The Lesser Evil

We’re starting trade wars with our friends, cozying up to brutal dictators, selling off public lands to extraction companies, giving tax relief to the ultra-wealthy, appointing hyper-conservative judges to the federal bench. We’re stripping away consumer protections, failing to do anything to stop gun violence, leaving millions of Americans with opioid and addiction issues to their own devices, starting trade wars with our allies. We’re separating asylum seekers from their families.

An adversarial regime has been waging informational warfare with us since 2015: we do nothing. Neo-nazis and white supremacists are coming out of the woodwork: some are called ‘good people,’ some of them win Republican primaries for federal office. Oh, and climate change? The looming emergency that might end the human race on which the clock is running out on doing anything in time to obviate the worst of it? Not only are we doing nothing, we are denying it’s a thing, and, in many cases, actively making it worse.

The con man/mafiosi/serial sexual assaulter currently occupying the White House is the most visible face of what’s happening, but let’s be clear: Donald Trump is just a symptom. He’s the devil taking his due from the Faustian bargain the Republican party made with America’s racist, sexist, gun-humping Id. Their policies can’t win on the merits, because they basically boil down to doing or saying whatever it takes to sell tax cuts for the 1%. But in order to do that, they’ve started what amounts to a cult, one that recognizes no limits on action, nor any legitimacy save their own.

They currently control all three branches of our government. The only checks and balances they operate under are intra-party squabbling and the batshit insanity of the Freedom Caucus. The only Republicans willing and able to call out the insanity are those who have chosen to retire. And even they haven’t demonstrated the courage to actually vote against even the worst items on the agenda. As for those trying to hold onto their seats, they’ve got no choice but to drink the Kool-Aid: Trump’s extremely popular with the Republican base, who vote in primaries and mid-terms and make their voices heard.

So, what’s to be done?

There are lots of good answer to that question. But far and away the best thing we can do is bring some checks and balances back to our three coequal branches of government. Well, the legislative branch, anyway. We blew the executive and judicial in 2016 when too many of us thought we had the luxury of not voting for Hillary Clinton, which would have saved us having Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court for the next several decades.

So, to put it plain as plain can be: If you are liberal, progressive, moderate — if you are anywhere left of wingnut — you must Must MUST vote for Democrats this November.

Let me say that again, because it’s important: YOU MUST VOTE FOR DEMOCRATS THIS NOVEMBER.

Now look, I am not a man who likes telling people what to do or how to live their lives. And I am deeply, even painfully aware of the shortcomings of the Democrats, particularly at the national level. The moderates are practically Republicans, at least what many of them used to be. They’re more than a little too cozy with their big donors. They’re afraid or disinclined to be ambitious. Hell, they’re the battered spouse of American politics.

But they’re also the only legitimate hope we have right now.

Let me say it again: they’re the only legitimate hope we have RIGHT NOW.

I’m not asking you to join the party, or swear undying fealty to them. I’m not even asking you to like them. What I’m asking is for you to make a strategic, tactical decision to dilute one-party rule by changing which party hold the minority in one or, ideally, both houses of Congress. The party in the majority, even if it’s only a single seat, gets a ridiculous amount of power over the proceedings in that chamber. Committee heads, introduction or quashing of legislation, what can make it to the floor for a vote. And even if they can’t get much done because of Trump’s veto, they can at least stop the slide into autocracy and evil we’re currently experiencing.

Want the Special Counsel protected and Congressional investigations into Trump’s criminality and Russian cyberwar to be more aggressive? Vote Democrat!

Want to put a brake on packing the federal bench with wingnut conservatives with lifetime appointments? Vote Democrat (especially in the Senate)!

Want to protect the ACA/Obamacare and keep access to healthcare for more Americans? Vote Democrat!

Want to protect the environment, boost renewable energy, preserve public lands, and make at least a beginning on doing something about climate change: Vote Democrat!

Want legislation protecting DACA, reining in ICE, and stopping the inhumane separation of asylum-seeking families at the border? Vote Democrat!

Want a check on Trump’s foreign policy of starting trade wars with longstanding allies and dancing to the tunes of autocrats and oligarchs? Vote Democrat!

Want legislation to enact sensible controls and help reduce gun violence? Vote Democrat!

Want Net Neutrality reinstated? Vote Democrat!

Want even a snowball’s chance in hell of Trump getting impeached? Vote Democrat!

I think you probably get the idea by now.

Look, I get it. I really do. For my own part, I’m at best a reluctant Democratic partisan. I’d like them to be much more liberal, much more progressive than they are. I’d like them to champion a universal basic income, nationalized health care, free college and vocational school, huge reductions in carbon emissions, big investments in infrastructure, and trade and foreign policies that speak not only to our national interest but to our highest moral aspirations.

And hey, some of them do. I bet even more of them would if they knew they could count on progressives donating to, volunteering, and voting for them. If we were in a position of having gotten them where they are, we might even could make them.

Can we at least try, please? Can we all get together, just this once, and not fuck this up? This could be our last chance on a lot of fronts.


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