What do you do when your country breaks your heart? When not once but repeatedly it fails to live up to the aspirations of even those citizens with the most modest of aspirations for it? When the ideals of its founders are left to yellow and be forgotten in archives and museums?
What do you do when the political discussion is commandeered not by those with merely a different ideology but by people who are fundamentally corrupt, evil and valueless? Who drape themselves in the flag and profess devotion to their God and demean both every time their lips move?
What do you do when their champions in the media are a brigade of third and fourth-rate intellects, sneering, hateful, sanctimonious arsonists of journalism, enemies of truth, defenders of the indefensible?
What do you do when reason is so often confounded and decency so regularly kicked aside? What do you do when liars and thieves and abusers are lifted up and public service ceases to be even the nominal objective of public servants?
What do you when those who seek power do so only to enrich themselves and their cronies and then to tear down the institutions on which this society like any other depends upon to survive, when they attack the system of justice, the rule of law and basic ethical standards?
What do you do when they turn against those they are supposed to serve–women, people of color, immigrants who have come to our country to help build as has been done for generations before ours, the LGBTQ community, and even their own “base” that they ruthlessly exploit?
With each of their victories we drift further from who we are supposed to be, worse still from who we might become. And it is heartbreaking. Shattering. Demoralizing. Over time, the unthinkable becomes commonplace and the unacceptable seems to demand to be accepted.
What do you do then? Curl up in a ball? Weep? Lament it to your friends? Tune it out? Shake your fist? Give up? Or do you recognize that moments like these are when the character of a democracy is tested? Do you realize that it moments like these that make rebirth possible?
At the beginning of this country we faced worse. When slavery divided this country we faced worse. When world wars threatened this country we faced worse. When depression rocked our economy we faced worse. The enemies today are bad, as evil and corrupt as we’ve ever seen.
But they are not so bad that we cannot be reborn of this crisis as we have been so often before. he least among us is better than them. They remind us of that daily. The secret is in seeing their depredations as inspirations, today’s defeats as the start of tomorrow’s victories.
We should only lament our future if we lack the will to fight for it. I’ve found this week to be one of the worst in my memory. I have been heartbroken. But I also recognize this week’s defeat as a call to action. There is an election in just a month.
We must remember their fears of the results of that election–that the American people will make themselves heard–is what made them rush for with this bleak charade of a Supreme Court nomination battle. They know we can win. They expect us to win.
And now we must do what we have to to win. Use how bad this moment feels. Use how angry you are. Use it to mobilize friends and family, to become the activist you never were, to be a donor, to be an advocate, to turn out the vote.
The final verdict on how the Kavanaugh vote will be seen will not be in the newspapers this weekend or in how the White House spins it. It will come on the night of November 6th when we see whether it mobilized America to turn the tide against these enemies among us.
And it will come thereafter as Democrats, now again empowered, have the opportunity to show what real leadership is, what an appreciation for American ideals can bring when it is embraced by our leaders, what the rule of law should mean, the role decency can play in our lives.
Today is the first day of the victory for America that was inspired by the abuses of the Kavanaugh nominating process, of a president who has betrayed the country, of children in cages, of the tragedy of Puerto Rico, of humiliation abroad, and of rampant corruption everywhere.
That’s what happened today. It won’t be reported in the news. But I believe it. I believe it will be seen as a turning point. I believe this is a moment for great hope. But if that is to be true, it is also a moment for resolve and action. Now. Starting right now.