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The Patron Saint of Superheroes

Chris Gavaler Explores the Multiverse of Comics, Pop Culture, and Politics

I wrote this nonsense four years ago:

“Before the election, I had a vision of the U.S. coming together. I fantasized that Clinton would announce in her acceptance speech that she would fill half of her cabinet positions with Republicans and challenge Congress to send her only bills co-authored by Republicans and Democrats or face her veto. I was imagining a Democratic-controlled Senate too, but instead of shoving a leftwing Justice down the remaining throats of the GOP (as they so deeply deserved for refusing to vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee last March), I wanted Clinton to renominate moderate Merrick Garland in a show of compromise and goodwill. I wanted this despite the fact that my personal political beliefs are over there with Bernie Sanders and the rest of those Socialist-hugging, LGBQT-loving, Wall-Street-regulating, Climate-Apocalypse-fighting do-gooders. I actually believed that being part of a democracy meant accepting and even celebrating that fact that I should only get what I want about half of the time. That even some of my cherished principles come second to the national need for our government to work from the center, to bridge extremes and find common ground. I was a Radical Moderate.

“Until November 9th.two-face-origin-story-part-3

“Law-abiding District Attorney Dent, AKA Two-Face, became a supervillain after a thug threw acid in his face. Which is also how Donald Trump cured me of Moderatism. Though technically I don’t think Dent ought to be labeled a supervillain, since half of his actions should end up doing good. When faced with a tough choice, Two-Face flips a two-headed coin. I know that sounds like a rigged decision-making system (something the majority-losing President-Elect no longer talks about), but Two-Face carved a giant “X” through one of George Washington’s faces. Which is a perfect metaphor for the U.S. right now.

“I’ve literally put myself inside that two-faced quarter, and I will stay there until Trump and all of his rock-throwing GOP punks are gone–via resignation, impeachment, or nuclear Armageddon, I really don’t care. If you would also like to make a Two-Faced version of yourself, I’ve included step-by-step instructions:

“Step 1. Watch country elect pussy-grabbing bigot for president.

“Step 2. Stop shaving.

“Step 3. Shave right half of face.

“Step 4. Take selfie.

“Step 5. Shit around with selfie in Word Paint while country plummets into moral abyss.

“Step 6. Vow vengeance in 2018.”

 

It’s four years later, and Biden came pretty close to the acceptance speech I fantasized for Clinton:

“It is time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again, and to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as an enemy. They are not our enemies: They are Americans — they are Americans.

“Folks, I am a proud Democrat. But I will govern as an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as those who did. Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now. Refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not some mysterious force beyond our control; it is a decision, a choice we make.

“If we decide not to cooperate, we can decide to cooperate. I believe this is part of the mandate given to us from the American people. They want us to cooperate in their interests. That is the choice I will make. I will call on Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike — to make that choice with me.”

Of all the things that are changing, this is the absolute least important. After Biden’s speech, I went on Facebook and changed my profile image from the Two-Face selfie to this arty nonsense:

Four years ago, I also made this bumper sticker:

Of all the things that I could have focused on after Trump won, I decided gerrymandering was Job One. In retrospect, that seems more than a little bizarre. But it wasn’t stupid: draw fair maps and Democrats win. And sometimes they win anyway. In 2017, the GOP’s gerrymandered supermajority dwindled to a single seat (determined by a literal coin toss), and the 2019 blue wave (see “Vow Vengeance” above) flipped the legislature to Democratic control. Having seen their future as the minority party, the GOP had already started the process of amending the Virginia constitution with a redistricting commission that would prevent the majority party from rigging the maps the way the GOP did for the last decade. The referendum passed last week.

The fight to end gerrymandering in Virginia is over.

Which brings me to the second least important change in the U.S.. Over the weekend I switched my Facebook book cover from the End Crooked Districts bumper sticker to this:

Those are some of my actual book covers. The last one, Creating Comics, is due out in January, between Georgia’s two Senate-majority-determining run-off elections and Biden’s inauguration.

Which is to say: quit shitting around and get back to work.

I’m sure as hell no superhero (or supervillain), but this fifty-something, straight, cis-gendered, white guy is damn proud to be a member of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ legion of 75,000,000 sidekicks. I wanted a landslide last week. As the last votes peter in, it looks like they won the popular vote by 2.9%, up from Clinton’s 2.1% in 2016. That will do, but it’s nowhere near the double-digit wave of redemption I needed to feel good about my country. 70,000,000 Americans want another four years of Trump, either despite of or because of his bigotry and misogyny. A few thousand votes here, a few thousand votes there, and the Electoral College tips either direction.

That’s a brutal quarter edge to balance a nation.

 

 

 

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