Many Americans can’t be bothered to follow “the news” unless it involves something about “owning the libs.” It seems safe to say that the average MAGA can explain the entire “Let’s Go Brandon” development than the number that know there are “things” flying around our aircraft carriers, doing maneuvers that appear to defy physics, and our military cannot identify them. As said by President Obama just this last summer (NYT):
“What is true, and I’m actually being serious here,” Mr. Obama said, “is that there is footage and records of objects in the skies that we don’t know exactly what they are.’’
The point is that our country is so hyper-polarized that we are embarrassingly unaware, and without care, about other “news” that truly matters. The problem with these objects is one example, another might be the fact that we’re very much in a space race with China and getting our asses kicked.
“Space” matters because our interconnected lives depend upon our access to and free use of the “space” above us. Ask China, which is currently furious over two near misses between its space station (Yes, China has a new station, ours is almost 40 years old) and an Elon Musk satellite. According to the South China Post:
China recently complained that its Tiangong space station had had two “close encounters” with SpaceX Starlink satellites this year, forcing it to alter course to avoid a collision.
In a diplomatic note presented to the United Nations earlier this month, the Chinese delegation requested that the UN secretary general remind countries of their “international responsibility for national activities in outer space … whether such activities are carried on by governmental agencies or by non-governmental entities”.
While our billionaires are “playing” spaceman (with the exception of Musk, who isn’t screwing around), China plans on putting men on the moon in 2023 and, again, has a relatively new space station flying around over our heads.
Why does this really matter? Because if there is to be a war fought between superpowers, the shots fired will likely be almost solely limited to outer space. Chinese, Russian, American, British… modern, wealthy, militaries have weaponry so devastating and reliable that the situation is almost “mutually assured destruction” without nuclear weapons.
Besides, if you were China, why would you fire large missiles at American bases in Southern California (Near populated areas) or aircraft carriers with 5,000 Americans on them and directly kill people, when it is possible to simply shoot down a dozen U.S. communication satellites and bring much of our economy to a standstill, or at least a walk, rather than full speed? (Which would also result in a lot of death but not due to “direct fire.”)
It is simply a fact that if there was to be a war between superpowers, there may be some shots fired at naval vessels or planes, but the war would almost surely primarily be fought in space. It is less messy and, perhaps, more effective. Yes, it is illegal under international law. No, what is and isn’t legal likely won’t play much of a role in an all-out superpower war.
This is a good news/bad news type of situation. The bad news is that a war in space could – in theory – make life look far more like 1970 than 2022. The good news is that a war between superpowers is still highly unlikely (in our opinion) because, again, wars are hard to “win” now, given the destruction. And, just the “threat” might evolve into a true space race with China and give this country something around which we could unite. Not fully united, don’t be silly, but one can envision scenarios where the MAGAs might find common ground with us “libtards.”
The vast majority of citizens in this country do not know that in less than two years, we will be watching Chinese astronauts walking around the moon, perhaps preparing the first permanent lunar base. It is likely that none of us know the emotional impact that such pictures will have. The United States, especially “the patriots” on the Right, assume U.S. superiority in everything as a birthright. Being forced to watch ourselves “lose” could motivate all of us to unite over a few things to win again, to actually dare to be “great” in a good way, and invest in ourselves.
Investments cost money. There are a lot of Americans that have a lot of money, far more than in the 1960s. They are just taxed at a fraction of the rate that the Greatest Generation taxed itself. Taxes cannot possibly be low enough for those on the Right unless…
Unless it means we’re being embarrassed by falling so far behind in such an easily measured and seen endeavor. At that point, there might be a cry to raise the money needed to regain some national pride and, perhaps, superiority.
Of course, higher tax revenues should be spent on social programs and fighting climate change. But one of the few things everyone knows about the 20th Century space race is that it led to technology that benefitted every American. Perhaps a new space race would lead to technology that dramatically improves our ability to use renewable energy over fossil fuels, as just one example. Perhaps getting used to higher taxes on the rich again would free up more money for the poor.
Most importantly, of course, is that we as a government comprised of citizens cannot do much of anything until we feel united again as a people. A pandemic couldn’t do it. Perhaps it will be something as obvious as watching the Chinese stomp around the moon for us to rally around each other again and unite in a way that actually would be “great.”
Jason Miciak is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is originally from Canada but grew up in the Pacific Northwest as a dual Canadian-American citizen, which he grows increasingly thankful for every day. He now enjoys life as a single dad, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, getting advice from his beloved daughter and teammate. He is very much the dreamy mystic that cannot add and loves dogs more than most people. He also likes studying cooking, theoretical physics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics. He likes pizza.
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