After a lifetime of searching for the lessons in our history, I feel compelled to say as emphatically and humbly as I can that I am deeply troubled by what the 2016 election sanctioned, our current political discourse, and the human values we are trading for a pot of porridge (to draw on the Biblical story). They are hauntingly similar to how politicians “redeemed the South” for white rule after Reconstruction, to why America tolerated the Jim Crow and Racial Purity laws of the 1900s, the blind frenzy of the Red Scare in the 1950s, and many other examples. I think we have arrived onto dangerous ground.
We’ve repeatedly seen resentment; fear, anger, and vilification of “the other” ignite violence, from lynching to modern mass murders. Many of you are friends or acquaintances who usually vote Republican. No matter party preferences, I hope we share a desire for our leaders to cease abusing our trust through stoking fear and lies, speaking of opponents with open scorn and disdain, and peddling short-term economic gains that threaten our future and the better part of our American character. Where are the voices to build our courage instead with statements like, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”?
If Republican leaders, afraid to split with President Trump and his voters, continue to dominate both houses of Congress, they will succeed in creating policies and their consequences we may be unable to reverse in the future. It’s unlikely that any of us – on either “side” - will change our sentiments on actual issues. But, based on honest moments with some of you, I know that you are also troubled by our current leadership. Some of you even turn off the television when the President is speaking because you don’t want your grandchildren to think his language and bullying is something they can emulate. How can that be OK with us as a nation? Is it really OK with you?
I implore each of us to think deeply about our motivation as we vote in Tuesday’s election. Maybe some of you are consoled that the Supreme Court now has a conservative majority. If so, will you risk joining me, even just in this one particular election, in voting for Senator Tim Kaine and Abigail Spanberger to ensure we have voices in Congress willing to challenge our current president’s increasing power when it is important to do so? Whatever the election results, I trust we can find ways to work together as a community and not be divided here in Louisa by what is playing out on our national stage.
Editor’s Note: This originally appeared in the Central Virginian and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.