The Illusion of Choice in the 2020 Election

George Carlin famously said, “Elections and politicians are in place in order to give Americans the ILLUSION that they have freedom of choice. You don’t really have choice in this country.”

I’m going to go ahead and call B.S. on that. I spent my whole life believing that bleak sentiment and from all the evidence I had, rightly so. My generation shouted their way through the 90s and 2000s that we want to “clean up Washington” but all we kept getting were Clintons and Bushes. The election of Obama in 2008 chipped away at that, but Trump’s election in 2016 took a jackhammer to that narrative until it was nothing but rubble on the steps of the Capitol. Neither the Democratic nor the Republican machines could stop the Trump Train or get Hillary voters to the polls.

Very few people actually wanted The Donald to be president on a rational level, he was clearly a novelty.

But on a deeper, more collective conscious level, I think we all played a part in making the Trump presidency a reality. He didn’t ascend from hell, and he sure as hell didn’t descend from heaven. Trump didn’t kill American politics, he just capitalized on its death. We did this. Now, we can either learn from this pivotal moment in American history and find a way to move forward or we can let it destroy us.

Some of you are screaming in your Prius right now, “The hell I did! I would never be a part of electing that fascist Nazi. He’s literally Hitler!”

Ok, take it down a notch, Karen. Trump supporters weren’t born in a vacuum. It’s that kind of hysteria that got him elected in the first place. We all chose to make this bed, now we can set fire to it and lie in it as it burns, or we can get up and choose better. We can choose to act differently, to think differently, to choose differently. Yes, obviously we should vote and protest, but we’re all going to have to make a conscious effort to choose to act like grown-ups if we plan to crawl our way out of this mess together.

We all witnessed the astonishing horror show that was the first presidential debate. It was there for the whole world to see and it was truly shameful. It’s completely understandable to feel like we are all very much screwed. The good news is, we’re only screwed until we decide to not be screwed anymore. So, if you’re feeling hopeless right now, like we don’t have a choice, like we may not even have the illusion of choice as George Carlin suggested, I’d like to offer some hope and remind us all about the miraculous power of the human spirit. One man made a choice and helped end one of the most evil regimes the world has ever known.

“The battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.” —Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

For all of you MAGA hat wearing COVID deniers, look, I get it. You’re not making it easy, but I really do get it. Trump is a big foam middle finger to all the condescending, snobbish liberals who have been calling you a racist hillbilly because you think it might not be the best use of taxpayer money to subsidize abortions for transgender men, as Julian Castro pledged on the presidential debate stage a year ago. I understand why Trump seems like a messianic figure, you see him out there taking the arrows for you every day, fighting that culture war on your behalf. The truth is though, and I hope you’re sitting down, Donald Trump is a con man. He may not be conning you, he may be conning the Democrats into insanity, and it may be working, and it may be extremely satisfying to watch, but he’s using you to do it. Look, you can be a proud American, be pro 2nd Amendment, and be a devoutly religious family person, but hold on to your principles. Don’t turn Trump into a Golden Calf.

And you on the Left who still think the 2016 election had more to do with Russian interference than Hillary being an unimaginably bad candidate, you are going to have to internalize this at some point or it is going to be very difficult for us to make any real progress. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Unless you want to scream your way through the next 4-year season of The Trump Show, knock it off with the WOKE scolding. Yes, you have clearly demonstrated that you carry the motivation and ability to stir up massive amounts of chaos.

Congratulations, you have the power to project all that pain and suffering to the world just like Daddy did to you. You can bring your wrath down upon the Earth just like Cain, for the sin of simply being. But here’s the rub; you want a revolution? You are going to find that your political and celebrity heroes are going to sell you out when things get too messy. The radical chic party is going to end with them distancing themselves from you faster than Christine Blasey Ford while you rot in a prison cell or are lying bloody on a dark street wrapped in a communist flag with nothing but a brick in your hand.

The dirty little secret that all your heroes know is that revolutions take three things that you simply don’t have: a good plan, a lot of money, and guns. You could have been patient and really indoctrinated one more generation, but you chose to get, ironically, and predictably, greedy. This is America. We’re a very polite and tolerant bunch here, but we have our limits. This isn’t Stalin’s Russia, where one in five people were informants for the government. We’ll not be shipped off to the Gulags like Aleksandr without a fight.

We all have a choice in this, we can choose to end all this now.

We can still take care of others, but you have to take care of yourself too. Take care of your children, your family, your community. Be the change and all of that. Choose to lay off the empty virtue signaling on Facebook and Twitter. Those are likes, not love, and you’re probably just sharing Russian bot memes anyway.

So, do we really have a choice, or just the illusion of choice? I say we have a choice. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, one man, single-handedly brought down arguably the most sinful empires the planet has ever known. In those gulags, that frozen tundra, he made a choice. He was brave enough to open his eyes and speak the truth. He chose to stop saying and believing things he knew were not true and write it all down in graphic detail. His book, The Gulag Archipelago, exposed to the world the evils of Soviet Russia for the desperate prison-state that it was.

I know it doesn’t seem like we have any good choices right now, but either directly or indirectly, we chose this. We have to take responsibility and choose to change it; we have to choose better. If that debate didn’t wash away some of that party Vaseline from your eyes, I don’t know what will. Maybe we still have lessons we have to learn, but we will only begin to learn them when we choose to. We can choose to end this now.

“A man is happy so long as he chooses to be happy and nothing can stop him.” —Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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Mike Black

Mike Black is an educator and fiction writer out of Phoenix, AZ. He is the author of such novels as Walk on Home and Samurai Blues. In the decade he spent in Japan, he wrote commentary for NagMag and since returning to the states, has written countless articles on the cultural and political playground. You can follow him on Twitter @mikeblackBB.

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