Eclipse: 2017 vs 2024

watching the eclipse in McPherson Square

When I first saw an eclipse in 2017, I hoped that this continent-wide event would bring Americans together in a collective epiphany. Awed by the power of the universe, we would put our differences aside and work together to build a better country.

Watching totality sweep over me, as I was surrounded by hundreds of college students, I felt a surge of hope, which was still possible in 2017. This was in the wake of the Unite the Right Rally, which brought violent white supremacists to the streets of Charlottesville. On my way back to DC, I stopped to see the flower-covered memorial to Heather Heyer, who was murdered by fascists during the rally.

Donald Trump said that there were good people on both sides. Clinging to the idea of American exceptionalism, I believed that my country would reject the idea that there were good Nazis, like we had done in the past.

How wrong I was. Four years later, Trump sent an armed mob to my city in an attempt to steal the election and become a dictator.

In 2024, another eclipse rolled around, the sun and the planets continuing to spin as this nation tore itself apart.

My naïveté is gone, realizing that no great epiphany is at hand, despite the sun growing dark for a few, brief moments. No celestial event can break the spell of people who have surrendered their free will.

We can’t negotiate with cultists who believe that the eclipse was cover for the government dousing them with “chemtrails” and other associated conspiracy theories.

I was wrong about the essential goodness of the American people; we’re no different than any other country. Fascism can happen here. Our institutions are not carved out of marble but made up of men and women who can be corrupted, intimidated and murdered.

There can be no bargaining with Trump and his movement. They’ve made their plans clear, through Project 2025, which seeks to make this country a Christo-fascist autocracy, with women deprived of their rights and migrants sent to detention camps (and the rest of us sent later). Trump would be a dictator, from day one, and term limits would be abolished so that he could rule for life.

And with the recent court ruling in Arizona, we now know what year Republicans seek to return us to: 1864. That is when America was great, they believe, a time when slavery was legal, women had no rights and Native Americans were being hunted to extinction.

The elimination of reproductive rights for women is just the start. Imagine what they can do without Democrats or the courts to stop them.

Unlike the first term, there will be no one to moderate the tyranny. Project 2025 is a comprehensive plan to wreck our weakened institutions and bring right-wing terror to every corner of America.

And for those thinking of fleeing the country, what makes you think anywhere else will be safe? If a dictator succeeds in America, democracies around the world will fall.

There is only one thing left to do: win.

I am cheered by the fact that Trump cannot draw a crowd. No supporters showed up for his recent court case in DC. Freedom Corner, the long-running January 6th vigil outside the DC Jail, struggles to attract more than six people, despite being endorsed by the Orange One.

His allies, too, can’t get people to show up. The Rage Against the War Machine rally for this year was cancelled due to lack of interest. This demonstration brought together a galaxy of left-right crazy, from the Putin simps of Code Pink to Proud Boys cosplayers, united temporarily against aid for Ukraine.

What happened? Trump drew followers by the thousands to DC for rallies “stop the steal” rallies in November 2020, December 2020 and, of course, January 6th. But not anymore.

MAGA is weak. Trump is broke and facing a gauntlet of court cases. The Republican Party is fracturing. The House GOP is hanging on to their majority by a thread. MAGA is a movement that is old and exhausted (much like Trump).

I like our chances, to quote the ever-hopeful Simon Rosenburg. Democrats are behind in the polls but they keep winning all the elections. And that’s all that matters.

Defeat is still possible. November is seven months away – a lifetime in politics. Trump won’t go peacefully. He’ll try to steal the election on the state level this time.

The eclipse that crossed this country in 2024 was a mere distraction in this momentous year.

We have much bigger worries, and opportunities. This is an election that we must win.

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *