America’s New (Third-) World Order
This week on democracy-ish, Danielle and Toure discuss the state of the 2020 race and the racial divides that shape our not-so-great country.
Breonna Taylor’s family received a $12 million settlement for her wrongful death, but real justice remains elusive: The cops who killed her haven’t been arrested or charged.
HHS official Michael Caputo’s viral Facebook rant suggested that if Trump doesn't win, we’ll face armed militias, while the CDC employs scientists who tell us lies … to undermine the president. (?)
Speaking of lies, how should we punish those who are complicit in the Trump administration’s malfeasance?
Six months after her murder by police, Breonna Taylor’s family received a settlement in their wrongful death lawsuit. But real justice remains elusive.
“Her family is $12 million richer,” says Toure. “And yet we are all still poorer.”
Danielle thinks $12 million is “just –– it’s right. It doesn't equate to justice, though. Cities paint ‘Black lives matter’ on the street. [White] actors say they won't voice Black characters anymore. The fashion industry is taking on its own racism.”
But it seems like America is “doing everything but the one thing that Black people are asking for, which is fucking justice,” she argues. “Which is: Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.”
With fewer than 50 sleeps until Election Day, it looks like Russia and China could really decide who wins. As we pass the grim milestone of 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, Trump held a mask-free rally in Nevada.
It’s official: We are a shithole country. Let’s wade into the muck.
Episode Highlights –– We’re a Shithole Country
Fear and loathing in the P.D.
For Toure, a crucial part of the police brutality problem is cops’ “irrational fear” of Black people.
“But they have badges and guns,” he says. “They don't see themselves as aggressors. They are the victims.”
A few cases in point: In Philadelphia, a cop used a baton to crack open an unarmed, peaceful protester’s skull. The officer was removed from the force. But we saw him walking out of the precinct to cheers and applause from his fellow officers –– “as if he had not done something horrible and shameful,” says Toure.
And Toure is still pissed about the “Officer Karen” who went live on Facebook when McDonald's took longer than usual with her order.
When Danielle sees those kinds of tears, she says, “Go into another line of work. You didn't have to choose this. If you’re afraid of people, you don't have to be a police officer. Nobody drafted you.”
White America in general embraces the role of victim, “violence and threats, whether it’s caravans of undocumented people or the suburbs turning into crime-infested cities,” she adds. “It's made up. Most of the violence in this country has been perpetrated by white men.”
Trump ‘hopes’ and refuses to change
ABC’s “20/20” held a town hall with Trump and a socially-distanced audience this week. Danielle and Toure watched it so you don’t have to.
A notable “highlight”: Pastor Carl Day of Philadelphia (a Jill Stein voter, incidentally) asked Trump: “You’ve coined the phrase make America great again. When has America been great for African-Americans in the ghetto of America? Are you aware of how tone-deaf that comes off to the African-American community?”
Trump’s response was rambling, incoherent, and quick to blame the “horrible situation from China.”
Prior to the pandemic, the president claimed we were living through the “best single moment in the history of the African-American people in this country, I think, you know, I would say.”
Pastor Day pressed Trump to clarify: “We need to see when was that great, because that pushes us back to a time in which we cannot identify with such greatness … You have yet to address and acknowledge there’s been a race problem in America.”
To that, Trump responded: “I hope there’s not a race problem. I can tell you, there’s none with me, because I have great respect for all races, for everybody.”
Trump’s town hall of horrors
Danielle thinks Trump must be confused about the reality of our pre-COVID world.
“Unemployment was low,” Toure says. “It's the only thing he thinks about us.”
“Donald Trump had one Black friend who he killed, Herman Cain, and he can't even bring up that motherfucker's name in the midst of COVID,” says Danielle.
“I commend Reverend Clay, who sat through that bumbling town hall in order to ask a direct question, only to be brushed off.”
She thinks Trump “believes his own bullshit, because everybody around him feeds him lies, tells him he’s the Messiah, the savior, that he alone can fix this.”
When he's confronted with the truth, he doesn't know what to do with it –– it’s outside of the paradigm he's created for himself.
Exit, stage alt-right
Toure and Danielle are both adamant that anyone complicit in enabling or perpetuating the misdeeds of the Trump administration should be punished.
“They should not be able to exit the White House and go on “Dancing with the Stars” or get television and book contracts,” says Toure. “In every administration, people leave and get to join media or lobbying firms. You get to start your own thing, because you have this tremendous wealth of experience.”
