History is the study of the past. We can not undo the past; but we can make use of knowledge of the past to help us understand what is going on now so as to make the right choices, to take the right actions for issues of the present now; and to better our odds for survival into the future.
Now is the present time interval (one of definable duration) between the past and the future that moves forward with the passage of time. With the passage of time, what was now becomes the past and what was the near future becomes now.
— History gets to tell the tale. —
In 2052, a US History class is studying the period 2021 & 2022. What will their history book/google say was going on in America during that period (our now)? No doubt, the COVID Pandemic will rate mention. But, it will be Climate Change that will command the more attention. Because history, indeed the lives of everyone on the planet in 2051-2052, will have been much more effected by our failure to do enough about Climate Change, by those actions taken and those not taken, than they were from the COVID Pandemic. History itself swings in the balance. Another significant event of record for this period will be the insurrection of January 6th, 2021; again, note will be made of actions taken and not taken. Here again, history swings in the balance. History always gets the final word, to tell the tale.
The COVID-19 Pandemic, Global Warming, and The Insurrection, themselves, were consequences of mankind’s failures to deal with now; problems compounded, as with interest. Dealing with now is something we have never been really good at. Something, that, at times, we have been spectacularly bad at. Why so?
Historians, given their advantage of hindsight, will look at what went wrong and what went right, and, perhaps, attempt to answer why they did. Alas, we have no access to those answers. We need to do our best to do the right things for now; for the future. In order to do so, we need to know as much about what is going on now as possible; glean any information from history that might be useful; integrate the two into our best critical thinking to come up with our best options; then, take our best shot. Do we know enough about what is going on now? About the past? Turns out, too often, it isn’t so much that we don’t know enough, aren’t capable enough; to make the right choices; it is, will we? Can we?
The COVID-19 virus is infectious enough, virulent enough, that it would have been a pandemic at any time in history. In this the most modern of times, in the US, it was aided and abetted in its scourge by the consequences of actions taken, and not taken, in the past; by an uncommonly incompetent administration; by partisan political gridlock; and, by the moral bankruptcy of today’s Republican Party.
Those past actions most deleterious the effort to limit the damage from the pandemic included: the offshoring of critical supply chain’ sources for the production of critical medicines and vaccines, and for the manufacturing of critical personal protective equipment such as N95 face masks; and the defunding of the very government agencies designed to respond to, protect us from, such pandemics. We, ‘The Most Powerful Nation Ever’, entered the Pandemic too dependent on others for some the most critical goods needed for assembling our defenses. The offshoring was done in the interest of business with the help of compromised politicians. The defunding was done out of ignorance, and as political grandstanding. The uncommonly incompetent one was a consequence of past instances of ignoring now, of political mistakes. The partisan gridlock was a consequence of years of divisive politics that appealed to ignorance and anti-science, anti-facts; divisive politics that were encouraged by special interests, both foreign and domestic. Seems; politics, economics, ignorance, and history are inextricably linked.
Despite being under constant assault from, constantly denied by, the uncommonly incompetent president and his right-wing Republican sycophants, and that COVID was a heretofore unknown virus, and all; science has been stellar during the Pandemic (best thinking, flexibility of thinking, are science’s forte). Unfortunately, some critical government agencies allowed themselves to be co-opted by the Administration; further handicapping science’s efforts. History will likely find the ignorance, denial, and deliberate sabotage unforgivable; will not likely be kind to those who co-opted, nor to those co-opted. The assault on science, the denial of the facts and reality, the corruption of Federal Agencies, has likely left an indelible stain on the fabric of America.
Global Warming was heired to us much compounded by generations of unsustainable economic policy, by flaws in our constitution, by powerful special interests, by overpopulation; by the Industrial Revolution itself. Only to be further compounded by our own generation’s failure to deal with it in our now.
