This coming election is going to tell us more about the character of the US than any in our recent past. The 2016 election of Trump was deeply concerning, of course, both because of how Trump won, who he appeared to be & because it seemed to come in reaction to Obama’s victory.
But we were only just getting to know Trump and we were uncertain how he would act once in office. He appeared to be a racist, ignorant, hate-monger but we knew little more than that. Would his business experience help? How would he work with Congress? With world leaders?
We only were beginning to have an idea of Russian interference in the election. And much of the ’16 vote was in response to HRC. But the election in two weeks is largely about Trump and Trump alone. He has said it. And despite his propensity for lies, it appears to be true.
Now we know him well. We have seen his racism in action in Charlottesville and Puerto Rico. We have seen his incompetence in his WH chaos. We have come to know how compromised he was by the Russians and how his defense of them continued.
We have seen his corruption, his self-dealing, and that of all those around him. We have watched him cozy up to autocrats and thugs around the world and embrace their language at home. We have seen him wage war on the rule of law. We have watched as he and the Congress stole from the poor and gave to the rich. We have watched him cage children and separate families. We have watched him undermine the global order that America spent 75 years building. We have listened to him lie and lie and lie and lie and lie and lie and lie.
We have come to know the GOP would embrace him rather than repudiate his sexism, hate-mongering and embrace of and service to our enemies. We know that if they are re-elected he and they will see this as a great affirmation that America is with them.
If Trump and the Republicans win, the message the voters will be sending is that the toxic brew of the politics of hate, of a nation in service to the 1%, of a president who views himself as being above the law, of serving foreign patrons, of rejecting what America has stood for is what they choose. They will be voting to call the press “enemies of the people” and African countries “shitholes.” They will be voting for false equivalencies between white supremacists and those who oppose them. They will be voting against truth and science and history and the empowerment of women. They will be voting against decent futures for their LGBTQ friends and family members. They will be voting to stack the judiciary and end the protections for a woman’s right to choose. They will be voting for a rigged voting system that enhances the power of the most powerful and deprives the poorest and people of color of their basic right to vote.
For all these reasons, the election is not about Trump nor is it about the names that appear on the ballot. It is actually about who we choose to be as country, of how we choose to define ourselves.
You May Also Enjoy, What is at Stake Next Tuesday? Everything.
America has never been perfect. We were built on slavery and genocide and often the cold calculus of national narcissism abroad. But we also always aspired to be more and we struggled over time to gradually, incrementally, perfect our experiment in democracy.
A Trump/GOP victory would be an unprecedented reversal of that gradual progress, a repudiation of those aspirations and the often-elusive ideals that inspired them. It would cast America’s lot with the rightward drift toward ethno-nationalist authoritarianism worldwide.
For all of us in America, that would be a tragedy. It would be for the world as well.
It would and should prompt a profound moment of introspection and reflection and why we have stumbled and fallen so grievously. But better still, the prospect of such a fall should force us to undertake that introspection now and to recognize the choice that lies before us.
All elections are touted as “historic.” This one actually is. You get to decide. You still have that right. Democracy as we have defined it gives you that right.
But make the right decision. The wrong one may undermine forever that democracy and so alter the nation that choices like this may not be available to us for a long, long time to come.
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