In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
— “Kubla Khan,” Samuel Taylor Coleridge1
Your disabused Weekend Politics host has previously shared generalities about his beyond-comfortable upbringing and young adulthood as a male white fourth-generation American citizen educated in private schools and state universities. His suburban homes, college dorms and apartments, and central-city efficiency never approached the grandeur of the architectural embodiment of hedonism erected by Atilla’s son, but he had things better than 99.99 percent of any person who had ever lived.
His entitlement enabled his sleep of the just. He knew that for every Nixonian Watergate, Cartesian malaise, Reaganesque Iran-Contra Affair, Bushian Clarence Thomas appointment, Clintonian pretty much everything, Bushtwoian Iraq War, and Obamaesque spike in deportations, the United States lurched forward with a Title IX and Clean Water Act, a Camp David Accords, a fall of the Berlin Wall with extra SALT, an Americans With Disabilities Act, a budget balanced through 2020 as long as Republicans did not fuck things up, a PEPFAR, and an Affordable Care Act with a side order of marriage equality.
Fitfully, yet startingly, Uvular’s nation progressed. Its leaders grudgingly wrote and deposited the long-left blank checks issued in its founding charters. He did his part by consistently voting Democrats into state and national office, and he considered that his full measure of civic duty.2
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
— “Kubla Khan,” Samuel Taylor Coleridge3
Then, the C.H.U,D.S. …
Er, the tea partiers psychologically, spiritually and, too often, physically attacked liberal democracy itself. Evil ideologies presumed long locked away except for the odd flareup of a John Birch Society or a David Duke for Senate campaign suddenly held sway in the U.S. House of Representatives. The groundwork for this hostile takeover of the very concept of republicanism existed for decades, accreting on the undead carcasses of Southern Democrats, the spry young minds of Federalist Society first-classers Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and the oleaginous backs of Newt Gingrich, Dennis Hastert, and Mitch McConnell.4
By 2010, Uvular’s perfectly insulated world stopped getting better all the time. Worse, regression toward the nihilist norms of open racism, rampant sexism, and self-defeating isolationism commenced. The rot at the root escalated to a slashing-and-burning of every pillar of civil society. Rather then wending toward justice and equality, the American polity and the world order it so assiduously created in the aftermath of World War II had slammed into reverse, speeding toward annihilation.
♫ Someday somebody’s gonna ask you
A question that
You should say yes to
Once in your life ♫
— “Question,” Old 97’s5
Nothing got better. In fact, the guardrails on the American system of governance turned into abattoir chutes on Nov. 8, 2016, when ignoring the archaic and never-truly sensical rules of the Electoral College would amount to delivering a deathblow to the Constitution. And again in the confirmation fights over all of Trump’s judicial nominees, when the only sure solution of shutting down the federal government would have accomplished nothing other than offering pretext for declarations of martial law and dictatorship.
Things deteriorated to the point that Uvular, your own WPT windbag, became, against his own desires for sloth and blithe goodwill, an “active.”
He spent the last two years preaching to the choir and haranguing the unsuspecting with these thread headers. He upped his Facebook game and lost some “friends.” He joined his local Democratic Party committee. He braved his own death from mortification by phone banking for the opponent to his current Republican congressional representative. He will spend five hours this coming Election Day greeting voters at his polling place.
So, Uvular puts this question to you, dear Politicados: What have you done to arrest the plunge of humankind’s better angels during what do not need to go down in history as the last days of democracy?
Don’t wait to tell your grandchildren how you, and you not-alone, saved the world from its own self. Brag on yourself in the comments. Everything counts — money donated, doors knocked, Breitbarters trolled (perhaps the greatest sacrifice of all). Share your stories below and claim your upvotes.