Those of you who have been following my blog know that I’ve been searching for common ground among us and/or stressing that we can be agreeable even when we disagree. I’ve also stated that I have strong opinions, and I’ve made no attempt to hide my concerns about climate change and gun safety, while generally avoiding the virulence of the political debates being played out in so many other arenas.
The thing is, I am perplexed that some of the most important issues we face are depicted as partisan, when, in fact, the majority of Americans agree about them. That’s certainly the case with sensible legislation to promote gun safety and with actions to address climate change.
It’s also the case with healthcare: there is now so much support for retaining preexisting conditions that Republicans who have put their names on a federal lawsuit to end this protection are insisting on the campaign trail that they favor it.
Most people want our politicians to come together to find a reasonable approach to immigration that protects both our borders and the Dreamers. Most of us are not radical: we long for the give-and-take among our elected officials that will result in decent quality of life for ourselves and our families in a country at peace—with drinking water that won’t make our children sick, jobs that pay a living wage, and a safety net of protections when we are at our most vulnerable—unemployed, ill, disabled, or old.
I have long felt that the Democratic party hews more closely to those views than the Republicans, so I have most often supported Democrats. While this is a midterm election, the President has made it a referendum on him–and indeed, it is. That casts a huge shadow that we dare not minimize or ignore.
The trio of recent horrors—the clearly racist murders of two African Americans in Kentucky, the numerous pipe bombs that could have resulted in the assassination of two former Presidents and multiple other leaders of the Democratic Party, and the horrific murders of eleven Jews at prayer in Pittsburgh—have made me feel that it is incumbent on each of us to do what we can to denounce the violence that threatens our democracy.
President Trump’s alternating appropriate printed statements with crowd-inciting rhetoric at his rallies—behavior that continued on the day of the Pittsburgh murders—must be firmly repudiated. But the leaders of the party he now controls have barely been heard from.
All this follows the pattern of his refusing to denounce neo-Nazis in Charlottesville after the murder of Heather Heyer; the ripping of babies from their mothers as a deliberate ‘immigration policy;” the continual framing of members of the legitimate press as “enemies of the people” (even after a pipe bomb had been sent to CNN); his false depiction of a stream of desperate people fleeing for their lives on foot from crime- and violence-ridden Honduras as an invading horde endangering us—and the continual stream of lies and bullying.
In the face of all these un-American expressions and actions, how can the Republican leadership remain silent or offer false equivalence, using Trump’s “fake news” slogan again and again?
I am writing now because I fear that our democracy is at stake in this election. Unless the Democrats gain control of the House (and preferably also the Senate), President Trump will think he has a mandate to continue, even accelerate, his dangerous rhetoric. And, as we have seen, there will be no “Sense of the Senate” or other castigation by the Republicans.
There’s reason to believe the violence he has countenanced, even encouraged, will not only continue but escalate, and his openly stated admiration for dictators offers a frightening portent concerning how he will respond to the ensuing chaos.
So I make a plea that regardless of your political affiliation, you vote for Democrats as a necessary check on this President, a repudiation of the politics of hate, and a clear demonstration to our elected officials that most Americans do not want our country riven by fear and divisiveness. (And if you aren’t thinking of voting, are thinking of voting for a third party candidate, or don’t believe your vote will matter, please think again.)
In urging this action, I join many former Republicans who have denounced President Trump and the current Republican leadership—whom they believe have usurped the Republican Party and led it astray—and are urging a vote for Democrats.
They include Steve Schmidt, former strategist for President George Bush and other Republicans; Max Boot, author of The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right; James Comey, former head of the FBI; George F. Will, conservative columnist; Seth Klarman, a former GOP “mega-donor;” Jennifer Rubin, author of the Washington Post’s “Right Turn” column; and many others.
I encourage you to read Boycott the Republican Party by Benjamin Wittes and Jonathan Rauch, who identify themselves this way: “We have both spent our professional careers strenuously avoiding partisanship in our writing and thinking…We are the kind of voters who political scientists say barely exist: true independents who scour candidates’ records in order to base our votes on individual merit, not party brand.
“This, then is the article we thought we would never write: a frank statement that a certain form of partisanship is now a moral necessity. The Republican Party, as an institution, has become a danger to the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy.”
I write these words with considerable sadness. I believe in the two-party system and the give-and-take of ideas that lead to compromise. But that seems impossible in the current political environment.
So I have concluded that in my search for common ground, in my reverence for the democratic (small d) form of government, I feel it is essential for us to vote Democratic. Perhaps, then, forces of responsibility and moderation will return to the Republican Party, or another party will form to galvanize those who support what were once considered traditional Republican values, and we can once again legitimately debate issues on their merits–and on the facts.
