The question before us now, the version for us of the question Constable says is now before Trump himself, seems to be whether the election must be taken as an irrevocable decision for Trumpism in principle, the equivalent of a permanent voiding of an American public sphere, and irreversible end of the American experiment as an experiment in liberal democracy or government of reason.
Yet we cannot say so, not yet. We might say that we cannot know how resilient our institutions are until they are tested, or how resilient we ourselves collectively are until our struggles to restore and re-constitute the conditions for our collective “identity performance” have succeeded or failed, with or without any president’s help or hindrance. We might say that it will likely be many years before we can reasonably pronounce the American project truly over, but the main reason we cannot say so is not that the evidence has still to be accumulated, the 10,000 simultaneous simulations run, and a probability estimate produced. The more immediate reason we cannot say that this question is the main question or that the preliminary non-answers are the best we can do is that they all rest in form on that particular destabilized, absurdified word, the word in question about which no one can say anything that possibly could matter, the word now revealed or confirmed to be radically in question, dangerously unstable and mass-murderously inane, an emptied convention: “we.”