Dispatch from The Front Line: Don’t panic, but be wary.
January 20th — inauguration day — is the dark side of a lonely moon, still very far away.
Those comforted by the relative certainty over the past week as future U.S. President Joe Biden took a commanding lead in the electoral college, brace yourself. We at The Line intend to provoke a chord of unease into your unwary souls.
It's been easy to mock the thin turnout of Proud Boys and Pepe worshippers to the pro-Trump march on Washington D.C. on Saturday. And, indeed, mock them we do.
But as the neo-fascists marching on the capital appear small, disorganized, and fringe, the continent of disaffected mainstream Republicans is not. Polling data is starting to emerge that suggests as many as 70 per cent of Republicans in the U.S. don't believe the election was free and fair. Anecdotes of voter fraud — almost all of which have been retracted or found bogus — are rife in Republican circles. And even senior officials are playing shy about acknowledging Biden's win; most notable among them, Donald Trump himself, who has thusfar declined to concede.
Meanwhile, Trump himself has removed senior defense officials in favour of loyalists — which is exactly the sort of move one would generally expect from a half-way competent strongman prior to true power-hungry thuggery.
Even if a military coup is not imminent, the selection of American voters who have lost faith in the legitimacy of the democratic process is deeply ominous. The Republicans who continue to humour this president’s temper at the risk of their own mechanism for gaining legitimate power do so at extraordinary peril. For conservatives who have not yet figured this out: Donald Trump is the monkey’s paw of presidents. You will get what you wish for, but the price of that wish is body and soul.
We at The Line admit that we were heartened to see images of people dancing in the streets as the ballots were counted and a Biden victory seemed imminent last week. Even the dancing from Trump supporters was heartening. Dancing is an act of catharsis, and after the final weeks of this election, and amid a shattering pandemic, perhaps it's the sort of thing we all needed.
But we are still somewhere between the launch of the rocket capsule and its landing. The second wave of COVID-19 intensifies. The economy will feel the virus' effects once again. January 20th — inauguration day — is the dark side of a lonely moon, still very far away. Don’t panic, but be wary.
The Line welcomes rebuttals, and ran one from Léonid Sirota, in response to some recent commentary here about the growing power of big tech. “I agree that the behaviour of Facebook and especially Twitter has been thoroughly unpleasant of late,” he wrote. “And yet dismal advice is, in this case, the best advice. Hard as it is to accept, it still beats ‘do something’ and its inevitable consequences. And if you really are sure that you know just how much moderation on social media people really want, why not create your own platform? Facebook started in a dorm room. Go for it!”
Fraser Macdonald is worried that Canadians are taking their eyes off the ball and getting distracted by petty scandelettes de jour. “The average person,” argued Macdonald, “and even the average informed voter, is much more likely to be aware of the latest personal political slip-up than they are of the hard economic facts — like Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio. We began 2020 at 30.9 per cent (and trending downwards) and we now know that number will increase to at least 49.1 per cent (and trending upwards, quickly). But the public discourse is focused on the minutiae of personal politics. The media and political class are suffering from Shiny Object Syndrome at the worst possible time. We’re chasing the latest clickbait story when the big (debt) picture is unfolding right in front of us.”
Peter Menzies wrote on a similar theme, warning Canadians that while we were distracted by the shitshow to the south, the Liberals took a hatchet to the internet. “[There] has been a dearth of chatter about Guilbeault’s controversial plan to (my words, not his): restrict consumer choice, tax Netflix to finance certified Canadian content (Cancon) and bring to an end the greatest period of prosperity in the history of the Canadian film and television industry. Did I mention stifling innovation, increasing streaming subscription costs and scaring away investment? No? My bad. Those too.”
And The Line’s co-founder Jen Gerson described the efforts a gentleman we shall simply refer to, for all time, as Dr. Semen-Squirt to get her shitcanned from her various sources of freelance work. “If you want to go around getting a mouthy female journalist fired because she was mean to you on the Internet,” said Gerson, “then your words and actions are fair game for public scrutiny, my dudes. As a freelancer, I don’t have the luxury of a gentlemanly détente. The only way to neuter this form of attack is to expose it.”
And expose it she did.
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