Being a progressive, socialist or anywhere left of center is tough business right now. The electoral choices left are a hawkish, neoliberal Democrat and the United States’ closest approximation yet to a European fascist. For those opting not to back a third party, this election means swallowing a good deal of pride to vote for — and even convince others to vote for — a candidate who doesn’t inspire confidence so much as a tinge of nausea.
As the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci once wrote, “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” Aside from Donald Trump himself, no symptom may be more morbid in 2016 than the presidential debates — the closest thing America has to its very own Hunger Games. Tonight at Hofstra University, Trump and Hillary Clinton will face off for the first time in front of “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt and an estimated 100 million viewers.
To help you navigate the interregnum this evening, here’s a drinking game.
Drink when …
… Holt fact-checks or corrects literally anything.
… you remember that — for the next six weeks — being an anti-fascist means supporting a candidate who helped to dismantle welfare as we know it.
… there’s a positive reference to the movement for Black lives, Occupy Wall Street, DREAMers, the Standing Rock encampment or any other social movement of the last decade.
… there’s a negative reference to the movement for Black lives, Occupy Wall Street, DREAMers, the Standing Rock encampment or any other social movement of the last decade.
… either the “middle class” or “jobs” is brought up five consecutive times without a single mention of poor people.
… Trump openly threatens or is otherwise hostile to Holt.
… Trump mentions the wall, Vladimir Putin, polls or his alleged business success.
… there’s a reference to an alt-right meme.
… either candidate misrepresents his or her views — past or present — on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Bernie Sanders, the minimum wage or the Iraq War.
… Clinton makes a nostalgic reference to Barack Obama or Bill Clinton’s presidency. Trump makes a nostalgic reference to Reagan.
… Trump references a conspiracy theory.
… there’s an ad for any number of horrible corporations.
… anyone says unions are important.
… there’s a substantive discussion on the risks of and potential solutions to climate change that lasts for more than 30 seconds.
… you feel a deep and piercing sense of dread.
… you remember that — while winning state power is crucial — politics is about much more than the ballot box, and every piece of transformative change in American history has been the result of confrontational mass movements and the power they exert on elected officials and the public at large.
Kate Aronoff is a staff writer at The New Republic and author of Overheated: How Capitalism Broke the Planet — And How We Fight Back. She is co-author of A Planet To Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal and co-editor of We Own the Future: Democratic Socialism—American Style. Follow her on Twitter @katearonoff.