Sunday, December 15, 2019

A Voting Choice for Patriots: Live Under Authoritarian Rule or Constitutional Law

(Editor’s note: Some articles can be written days, weeks, months before an actual event occurs. This is one of them.)

And so, after years of investigation by an independent counsel, impeachment by a Democratic controlled House of Representatives and acquittal by a Republican controlled Senate, Donald Trump’s future, nay America’s future, will finally be decided November 3 by the people. John Q. and Jane Public finally will be given the opportunity to express their values over and above what they registered in the 2018 congressional elections.

Will they vote for the founding principles of the greatest land on earth, or will they choose to reward an egotistical autocracy because the economy jumpstarted by Barack Obama continued to surge under Trump? Equally important, will they vote at all, or will they take their freedoms for granted even as they are slowly but inexorably whittled away? 

There is no denying more people are working (though the type of jobs they have often are not the high wage ones that instill financial security); the stock market flirts with record after record highs (though the benefit accrued from such heady heights is limited to the already well-off); corporations have reported top flight earnings (though they did not reward their employees with higher pay and they did not widely invest in capital expansion).

It is also true that the national debt has soared, tax revenue has shrunk, air and water quality has deteriorated because of reduced or eliminated environmental safeguards, and consumer protections have been watered down.

The gap between the haves and have-nots has widened.

The gap between truth and falsehoods is now a chasm dug deeper every day by a huckster-president and his sycophantic followers.

Will the public at large acquiesce to Mitch McConnell’s transformation of the Senate from “the world’s greatest deliberative body” into a “chamber of death” where forward-thinking legislation passed in the House dies upon arrival, without even the courtesy of debate?

The Democratic standard bearer (regardless of who it will be) surely is not the favorite of many party faithful. But if we have learned anything from past elections, when Democrats splintered their votes to whimsical third party candidates or simply chose not to vote at all, it is that every ballot counts. Democrats must bury the hatchet in Trump, not in their own party’s back. Trump became president because he won three key states—Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania—by less than 80,000 votes. His claim of a mandate was hyperbole, but it still allowed him to appoint two conservative Supreme Court judges while packing lower federal courts with equally regressive jurists.

It is often said voting is everyone’s patriotic duty. A patriot puts the country’s interests above their own. A patriot looks beyond personal financial gain, focusing instead on the government’s capacity to lift the downtrodden from educational and fiscal poverty. A patriot invests in the industry and defense of the nation while recognizing the obligation of America to act fairly as part of the family of nations. A patriot cherishes the values enshrined in our Constitution and does not accept the notion that a president can be above the law, that a president becomes our sovereign. A patriot believes in a viable, legitimate checks and balances system of executive, legislative and judicial bodies of government.

We have already witnessed the abandonment of principles by party poobahs cowed by fear or enraptured by allegiance to a false messiah. Trump’s coterie in Washington and capitals across the land is based on their lust for power and the monetary bounty that can be reaped from political office.

To what end has he corrupted the values of America’s citizenry? Will they recall the civics lessons of their youth on the choices made by our Founding Fathers to reject authoritarian rule in favor of living under a nation of laws equally applied, even to our highest official?

A patriot votes. Here’s hoping patriots come out in droves November 3.

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