If you need more motivation to get out and vote on Tuesday, then you haven’t been paying attention these past two years.
Donald Trump is abusing our democracy in the worst ways. Bigots, racists, homophobes and anti-Semites everywhere are emboldened to express their ignorance and act out on their hate thanks to the messages they receive from their commander in chief. Some of those messages are covert; others are more foghorn than dog whistle. When Trump tweets about the World Series and about having a bad hair day (aren’t they all for him) hours after a gunman kills 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue, he’s not merely being insensitive. He’s sending a message to his white nationalist supporters that he’s really not bothered by the deaths of Jewish people. He’ll read a few rote platitudes from a teleprompter when forced, then revert to his usual attacks on his perceived enemies hours later. Anyone who is still waiting for Trump to change his behavior and act presidential is living in fantasyland.
Trump and his supporters cavalierly deny that he is responsible for last week’s spate of violence, but the bully pulpit is real. When the president of the United States speaks, the world listens. When President Obama endorsed marriage equality, the dam of public support for the issue was broken and everyone from politicians to rappers came on board. How far we’ve fallen from those hopeful times. Now when the president speaks, Americans are inspired to mail pipe bombs to current and former government officials; to fatally shoot two unarmed African-American shoppers at a Kroger; and to gun down worshippers in a synagogue, including a Holocaust survivor.
We must come to terms with the reality that the American president is an overt racist who lives to divide us. He is a truly evil, repugnant presence. But Trump is a temporary infestation. Whether by Robert Mueller and impeachment or by the 2020 vote or by term limits, he will one day mercifully be gone. But the Americans who elevated him and his acolytes to the highest echelons of power will remain. And their goals are clear: overturn Roe v. Wade; chip away at marriage equality; prevent black voters from exercising their rights; ban immigration from “shithole countries” in a racist attempt to Make America White Again; lift environmental regulations; and hand over the government and our public lands to corporations. Those are the goals.
The only way to stop this madness is for good, thinking people of all stripes to vote on Nov. 6. Millennials and Gen Z voters must lead the way, along with suburban women who are flipping longtime GOP allegiances to vote Democratic.
History will judge not only Trump and his GOP enablers, but all of us. I’m reminded of a powerful history lesson from a college professor. Prior to a lecture about nationalism and the rise of the Nazi Party, she discreetly opened a window in the back of the classroom. It was winter in State College, Pa., so below freezing. As she spoke, the classroom became chilled; some of us donned coats and hats in our seats. When the professor finally opened up the discussion to our questions, someone asked incredulously how an entire population could stay silent while the government acted in such evil ways, rounding up and executing Jews. She replied, “It’s now 40 degrees in here and not one of you had the courage to ask me to close the window. That’s how.”
That’s what’s happening now. It’s time we all spoke up. It’s time to close the window on Trump and his divisive and dangerous hatred. Vote on Nov. 6 for Democrats.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Blade. Reach him at [email protected].