But this is entirely different, he notes.
Toure worries that in the future, ex-Trumpies will argue: I was doing the best I could with the information I had at the time. I was trying to save the country from even worse. You should’ve seen the things I prevented from happening.
“That's not going to be good enough,” Toure says.
Fake it ‘til you break it
”You shouldn't be able to leave this administration and just slink back into private society,” says Danielle.
Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, John Bolton –– they hightailed it out of the People’s House and went on to write bestselling books, salsa-dance on prime time and serve as talking heads on Fox or One America News Network. Or even CNN, which hired Corey Lewandowski (though he has since resigned).
“I imagine CNN will think better of doing that, going forward. Although I don't know why I would have an iota of faith in them, when we know Jeff Zucker was trying to butter up Trump himself … I think Zucker assumed Trump would lose and would have had Trump coming on once a week to talk about how shitty Hillary Clinton is doing, throwing virtual tomatoes at her every week.”
Danielle points out that those in power just do whatever fuck they want, ethics be damned. Even when Facebook and Twitter make rules about fake news and hate speech, Trump breaks every single one.
Just this week he retweeted a fake video of Joe Biden vibing to NWA’s “Fuck tha Police.” Twitter eventually admitted it was manipulated –– after it was viewed millions of times.
“Have you seen Trump's account banned?” she asks. “Have you seen him be blocked, even for a day?”
Sanity takes a ‘leave of absence’
Meanwhile, officials in his administration follow suit and spread dangerous falsehoods, like Michael Caputo, the top spokesman at the Department of Health and Human Services.
This week, Caputo posted an unhinged Facebook rant suggesting that if Trump doesn't win, we’ll see armed militias in the streets, and that the CDC’s scientists are liars who want to undermine the president. But he wasn’t fired –– he took a “medical leave of absence” for two months.
Timing is everything, right?
“These people are just allowed to do what the fuck they want, whether it's for ratings, money or more power. There’s no accountability,” says Danielle.
Alternative facts, truth and reconciliation
“If, by the grace of God and the universe,” Danielle argues, “we’re able to navigate through unprecedented voter suppression, Barr turning the Department of Justice into Trump's own law firm, DeJoy defunding the U.S. Postal Service, McConnell sacking the courts … and we actually win the election, we can’t do what the Obama-Biden administration did.”
Obama chose to “turn the page on all of the shit that Bush did,” she says. “He said, much like they always do: For the betterment of the country, we’ve got to move forward.”
We can’t forget that “Trump isn’t the first president to do criminal shit,” Danielle argues. “George W. Bush and Dick Cheney took us into a war they lied about. Here we are, decades later, still trying to get out.”
She thinks we need to have “Trump trials –– in the same way Germany had the Nuremberg Trials. Because America is not going to be able to heal otherwise.”
Toure evokes the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
We need a similar public reckoning, “almost a sociological record, so we understand why this happened to us, so we can try to make sure it doesn't happen to us again,” he says.
The ‘stain’ of MAGAts’ ‘social crimes’
As for Trump donors and voters –– anyone who supports him, they’re “aiding and abetting him,” he argues. Should they be punished somehow, too?
They’re guilty of “social crimes,” says Danielle. “Crimes against America.”
They “bought his bullshit,” she adds. And because Trump supplied so many mixed messages and outright disinformation about COVID, we’re now seeing anti-mask rallies. For his supporters, masks are antithetical to the personal freedom that they feel America is all about.
Meanwhile, we’ve learned that Trump admitted (to Bob Woodward) that he knew COVID was serious –– and deadly. But his cultish followers don't want to hear it.
“The right has gone so far off the deep end,” says Toure. “It's not enough to blame Fox or Facebook. you're an adult. And you have participated in the ruination of America.”
He thinks there should be “a long term stain on your reputation, on your name, if you were a Trump supporter during this low moment in American history.”
Guilty as ‘racially charged’
One of Toure’s pet peeves is journalists calling Trump’s hateful word-salad diatribes racially charged.
“There’s no such thing as racially charged. It's fucking racist. And if you're not saying it's racist, you are aiding and abetting and perpetuating racism by not calling it out when you see it. When it is so not only blatant, but purposeful, if you don’t, you’re part of the problem.”
File under problems: the white woman at a Utah anti-mask rally who told ABC News: "George Floyd said 'I can't breathe' and he died. And now we're wearing a mask and we say 'I can't breathe' and we're being forced to wear it anyway."
