A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature. Over 400,000 monthly users. Over 6,000 archived posts.
Dear Friends of the Republic:
These are the times that try our souls. Right now, in this United States of America, there must be one goal and one goal only: To wrestle control of the House of Representatives away from the complicit Republicans and, if possible, the Senate. Nothing else matters between now and November 6, 2018.
Not climate change, not black lives, not health care, not disarmament, not immigration, not polar bears, not LGBT rights, not gun control, not reproductive choice, not the special prosecutor, not Palestine, not Puerto Rico. Nothing. Because if we don’t force an overthrow of Congressional leadership, the anguish we experienced the morning of November 9, 2016 will seem like we’d never had it so good. And all the aforementioned do-or-die causes will be lost. For a very long time. Possibly forever.
Yes, the issues I’m asking you to ignore are central to our democracy. And are the reasons this mid-term election is crucial. Because of that, Trump is likely to blow up one or more of them before the election. Like the 1933 burning of the Reichstag in Berlin, intended to distract from the rescinding of civil liberties for targeted groups. But…we cannot afford to get derailed by the shiny object Trump & Co. will rub our noses in.
These mid-term elections stand as a referendum on the Trump presidency. We must reject it resoundingly in the voting booths.
Because of that clarion call, this is no time to stand on principle.
I hate that I just typed that sentence. If we aren’t standing on principle, what is the wind beneath our wings as socially-conscious citizens? What should govern our actions and decisions if not high-minded principles?
The end game: Curtailing Trump’s maleficence and malfeasance.
I recently became convinced of this when I ran into a former neighbor. Years ago, he and I’d had a heated argument about the right to hang swastika flags out windows, which was happening under Bush/Cheney’s reign. I said such flags should be banned; he vehemently disagreed, saying, “Look, that symbol is deeply offensive to me as a Jew. But as an attorney, I’d go to court to defend the First Amendment right to hang that abhorrent symbol.”
His position had haunted me, and as the white supremacists began to rear their ugly, uncovered heads this past year, I tried to embrace it: The First Amendment should be sacrosanct, not just for the Resistance, but for all Americans.When I recently saw this neighbor again, I told him I was still trying to come to terms with his stance.
“Stop trying,” he barked. “I no longer believe that. This has gone too far, too fast. These are very dangerous times, calling for extreme measures. This is no time to stand on principle; actions that threaten our democracy must be stopped.”
His reversal frightened me, perhaps as much as swastikas. But he’s right. This is no time to stand on principle. We must keep our eyes on the prize. Put blinders on like race horses. Be laser-focused on the mid-terms.
If that’s not controversial enough, here’s another imperative: Don’t indulge third party candidates who will pull votes from Democratic Congressional candidates this November.
I love the concept of the Green Party, its platform, and the revolutionary spirit it represents. I even forgave Ralph Nader for saddling us with George W. Bush. Beyond their ability to pull Dems to the left, I hope someday Greens can break through and give us third-party wins at high levels of government. The two-party system is broken, both parties so beholden to big money, turning off young voters and driving voter registration and participation down. We need drastic reform.
My Green Party friends tell me they’re in it for the long haul, to reform the two-party monopoly. Theytell me it’s never convenient to challenge the status quo, but that the end justifies the means. They must run candidates in every race to have a perennial physical and psychological presence on the ballot. I can appreciate this – my mother ran eight years in a row for a local elected office she had no chance of winning…until she did. But, this is not the year to make a point. In fact, this has been declared the WORST time ever in our nation’s history.
This is the year to “throw the bums out.” Or into prison.
In my district, we have a Trump cheerleader running for re-election. She’s the youngest member of Congress to date, first elected in 2014. She’s on the House Intelligence Committee, which means she’s done nothing to bring Trump or his cohorts to justice. In fact, she never misses an opportunity to have her picture taken with him…or a cardboard cut-out. (Yes, really.) Despite representing the Adirondack Mountains in New York, she’s voted for measures that would pollute mountain streams and reduce protection from acid rain. The League of Conservation Voters, whose mission is to make the environment a national, state, and local priority, gives Elise Stefanik a 27% approval rating. The platform of her Democratic opponent, Tedra Cobb, pledges to protect natural resources, support green energy, and address the financial and national security consequences of extreme weather events. She’d be considered a long-shot in this deeply red part of New York State but, in this era of discontent with the GOP, she has a fighting chance to knock out a Trump apologist.
So, if the Green Party is really about being green, why are they running a contender, who could throw the election to an incumbent who voted to jeopardize environmental safeguards that have been in place for decades? When I had an informal meeting with one of the local Green Party leaders at a climate march last year, she indicated that if the Dems ran a progressive woman, they wouldn’t enter the race. The Dems did just that, but the Greens still queued up, which may spoil the chance of flipping this seat.
The Green Party can’t afford to stand on principle right now, to form the circular firing squad progressives are famous for. In my district or any other. The executive director of the Sierra Club, whose sole purpose is defense of the environment, calls this election “the most important that any of us has ever voted in to date.” Tempting as it may be to cast a protest vote, every vote is too precious this November. And don’t let polling that projects a landslide convince you that a protest vote would be safe. My friends who cast them in 2016 are still remorseful. If being green is truly where your heart is, why cut off your nose to spite your face? Instead, hold your nose and vote for candidates closest to your values who have a chance of flipping Congress. (The Sierra Club has an online roster of endorsed candidates.) Remember: Republicans fall in line; Democrats want to fall in love.This year, a good enough Dem has got to be good enough.
Drawn from a few sources, here are some suggestions as to what else you can do to take our nation back in November:
After it’s over, join your local Democratic Committee and push it to the left (or right if you prefer) by attending meetings. Or work to strengthen third parties. Because once we flip Congress, EVERYTHING matters again. We can begin the reparation process.
Of course, the Republican-controlled Congress currently has the tools to reel in this maniacal president now, such as exerting balance of power, censure, impeachment, or Article 25. But that’s apparently not going to happen. It’s a shame they’re leaving it to us. But…we’ve not yet begun to fight.
A Fellow Patriot
Copyright 2018 Patricia A. Nugent
Patricia A. Nugent is the author of They Live On: Saying Goodbye to Mom and Dad and the editor of the anthology Before They Were Our Mothers: Voice of Women Before Rosie Started Riveting. Follow her blog at www.journalartspress.com.