MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION THIS COUNTRY HAS EVER FACED
We are now days away from the most important election this country has ever faced. I think I know my American history and I think I know what I’m talking about.
The people who wrote the Constitution knew what they were doing — at least they thought they were doing the right thing at the time. They could not have anticipated the perfect storm would overtake today’s politics. When they entered into the great compromise, giving the small and large states what we now call the electoral college, they could not have known that doing so would, not once but several times, result in a sharp stick in the eye of democracy. They probably didn’t consider that the candidate who received the most votes would lose. Because I am older now, I can confess to you that I told my college students that in today’s world, if a candidate who got the most votes actually lost, the people would take to the streets with pots and pans and maybe worse instruments to protest. Was I ever wrong!
So now we have a president with Fascist and totalitarian tendencies who is leading this country and, indeed, the world into chaos. It isn’t only that he rewards his friends and punishes his enemies. It isn’t only that he exhibits the worst misogynist tendencies. It isn’t only that he divides us based on religion and the color of our skins. It isn’t only that he is a bully who encourages his followers to beat up his enemies. It isn’t only that he makes friends with the very worst dictators in the world. It isn’t only that he is making out like a bandit using his position to create wealth and power for himself and his acolytes. It is all of the above and more.
If you want to understand just how dangerous this situation is, grab a copy of the Declaration of Independence and follow it along line by line. Pay particular attention to the line that says, “All men are created equal.” Then read Thomas Jefferson’s famous line, “…that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Jefferson said that revolution should not be taken lightly and I agree because there are times, like those experienced in France, when that the result is quite terrible.
The Constitution was drafted to anticipate the troubles that Trump is now causing. The whole idea was to have each of the various branches overseeing the others. That is not happening. The Republicans in both houses of Congress have proven themselves feckless. Their fear of the Trump Republican voters is palpable. There are no profiles in courage here.
In the end, it comes down to the very electorate that has been screwed by this psychologically damaged president. Obviously, no one wants a revolution with bodies strewn about and grieving families. All it takes is registering and voting. The Republicans in state legislatures are doing everything in their power to prevent that from happening. They are passing laws that will stop people from showing up. Every pastor in every church has to preach to his or her congregation that the only way to preserve Social Security and health care and a decent education for every child is to march to the polls. It’s also one of the reasons why a Democratic State Senate is a must in New York so that the State Senate cannot put up roadblocks to people voting.
Every reader of this column, no matter what political party, must get to the polls and vote. We have to return sanity to our government.
Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected].