AMERICA AT WAR
Obama was wrong.
Remember when he said: We’re not the Red States of America or the Blue States of America. We’re the United States of America! What stirring words. What a noble sentiment that goes hand in hand with the recent babble about the “Great American Experiment;” about how, with all our flaws, we’re still the “great shining city on the hill;” the story that we’re all pulling the same cart in the same direction to achieve the myth of an America to which we all aspire.
The dream is over.
America is at war. We’re no longer a family bickering over solutions to problems, arguing over cultural differences, harboring petty grievances. We’ve become a nation divided by diametrically opposing world views, unable to agree on the most basic fundamentals of science, history, and facts. We’re separated by religion, beliefs in human rights, and even basic values of human decency.
Progressive sensibilities, by their very nature, are guided by foundational principles such as inclusion, compromise, openness to different points of view. Democrats talk about bipartisan solutions, “working across the aisle,” negotiating in good faith. Maybe these were once honorable pursuits. But we now face the reality that naive progressives who try to compromise with their right wing counterparts are like lambs being led to slaughter.
We saw what happened when President Obama reached out his hand and tried to work with Republicans. His hand was slapped away by Mitch McConnell whose stated goal was to make Obama a one-term president. We saw what happened when Obama put forth an eminently qualified, centrist nominee for Supreme Court. McConnell refused to even give him a hearing. Since then, we’ve witnessed the long game McConnell and the Republicans have been playing: rigging the process to get three candidates with an insidious radical agenda installed in the Supreme Court, shifting the balance of power to the most reactionary forces and decimating decades of progress.
We’ve seen a torrent of hate unleashed by a madman who served one term as president while receiving 3 million fewer votes than his opponent. His incessant diarrhetic diatribes have given license to the ugliest underbelly of our nation to proudly mimic his juvenile, bigoted, and violent behavior.
The practical effects are astonishing. The planet’s climate is detonating exponentially with record fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, and extinctions that threaten the very survival of the human race. Yet the radical right would prefer to stick their middle finger at the “libs” rather than even admit there’s a problem. Women’s rights, minority rights, LGBTQ rights, human rights are being stripped away before our eyes. We’ve been ravaged by a pandemic that cost hundreds of thousands of lives because of “leadership” that refused to take it seriously. Children are being slaughtered in schools because Republican politicians are raking in massive amounts of bribes from a gun lobby that rewards allowing weapons of war to proliferate.
We are past the point of compromise. There are two distinct and irreconcilable sides. There is right and there is wrong. Yes, Wayne LaPierre, there are “good guys” and “bad guys.”
The good guys want to save our planet. The good guys recognize the systemic injustices toward minorities that have existed since Europeans landed on these shores, and they want to remedy them. The good guys value facts, data, science, education, and they will act accordingly, whether it be honoring vaccines or removing weapons of mass destruction from circulation.
The bad guys do none of the above. The bad guys lie, cheat, and steal to hold onto power. They are shameless, ruthless, and dangerous. They are actively plotting to unravel what’s left of our voting laws so there will never be a free election again.
I once wrote a song lyric that said: “There are shades of gray between the black and the white.” In this context, I no longer believe in shades of gray. I never put much stock in the concept of “good” and “evil.” But if these people aren’t evil, I don’t know what is. They are the enemy, and I believe it’s time for we who want America to survive and progress, to think of them that way. They’re the enemy of truth; the enemy of common decency; the enemy of fairness; the enemy of Democracy.
Let’s drop the tired pretense that we need to understand the other side. When did our enemies ever try to understand us? Progressives spend an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to empathize with those with whom they disagree. J.D. Vance wrote his best seller, Hillbilly Elegy, which purported to contextualize the historical roots of the reactionary, resentful, violent tendencies within the white working class population—which we on the left studied scrupiously. Of course, Vance has graduated from being a thoughtful conservative apologist and transformed himself into a Trump clone in order to elbow his way up the Republican food chain.
It’s part of our DNA for progressives to bend over backwards to understand the other side. However, when confronted with reasoned arguments, our enemies resort to shouting, obfuscating, and childish name calling. “Elitist” is a term they love to bandy about in their attempt to “own the libs.” It’s time to go on offense. It’s time to say, “If being an ‘elitist’ means being educated, informed, well-read, culturally sensitive, and self-aware, then I happily own that title. Conversely, I freely acknowledge that I have little respect for those who are willfully ignorant, who act in their own selfish interests at the expense of the common good, and who choose to live narrow, insulated lives.” There I said it.
Remember: This enemy is armed. I don’t own a gun, let alone an AR-15. Do you? The only weapons I own are the money I contribute to worthy causes, my voice, my volunteerism, and my vote. It feels like pretty thin gruel in the face of an enemy that is stockpiling weapons of war and becoming increasingly belligerent, organized, and unhinged.
Tectonic plates have shifted. We’re facing a vicious enemy that will stop at nothing to win, and each of us must take inventory of our resources and find creative ways to resist. At the very least, we must vote them out in November if we even stand a chance.
Our lives and those of our loved ones may depend on it.