These are not the last days of the republic.
It seems I’m having a lot of conversations with otherwise rational people that quickly slip into an irrational “these are the last days of the republic” tone as if this country has never before survived tough times or bad leadership. It has.
Maybe this is about the stove pipes people talk and listen into, or maybe it’s a function of a general lack of historical knowledge. Regardless, we’ve been through worse in my lifetime.
Trump is president because too many people stayed home and gave away their votes, and too many people gave in to the false notion of a moral equivalency between Hillary’s many instances of poor judgment and petty avarice with Trump’s megalomania, sexism, racism, and outright repeated lying.
And the left has done a lousy job of talking to all of the country. People with traditional religious views are talked down or even ridiculed. Working-class folks in small towns all across the flyover states and in the rapidly deindustrializing Rust Belt have waited for relief from the new economy. They’re still waiting.
Desperation is the mother of many reactionary political movements. History is replete with examples of frustrated, angry, disaffected people turning to demagogues. It’s such a common occurrence that one would have thought that our smart, progressive leaders would have figured out how to counter it by now, but they haven’t.
Still, something like a hundred thousand votes in a few states out of more than a hundred million cast nationwide separated us from the lesser of two evils instead of the buffoon we got.
Let’s stop wailing and gnashing our teeth. These are not the last days of the republic. In a couple of election cycles, this will all be a bad memory. The real question is, will we have learned, finally?
This is Kenneth E. Hartman, executive director of the Other Death Penalty Project from inside California’s prison system.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.