In case you haven’t heard, there’s an election coming up. 435 US Representatives, 33 Senators, 36 Governors, and hundreds of state and local representatives are up for election. Tuesday, November 6. Everywhere in the United States. Some states have already started early voting.
Presumably you are registered and haven’t been unregistered (which is another rant for another time). If not, it’s too late in most states, though a handful allow same-day registration. That’s yet another rant for another time. But most likely you are registered.
So I have a one-word message for you.
I don’t need to tell you how to vote
Not that you’d follow my directions if I did. But seriously, I don’t need to tell you how to vote. I know the people who read this blog, as a group if not as individuals.
80% of you will vote Democratic. 10% will vote Libertarian. 5% will vote Green. 5% will vote Republican. So if I can persuade more of you to vote, the vast majority will vote my way.
Not that the Democrats are our saviors
They aren’t. They’re still in the pockets of Wall Street. They’ll still go to war to preserve the empire. And on the whole, they’re only slightly less sleazy than the Republicans.
Though to set aside my cynicism for a moment, I’m happy with most of the Democratic candidates running in Texas. Especially Beto O’Rourke, who stands a very good chance of unseating conservative theocrat Ted Cruz.
That election, like so many, will come down to turnout.
But elections have consequences
We had an election in 2014 and another in 2016. Because of those elections, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh now sit on the Supreme Court instead of Merrick Garland and a younger version of Elena Kagan or Sonia Sotomayor (there’s only one RBG – and she’s 85 years old). Conservatives will hold the Supreme Court for at least the next 15 years (the oldest conservative justice is Clarence Thomas at 70).
There will be no more advancement of social issues by court rulings. Roe v. Wade is in serious jeopardy, and if Roe falls, Obergefell and even Lawrence v. Texas could follow.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to appoint lower level judges who will consistently rule in favor of corporations, law enforcement, and state legislatures and against individuals, especially vulnerable individuals. And the Republican-controlled Senate continues to confirm them.
Late last year Congress passed and Trump signed into law a $1.5 trillion tax cut. The vast majority of that money went to corporations and the very wealthy. Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the deficit is out of control and to fix it we have to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. This after Trump campaigned on not cutting any of those programs.
If we have another Republican Congress it is almost certain they will cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
We cannot fix the system all at once, but we can make it better. Or worse.
The modern conservative movement began in 1964 with the landslide defeat of Barry Goldwater by Lyndon Johnson. It took 16 years before it could began to implement its agenda with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. It continues to this day, making regular incremental progress toward its goal of a society where the idea of the common welfare is abandoned in favor of the unconstrained accumulation of private wealth, and the goal of a culture that looks like the 1950s.
And they’re not done yet.
Too many of us on the liberal and progressive side are of the opinion that if it can’t all be done at once it’s not worth bothering with. Single payer health care. An end to the War on Drugs and freedom for all non-violent drug offenders. A military sized to protect the homeland and not to facilitate corporate interests abroad. Congressional districts drawn by non-partisan commissions instead of by political parties. Even universal basic income.All of these are possible, eventually.
Conservatives have remained committed to their vision for 54 years, taking what they could get when and how they could get it. Too many liberals are “socialism now or I’m staying home.”
Commit to seeing your vision turned into reality, eventually. Or watch the conservatives continue to implement theirs.
This is not a choice between Coke and Pepsi
Donald Trump is the least presidential President since Andrew Jackson. He’s the most corrupt President since Warren G. Harding. His admiration for brutal dictators would be amusing if it wasn’t so frightening.
But as distasteful as I find him personally, what he is is far less important than what he does. And what he’s done has been horrible.
Separating families and putting children in detention camps to get funding for his twisted dream of a border wall.
Increasing tariffs unilaterally, adding billions to the price of goods and costing jobs in the US. Even if you believe something needed to be done to address the trade imbalance with China (and I do) the way he went about it has caused far more harm than good.
Denying climate change, promoting the use of coal, and attempting to silence government scientists who promote actual science.
Appointing FCC commissioners who killed net neutrality.
Banning transgender persons from serving in the military, and now seeking to define gender as fixed at birth, essentially removing legal protections for transgender people.
Plus the tax giveaways to the rich, pending cuts to programs for ordinary people, and the appointment of regressive judges we’ve already talked about.
Conservatives love to talk about “separation of powers” and “checks and balances.” Those are good and necessary things.
A Democratic-controlled Congress probably couldn’t impeach Trump, and even if they did we’d get Pence, who would be even worse. But they could refuse to fund his priorities, and they could overturn his executive orders with legislation.
A Republican-controlled Congress will continue to be nothing but a rubber stamp for Donald Trump.
There are no house elves in a democracy
This is a religion blog, and I’d much rather be blogging about religion. Like most of you, I’d prefer to let someone else handle running the country so I can focus on running my life. Trouble is, when we do that we end up with elected officials who decide they want to regulate other people’s personal lives while screaming “I’ve got mine, screw you.”
The early days of the Trump administration saw people taking to the streets and calling their representatives in numbers unseen in decades. Trump and those who put him in power ignored us – they counted on us getting tired or bored or burned out, so they could go back to building a country with more exploitation of people and the environment.
But this is the moment of truth.
This is the moment where we can do something that will make a tangible difference over the next two years, and – if we follow up and follow through – set the tone for 2020 and beyond.
Or we can continue to allow 26% of the country (the percentage of registered voters who voted for Trump in 2016) to drive us off the cliff.
If we turn out, we win.
covers of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” and Leonard Cohen’s “Democracy” by Rallying Call