The midterm election acted as a closed mental floodgate, holding Americans in an emotional, intellectual stasis long enough so that politicians and our democratic system could focus us on a reality in which elected officials represent specific things, like taxing too little or too much; opposing Trump enough or not enough. During the process many people felt they were making decisions about critical matters. On day 2 the floodgate held, as the midterm results defined our central reality.
But on day 3 the floodgate opened and stored-up real life poured in: A man undone by hatred killed 12 people and himself in a Thousand Oaks bar; the next day a fire of unprecedented destructive force erupted a few miles from the bar, ending the dreams and lives of many and sending shockwaves through millions of people in California and the world.
But we did not vote on gun control in the midterm, or policy regarding the multitude of isolated, despairing people who live as time bombs among us. We did not vote on development in fire zones, or effective moves on climate change.
For the rest of today and in the days to follow the floodgate will remain open and real life will pour in unrelentingly. Very little of this real life will have been voted on.
My sense is that some of the war potential that has been stored in multiple locations around the world will soon be realized. There will be provocations about everything from Brexit to Gaza. War is the ultimate distraction, so distracting that if it happens now, no one will notice that war was not discussed in the midterm; we did not vote on it.
Are there decent alternatives to what we call democracy? The word itself has sacred status. No one questions democracy. I'm not going to question it either, except to ask whether we have it.
Let's keep our concept of democracy, but realize that it's an attempt rather than a fait accompli, and try to make it more real. We can do that by inserting into our political vocabulary terms reflecting our immediate situation: genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, automation, mass displacement and unrest, total surveillance, total control. If the national election in 2020 does not recognize what is actually happening to us, we will not have a democracy even in a theoretical sense.