Taking Action: Defending Democracy
The Root of All Political Evil
Our nation seethes with citizen activism from coast to coast. Grassroots groups on the local, state, and national levels have taken on a myriad of political, social, and environmental issues. Progressive visionaries and idealistic volunteers are pushing human evolution ahead on many fronts. Yet on every issue, wherever government action is needed, the public good is blocked by private interests. The government designed to represent “We the People” is held hostage by multinational corporations and the billionaires who own them – the infamous One Percent. Money in politics is the root of all political evil.
Every problem we face has a solution. But progress on any single issue depends on rooting out legalized bribery from our political system. How can we use a corrupt political system to combat corruption? By using the only tool we possess that the wealthy do not: our votes. And that is why the right to vote is under attack in state legislatures across the country.
Setting the Stage for Minority Rule
As the nation becomes steadily more diverse, the traditional white Christian base of the conservative movement sees its reliable majority slipping away. But the Republicans long ago saw this coming and began setting the stage for minority rule: building power in state legislatures, stacking the bench at all levels with conservative judges, driving out traditional conservatives, and gradually transforming the GOP into an openly white supremacist, ultra-nationalist, proto-fascist gun club.
Republicans win elections primarily by deceit: by clever propaganda exploiting the fear of minorities, religious prejudice and cultural conservatism, the worship of military might, the traditional symbolism of flag and country. They wave the banner of freedom and democracy, but once in power, their actions betray their loyalty to the One Percent. Even Donald Trump, the populist “political outsider,” embraced the traditional agenda of eliminating all obstacles to private wealth and power through privatization, deregulation, “free trade,” and eliminating public services.
The Democratic Party once shared these goals, but now finds itself sidelined by the strategic ruthlessness of the Republicans. At this point, Democrats can only hope to compete by genuinely appealing to the voters, and once in power, can only stay there by genuinely representing the majority– at least so far as their own compromised obligations to the One Percent will allow. Their support of the For the People Act shows how desperate they are; without it, the rule of the minority will inevitably win, and the Democratic Party will join the Whigs in the footnotes of history.
A Coalition of Extremists
The vast majority of Americans have suffered under Republican policies favoring the rich, but the Republicans have succeeded in convincing millions of white voters that their true enemies are people of color, Muslims, immigrants, gays, lesbians and transsexuals, feminists, labor unions, welfare mothers, recreational drug users, any deviation at all from the cultural norm. “Divide and conquer,” a time-honored strategy since the Roman Empire, still fools enough people enough of the time to allow a minority to rule. This is why the Republicans have rallied behind Donald Trump and his genius for dividing the country against itself.
Trump’s Republicans are a coalition of extremists. The conservative billionaires who want to gut every regulation that limits their profits. The fundamentalist Christians who lust for their own version of Sharia Law to force women to have baby after baby. The fossil fuel lobbyists who will literally kill to keep burning carbon at any cost. The multinational corporations who don’t pay taxes but pump millions into politics. The white supremacists who cling to our racist past because corporate America shipped their jobs overseas and left them nothing else to cling to.
To counter the Republican extremists, the Democrats have no choice but to appeal to the rest of us. They recognize that this means welcoming immigrants. It means embracing diversity. It means protecting and expanding the middle class. It means defending the right to vote. It means keeping abortion legal. Most importantly, it means taking ambitious steps to curb climate change before it’s too late. This offers an unprecedented opening for progressives to influence the democratic process. What appears to be a life-threatening crisis for democracy actually represents an opportunity to challenge the dominance of the One Percent.
An Alliance of the Rest of Us
The anti-democratic alliance on the right calls for a new coalition of the disenfranchised – all who care about the well-being of the people we love and the planet that sustains us. The long-suppressed Black and Latinx minorities, the indigenous First Nations, the young whose future is being gambled away on the stock market, the feminist and environmental movements, the LGBTQ community, and visionary progressives across the spectrum must unite to claim a voice in government.
We owe moral allegiance to neither party, but from a strategic standpoint, our best hope of changing the suicidal course of the nation and the world is to follow the example of the ultra-right and hijack the Democratic Party. With or without the cooperation of the party’s traditional pro-corporate elite, we must commandeer it as a vehicle for the evolution of democracy and claim the rule of the majority as our rightful due. The Democrats can’t win without us; we can’t win without the Democrats.
Rather than leveraging billions in dark money, we need to mobilize the votes of the overwhelming majority who support progressive change – or who would if they knew the truth. Rather than campaigning on lies about our opposition and about our true intentions, we need to expose the lies of the opposition to the light of truth. It’s now or never: the future of democracy depends on it, and without democracy, none of us has a future either.
The Black Lives Matter protests and the presidential election of 2020 proved that people can still pour into the streets and line up at the polls to demand change when the moment is right. Here in Georgia, an unprecedented commitment to registering new voters and turning out the vote gave us two new Senators who are not only Democrats but progressives who won without accepting corporate PAC money. (I volunteered for Sen. Warnock, and donated to both his and Sen. Ossoff’s campaigns.) The same commitment must expand the ranks of Democratic voters still further in 2022. Regardless of the limitations placed on polling places and absentee voting by recent legislation, if enough of us vote, we can still win.
Visualize 100% Voter Turnout!
The new Jim Crow voter-restriction laws are intended to intimidate and discourage the Democratic majority. But they just might have the opposite effect: indignant voters across the country might rise up in unprecedented numbers to defeat this desperate power-grab from the right. If we can replace five Republican senators with Democrats (without losing any Democratic seats) to achieve a filibuster-proof majority, we can pass the For the People Act and use our expanded voting power to take the necessary next steps.
Taking the time to register and cast a vote is a small price to pay to give our children a shot at a decent life. But to win will require not just voting, but volunteering. If your senators are not up for re-election, or are Democrats without real opposition, you can pitch in from anywhere in the country to help elect someone you feel has a chance of unseating a Republican senator. Many civic organizations nationwide are organizing for voter turnout in the 2022 midterms, and they too need your help. Financial donations help, but far more important is whatever time and energy you can contribute to help turn out the vote.
The One Percent has more dollars to promote its agenda with slick advertising and viral social media. But we have more votes. If we don’t use them, it’s not just the Democratic Party that will lose – it’s democracy itself, and the loss could be permanent. The moment is right for a 100% voter turnout that will re-establish the rule of the majority in American politics, and set the people’s agenda firmly in place as a template for change: a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, an end to corporate tax-dodging and campaign-funding, and the universal right to vote.
Beyond Election Day
But voting Democrats into power isn’t the solution, only a strategy. How meaningful their promises will be after Election Day is up to us. If progressive voters give Joe Biden a Democratic majority in Congress, we can’t just sit back and watch the show, as too many have done in the past; we have to keep up the pressure. The Democratic Party will continue to owe allegiance to its traditional financial backers, and may even side with the Republicans on certain issues. But the future will belong to the progressives. Once the We the People Act has passed, the vote will increasingly outweigh the dollar. We can begin to tackle climate change, corruption, militarism, racial injustice and economic disparity – not just the symptoms of these epidemic evils, but their causes. Join us!
Take Action and Learn More
Our political, social, and environmental concerns are all connected at the root. I have concentrated my own efforts on the three areas listed below, Every issue is vitally important, and for each, one or more citizen groups has formed to work for fairness and sanity. Pick the one that calls to you and give what you can. Time, money, energy, creativity – it all counts.