observations and opinion
Win or lose, the Trump voters will still be here after the election. They need to hear a new message of equality and justice. But first, they need to lose. Badly.
For those of us far, far away from “the battlegrounds” the Election is still right here — in our minds, our dreams, our fears, our days and nights.
We approach Tuesday with dread and very little hope. Even if the battle is won, it is clear the war against America — within America — is only just beginning. Nightmare scenarios we would not have imagined in the most feverish fiction, like an FBI intervention to sabotage a candidate so that a fascist tyrant can vault to power — have already occurred. What is next, win or lose?
America has been to the precipice before. It has gone over the edge before. In the years leading up to 1860 a series of court decisions had expanded slavery and made the prospect of real democracy dim. A golden-throated appeaser and enabler of the Slaveocracy, Stephen Douglas, was its spokesman. Against him, a widely-derided and despised Illinois lawyer, Abraham Lincoln. The North held firm that year but when Lincoln took office, the South broke off. From there it was war — a real war, and battleground states like Pennsylvania knew what blood looked like.
What was at stake in 1861? Democracy. As Lincoln later said three years before in his losing Senate race against Douglas:
As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.
But an election was not enough to secure that government by the people and for the people. A war was. Lincoln didn’t want the war. He wanted reason and compromise, so much so that those on his “left” then, despised him as fiercely as those on the right. In his second state of the union address, preparing the country for emancipation, Lincoln cried out for an odd thing: creativity.
The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
Three years ago, when I chose to “re brand” my blog, I opted to call it Think Anew Act Anew because it spoke to the central theme of the political crisis in the west: we must “disenthrall ourselves” from the hard beliefs that have run out of power and which have delivered us to impasse. It is also a good personal credo: we must think and act anew, to save what we treasure.
Over the next 48 hours across the United States, there won’t be much thinking anew — and there shouldn’t be. The only thing that matters in a battle, is to win it. So grab your bayonets (metaphor alert) and dive in, citizens. Defeat the ReTrumplicans in this election, before worse is required.
But in the days to follow, whether America clings to sanity or throws itself into the abyss, there will be a true struggle. The truth is, Bernie was right: the political elites have lost touch and lost control. The organized right has taken the country by the throat. Its servants stuff the pockets of Congressmen and the minds of voters. People feel sorry for themselves and they don’t give a damn about anyone or anything else. It is a civic disaster.
Democrats must accept their share of the responsibility for this (I said “their share” — it is a meager slice compared to the Republicans’ guilt) and must open their minds and ears. That doesn’t mean surrendering principles of equality or justice. It means re-teaching them, to millions. Have faith, it will be like carrying water to people stranded in the Mojave.
If there is to be a democracy of any kind, democrats (small “D”) must disenthrall themselves, think anew, act anew and reach out to the broad mass of Americans. Some 50 million or more have decided that a charlatan strongman better served their needs and beliefs, than a good woman. Those people need a new message.
But first they need to lose. Badly. So go win.
God bless America, and godspeed.