Politics, economics, ignorance, and history go a long way toward explaining the generations of unsustainable economic policies that have contributed greatly to Global Warming. For four to five generations now we have known enough to know better than to continue increasing the greenhouse gas emissions. Greed, mixed with politics and ignorance, got in our way. Lies were told to us by special interest groups, by our leaders. We believed them in part because we were ignorant; in part because we wanted to. To our shame, we accepted as gospel an economic model that required unsustainable growth and was designed to benefit a few of us most; and, we attributed wisdom to markets. Allowed the two to be used by wealthy special interests as rational for unnecessarily squandering our natural resources, polluting the atmosphere, the waters. Neither the special interests, the economic model, nor the markets, exhibited the slightest regard for the environment.
These special interests, willing their way via compromised politicians, exploited Constitutional flaws such as the 10th Amendment’s —The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.— while ignoring the 9th Amendment’s — The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.—. They also willed their way via the unrepresentative Senate and US Supreme Court; both of whom favored the few of them over the most of us.
Since 1970, the unrepresentative Senate has constructed a Supreme Court that more than ever favors the powerful few over the great majority. The US Supreme Court, being the final arbiter in matters constitutional, decided in Citizens United v. FEC that the 1st Amendment’s — Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. — accorded corporations and wealthy individuals the right to make unlimited campaign contributions as a constitutional right under the 1st Amendment which led to the dark money problem we have today. The same US Supreme court that decided that we the people didn’t even necessarily have the right to vote (Shelby vs Holder).
But for our overpopulation problem, we wouldn’t even be having a Global Warming problem. Before modern medicines, fertilizers, and farming techniques, population was kept in check by nature. Approximately five billion of our current approximately seven and a half billion is attributable to advancements in science. With those advancements came an implicit responsibility to control the to be expected population growth. That responsibility was ignored. It has been estimated that in order to bring the living standard of all of the world’s current population up to those of the first world would require four additional planet earths. Houston, we have a population problem!
From its beginning, the Industrial Revolution was fueled with fossil fuels. Their large scale usage marked the beginning of Global Warming. The burning of fossil fuels emits CO2, a greenhouse gas. The consequences of this emission was known to science by the late 19th century. Nothing was done for nearly another century. Obviously, too little to date. Today, around the world: much of the world’s land mass is in a state of drought; increasingly frequently, humongous forest fires rage, more powerful hurricanes and typhoons are occurring, and tornadoes strike with heretofore unknown intensity in areas they seldom if ever struck before. All further compounded by our own generation’s unwillingness to come to grips with the scale of the damage; with our own denial.
What will the historians in 2052 have to say about the January 6th, 2021 Insurrection? What will the consequences for America, history, be? Whatever happens, however it turns out, for sure, historians, then, and now, will look to the years before 2021 for context, hoping to pinpoint some of the causes. Then, they will have the more clear lens of hindsight to assess actions taken and not taken; the consequences of both. A luxury that isn’t ours. Again, as with Global Warming, and, to a lesser extent, with the COVID Pandemic, history swings in the balance. History always gets the final word; to tell the tale.
We can’t change the past. We do so need to do the right things now. January 6th, 2021 isn’t over. The same interests groups that tried to overturn the results of a free and fair election are now acting to make voting more difficult. Fair and free elections and the right to vote are the very bedrocks of democracy. If lost, we lose our democracy; America ceases to exist. If America fails, there are sure to be worldwide repercussions.
Doing the right thing to address the issues of what is going on now requires first knowing what is going on. This requires getting hold of the right information. Once attained, the right information needs to be gotten to the right people. In an autocracy, this means getting the autocrat’s ear; in a politburo, the right committee, … . In a democracy, the information needs to get to the elected leaders. Given how politics work in a democracy, implicitly, the voters too, need to know; to be well informed. Knowing is not enough. As we have seen, even if the leaders know, their doing the right thing is far from being a given. The buffoons attacking the Capitol were in cahoots with people within the incompetent administration, with people in both houses of Congress; it was a serious effort to sabotage democracy. It wasn’t just the incompetents, many modern day Republicans only want a democracy of their choosing; their way or the highway.
