We shouldn’t be scared

Whenever the inevitable dinner party question comes up, I introduce myself as a progressive political consultant. Every one of these conversations this year has immediately turned to Donald Trump.

“Do you think he has a chance?”

“Is he for real?”

“Does he actually want to be President?”

And, more than anything else: “I’m absolutely terrified that he’s going to win.”

You don’t need to work in politics to find yourself in these conversations. The fear is absolutely palpable from folks across the political spectrum. It’s everywhere you look, and that fear is reasonable. The man, his campaign, and his supporters present a dark corner of America that we’d all rather didn’t exist. And yet, I’ve never been scared. I have too much faith in my countrymen.

Our democracy has seen attacks from homegrown demagogues before Trump. Joseph McCarthy ruined the lives of political opponents. George Wallace held rallies overflowing with rhetoric that would fit right in with the chants of “lock her up” that ring out at Trump rallies across the country. And, while these sorts of folks are rare in higher office, they’ve always existed. This isn’t new, and there has been some great reporting on the similarities between Trump and demagogues-past.

No matter who’s carrying the banner, though, Americans have always rallied against it. We’ve always stood up and made our voices heard, and we’ve always, always beaten it back. 2016 is no different.

The American people have been through an awful lot in our 240 years of existence. We won our independence by taking on the greatest military in the world. We stood up against injustices in our own system, and we fought against tyrannical demagogues the world over. Anybody who tells you that America can fall for this man is selling something you shouldn’t buy.

America is a country of great men and women, people who fight when our backs are against a wall. We’re a nation that stands apart from the rest, the world’s top economy, top military, top center of innovation. We’re that shining city on a hill. If you think that we, as a people, are going to vote for a man who sees America as a broken mess that only he can fix, you don’t understand what makes America great.

Donald Trump doesn’t understand what makes America great. The hard-working men and women who built his empire make America great. The veterans and soldiers he has insulted make America great. The activists who fight for what’s right make America great. Our immigrants make America great.

This man’s vision of America is not a vision that I can support, and it isn’t a vision that the majority of Americans can support. If you want proof of that, look at who has united against him. We’ve seen conservative evangelical talk-radio hosts, Republican consultants, and even Republican former Presidents repudiating their party’s nominee.

Folks. I’m a Democrat. A proud one. It isn’t every day that I find myself in total agreement with these guys. If we’re on the same side, it’s bigger than politics as usual. This election isn’t about left vs. right, it’s about Donald Trump’s vision for America, and that’s a vision that cannot win. We won’t let it.

Vice President Biden said it best, in his speech at the Democratic National Convention:

“It’s never, never, never been a good bet to bet against America,” he said. “Given a fair shot, given a fair chance, Americans have never, ever, ever let their country down. Never.”

Donald Trump is not enough to change that. We’re too good for that.

Go vote. Go knock doors. Phonebank, donate, and make sure your friends and neighbors are voting. But don’t be afraid.