Belated 4th of July Thoughts

Since I often travel to Serbia for the summer to visit my old friends and family (with the exception of last year due to the covid-19 pandemic), the vast majority of my 4th of July experience has been viewing Instagram stories of spectacular fireworks and what is certainly too much alcohol.

However, this year, I want to reflect upon the future of America. Given the severity of climate change, the devastation of the covid-19 crisis, and the incalculable importance of the 2020 elections, I have repeatedly referred to 2020 as a saddle point in human history.

I thought, maybe naively, that Biden’s electoral victory would be the end to that anxious saddle point we sat on for months — that we would finally begin sliding towards the right side of history by adequately addressing the needs of working-class families, climate change, and covid-19 while also reversing the recent yet rapid slide towards authoritarianism charged by the MAGA faction of the Republican party. But there is certainly far more work to be done.

Biden being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
Saul Loeb / Pool Photo via AP

And this is not to give Biden credit for anything; I have already written a handful of articles praising Biden for his success in passing the American Rescue Plan, which has not only provided incredible welfare benefits but will likely shift many Americans away from “big government bad” ideology. Biden’s world-leading vaccine rollout has also helped bring the pandemic under control, allowing many Americans to return to some degree of normal life just a few months after his inauguration.

Despite this once-unimaginable progress, the uncertainty from 2020 still remains. Although we may have been on the saddle point, the slope onto the right side of history may not be as steep as I have anticipated — and there are many reasons for this.

Firstly, it is increasingly clear that Trump’s authoritarian agenda, combined with deceptive populist rhetoric, is here to stay. Many red states have been quick to pass laws that have made it easier to arrest protestors, ban critical race theory, and restrict voting rights. Sure, many of these laws are certain to face strict legal scrutiny where many provisions will likely be deemed unconstitutional, but plenty of damage can and has been done “legally” (especially to voting rights).

Texas Governor Abbott signs the “Texas Heartbeat Act,” which essentially banned almost all abortions but immediately faced legal challenges.
Credit: Sen. Bryan Hughes.

Legal protection may hold the floodgates for now, but courts ultimately have no way of enforcing their rulings. The fact that there are genuine, large-scale attempts to suppress history in classrooms, prevent poor people of color from voting, bring “big tech” under complete government control, ban trans children from participating in sports, and firmly crackdown on protestors should be of immense concern to any American. Given how far-right this agenda already is, it is not crazy to assume that some major politician will eventually come along and accuse the courts of being packed with Democrat crooks who try to unjustly halt the righteous agenda.

What is perhaps most concerning is that all of the laws I have mentioned Republicans are pushing for have immense support amongst their base. A majority of Republicans still believe Trump is rightfully president and that Biden stole the election. If you can sell that big of a lie to your voting base, it gives you the green light to pitch even more outrageous ideas.

All of this takes us back to elections. No party or faction can do much when they are not in power, so what can we expect in the following years to come?

Although Democrats currently have the presidency and a hold slim majority in Congress, history has demonstrated that the first midterms after the inauguration of a new president skew towards the opposite party. Even if Democrats manage to hold on to or widen their majority in the midterms, the Republicans will still consistently hold on to a vast majority of state legislatures.

And the concerns don’t end there. The 2024 election brings me far more worries not because Trump may run again, but because someone more calculated, smart, and truly far-right may take his place. Although even Trump supporters would not support an outright fascist agenda, once someone is able to effectively delegitimize elections, bypass the courts, and demonize the entirety of the opposition, what’s to stop them from enacting truly fascist laws?

Florida Governor DeSantis is expected to run for President in 2024, possibly clashing with Donald Trump in the primary.
Butch Dill / AP

With all of that quite depressing stuff out of the way, I ultimately have faith that our country still heading in the right direction. Despite all of what I have said, it is important to remember that Democrats certainly have the momentum on their side; Biden has not only won the election but has passed an extremely popular relief package which has earned him the highest approval rating for any new president since Clinton.

The youth are also overwhelmingly comprised of progressives against Trump and the Republican party. If we are able to further engage this demographic, it will bring even more attention to the concerns of the youth which often overlap with the struggles of many other Americans (affordable housing, medical insurance, etc).

During a spacey, hypnotizing break, in Kendrick Lamar’s song, Wesley’s Theory, Dr. Dre, backed with plucks and chords that set a mood of uncertainty and suspense, firmly declares that “anybody can get it, the hard part is keeping it”. The same emotion those very plucks and chords animate within me along with the applicability of Dr. Dre’s quote perfectly summarize how I currently feel about the future of America. We must seize the moment and take advantage of our political momentum to revolutionize our economic system, crush the evils of authoritarianism, and strengthen democracy.

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About the author

Damjan Nastic

Hello, and welcome to my blog! I'm Damjan Nastic, an economics major aspiring to encourage democratic participation amongst my fellow students through this page. I hope my page can offer a different perspective on pressing issues throughout the world.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at [email protected]!

Thank you.

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