NOTES 5 OCTOBER 2020
Welcome, blog reader. You are well and safe, I pray and hope. It is Monday, October 5, 2020, and time to revisit the issues we have been tracking for months now. This has been a chaotic and tumultuous year; and we are just trying to make some sense of it all. This blog is where I put in my two cents' worth to try to do just that. So, here are my reflections of the day, for whatever they are worth.
PANDEMIC. Covid continues to spread at about the same rate. According to Worldometers, 214,629 Americans have died of it. South Carolina, Alabama and Charleston County all show about the same rate of infection and death this week as last week. As of now, 3,453 people in SC have died of Covid, 267 in Charleston County.
LITIGATION. To my knowledge (remember I am not an officer of any diocese), there was no court ruling on any legal matter last week. We are keeping an eye on three avenues:
1-On July 13, the Episcopal Church side asked circuit judge Edgar Dickson for a stay of his order nullifying the SC Supreme Court decision of Aug. 2, 2017. Since it has been nearly three months with no word from Dickson, I would take this to mean a de facto denial of the Church's motion for a stay. One should recall that Dickson took two and a half years to issue his order concerning the SCSC decision. One should not expect expediency here.
2-The Anglican side appealed U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel's order of Sept. 19, 2019, to the U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, in Richmond. The Episcopal Church lawyers are supposed to submit their brief to the appeals court by October 11. I will report on the brief as soon as I can.
3-On Sept. 10, the Church lawyers petitioned Judge Gergel for an enforcement of his Injunction of Sept. 19, 2019 which barred the disassociated organization from claiming to be the historic, that is, pre-schism Diocese of South Carolina. They listed 27 specific incidents of non-compliance. The ADSC responded on Sept. 24 asserting compliance but also removing most of the enumerated infractions. On Oct 1, the Church lawyers again asked Judge Gergel to enforce the Injunction. We are now awaiting a decision from Gergel on whether he will issue a (second) order to enforce the Injunction. Given his track record, we can expect a response soon.
POLITICAL CRISIS. Last week was the most dramatic week of the entire year in regards to politics. The Trump reelection campaign suddenly imploded. It suffered two catastrophes last week, both self-induced. With only four weeks and a day to go before Election Day, it is highly doubtful Trump and the Republicans can salvage much from this debacle. To be sure, anything can happen in the next month. Nevertheless, my intuition tells me if matters continue on as now, we can make a good guess of where all this is heading, a decisive outcome of the election. In my view, this is a big sigh of relief because it greatly diminishes the likelihood of a successful coup d'état. This means the threat of street violence from heavily armed partisan thugs is also diminished.
The first catastrophe of last week was the "debate" on Tuesday, 29 September. Most viewers were appalled by Trump's unstatesman-like conduct. In the president's camp, of course Fox News celebrated Trump's "victory," but many others saw this disaster for what it was. The surest measure of the effects of the debate was the reaction of the bookies in Vegas and other places. Since they deal in many millions of dollars, their views really tell us more than the public opinion polls. Before the debate, the odds-makers were betting 55% for Biden and 45% for Trump. Immediately after the debate, there was a sudden and vast shift to 61% for Biden and 37.5% for Trump. Find this here . Other than recognizing Trump's offensive behavior, the main outcome of the debate was the validation of his opponents' charge that Trump was emotionally unfit to hold the office of president of the United States.
The second catastrophe of last week was the revelation that President Trump had contracted COVID-19. When I learned the news, all I could see in my mind was the Hindenburg crashing and burning in a giant fire ball. The news of Trump's infection had two big effects. In one, it showed Trump to be a malevolent leader. Not only had he not developed and led a national plan to combat the virus, he had actively promoted its spread by encouraging people not to protect themselves. He had ridiculed wearing masks and every other safety precaution the scientists had recommended. He had staged super-spreader events and had people believe the virus was not a danger when he himself knew exactly how dangerous it was, as in his conversations with Bob Woodward. People could now see that Trump had hoisted on them a deadly fantasy. He could no longer deny reality. The people could no longer deny reality. The sickness and death all around us crashed in on everyone as Trump headed for the hospital.
The second big effect of the news of Trump's illness was that it returned the pandemic to the forefront of the election campaign after Trump and the Republicans had worked so hard to push it into the background. If the election is to be a referendum on Trump's handling of the COVID crisis, he will surely lose.
Regular blog readers will know I always have to go back to my theory of contemporary America. We are witnessing a clash between the forces that want to continue revolutionary democracy (extend reforms for human rights) and those that want to roll back revolutionary democracy (restore the pre-revolutionary white male power structures). The Democrats have taken up the former, the Republicans the latter. In the past, the predominance of a group depended on the relative unity of the country. The side of democracy flourished as America was unified in the Cold War. When the Cold War ended, the forced unity dissolved and Americans moved to the competitive tribalism of our diverse society. Using racism as the biggest wedge, Trump gained power by masterfully playing off competing tribes. He got himself elected in 2016 by divide and conquer. He became the folk hero of the counter-revolutionaries who saw him as the messiah to restore the white male power structures.
However, in 2020 a new force appeared to threaten the country. The coronavirus forced a new unity on America. Thus, the old tactic of divide and conquer no longer had the same appeal and power as four years earlier. Trump and the Republicans are now replaying 2016 but it is falling flat. I suspect this is a reason why Senator Lindsey Graham is doing so poorly in his race. In his debate with Jaime Harrison two days ago, all Graham could do was reiterate the old talking points of fear the "liberal," "socialist," others who were out to ruin "our" lives. It was pure counter-revolutionary culture war. This discordance with life in the pandemic means failure to connect with the needs of the public today. Our unity is greater than our disunity in the year 2020 and so the revolutionary democratic candidate is running even with the counter-revolutionary candidate in the traditionally conservative state of South Carolina.
In sum, it appears increasingly likely the revolutionary democratic side will prevail over the counter-revolutionary side in the election next month. In my theory, this is because the virus has forced a certain unity among most Americans. The people want a government that accepts reality and at least attempts to solve the deadly problems before us all.
Finally, I think we have to accept and embrace the awful crises enveloping us: pandemic, economic disruption, high unemployment, food and housing insecurity, global warming, social unrest in the streets, and the counter-revolutionary coup d'état. Next, our job is to interface with these as the patriotic Americans and faithful Christians we claim to be. We are called for the living of this hour, as hard as it may be. This was not our choice, but here we are by God's will. We must find all the strength and courage we can to move forward the best way we can, together. Peace.