History Has Its Eyes On You
In today’s Washington Post, Dana Millbank published an op-ed titled We have no excuses now. Our eyes are wide open. He closes by saying:
On Tuesday, voters will make a decision in what is the purest midterm referendum on a sitting president in modern times:
Will we take a step, even a small one, back from the ugliness and the race-baiting that has engulfed our country?
Or will we affirm that we are really the intolerant and frightened people Donald Trump has made us out to be?
If we choose the latter, 2018 will in some ways be more difficult to take than 2016. This time, we don’t have the luxury of saying we didn’t really know what Trump would do.
Our eyes are wide open.
I keep saying this: history doesn’t just happen. The world isn’t a story that someone tells, and we all ride along inside the narrative, unable to affect it in any meaningful way.
I am 46. I was raised in an America that claimed to be The Land of Opportunity, a place where all people are equal under the law, and anyone who was willing to do the work could make something special for themselves and their families.
That is painfully not the America we are living in now, and that didn’t just happen. This America, this country that is so xenophobic, so profoundly unequal, which treats nonwhite lives like they are disposable, which is currently lead by the most despicable, dishonest, openly racist and misogynist man to ever hold the presidency … this America didn’t just happen. This America was slowly and deliberately built by people like Ronald Reagan, John Bolton, Dick Cheney, George Bush and his idiot son, Newt Gingrich, The Koch Brothers, The Mercers, Fox News, Stephen Miller, and their malignant voice of hate and fear, Donald Trump.
Taking a look at my 46 years in America, it starts to become clear that, at least at the national political level, presidents like Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter are not our norm, as much as I wish they were. Looking at just the last 25 years, we see two right-wing presidents who were not elected by the majority of Americans, and we see a Senate that continually and gleefully abuses its anti-Democratic power to keep shaping America further and further away from the ideals of freedom and equality and opportunity that America at least claimed to stand for when I was a child.
What we are witnessing now is a fight for not just the future of America, but for her present, and for the rest of my life. Will America continue her march toward open civil war between the revanchist, paranoid, bigoted army of racists who make up the incredibly small but powerful Republican base, and the majority of Americans who are not bigots, anti-Semites, white nationalists, and misogynists? Or will we send a clear message that our voices, which are the overwhelming majority, will not be silenced, and we will not allow ourselves to be governed by Trump and people who support him?
Dana Milbank is correct in his column and in his assessment: our eyes are wide open now, and we know exactly what we get when Republicans are in power.
This is the first election since the Republicans stopped winking and dog-whistling and giving themselves plausible deniability, and openly embraced racism, bigotry, xenophobia, violence, and started proudly and stridently embracing the most deplorable ideas and beliefs in American politics since the Confederacy
This election is powerfully and unambiguously clear: you are with us, or you are against us. You are with Trump and his hateful, violent, paranoid, racist values, or you are against him. This is the reality in which we are living, and you have to choose a side.
History doesn’t just happen. Every election matters and every election helps decide what our country is going to look like not just for us, but for our children and for the future. And though it isn’t just this election, (because we aren’t going to undo thirty years of right wing paranoia, voter suppression, and assaults on basic human and civil rights with just a single election any more than the Kochs and Adelsons and Mercers corrupted America’s free and fair elections in a single election) this is the first nationwide, congressional election of the Trump era. This is the first election since the Republicans stopped winking and dogwhistling and giving themselves plausible deniability, and openly embraced racism, bigotry, xenophobia, violence, and started proudly and stridently embracing the most deplorable ideas and beliefs in American politics since the Confederacy.
Put simply: if they can hold onto the House, if they can consolidate their power after they have made their intentions and beliefs crystal clear and without any doubts, they will be empowered to go even further toward taking civil and human rights away from people, because that’s what they’ve been promising to do since Trump’s election. History doesn’t just happen by accident, and what’s acceptable in America doesn’t just happen. In America, elections and the people they elect decide what history will be written, and by whom. In the past, a person could make the case with winks and nods and dogwhistles, and a voter could credibly claim that they were voting on the economy, for example. This election is different. This is the first election in my lifetime where openly racist, antisemitic, white nationalists are telling you exactly who they are and exactly what they will do if you vote for them.
History doesn’t just happen by accident, and what’s acceptable in America doesn’t just happen. In America, elections and the people they elect decide what history will be written, and by whom.
It may seem like one vote doesn’t matter, or one election doesn’t matter. It may seem like “they’re all the same” or “there’s no difference between the parties” but I want you to consider that there is one main group of politicians in America (and their supporters) who don’t have a problem tearing a child away from its parents, who claim to be good, honorable, God fearing moral Christians, yet whose deeds consistently hurt the poor, the marginalized, people of color, and immigrants. There is one main group of politicians in America (and their supporters) who are appalled and revolted by the abuse of children and the destruction of any family, regardless of that family’s nation of origin. They believe that women’s rights are human rights. They believe that healthcare is a right. They believe that workers should have rights and protections, that the air we breathe and the water we drink should be clean and safe, that we can do more together than we can when we’re divided, and that all people, regardless of their gender, who they love, where they were born, who their parents are, how they pray (if they pray), and how much money they earn, deserve to live their lives in safety and prosperity.
Every election in America is a choice between these two parties. I know it shouldn’t be that way. I know that we should have more nuanced choices. But the reality is, we don’t. We can choose between a party that will tell nonwhites that they don’t matter and don’t have basic, fundamental, human rights (that are also their Constitutional rights, by the way), and a party that says their lives and their rights and their families matter. That’s the choice. In the past, they muddied things up with fear and economics, but this time is different. This time our eyes are open and we know exactly what this election is about, because they have told us what this election is about.
History doesn’t just happen. Elections have consequences. If Republicans hold on to power or — god forbid — expand it, they will make good on their antisemitic, misogynist, bigoted promises, because their voters will have told them that’s what they want.
On Tuesday, we all vote with our eyes wide open, and we have a chance to grab the pen that’s writing our history. Don’t let anyone tell you that your vote and your voice doesn’t matter, because history has its eyes on you.