Elections

We can’t know our future, but we can be better prepared to defend our democracy

In Novem­ber of 2020, I read an arti­cle by Indi Sama­ra­ji­va. (It was not the spe­cif­ic arti­cle I’ve linked to here, and his com­men­tary has been updat­ed since the events of Jan­u­ary 6th, 2020, but you can still get the gist of his message.)

I read it, read a cou­ple more pieces by the author to get a sense of his mind­set and per­son­al­i­ty, and men­tal­ly filed it away.

It wasn’t that I thought the author was entire­ly wrong, but Sri Lan­ka, his home, had been through one of the blood­i­est sec­tar­i­an wars of the 20th Cen­tu­ry, and they were still more than will­ing to kill each oth­er in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers in the present day, even though the rea­son­ing behind such vio­lence was some­what, but not entire­ly, dif­fer­ent from the log­ic of that nation’s recent past.

Did I of think Amer­i­ca as immune, giv­en its his­to­ry of vio­lence in response to our peri­od­ic pub­lic dec­la­ra­tions for and actions toward com­bat­ing racism, clas­sism, or misog­y­ny? No. Did I think the Trump regime was going to go qui­et­ly into the night in the event that Trump and Pence were defeat­ed for reelec­tion? No.

Nor did I con­sid­er them rea­son­able folks, giv­en, above all else, that they, through their delib­er­ate mis­man­age­ment (or delib­er­ate lack of man­age­ment – I would say some of each) of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, were respon­si­ble for between 700,000 and one mil­lion deaths in the Unit­ed States.

Don­ald Trump him­self had made it clear that he would and will fight tooth and nail if not declared the win­ner of both the 2016 or 2020 Pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

What I expect­ed was some­thing on the order of the even­tu­al­ly abort­ed recount of votes in 2000 in Flori­da, just on a larg­er scale, with the threat of vio­lence a nev­er-end­ing mias­ma to force us into submission.

(The for­mer hap­pened, sor­ta, but incred­i­bly, hor­ri­bly, cringe-ably bad­ly for their side. The lat­ter has been in play since, wher­ev­er his sup­port­ers think they can bend peo­ple to their will in pre­tend­ing that COVID-19 isn’t the dan­ger­ous viral pan­dem­ic it is, and in a more extreme sense, through the QAnon con­spir­a­cy cult.)

I did not expect, on Jan­u­ary 6th, to be con­stant­ly recy­cling the Twit­ter page of Igor Bobic as an act of vio­lent insur­rec­tion struck the grounds of, and then with­in, the Capi­tol Build­ing itself. I did not expect, on Jan­u­ary 6th, to see video of var­i­ous mem­bers of the Capi­tol Police com­mis­er­ate with the insur­rec­tion­ists, and oth­er mem­bers of the Capi­tol Police lit­er­al­ly save the lives of both Vice Pres­i­dent Pence and Sen­a­tor Schumer by mere steps.

I did not expect, on Jan­u­ary 6th, to read of mem­bers of Con­gress in hid­ing, that oth­er mem­bers of Con­gress may have pro­vid­ed the means to facil­i­tate find­ing those in hid­ing, and of plain­clothes Capi­tol secu­ri­ty behind hasti­ly assem­bled bar­ri­cades in the House Cham­ber, guns drawn if a breach was attempt­ed by the insur­rec­tion­ists. But the warn­ing signs were there.

Read and watch.

Remem­ber.

Remem­ber.

Remem­ber.

And do not, for one moment, accept their non­sense as cov­er for their violence.

Pro­gres­sives can no longer rely on old polit­i­cal, soci­etal, or gov­ern­men­tal norms, result­ing shame for vio­lat­ing said norms, or a judi­cia­ry that has become too far removed from the real­i­ties of how racism, clas­sism and misog­y­ny exist in our time, to restrain an oppo­si­tion will­ing to cast aside all norms and legal prece­dents as is nec­es­sary to achieve and per­ma­nent­ly retain power.

We must be will­ing to do the dif­fi­cult, often bru­tal, some­times dan­ger­ous work nec­es­sary to effec­tive­ly address and rem­e­dy over time, often piece­meal, the dif­fi­cult times in which we now live. We must effec­tive­ly orga­nize togeth­er — and mobi­lize togeth­er — to pro­tect our democracy.

This is some­thing that Richard Rorty, who I believe has one of the best sens­es of com­pre­hend­ing, as a polit­i­cal philoso­pher of the Amer­i­can left, has writ­ten about. Rorty has dis­cussed where we are head­ed and what needs to be done at the metaphor­i­cal lev­el to advance the great Amer­i­can Experiment.

I sus­pect that I, like Rorty, will not be around to see us even­tu­al­ly rise above these dark, dan­ger­ous and del­i­cate times. But I hope that we all take heed of what he has to say and act accordingly.

Rich Erwin

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