Don’t Reboot the 2016 Horror ShowRoundup
tags: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Voter Suppression, 2020 Election
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw is the founder and executive director of the African American Policy Forum.
More than 200,000 lives lost in the United States, and counting. The worst economic downturn of the century. Armed gunmen invading state legislative sessions. Journalists beaten by police officers. Domestic terrorists coddled by cops. Protesters swooped up by unidentified police forces. A president whose campaign openly stokes chaos and violence while refusing to assure the American people that he would relinquish power should he lose the election.
This is the stuff of disaster movies: the apocalyptic unraveling of a nation nearing the brink, thrown into crisis after crisis while the very worst character imaginable sits in the Oval Office. As drama, it’s a story that should be concluding with a lopsided victory for the not-Trump candidate, yet the fact that there is even a remote possibility Donald Trump may win reelection is what turns this spectacle into horror.
True to the genre, as the bodies pile up, the specter of mistakes, oversights, and outright denial constitutes the cautionary tale of what not to do. The horror is not that its victims are without agency, but that they fail to exercise it responsibly.
The center-left in this 2020 sequel didn’t heed the clear lessons of its cataclysmic defeat in 2016. One would think that strategies to survive this do-over would disarm the racism and misogyny that launched the franchise, but this sequel’s band of would-be survivors seems to have learned little from the shocking origin story.
Much of our avoidance of the severe constraints that white supremacy and patriarchy impose on our “democratic” process comes from a fear that to engage injustice is to reinforce it—that to talk about racism is to be racist, and that to talk about sexism is to be sexist. But to concede that view is to lay down our analytic weapons, and provide an easy route for the horror to prevail again. The perfect storm of denial has gotten us to a point where this election is not the surefire refusal of neo-fascism that it should be. And this gradual unfolding of the story is what has me openly talking back to the unfolding drama on the national stage, as we still do in scary movies at my neighborhood Magic Johnson theater (when we’re not quarantined, I guess). Here’s my list of five features of the 2016 debacle that we should have prepared for, but didn’t.
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