Editor’s Note: The following column is a fictional story. It reflects the opinion of the columnist.
This is a story about a man named Bob.
Bob was a thirty-something accountant working in New York City. He lived in Queens, and commuted an hour every day into Manhattan. This was temporary of course, as Amazon had just announced their second headquarters in New York City. Every resident knew this would drive up the cost of living and ruin the city. Amazon had certainly ruined Seattle, and New York City was already struggling with its failing infrastructure. Was the future full of cities that only the rich could afford?
Bob didn’t want to think about how he would have to move soon. He had other things on his mind. Bob was an accountant by day, but his interests were history and politics. He knew it was cliché. But he couldn’t deny his passions, and thus Bob unashamedly consumed vast amounts of historical texts and political think pieces.
This was difficult, as Bob naturally leaned toward progressive politics. He didn’t begrudge conservatives as much as some of his friends. Bob had conservative family members. He knew that most Trump supporters just wanted federal judges, or an abortion ban, and were willing to overlook the dangerous rhetoric and character flaws to achieve their goals.
Or maybe they just hated radical liberals so much, that the only way they felt to stop them was to stand by Trump. Bob could make infinite excuses for conservatives. It was easy, since he wasn’t black, or transgender, or an immigrant, or Jewish, or any of the other targeted groups. Bob felt bad sure, always wondering if he should be more aggressive. There were a lot of bad signs after all.
But Bob justified his passivity by hoping America’s flirtation with nativism and populism was ending. Trump’s policies had forced everyone into politics whether they wanted to or not. It was one of the largest identity crises the country had gone through. Maybe Bob was an optimist, but he felt reason, accountability and kindness would win out.
But he knew that wasn’t the case elsewhere. The biggest cause of Bob’s anxiety came from the trends he saw outside of America. A looming battle he wasn’t sure kindness would win. Brazil had just elected Jair Bolsonaro, a brutal authoritarian who Brazilians hoped would fix their economy. It was the same old story of every populist strongman. Bob knew there would be no economic revival. Just pain and suffering.
Europe was worse. The EU, whose leaders had nobly tried to ease the immigration crisis, was imploding. Russia was waging advanced cyber warfare on EU members. Poland was going full ethnonationalist and threatening to destabilize the union. Merkle’s people were about to dispose her. Macron’s as well. The U.K was floundering in Brexit.
Like Brazil, Bob knew what came next. It depressed him to no end. Poland would continue down its path until it found itself a completely broken authoritarian state. Merkle would likely be replaced by a weaker, less humanitarian leader. A “Germany First” type. France too would dispose of Macron. Bob shuddered to think who would come next. A Le Pen possibly, or worse.
Global warming would only worsen the problem. Bob had done his research. He knew that 71% of global emissions was caused by about a hundred corporations. It felt unfair to him that Chevron was ruining the environment, and it was people in third world countries who would suffer first. He knew they would try to leave, possibly not even understanding why there was droughts and famine. And they would get to Europe, where France and Germany’s new, populist leaders would deny them entry. A vicious cycle of human suffering and indifference.
The thing Bob feared most was what would happen in his own country. Sure he was optimist, but what if the damage had already been done? Global warming was coming for everyone, just like nativism and fascism seemed to be. When people fled to America in the future, would soldiers still be shooting teargas at them? Would his countrymen only get more cruel and apathetic?
Bob was a thirty-something accountant working in New York City. He lived in Queens, and commuted an hour every day into Manhattan. Bob wasn’t really sure if he likes history or politics anymore. These days, he just felt worried.
Colin Roberts is a senior professional writing major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]