Taking back morality
The question that is continually asked in the wake of the 2016 election is how Democrats rebuild and find their way back from the political wilderness. A good friend of mine hit the nail on the head when he said that it was about morality, not party. I think that he is absolutely correct. Whoever becomes the left’s voice going forward, be it Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Chuck Schumer, is going to have to transcend party, and make this about morality.
While Republicans will now have control of Congress and the White House, what they have ceded in allowing Donald Trump to be their leader is any moral authority. His bigotry, his lack of transparency in his financial dealings, his lack of decency in his personal life, have all made him perhaps one of the least moral people to ever inhabit the White House. In allowing this man to be the head of the party, Republicans have chosen power over conviction in their principles, and can no longer claim to have the moral wind at their backs. And in this moment, there lies a unique opportunity for the left.
This is the time where we as progressives make the moral argument for the issues that we hold dear, because our position is morally sound. Caring for the environment, protecting it from further damage, is moral. Insuring that anyone who needs affordable access to a doctor can do so is moral. Making sure that people don’t go hungry is moral. Protecting the vulnerable from the corporate greed we saw in the 2000’s is moral. Fighting to keep firearms out of the hands of those who are unstable or irresponsible is moral. The Republicans may have the power right now, but they do not have any moral ground left, and we must make this case in each and every fight.
That’s not to say that we cannot discuss, debate, and compromise with those who disagree with us to make progress. That’s how legislating and governing works. But we can no longer act like we’ve got two equally good arguments on both sides, because we don’t. The Republican agenda promotes capitalism as the moral answer in all instances, and this is simply not true. It’s time for us to stop tiptoeing around this fact, and shout this truth from the rooftops at every opportunity, in a loud, clear, powerful voice.
It’s also time to call out Democrats who do not live up to this standard of morality. While I believe strongly that progressives have the moral high ground, there are elected Democrats who are just as susceptible to the lure of money and lobbyists, and we cannot give them a free pass on this. If we are to be the party of morality, of the common man, then our elected leaders need to get on board with us, or risk our opposition when it’s time for their next election.
The future looks bleak right now. I imagine a week from today, when Donald Trump is the 45th president, I will be a hot mess. But I will remind myself continually that morality is the law by which we should be governed. If we insist on this, we will find our way back from the proverbial wilderness. But it is on us to do so. We can no longer give our leaders the benefit of the doubt. We can no longer be complacent. We must be vigilant, determined, and resolute that morality will be the law of our land.