A Republic—If We Can Keep It

I hope Democrats (I’m not one) and their allies (I am one) will be at least somewhat rational about the primary process and, to the extent it’s possible here in MoneyWorld®, let the voters decide who their candidate will be. As we watch centrist candidates leave the race and coalesce around Joe Biden, we are not watching a “conspiracy” to deny someone else the nomination. We are watching the political process, messy as it may be, which involves people with like minds working together and coming together to advance their agenda, and to do so behind the person they see as best able to help them do that. As a very wise person said, your vote is not a love letter – it’s a contract offer. We vote for the best flawed candidate, or if it comes to it the least-worst flawed candidate. Name-calling and other hateful rhetoric is not  helpful to the process (although it’s helpful to the opposition party). The media reporting the heretofore obscure facts of a candidate’s history when they have earned that level of scrutiny accorded to the front runner is not a “hit job.” It’s unfettered journalism. It’s the Fourth Estate, itself flawed as it has always been but still a vital component of any democracy.

Facts are not enemies or traitors, as the one in the White House would have it. They are just facts.

We are in a populist era. I don’t consider that a good thing — it’s the ideology that brought the current administration and it’s damaging agenda into being, the notion that “I alone” can fix everything, like some modern-day Messiah. Bullshit. Nothing difficult politically is ever achieved by one person alone.

But popular ideas, as opposed to populist politicians, have a way of overlapping party lines and developing a staying power that can’t be denied. Abolition, the national parks, anti-trust laws, the EPA, the end of the Vietnam atrocity: all brought into being by Republicans under popular pressure. And of course it was the Democrats of old who upheld slavery, then Jim Crow, then redlining and school segregation: until popular pressure largely ended these practices. (Yes there’s still a long road ahead on this, and there’s no irony in the fact that it’s now Democrats who lead the way against a newly Republican Solid South.)

Unless this society slides from populism into authoritarian rule — and that remains a distinct danger — what this democratic society really wants will not be denied by any party or any interest group, nor by the intransigence of their entrenched infrastructures or party leaders. It might not happen tomorrow, or next year. But if we insist it happen, it will happen. I believe that.

Does this mean America wanted Donald Trump? No. The Electoral College wanted Donald Trump. And for that matter, it was not the people who put George W. Bush in office — it was a right-wing Supreme Court majority. Things to fix if we can, among many others.

It’s only natural and right to want the fair society you want. I know this society is miles and miles away from the one I would want, and I’m not foolish enough to think it will become a utopia any time soon. But in this ongoing experiment in self-rule, at least for now, you and yours have one tool, your votes. If you don’t have the collective votes to get exactly what you want, or the platform to get more of those votes, it’s not the fault of others earnestly striving for a similar vision. (But by all means–keep trying. Keep pushing. That’s what this whole thing is about.)

What’s the alternative to self-government, democratic traditions and the rule of law? Rule by the  loudest and angriest, by those most ignorant of history, by those most talented at whipping up a mob? Not if I can help it. 

2 thoughts on “A Republic—If We Can Keep It

  1. Good piece–after the primaries last night, I feel more hopeful about the process, but we will see how it all plays out!

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