Like most Greek stories, the tale of Pandora’s box is fraught with ambiguity. Most of us, when we first encounter the story, learn that it is a fable about the dangers of curiosity, not unlike the story ‘of man’s first disobedience, and the Fruit/ of that Forbidden Tree’. As Eve sneaked the apple, so Pandora took the lid off a box that she was forbidden to peek inside. Bang! Death, illness, famine and all the other miseries of the world escaped to blight man’s life, leaving behind only hope as a sort of consolation prize.
But is hope a consolation? Or is it a subtler, more insinuating evil? The Greek word Ἐλπίς does mean ‘hope’, which, considered as the antonym of despair, has a positive implication. But it also means ‘expectation’ in a more neutral sense. The question is: was the hope that Pandora salvaged a compensatory balm or a final blight? Kafka once remarked that there is hope — but not for us, which underscores the difficulty.
You will probably not be reading this until January 2021. But I write in the run-up to Thanksgiving. So you know many things that I do not know. You may even know who won the 2020 presidential election. I do not. Nobody does. True, many people pretend, or at least say, they know. Earlier today, standing on line at the grocery store, I noticed the latest copy of TIME, a former news magazine. Its cover featured a picture of Joe Biden, whom they identified as the 46th President of the United States.
Possibly, by the time you read this, he will be. The penultimate stop in the process happens on January 6, when both Houses of Congress meet to tally and certify the vote. All the smart people tell the world that Biden is the winner. I think they say it a bit defensively, or maybe I mean belligerently, as if they were whistling past a graveyard.
Or maybe I am wrong about that. Yes, there’s many a slip ’twixt the cup and the lip. But the world, at least the Democratic part of it, seems full of clairvoyants. For example, the attorney general of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, knew on November 2 that Joe Biden would win the state. Amazing. He said so on Twitter: ‘If all the votes are added up in PA, Trump is going to lose.’ I wonder where he got his crystal ball.
But here’s what I know as November wends its weary way toward December. In Wisconsin a group has filed an emergency petition after identifying upward of 150,000 ‘potentially fraudulent’ votes. (As I write, Biden leads Trump in Wisconsin by about 20,000 votes.) That same group has announced that it would also be filing state and federal suits in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, Georgia and Arizona.
In Pennsylvania a judge blocked certification of the vote pending an evidentiary hearing on the election. In Nevada, a judge has just agreed to a court date to address allegations of widespread voter fraud. Looking back to Pennsylvania, Newt Gingrich reports that ‘new litigation filed in federal district court…details and documents a wide variety of illegal practices that were used to inflate the number of votes received by Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden’. Is he right?
I don’t know, either. But I suspect he is right in his larger claim that, ‘The thieves who attempted to hijack the 2020 presidential election were bound to slip up somewhere, and now they’re trying to clean up the glaring evidence of their wrongdoing before the full extent of their crimes can be exposed to the American public.’ That’s going on right now, as I write, both the ‘clean-up’ and the efforts to expose it.
Meanwhile, the consortium behind Biden is busy trying to put the old band back together. There’s John Kerry — remember him? — getting ready to ‘report for duty’ as Climate Envoy. There’s Jake Sullivan, tapped to be Biden’s national security adviser. You’ll remember him crowing about how brilliant Hillary Clinton’s handling of Benghazi was back in 2012. Later, Sullivan helped bury those 33,000 yoga and wedding emails from Hillary’s private email server while also pushing the Russia collusion fantasy that tripped up Gen. Mike Flynn and intruded on the first two-and-a-half years of Trump’s first term.
In fact, there are so many retreads and old familiars in the line-up someone made for Old Sleepy Joe that you might think you were back in the Obama White House. Maybe you will be. But I suppose this is where hope comes in. The idea behind the 2020 elections was to expunge not just Trump but the current of ‘deplorable’ sentiment that swept him into office in 2016. That certainly didn’t happen. Whoever turns out to be the winner of the top spot, the Trumpist impulse won down-ballot all over the country.
It’s not at all clear to me, as it is to the geniuses that are itching to get back behind the helm of the ship of state, that Trump lost the 2020 election. One thing is clear, however: the meme that the ascension of Biden would be a return to ‘normality’ has been utterly exploded. Apart from the soundbites of his handlers and his flacks, everyone knows that the ‘normality’ he represents is the sclerotic consensus of decline that has been poisoning our elites since Japan was supposed to be overtaking the United States in the late 1970s.
Biden, on or past the threshold of senility, is the perfect embodiment of that flaccid pajama-boy spirit of fragile futility. Of course he wears a mask whenever he leaves his basement. Of course he is fixated on accusations that America is ‘systemically racist’ or insufficiently woke or imperfectly green or transphilic or globalist.
Trump threw open the window on that fetid nightmare. Even if Biden’s handlers manage to install their puppet in the Oval Office, there is no shutting that window. Like a beneficent Pandora’s box, the forces it let loose cannot be undone. Which is why, this time, hope might just be a prelude to success, not further disillusionment.
This article was originally published in The Spectator’s January 2021 US edition.