The goddamn dirt road’s still there, I bet.
Back in the 2020 election, I found a really good, really striking quote from an article about Jaime Harrison. He ran for U.S. Senate in South Carolina against Lindsey Graham, and came tantalizingly close to actually winning. But he didn’t.
Here’s the quote:
While canvassing for Vincent Sheheen, a Democratic candidate for governor, a few years earlier, Harrison had spotted a shotgun house down an unpaved road. He pulled up to the property and knocked on the door. An elderly black man answered.
“Who are you?”
“I’m Jaime Harrison, the chair of the Democratic Party. I’m here because this is the most consequential election in our lifetime.”
The man stopped him. “Son, you see that road you just came off of? That road was a dirt road when Ronald Reagan was president, it was a dirt road when the Bushes were president, it was a dirt road under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Son, that’s still a goddamn dirt road. So until either Democrats or Republicans pave my road, I don’t want to have to deal with any of you.”
For two whole years, it’s stuck with me, because I know absolutely that this is the majority opinion of most people I talk to. “I don’t care, because nothing gets done.” A lot of the time, this is an excuse to hide from actually forming a distinct opinion on important issues. But it’s also a valid and reasonable response to the shitshow the U.S. has become.
Jaime Harrison did not win that Senate race. He lost to one of the swampiest creatures in office today. But it’s not like he’d have been the magic solution himself, either.
Right after losing, he launched a PAC literally called “Dirt Road PAC” and got deep into the party system. Then he got elected chair of the Democratic National Committee. AKA, right in the thick of the party system, literally the party boss. The two-party system is very obviously a massive factor in creating the big shitshow, and now the guy who made the striking quote is helping that along.
No way did that goddamn dirt road actually get paved since 2020. Yeah, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill got signed, but only after being cut to shreds. Which would be fine except it also happened to thr rest of the entire Biden Administration agenda. It’s been this malaise of uncompromising, grandstanding nonsense that has sapped my will completely.
All I want is for shit to happen, like anything at all. Uh, besides authoritarian power grabs and the destruction of republican norms. I just want normal shit to happen. Without even going into divisive issues, why the hell is marijuana still illegal? How has universal Pre-K not been implemented? Where the hell are the tough measures to punish anyone helping enable the cultural genocide in Xinxiang? Puerto Rico isn’t a state because… Why?
Partisan obstruction, callous indifference to anything that doesn’t immediately boost midterm results, the mires of committees and rules that nobody cares about. All that shit sucks ass.
Maybe it’s my short-term view; I’m still in my twenties, still unable to see the slow progress made through incremental revolutions. The 117th Congress accomplished a lot, and the White House did some small stuff to help out millions. That’s what I think when I’m feeling optimistic. But then I think back to the goddamn dirt road and remember that incremental revolutions can be very selective.
I really hope authoritarians don’t take over in 2024 or 2028… Please, I just want decent things to actually get accomplished in the U.S., OK?