Every morning I start off with the best of intentions. I’m going to read the news and write about issues that are emerging. And then I run across stories like the one today about how this White House seems intent on making life a living hell for any brown person in this country. Or about how the EPA director wants to silence scientists. And then I get depressed.
When I turn to what liberals are talking about, I hear arguments over whether Democrats should be reaching out to Trump or Romney voters. I hear otherwise sane liberals writing about how Democrats need a substantive agenda after hearing other folks rail that Hillary Clinton was too wonky. I hear endless arguments over whether Democrats should go after white suburbanites or white rural voters, the college educated or non-college educated.
All of this makes me want to scream, “What the hell is wrong with you people?”
In this country right now we have a Republican House Speaker who bragged about his dream of getting rid of health care for poor people since he was attending keggers in college. We have a Republican Majority Leader in the Senate who is working in secret to take health care away from millions of people in order to give a tax cut to his rich friends. And we have a Republican President who…well, that one is going to require a list.
- After only five months in office is under investigation for obstruction of justice and whether or not his campaign coordinated with the Russians to win the election,
- Lies an average of 4-5 times a day,
- Doesn’t seem to know the basics about how our government works,
- Doesn’t seem interested in learning anything about how our government works,
- Is obviously mentally unfit to be president,
- Adheres to no real ideology other than sexism, racism and xenophobia,
- Attacks anyone who attempts to hold him accountable,
- Is constantly under suspicion because he won’t release his tax returns or divest himself of business holdings,
- Has the self-control of a two year-old,
- Vacillates between being a laughing stock and an opponent to our allies abroad,
- Has an obvious preference for brutal autocrats,
- Has assembled a staff full of white nationalists and those whose history has been spent undermining the very mission of the agencies they are running.
I am reminded of that time during the presidential campaign when Obama warned us that democracy and justice were on the ballot. He was right. When I get depressed its because I feel like I’m losing my mind as we watch the very foundations that have held this country together being slowly stripped away one little piece at a time. We keep focusing on that one little piece, which is understandable. But that means we’ve zeroed in on a tree when the whole forest is in the process of being burned down.
In light of that it seems ridiculous to be arguing about whether or not we need to appeal to people who live in the suburbs or rural areas. Just as most of the disagreements on the left that we’re hearing about right now seem trivial in comparison to the challenge we face. This is an “all hands on deck” moment where we need to take in the big picture of what’s going on and understand what is at stake. That is why what Adam Gopnik wrote resonated with me so powerfully.
What’s needed against Trump now is what has been found in France—not an ideologically narrow, politically focussed opposition but the widest possible coalition of people who genuinely value the tenets of democracy, meaning no more than the passionate desire to settle differences by debate and argument, rather than by power and cruelty and clan.
We can disagree over the specifics of how we get to universal health care, or whether Democrats should push for free college for everyone. But those kinds of arguments don’t capture the two major battles that are front and center right now. The first is whether or not we’re going to roll back the progress we’ve made as a country over the last 50-60 years, and the second is whether or not our democracy will survive this assault. I’m ready to reach out to anyone who’s willing to take on that fight right now.
This, to me, is the fight of our lives. If you’ve ever wondered how you would react during the major challenges this country has faced over our history, now is your time to find out.