Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #56

Exiting Trumplandia, November-December 2020

By Chris M. Barkley:

Scott Heins/Getty Images

FOUR YEARS AGO, 22 November 2016: “Barkley — Since You (Didn’t) Ask — Trumplandia, Weeks One and Two”.

On October 28th, 1937, astronomer Karl Reinmuth of Heidelberg University made a momentous discovery, a fast-moving asteroid with a diameter of 2700 feet, which he dubbed Hermes. Reinmuth lost track of Hermes after a few days but it was estimated to have come within 300,000 miles of the Earth’s orbit. 

Students of astronomy would be happy to point out to you that in terms of magnitude, the Earth just barely escaped being hit by a devastating, possibly even an extinction level event.

On November 7th, at 11:38 AM EST, America dodged its own version of Hermes, when the Associated Press called the state of Pennsylvania for Joseph R. Biden, Jr., projecting a total of 279 Electoral Votes and the right to be called President-Elect.

All across America, celebrations sprang up spontaneously in several major cities. As the news broke that afternoon, church bells across Europe rang continuously for hours.

And Monday, December 14, 2020, will go down as one of the momentous days in American History,

-At 2:28 PM Pacific Time, Electoral College delegates at the state capitol of California cast 55 votes for Joseph R. Biden for President of the United States and Kamala Harris as Vice President, officially and legally confirming both to serve a four-year term starting next month.

– In the early morning hours of the same day, thousands of frontline health care workers and elderly patients all over North America began receiving a COVID-19 vaccine developed (at “warp speed”, as it were) by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.

– And, on the other side of the coin, the United States officially recorded its 300,000th death of the pandemic (although that total may be significantly higher once other unrecorded deaths are factored in at a later date. 

But it hasn’t been all sweetness and light In the six weeks since Associated Press called the state of Pennsylvania Biden, unofficially sealing the election for Biden and Harris.

I remember the moment very well; Juli, having been driven stir crazy by our county’s Covid status (RED, verging on PURPLE) and the drawn out election results, had opted to go to Trader Joe’s to do some safely distanced shopping. I, on the other hand, decided to stay home and putter around the house to keep tabs on statistician/reporter/cult nerd obsession Steve Kornacki on MSNBC. (NOTE: He became so popular, NBC Sports ‘promoted” him to their NFL telecasts to provide football playoff forecasts and predictions.)

At around 11:30 AM Eastern time, I was busy vacuuming the living room the AP call was announced. I YELLED out my delight and sent Juli a text IN ALL CAPS! When she got hope, we popped open a bottle of champagne, toasted and got slightly drunk. Similarly, when California cast its Electoral votes last Monday, some celebratory day drinking was called for…

The current occupant of the White, whom I described in a 2016 column as a “racist, sexist, xenophobe, and the alleged perpetrator of numerous sexual assaults,” has not gone quietly into that good, political night. In fact, in the weeks that have passed since November 7th, he has claimed, falsely, that he actually “won” the election because of voter fraud, faulty voting machines and a myriad of other untrue musings, unproven conspiracy theories and outright lies. 

Additionally, he has shown VERY little interest in actually governing since the election, even as the number of infected people is rising perilously, both branches of Congress have been deadlocked over a pandemic relief package, virus vaccines are in short supply due to lack of government intervention and most of the country’s systems have seemingly been penetrated by Russian backed hackers who were just detected this past week after several months of activity.  

And while the Biden-Harris ticket garnered more than 81.2 million votes, the opposition ticket racked up 74.2 million votes. I used to believe that there were more of us than there were of the odious “them”, who have no qualms supporting a man and administration who are seeming hell bent on undermining the foundations of democracy itself. 

But, on the bright side, we’re within sight of the end of this political and health crisis and I am cautiously optimistic.

I say cautiously because we are possibly eight or nine months away from having a majority of the country vaccinated, which would mean that DisCon III might be able to hold the Worldcon in Washington D.C. safely, with the country under better management.

I, along with thousands of other con-going fans, writers, editors, artists and publishers will rejoice when the all-clear is given and will happily resume flooding hotels and convention centers around the world. 

Looking back over the past four years, I can also point to the things that kept us all inspired (and somewhat sane) during this tumultuous period. The podcasts and fanzines. The novels and collections. The fan and professional magazines and artists. The comics, manga and graphic novels. 

And, of course, the television and films; Star Trek Discovery and The Mandalorian (both of which I’ll be reviewing by the end of the year), The Expanse, Wonder Woman and The Midnight Sky (BOTH opening Christmas Day!), The Good Place, Good Omens, Doctor Who, the films of Marvel Studios and much, too much more to list here. 

And when we do reconvene, we should all pause, give thanks for surviving and reflect on what happened during this pandemic. We should also mourn our dead, from natural causes, accidents, or the virus, who were some of our best and brightest souls. 

Ad Astra to the departed and Happy Holidays to us all. The BEST is yet to come. (Fingers Crossed!)

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2 thoughts on “Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #56

  1. November 7 I was about 100 miles east and a bit south of you, at a friend’s house in the northwest part of Scioto County. I go out there a couple of times a week to make masks with her. Most of the time we work in the dining room; her sewing machine is on one table, I measure and cut cloth on another. However, that Saturday we were at the stage where we were folding and pinning pleats in the masks. We tend to do that in the living room, sitting in the comfortable recliners with the TV on. That day we were also watching MSNBC. We were getting a bit stressed, discussing maybe changing channels to a food or animal show, when they called Pennsylvania. And there was much rejoicing. Friend’s husband got called up from the basement, the champagne and OJ came out, mimosas ensued. We never did get back to work.

  2. Students of astronomy would be happy to point out to you that in terms of magnitude, the Earth just barely escaped being hit by a devastating, possibly even an extinction level event.

    Only if they were misinformed. A 2700 foot asteroid at interplanetary speeds would only mess up part of a continent. Drop it on Kitchener and Rochester and Detroit might still be standing.

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