America Is At A Crossroads

young people at an abortion protest

The so-called curse, “may you live in interesting times,” certainly feels all too true at the present.

We are at a moment that is unique in American history. One political party, the Republican Party, has gone completely off the rails and is attacking democracy itself so it can pass highly unpopular laws that are often based on nothing but cruelty. Cassandra covered this earlier in the week.

There truly is no bottom, including promoting treason.

Also, right-wing Supreme Court judges are William Tweed-level corrupt, it seems.

Yesterday, Thomas Edsall in the New York Times wrote that all of this has been long-planned by the GOP. The party has turned autocratic, arrogant, and violent. Yes, violent, as Edsall writes:

“On the right, support for violence is no longer a fringe position,” Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior fellow in the democracy, conflict and governance program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote in a November 2022 Politico essay, “How Political Violence Went Mainstream on the Right.”

Those joining violent political events like the Jan. 6 insurrection, Kleinfeld continued,

“are more likely to be married middle-aged men with jobs and kids. Those most likely to support violence on the right feel most connected to the Republican Party. This is not a marginal movement: It is people who see violence as a means to defend their values, an extension of their political activity.”

On the other side, there is a response to this by an increasingly engaged bloc of young voters. This is not the first time such a thing has happened in recent years. For example, America was ready to just accept mass shootings as part of life until the Parkland students revived the gun control movement. Some older Americans smirked and snarled “Yeah but I bet they won’t vote.” In 2018, 18-29 voters responded by setting a record for midterm turnout.

This engagement has continued, as we have seen over the last two weeks with anti-gun protests via school walkouts and young Black elected officials in Tennessee fighting off an attempt to remove them by their racist white colleagues. This is not just manifesting via spiking voter turnout, but the Democratic candidate bench is beginning to rapidly grow and get pretty deep. Greg Sargent had an excellent piece in the Washington Post this week about the rise of young Democrats running for office. Sargent writes:

Catalyzing events in U.S. history have a tendency to shape generations of public officials. In the 1920s, Prohibition and the GOP’s depression economics gave rise to the New Deal Democrats. Racial and cultural repression in the mid-20th century spawned classes of lawmakers fighting for the “rights revolution.” In the 1970s, the Vietnam War and Watergate inspired the antiwar “Watergate babies” to run for Congress.

It might be happening again: The reactionary turn underway in many red states is beginning to shape a new generation of young Democratic officials, many of whom will one day be the party’s leaders.

In these red states, young Democrats are entering local politics and developing public presences in response to the far-right culture warring unleashed by GOP majorities. New restrictions on abortion and the growing right-wing backlash to LGBTQ rights are radicalizing a wave of Democratic public servants who mostly hail from the Gen Z and millennial generations. From Sargent’s article:

“We’re seeing this across the country,” said Amanda Litman, a co-founder of Run For Something, which recruits progressive candidates for state and local office. “It’s no coincidence that some of the loudest voices pushing back are young leaders in red states, often from urban environments, often people of color, often LGBTQ themselves.”

Last week, after the GOP-controlled state legislature in Tennessee expelled two young Black lawmakers for protesting gun violence, and after a Texas judge invalidated federal approval of abortion medication, Run For Something’s candidate recruitment spiked. Litman says more than half the new candidates are from red states.

What binds these lawmakers and candidates together is an acute sense that the character of the country is on the line and it could determine their own futures. “For them, every part of this conversation is personal,” Litman says.

What we could be seeing is a full-on historic political shift, as Sargent notes:

We as Americans are faced with a choice. Do we move forward and try to pull off what no other nation has truly managed, a multicultural democracy? Which, you know, is what we are actually supposed to be!

Or do we choose to let Republicans create an autocratic white Christian nationalist nation that offers a twisted form of “freedom” only to people like them and caters to the whims of an unstable and violent minority? Do we progress to a more inclusive nation that is more economically equal, provides rights such as abortion for all, has healthcare for all its citizens, and offers an American dream that everyone in our country has a realistic chance to experience? Or do we want a nation where Marjorie Taylor-Greene sets laws and policies?

It is clear what the majority of Americans want, not just Americans under 30. And it is beyond clear that the Republicans do not care what the people think. They cannot win. The people must prevail.

The last word goes to The Thin White Duke:

%d bloggers like this: