The evening of the election, I planned to ignore the watch. I had canvassed door to door, donated money, and voted. I was done. However, before bed, I peeked at the returns. Ohio was leaning bad. In the middle of the night, I woke up and could not get back to sleep. So I got up, and looked on the internet. It all looked bad. I was still in a state of disbelief when I turned on the radio, just in time to hear the acceptance speech. I posted to Facebook:
We are so screwed. The whole world is so screwed.
Politicians have long been fond of saying they have “faith in the American people.” Trump’s election proves another saying more apt: “There’s a sucker born every minute”.
In the following days, around the country there were pointless juvenile expressions of denial. Just what were they protesting? The Constitution? Where was all of that energy before the election, when it could have done some good?
The election is over. The American people have spoken. Once the party of lofty ideals personified by Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, the Republican Party, has become the party of bigotry, deceit, and willful ignorance, personified by an operator of bankrupt casinos. Nevertheless, voters have put Republicans in control of the presidency, both houses of Congress, and most state governments. The party that begat interminable Benghazi hearings is will now be appointing judges throughout the land. Willful ignorance, in the form of climate change deniers and Biblical creationists, will be put in charge of protecting the environment and educating our youth. White Nationalists are holding victory parades, and hate crimes are being reported across the country.
The American Century is over. America once saw itself as a “shining city on the hill” (Matthew 5:14), spreading freedom and prosperity throughout the world. However, the American people looked at the bold new brightly colored multi-cultural world of the future and fearfully retreated to a dim dream of the past. The America of today does want to be leader of the free world, and frankly, a people that elected a such a charlatan is not worthy to lead it.
Democracy is difficult. It demands informed, engaged citizens committed to the civic good. Around the world, democratic republics are overwhelmed by by identity politics, by corruption, by the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, and by institutions that primarily serve to perpetuate the wealth and power of those in charge. The opposition, weak, disorganized, and fragmented by competing utopian visions, is easily suppressed. In such places, the democratic institutions might appear to be intact, but the vision “of liberty and justice for all” is but a distant dream.
However, that is not going to happen here. The Fascists might have won a battle, but this is not the Germany of the 1930s. Even in Mississippi, the vast majority has no desire to return to the days of church burnings and lynchings, when the KKK was allowed to run rampant. The burnt out church will be repaired, the sun will rise, and the rafters will again resound with the people praising God.
Our constitutional institutions are intact. Throughout America, there are people of integrity, judges, policeman, bureaucrats, and even some Republicans, ready to prevent abuses of power. We need to be vigilant, informed and ready to act.
After the new Constitution was written, Ben Franklin was asked what kind of government it was. He replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
We can and we must. This election has shown us that our democracy is much more fragile than he had imagined, but the great experiment in government by the people and for the people that began over 200 years ago is definitely not over.
Let us join together and make America great again.