Why are the midterms so critical?

(Spoiler Alert: If you are one of the roughly 30% of Americans who think Donald Trump and the Republican Party are doing a good job governing the country, don’t read any further. It will only piss you off.)

There are lots of reasons that the upcoming midterm elections are so critical. Consider the ongoing attacks on environmental protections, worker safety and health, the rights of women to control their own bodies, the acceptance of immigrants, the social safety net, our global alliances, integrity in government, free and fair elections … the list is sickeningly long. However, there’s one transcendent issue before us: What kind of country do we want to be? This election is a defining moment for the U.S.

I believe the choice is stark. Do we want to be a nation of compassion, tolerance, and inclusiveness? Do we want to be a nation of equality before the law and respect for individuals? Do we want to be a nation where black lives matter, immigrants and refugees are welcome, disabilities are respected, women are in charge of their own bodies, people and planet are valued above profit, and diversity is celebrated?

Or do we want to continue on the path of divisiveness based on hatred and rancor towards those who are different? Do we want to be divided on the basis of race, gender, sexuality, religion, class, disability, and national origin? Do we want to be governed by a man and a party whose power is based on appealing to our worst instincts — our fears, greed, and insecurities?

With the election of Donald Trump, we’re now led by an amoral man whose first and only thought is for himself. He has no concern for anyone beyond their usefulness in aggrandizing him. He is corrupt, greedy, dishonest, and mean-spirited.

What may be his worst characteristic, however, is his belief that the institutions of government exist not to serve the Constitution or the people of the United States but only to serve him. His behavior is straight from the authoritarian playbook:

  • Dismantle checks on executive power.
  • Control the criminal justice system.
  • Scapegoat minority groups.
  • Co-opt mainstream parties.
  • Discredit the independent press.
  • Call for opponents to be jailed.
  • Question the legitimacy of elections.
  • Claim to be the embodied soul of the people.

What is happening now in the United States is that government established of, by, and for the people is gradually being transmogrified into a government of, by, and for one person. Our democratic institutions are under intense pressure to conform to the desires of Donald Trump, and they are succumbing to that pressure to an alarming degree.

This could not be happening wihout the active support of the Republican Party, which has fully become the party of Trump. Every Republican in Congress who isn’t resigning has become not just quietly acquiescent to Trump but an outright Trump supporter. In the process, the Republican Party has betrayed virtually every principle they have long professed to hold dear: fiscal responsibility, family values, the rule of law, national defense, states rights, and fealty to the Consitution … all discarded.

What have the Republicans gained from selling their souls to Trump? As they have abandoned their supposedly cherished principles one by one, one core Republican belief remains — the principle that rich people don’t have enough money. For passage of a massive tax cut for corporations and the 1%, the Republican Party has discarded even a pretense of concern for the continued integrity of our form of government and the institutions that support it.

This is why it is so critical that control of Congress be taken away from the Republicans now. This is our opportunity to turn back from the path of divisiveness to which they’ve led us and to turn instead back towards the fundamental principles on which this nation rests: All people are created equal. All have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And to serve those principles, our government was created of, by, and for the people.

It’s time for the people to speak.

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