In democracies, there are often people or groups of people who do not necessarily want the government to do the right thing. Unfortunately, these special interests are expert in how to sabotage a democracy, in getting the government to what they want. Usually, they use legal, or quasi legal, means to take advantage of flaws inherent democracies’ constitutions; flaws stemming from issues that were not adequately understood or foreseen, or issues that could not be agreed on in the beginning. Seldom if ever before in our history has this been more so than it is now; has been for several years.
The response to the pandemic was botched by an incompetent and corrupt administration that didn’t win the popular votes by nearly four million votes. Didn’t need to because of flaws in our Constitution. Could have won with as little as 40% of the popular vote! The Constitutional remedy of impeachment was rendered useless by a useless and worthless, corrupted, Republican Party.
The response to Global Warming has been limited by special interests; interests further enabled by the Citizens United v FEC decision by the Supreme Court; a decision itself a consequence of the power granted the unrepresentative Senate by a flaw in the Constitution.
Like a positive feedback loop from hell, following the January 6th, 2021 Insurrection we saw 147 US Representatives and 13 US Senators vote to nullify one of the fairest elections the nation has ever held. An insurrection masterminded by armed militia groups granted too much rein by flaws in the Constitution, by the flawed interpretation thereof by deeply flawed Justices.
Our Nation’s nightmare is far from being over. Now, at least 19 states have enacted, or are in the process of doing so, laws meant to reduce the election turnout of non-white voters. Many of these same states have used gerrymandering to negate the vote of democrats; of non-white voters. All this is being done under the aegis of ‘states rights’; that most egregious of Constitutional flaws. The very same flaw that enabled slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, segregation, peonage, …. The same that has been consistently used to deny a state’s citizens their rights is now being used to deny its women their right to decide. Some 17 states are acting to enact laws that allow their legislature to overturn the will of the people of the state.
Our Nation’s response to the Pandemic, Global Warming, and the January 6th Insurrection, has been greatly impaired by, impeded by, a current, in existence for some time now, partisan gridlock. This gridlock itself being fomented from both within and without by those wishing to weaken, even destroy, our democracy.
These things all being enabled by an unrepresentative majority of Justices appointed by way of corrupted politicians taking advantage of Constitutional flaws. Justices, a majority of whom believe that ‘states rights’ and employer rights (whatever the hell that is, Justice Gorsuch) supersede individual rights, human rights, the right to vote, …, the very welfare of the Nation, itself. A majority who represent the interests not of the common man but those of the uncommon man. Fully one-half this current majority were appointed by benefit of dark money enabled by the Court’s Citizens v United decision. Three of them were de facto appointed by a bent Senator from a small, backward state employing tyranny by minority, and taking advantage of flaws in the Constitution (his forte).
The failure of the founders to address the threat of tyranny by minority in the Constitution has exacted a dear price on our democracy these past few decades. For nearly fifty years now, the five million-member National Rifle Association (NRA) has used this flaw to control who gets to run, to win, political office in much of America; to even indirectly affect judicial appointments, including those to the US Supreme Court. Partisanship was in the interest of the gun manufacturers who put up the money the NRA used to tyrannize America, to increase partisanship, and thus weaken government. Its members, a very small minority, have tyrannized the Nation, have done the Nation great harm.
Following suit, beginning in 2009 and until 2013, a small extreme right-wing group of Republican Congress Members use the NRA’s tactics to tyrannize the Nation from within the halls of government. Only to be followed by the Freedom Caucus, another small group of extreme right wing Republican members of Congress. Mark Meadows and Mick Mulvaney, both, came up out of the Freedom Caucus to be the incompetent one’s Chief of Staff. Anyone seeking the genesis of today’s partisanship needs to look at these groups and the special interest money behind them. Russia gave the NRA money for reason.
Our national nightmare is indeed far from over. History will tell.