Opinion: We need to start living as if we were free

2020 U.S. presidential election in New York
People watch early election results in Times Square in New York City.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

What a weird election. My first column here noted the collapse of this year’s Iowa Caucus, and that the presidential election was something “none of us can control… a dumb competition that we can’t really affect, as the planet somehow melts and burns simultaneously and robots or immigrants or a virus (take your pick, depending on your ideology) come for our jobs.” 

That was almost nine months ago, and this week, the saga came to an end. Mostly.

For this highest-turnout election in American history, we knew weeks in advance that Joe Biden would get the most votes but whether he would win the presidency was still in doubt. So much money was spent — billions and billions of dollars almost all for federal races — and it is hard to show that almost any of that campaign spending had a concrete effect.

We can feel ourselves trapped in a Leviathan — something so big, it takes a fuzzily enormous number of us to change its direction. The United States has grown so much larger than its founders imagined. How can we free ourselves from our archaic 18th Century constitution?

We need to start living as if we were free.

The federal government will not save us from this new Supreme Court, this counter-majoritarian Senate, this thoroughly undemocratic Electoral College. 

A lot of voters and the financial markets like-divided American government, and that’s a sign this whole system needs to be scrapped and replaced. Divided government drove our whole car through the guardrail. We’re currently weightless, poised above the ravine. Not good.

We are eight months into a moment when the economy is sliding and whole industries are vaporizing — though they’re not admitting it publicly yet. The federal government has failed us in a public health crisis, and the other levels of government failed us, too. Look at the empty schools and potholed roads.

I don’t think any other people on the planet would live like this and still call themselves “the land of the free.”

We need to start living as if we were free from the constraints of this crumbling, Leviathan superpower state. What does “living as if we were free” mean? Sooner or later, we will have to start ignoring the law as laid down by this illegitimate Supreme Court. You already regularly ignore laws, though, if you’re American.

It will still be a long time before we leave this period of great chaos, when selfish and deranged people gradually and then quickly took over our federal government. We have now finally evicted them from one-third, the executive branch, but they will continue to occupy another half: half the legislative branch and the majority of the judicial branch of our federal government.

I’ve lived my whole life in California and New York so I’ve been effectively disenfranchised from the federal system my whole life. We need to come up with a new way of cooperating and thriving, one that is democratic and sustainable and that works at human-scale.