Please let me know your thoughts. Your comments will be most appreciated, and you can also express your views via a new rating scale below my name that invites you to award stars—from one (awful) to five (excellent). Those who’ve signed on through WordPress still have the “like” option.
16 thoughts on “The Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher: Vote to Repudiate Violence and Find Common Ground”
A lovely written, well reasoned, thoughtful–and right-on–piece. Thank you for saying what many of us are thinking.
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Thanks so much!
My old principal named me the “resident cynic” when we, along with some others, sought to make a difference in an urban school district. My life experiences demonstrated to me that most people see issues as a zero sum game unless forced to do otherwise. 9/11 was one of those moments, the assassinations of MLK, JFK, and RFK , made us stop and think……..for a few moments. Too often I dealt with higher ups in the school district that believed in zero sum. As a result both my principal, who by the way celebrated her birthday today, and myself felt that you have to deal with such people differently.
The Constitution was supposed to protect us from the person who lives for zero sum. Currently, it doesn’t because of fear. Congress is supposed to be a co-equal branch of government, but trump has created so much fear within his own party that they refuse to take him on. The Democrats HAVE to win the House next week. I agree with my friend Annie because we both realize that we really don’t have a choice this time.
Until the zero sum mentality changes (compromise returns) we have to go “low.” Michelle Obama implored us to go “high” when they go “low.” We have seen that fail. Perhaps, one day in the near future we can revisit the issue. Not now!!
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I certainly see the rationale for going “low,” but I watched back-to-back videos today that were depicted as the closing arguments of the Republicans and Democrats. President Trump’s most racially outrageous ad and statements from the White House were juxtaposed with Oprah’s inspiring speeches in behalf of Stacey Abrams in Georgia. I think people are desperate to be uplifted, and I am holding my breath to see if hope and inspiration triumph over fear and hate. Trump has set us back so far in terms of civility; I’d like to see us begin the journey forward–pronto.
I do agree with the statement in its entirety so now we all, those reading your blogs, know my leanings. These leanings were not political in there original inception, but grew from a place of fairness. I do not hide same at anytime but only, unlike yourself, come out when prompted or in the other sides case, challenged to do so.
My feelings run much as yours. My thoughts almost always go to the greater good or ‘tell me how it works out’. Right leaning friends who have made statements that seem more ethereal than planted on terre firma, I have asked, how does it work out when they have vilified social security, Medicare, Medicaid, a caravan fron Central America or anything they brought to conversation. The civilized discussion almost always does not satisfy the statement and we continue as friends. They have theirs and I have mine and never the twain shall……..well you get it.
I have some very right leaning religious friends who are so involved with their belief system that any discussion is futile so I do not go there at all, nor do I respond to their belief based statements when it goes beyond their religious beliefs. I do draw lines with them but give it a wider margin. Their statements I know come from their hearts but there are only so many beats in a hearts life and at some point, I require myself to at least interrupt.
I make the above statements or clarifications so the next part is as clear as day. None of these people are violent. However, the Trump era has allowed people to become uninhibited in their beliefs and polical positions. Many, not those I have befriended and I call loving friends, have used his and social media to fortify their thoughts into actions and open conversation. There are things I might think as some point in the day, but would never bring further than as a thought. However, there is a small percentage of people in this country and the democratic world that use their vilification of a group, race, gender, foreign nationality, religion to pull those of similar thought together and that is what this era has done. Go back in history, it has always been there long before democracy was a seed to thought.
We are facing these people again. Politics has become a career until some large corporate structure, university, partnership or think tank hears your continued message and then drowns that public servant in welalth as so many polititians have sought after their careers.
They have an agenda of not giving but finding. Removing at least one part of the national governing system, the House of Representatives, from their access is paramount in this election. A 2 legged stoll will not stand. The president has his, the senate theirs but the third leg needs to be removed on Election Day. It will not stop Trumps uninhibited statements nor those that support him. It will not stop those that hate. It will not stop or thwart those you to do murder, hate crimes or are so delusional they no longer can return if they were ever there to a place of civility. But, what it will do is to restore the order of democracy that we have lost along the way.
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I found it cathartic to write this post, and I’m hoping you had some of that same sense in writing your response. I deeply appreciate your sharing your views–especially as you point out that you don’t normally choose to do so. We must all hope that removing the third leg from the stool will be conveyed–at least by some elected officials–as a “proceed with caution” sign that has been so sorely lacking to date. And we must hope that somehow the evil genie of racial/religious animus that trump has released can somehow be returned to the bottle.
I do not see it as proceed with caution. I see it as a stop. However, they won’t. They will continue thru localities not effected by a new house, by courts leaning further their way then we had ever thought, thru exec orders that are easily given, thru a narrow view of a world that has slipped their grasp over the years. We, as a democracy, are no better than many of those in Europe that have taken the same nativist path. Moreover, we no longer have a view of ourselves in a democratic sense. We have given to no longer compromising legislation but more towards slash and burn.
