – I really, really hope – I’m wrong about all this, and we’re not all suffering from mass PTSD by Thanksgiving. But the only way I can see to being wrong is if the far-right radicals preparing to seize power, and the megalomaniac leading them, don’t do what they themselves say they want to do. But all the available evidence suggests we should take them at their word. And prepare accordingly.