TW: political killings, voter suppression, presidential assassination plots
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
And what should we do with him? Burn him!
(A Guy Fawkes’ Day effigy, originally from here.)
Perhaps it’s a bit of a cosmic joke that the US elections this year are to be held on the day following the UK’s Guy Fawkes Day, which essentially celebrates the capital punishment of a terrorist. Tomorrow, the election will be held – the election that for months has been marred with discussions about media conspiracies to “skew” polls and various states’ efforts at voter suppression. There’s been no improvement in the past few days, as the current state government of Ohio seems to be constantly searching for some new means of terrifying voters. Much of the national media has been reluctant to notice this, as a protracted election means better ratings and more guest appearances. All of this together blends into a worrisome storm of political misrepresentation and journalistic misdirection – which make peaceful and sensible means of challenging government seem less effective or even likely. The ultimate expression of this seems to have been the bomb scare at one Floridan precinct yesterday and a nonsensical debacle that was only stopped by constant protests at another.
I’m comparatively young for a voter, but I’ve always followed presidential politics, and I’ve never experienced a race that seemed so ripe for political violence. The Prussian General, Carl von Clausewitz famously said, “War is merely the continuation of politics by other means” but it certainly seems that the inverse is equally true. At least here and now – politics are merely the continuation of warfare by other means. As Tom Scocca’s excellent article on how being White and male are the clearest predictors of a person supporting Romney asked, “What is it with these white men? What are they seeing that ordinary people don’t see? What accounts for this … secession of theirs, from the rest of America?”
There it is – the Civil War. It’s the embarrassing political centerpiece of US politics that all roads seem to lead back to. And it’s still infecting our politics. Tomorrow, I hope the results don’t translate into more shots being fired – there’s already been too much of that.