The news has been pretty much hot garbage for what seems like forever. Lots of bad news that gets replaced by even more bad news. It sometimes feels like we are always bracing for the next batch of terrible events.
So where is there hope? IS there any hope?
This week, hope showed up in the Polish elections.
The far-right Law and Justice Party, known by the acronym that is one more S from being very appropriate, PiS, has ruled Poland for eight years. During that time, it worked to dismantle Poland’s democratic political system, including messing with their judiciary branch in such a way that led to an unprecedented censure by the E.U. Leading up to this week’s election, PiS bullied media outlets and rigged election laws to make it much easier for PiS to hold onto power.
Despite all this, the election this week had a positive outcome. While PiS won the plurality of votes, about 35%, this was not enough for them to have a path to building a government. A combination of centrist and progressive parties is likely to form a coalition that would give it a majority. Portrayed as the last chance to stop authoritarianism from taking over, urban voters, younger voters, and voters in Poland’s heavily industrial western portion turned out in great numbers and overwhelmed PiS’s right-wing rural voters.
If all of this sounds, well, like America’s situation, there are even more uncanny similarities. The Christian far-right in Poland pushed for total abortion bans, and soon there were stories of Polish women with difficult pregnancies dying horrible, preventable deaths. In addition, the far-right government and their minions went on a campaign targeting LGBTQ+ people, just like what is happening here. This helped to anger Poles and drive them to vote in numbers not seen since the fall of the Berlin Wall more than 30 years ago. This was especially true about female Polish voters. As has been the case multiple times now, women were the heroes in the effort to save democracy.
This all is fantastic news for Europe, which has seen democracy falter recently in Hungary, Turkey, and nearby Israel. Having a country as large as Poland become pro-E.U. again is good for Europe’s future.
But it is also great news for us here in America. Once again, like what happened during 2022’s election, right-wing politics was its own worst enemy. We saw this with the dismantling of Roe which enraged female voters into a high turnout. We may be seeing it again in the current Republican speaker debacle.
A united opposition defeated PiS, and a united opposition can defeat Trump and the MAGA Republicans. Despite media obsession with the Dems in Disarray false narrative and some disagreement over Israel and Gaza, the party is more united than it has been for a while and is strongly behind Biden.
The high Polish turnout is something that we must recreate here in 2024, and the good news is recent special elections in America have featured high turnout. We need to keep that momentum going.
The fight is not over in Poland. They still have to remain united while building a new government, and the strong smell of PiS is all over Polish courts and other governmental institutions (sorry, couldn’t resist). It will take a while to clean all that out, and the deeply entrenched right-wingers won’t go quietly.
But they did it. They beat the right wing and took a huge step towards saving their democracy. That should give all of us at least a little bit of something that has been almost extinct lately – hope.
The last word goes to Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.