The future of our politics is at stake

by | Nov 6, 2018 | Opinion | Comments

All elections are about the future of our country, but this one is about the future of our politics and our national character. For two years now, we have seen the steady decay of any sense of decency, ethics, moderation, and inclusion as the brand of purposefully divisive, dishonest and poisonous brand of politics – exemplified by President Trump – progressed from marginalized novelty to accepted practice for an entire party.

In two short years, we have learned to accept as normal the kind of boldfaced public lies, racism, demagoguery, and fear-mongering that would have sunk politicians in the past.

In two short years, we have become numb to the daily outrages, the rampant corruption/criminality, the purposeful cruelty – and the callous congressional complicity with it all – that has epitomized this President and his enablers in the House and Senate.

For two years now, we have seen the steady decay of any sense of decency, ethics, moderation and inclusion as the brand of purposefully divisive, dishonest and poisonous politics – exemplified by President Trump – progressed from marginalized novelty to accepted practice for an entire party. Rather, our outrage amuses and arouses him – the man who is supposed to be President of all Americans.

In two short years, America has gone from being a confident and admired world leader to a defensive, isolationist, bitter global backbencher – determined to find victimization in the systems we built, unwilling to fight for the sovereignty of our own elections and unable to credibly stand as a moral example as our President praises dictators and admonishes allied democratic leaders.

In two short years, we have learned to accept the idea that our President’s every statement needs to be fact checked for accuracy, and that there will be an audible silence from his party in Congress when his lies are spread. In no time, we learned to just roll our eyes, cringe and move along with our day when our President whips up racial violence, attacks critical institutions, discredits journalism and erodes the very idea of compromise in policy making.

Make no mistake about it, this election is not about Trump or the House or the Senate or policy. This is about Trumpism, what it means to be American and the style and tenor of politics that we hope to see in the future.

If the Republicans keep the House and Senate tonight, we can expect politicians on the left and the right to mimic the zero-sum, lying-as-a-strategy, us versus them, all about the base, divide and conquer strategy up and down the ballot. The days when compromise and moderation were a virtue will die. The image of America as a forward-looking, welcoming, strong, moral, compassionate, and inclusive nation will be taken off life support.

In 2016, too many of us assumed that America was better than Trump or Trumpism, and that he would be easily defeated. We were overconfident, apathetic, unenthusiastic, and cynical. This time around, I hope we don’t make the same mistake. If you are one of the tens of millions of Americans who have been ignored and enraged for the last two years, now is your time to register that discontent. If you are one of the people who held your nose, voted for Trump and hoped he would grow and change in office, now is your chance to make amends. America, vote like the nation depends on it. Vote like your opinion matters. Vote like duty requires it. Vote like your country demands it. The future depends on it.