Thursday, March 28, 2024

#88 / In Our Hands

Joan Walsh, pictured above, is the National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation magazine. I was quite taken by her statement in the January 2024 issue. Billed as an "Editorial," and titled, "Welcome to 2024," Walsh's statement is worth reading. I have, therefore, made it possible for anyone reading this blog posting to be able to read a somewhat abbreviated version of what Walsh has to say about the politics we face this year. 

"It's In Our Hands"

That's the message that Walsh sends us. She is "anti-panic," she says, but she is not wholeheartedly "optimistic" about the year ahead. 

I, too, am "anti-panic," and I am "anti-doom," even more. But if we think we can "watch" politics, this year, with the serene confidence that we'll live to see a "happy ending," then I think we're trying to fool ourselves. That admitted, if we think that "watching" politics is pretty certain to convince us that democracy is "doomed," and that every bad thing is inevitable, we are even more off base. Like Walsh says: 

"It's In Our Hands"


Welcome to 2024

Joan Walsh, The Nation

I am on the record as anti-panic about the likely rematch between accomplished, born-again progressive President Joe Biden versus the twice-impeached former guy facing 91 felony counts (and the loss of his New York businesses), Donald Trump. I have long said Democrats hankering for a Biden alternative anytime after January 2023 were hankering for Democratic civil war. I think people have wisely shut up about that. (Generally, I believe panic serves us poorly.) So now we’re all sliding together into 2024, knowing it’s (almost certainly) Joe Biden and Kamala Harris vs. Trump alongside some Republican masochist, just the way I wanted it.

So why am I suddenly so anxious about this year? There were many points in 2023 when justice rang like a gleaming bell, and I thought we were easing out of this nightmare. But I don’t think so anymore. We will never ease out of it. We have to fight our way out of it.

Wrestling with why I, the eternal optimist, began feeling so anxious and even maybe pessimistic about 2024, one answer began looming large for me. We’re coming up on the third anniversary of the violent January 6 insurrection-riot. And it’s so clear to me that the forces unleashed that day are still with us.

Yes, Nancy Pelosi, Mike Pence, and an unknown number of Congress members (and staff) might have died, but they didn’t, and they’ve been (relatively) safe ever since (not counting Paul Pelosi). The system worked; Even with 143 House Republican dissenters, Congress certified the electoral vote. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in, though under unprecedented security, two weeks later. Since then, the Justice Department has prosecuted at least 1,200 rioters, and so far more than 450 have been convicted.

And still, we don’t seem safer. Why? Because we’re not.

I don’t believe many polls this far out from the election, but what to make of the fact that this guy seems nearly tied with Biden, if not beating him? Who are these people supporting him, and how can we possibly go on living in the same country with them? I think this demographic political melancholy is the source of a lot of progressive election fatalism. We are the people who believe in the people! As we chanted in college:“El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!” I have never succumbed to this darkness before. I’m desperately resisting it now, but its pull is strong.

Meanwhile, Trump is promising to govern as a “dictator.” He’s pledged that he’ll foist the dregs of his first administration upon us again, including odious fascists Steven Miller and Michael Flynn. The Heritage Foundation is working hard on plans to take apart most of the government. Trump has explained he’ll weaponize the state against his enemies and even use the military to crush domestic dissent. What could go wrong? And how can we make it right?

I don’t think this race is in the hands of Biden and Harris, although I want them to think their brains off, work their asses off, and lead with their hearts, always. I think it’s in our hands.

We have 10 months. We can each take stock of what we, personally, can accomplish to save democracy. My work, mainly, will be talking to people, listening to them, and writing about them. I promise to do it with an openheartedness that’s required by these times. I’m not losing my values or my opinions (I will try to lose my biases—but I can’t promise). I just think this year requires new vision and, I hope, new thinking, and I’m trying for it.

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