Letter 2 America for December 28, 2021

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Dear America,

Over the past few months, and the past few weeks in particular, the same kind of self-flagellation that the Democratic Party engaged in after the 2016 election has been all over the opinion press.  The political experts from both ends of the spectrum have been saying the same thing; the Democrats had better do something different or the forces of Trump will prevail in 2022 and even more profoundly, in 2024 when Trump will certainly unleash his deranged ego on the nation again.  But just as was the case in 2017, the pundits have overestimated what the ostensibly conservative polity achieved in the last election.  In 2016, Trump lost the presidential popular vote.  The Democrats increased their membership in the House by 5 and in The Senate by 2, winning the aggregated popular vote in both houses as well, not to mention the presidential vote, albeit losing the electoral college, which was perhaps the only vote that really counts even though it is just a constitutional mistake.  And in 2020, Trump and the Republicans lost control of The Senate to the Democrats, and the Democrats retained control of The House, though by a thinner margin.  Also in 2020, unlike in 2016, the Democrats won the presidency in the electoral college, and by the same margin that Trump won with, only the party also won the popular election by 8 million votes, not just by 3 million.  By the numbers, that looks like an even bigger victory than 2016 constituted.  All together, it looks to me like the Democrats have to keep doing what they have been doing, but do it louder by pointing to the failure of the conservative Republican party to serve the majority, as in the case of the "Build Back Better" bill and the Republicans' efforts to stifle their opposition with electoral constraints that they think will serve them, not the majority. 

It is true that the nation as a whole seems now to be intent upon the kind of self-immolation that resulted in Hitler, Putin and Orband to name a few, but the interdiction of the rampant reactionary tide we are experiencing is not to change the message or policies that are contrary to it.  Rather, the voices of reason must speak louder and make more cogent observations about the opposition rather than gravitating in its direction.  For example, the Democratic Party should purge itself of Joe Manchin, the senator from West Virginia, and lay the failure of President Biden's "Build Back Better" legislation on his and the Republicans' shoulders as the burden they have to carry into the coming elections.  And the way in which they have to do so is to make clear to the American people what was in the legislation for them, who wants it for them and who doesn't.  Republican conservatives managed to hijack the moral colloquy in this country forty years ago when Ronald Reagan ascended to the presidency.  And though it was subtle, the liberal Democrats acquiesced by only half-heartedly protesting, perhaps out of a lack of perspicacity, that Reaganism was not just institution of a corporate caste system; it was the division of our society into haves and have-nots, or in other words, whites and non-whites, the educated professional class on the one hand and the population that does the actual hands-on work on the other.  It was the onset of a trend that brought the salaries of CEO's, who used to be just corporate presidents, to a ratio of as much as several hundred to one over the workers on the assembly line and digging the ditches.  And then came Trump to cap it all off...the Trump who succeeded because he represented the legitimization of our worst national selves, giving white supremacy, chauvinism, misogyny, intellectual mediocrity, moral disintegration, depravity and racism shelter in our culture.  And in the bargain, he rendered the "greed is good" credo something akin to a national anthem.  We cannot equivocate now so as to pander to those who are not yet lost to our national cause as it had emerged before 1980.

I guess my point is that we should not be lowering our voices and mitigating our criticism of the moral position of the opposition today.  We should be speaking louder, more univocally and thoroughly than we did four years ago.  We should not see the platform of the Democratic Party as an electoral failure, but rather as the success it was in most respects.  And most importantly, we should not cede to those who would have us return to the denial of the flaws in our founders, who owned slaves and treated women in the eighteenth century the way that the Saudi's do today.

We are meant to be an egalitarian society.  That is why our progenitors repudiated the English royalty two and a half centuries ago, whether they did it half-heartedly or not.  And today, we must go full bore at the task of restoring the American dream of democracy by seizing the day rather than conceding to it and compromising ourselves.  We must confront those who accept choice only as long as it comports with their own values.  We must fly our flag, not concede it to them as their symbol.  A flag flailing in the back of a pick-up truck is not symbolic of our democratic values.  It is an arrogation of the symbol of those values for the benefit of those who will not afford them to those who do not agree with them.

Your friend,


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This page contains a single entry by Michael Wolf published on December 28, 2021 1:29 PM.

Letter 2 America for December 7, 2021 was the previous entry in this blog.

Letter 2 America for January 13, 2022 is the next entry in this blog.

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