I regret that see this as I have stated but I do not see a way out and if the American electorate do not do something to stop what has happened, we no longer exist in the eyes of the world as clearly as we once did. It has been stated, the United States will always do the right thing, after exhausting all the alternatives. We are running out of alternatives. Will the electorate notice. If they do, it is only a slowing of any federal legislation but not the stopping of the problem. If the federal government can no longer legislate then many conservative leaning states will continue to tear at the fabric of safety nets and voter rights. We are in a dire situation and those that vilified President Obama and the Democrats when they were in power for ‘busting the budget, for growing the deficit’ have themselves now embraced in full with tax cuts hoping they can cut the the budget by removing safety net and social programs needed to create a greater good.
I have little hope that we will see the likes of another Obama or Biden or any of those that could have the depth of perception of how we can make better and not bitter.
Charles, I think many of us share your dark assessment, but I worry that it becomes immobilizing for some, so I try not to allow myself too much time in that perspective. Right now there is tremendous energy among the electorate for some very promising candidates—and they are all running on messages of hope and determination to return our society to a more civil and democratic place. It’s possible that the 2020 nominee hasn’t even surfaced yet. In the meantime, some non-traditional candidates who can bring healthy diversity of views may well be elected next week. And Generation Z has a lot of promise.
Well said, and bravo your thoughtful commenters remarks as well. It’s time to speak up, America. Time to talk to your Congressmen, your neighbors, members of your social circles, and vote. Thanks, Annie.
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Thanks for commenting about both me and my thoughtful commenters (of whom you are one of the most frequent–and always thoughtful!). Thanks, too, for your clarion call. We all need to do what you describe.
Late to the party here, but I thank you for your words. You have articulated my thoughts and as usual with more clarity and reason than I could provide. Did you happen to read the recent write-up by Jeff Toobin in The New Yorker where he profiled Deval Patrick? https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/11/19/deval-patricks-presidential-prospects. There’s hope: decent people in the wings who just might run and turn the discourse toward the civil society at least some of us crave. You’ll note in there that the “go low” quote is discussed — reactions from “kick them” (Eric Holder; ouch) to, of course, the Michele Obama dictum of “go high.” Keep at it, Annie. I can better articulate my point of view when you spell it out for me, step by step!
Thanks so much. Coincidentally, we are away for the weekend, and I brought The New Yorker issue with me, opened to Toobin’s article about Deval Patrick, which I had just started reading. I just hope Patrick’s Bain Capital connection won’t prevent him from getting a fair hearing.
When you get a chance, I’d love to hear your response to my most recent post, “How Do We Talk About Race in America? (Part 1 of 2),” which has generated some dialogue that has educated me, for sure. And that, essentially, has been my hope for my blog from its inception: that it would be a vehicle to help us learn from one another.
I deeply appreciate your encouragement.
On Fri, Nov 23, 2018 at 11:26 AM annieasksyou… wrote:
I am just reading your blog for first time as my sister Nancy put me on to it this morning. As I review several pre-2018 election pieces on our unfortunate gun culture It is clear that the only changes are more deaths, more lies. We cannot change the Sopreme Court for many years, but we have to start now. Increase the D majority in the House, take back the Senate and scourge the White House.
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Amen to all that. If you have the time to read further in my archive, you’ll see I’ve written much of what you’re saying in various other posts.
I’m absolutely delighted to welcome you to annieasksyou, and I hope you’ll comment whenever you feel motivated to do so. I would be especially interested in your views of my post on the recent second debate, specifically the substance described by Dahlia Lithwick and Ezra Klein.
Sorry if this is a duplicate comment. WordPress likes to eat my comments.
We may be about to witness the first impeachment in U.S. history. Lord Dampnut doesn’t have the good sense or the humility to resign as Nixon did. Pence is awful too, but at least he doesn’t sit up all night railing on Twitter about witch hunts, so he’s less of an embarrassment. However, being more subtle, he might actually be more dangerous to values such as equitable treatment for gay folks and freedom of religion. Sigh.
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Hi, and welcome to annieasksyou! No, this wasn’t a duplicate, though I too–and a number of my subscribers–have found comments disappearing into the WP maw.
My hope is that enough Republican Senators are persuaded to say that they have no choice but to convict that trump actually decides to resign. I’m fine if he strikes a deal with prosecutors that in exchange for leaving office, he won’t have to go to jail or be completely stripped of whatever finances he and his children have (which many have suggested are far below what he claims). I think that result would be best for the country–and maybe prevent bloodshed.
As for the very religious, virtuous (?) Pence, there’s plenty to tie him to all this bad stuff too. He would at least be sufficiently weakened so that he couldn’t win election.
I hope you’ll visit often and comment whenever you feel motivated to do so!