Toure was incredulous.
“I'm like, Oh my God, is this a Chappelle sketch come to life? How fucking dare you.”
“You tell me these stories and I just want to hunt that woman down and punch her in her face,” Danielle says. “I'm not a violent person, but that type of fuckery will have me become one.”
Trump’s ‘very stable’ ratings
Danielle’s biggest concern right now is that we may not know the results of the race on election night. It may take days or weeks to count ballots.
Toure isn’t so sure.
“I understand the challenging factors –– let's call them shenanigans, tomfoolery, cheating, stealing and lying, by Trump, et al. But we have an extremely stable race. We’re trending toward a significant Trump defeat.”
He’s not just citing polls. “Generally there's a range of 10 to 15 points a president's approval rating will move within,” he explains. “Trump has been right around 41, 42 the whole time. He's going to have a very, very difficult time suddenly leaping above that number on election day. ... You can't win an election with 42%.”
That’s not a comfort to Danielle, who asks: “But does he have to? When he has Putin and Barr giving him an alley-oop? … There are actors working aggressively to make us believe everything is fine. I'm telling you, they are ensuring that it will not be.”
Toure points out that Putin doesn’t necessarily want Trump to win.
“He wants democracy to seem absurd and ridiculous to Americans. He wants whatever result will degrade it.”
In 2016, Trump’s win proved that thesis. But in 2020, Putin may realize that a Biden win “may actually be better for Russia,” he adds. “Whichever way we go, a significant portion of America will think the election was unfair.”
After all, Trump has already told his people the Dems are trying to cheat. And he’s urging his supporters to do the same.
“God forbid he should win, we will know it was unfair,” Toure argues. “The integrity of democracy itself will be at risk. That's what Putin really wants. He doesn't really care who’s president.”
Danielle thinks that's fair.
“However, Trump allows him to get his agenda through … if all of our agencies are gutted, if our hope is lost, if our belief in leaders telling us the truth, wanting to act in our best interest, is proven false … Putin wins. Ensuring Trump can sail into another win works to his advantage.”
Toure replies: “It'll be fine, because China wants Biden to win. That'll balance the scales, right?”
Maldives, take me away
Danielle would like “somebody to drop me off in the Maldives with, like, two cases of wine and a little bit of weed. Just wake me on November 10, which is my birthday. Hopefully by then, the election will be solved and I'll be unconscious.”
That’s not a great idea, says Toure.
“We need you, and people like you, who are woke, passionate, engaged and thoughtful –– to raise your voice … Do not lose faith. We have to defeat this motherfucker.”
He adds: “If you go off to the Maldives too little too much wine and too little weed, and zone out during the last minutes of the fourth quarter … the game is not over and it can be lost.”
Danielle isn’t “going to the fucking Maldives unless we lose the election and I need an escape plan,” she says. “I'd like to visit it before climate change completely fucks it up.”
This is what living in a “shithole,” third-world country is like, Toure argues.
“You talk about what other countries are going to decide who will be your leader, how your leader is corrupt and incompetent, and half the country doesn't believe in the truth.”
Our land of ‘tragedy porn’
That seems apt when 1,000 people are dying every day in the U.S., while our neighbor to the north just had its first day with zero COVID fatalities.
“Oh, Canada,” Toure intones.
“Democracy-ish, the Canadian edition –– eh?” Danielle replies.
“Can you imagine?” asks Toure. “If we didn’t live in America, we’d be laughing at America.”
People overseas might think it’s really cheap to shop here now, “since the whole place is in fucking demise,” says Danielle. “Maybe we should go on a tragedy porn vacation to America.”
Maybe the rich of Europe and Asia should be shopping for real estate in New York City right now, “because Trump done fucked it up,” Toure adds.
“We are not even fucking Walmart right now as a country. We are the Salvation Army, the dollar store of countries. We're the Big Lots of countries right the fuck now. Make America cheap and broke again.”
“Thank you, GOP,” says Toure.
If there is a country, we’ll be back next week. Meanwhile, “we need you guys on your knees praying, chanting, jumping, singing and praising the universe,” urges Danielle.
“Praising China for allowing us to continue to be a democracy for another four years,” Toure adds. “China, if you can hear us …”
Get your weekly rundown of the presidential election from a Black progressive point of view on democracy-ish. Consider Danielle Moodie and Toure as your tour guides, flight attendants and/or therapists as we move through this dumpster fire of an election cycle — together!