The Beginning Of The End?

These days, optimism comes hard. But there are reasons for hope.

For one thing, despite the incredibly discouraging fact that upwards of seventy million Americans voted for a racist incompetent who posed an obvious danger to the stability of the entire world, eighty-one million voted otherwise.

And despite the fact that we are seeing something akin to a civil war between Americans who take the country’s aspirations for equality seriously and the White nationalists and their fellow-travelers who fear loss of unearned privilege, Georgia has elected a Black Senator. (It is equally notable that Georgia also elected a Jewish one, since–as the photos coming out of the insurrection at the Capitol illustrated–racism and anti-Semitism are inextricably entwined.)

An article in Time Magazine, published a mere two days after the assault on the Capitol, insisted that Southern resistance to Black equality is on the wane–that the South deserves a “New Political Story.”

The author referenced the fact that Ted Cruz–aka “Mr. Despicable”– had modeled his performative “objections” to the receipt of Electoral College votes on the “infamous and racist” Hayes-Tilden Compromise of 1876.  That “compromise” ended Reconstruction; it gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency in exchange for the removal of federal troops protecting Black citizens in the South.

That agreement led to a nearly century-long reign of racial terror that reinvigorated the Ku Klux Klan, subjected Black people to quotidian forms of racial terror and mob violence, violently ejected Black men from both government office and the public sphere through lynching and the threat of it, and subjected Black women to rape at the hands of ravenous white men.

The author says that it is this violent racial past–a past that I’m pretty confident is not taught in our nation’s history classes–  makes the Georgia Senate elections of Warnock and Ossoff so significant, and she counsels against accepting “the narrative that retrograde 19th and mid-20th century racial politics are winning.”

They are not. Do not mistake the death rattle for a victory cry. And do not let the war cries of angry white people drown out the resounding and clarion calls from Black women organizers and strategists and voters of color who have made clear that Trump’s America is not their America.

The article surveys other deep-south states and finds Black elected officials in previously unlikely places. And while she concedes that White backlash has often won the day, she insists that grassroots organizing and GOTV campaigns can prevent that result this time around.

The article made me think about the Darren Walker observation I shared previously, to the effect that democracy is the antidote to inequality. I truly believe that if every citizen who is entitled to cast a ballot is allowed to do so, White nationalists will lose. It isn’t simply because the ranks of Americans of color are growing, it’s because Americans of good will–Americans who embrace the unrealized aspirations of our constituent documents–outnumber those who are desperately clinging to their privileged status.

I want to believe that the ugliness we are seeing truly is a “death rattle” of a tribalism based on skin color, gender and religion. But I also know that people who fear a loss of status will not be defeated by warm thoughts, by sermons from authentic Christians, or by appeals to their own material self-interest. (Most of them define self-interest culturally, not economically.)

Stacey Abrams and other Black women in Georgia have demonstrated the way forward. Those of us who live in other “Southern” states (I would include Indiana in that cohort) need to take a page from her book. We need to identify the people of good will–of every color, gender and religion/non-religion–and get them to the polls. But we also need to abolish all of the structural impediments that have been erected to prevent or discourage people from voting–starting with gerrymandering.

As I keep saying, we have our work cut out for us.


  1. First off, I would like to wish Wikipedia a happy 20th birthday. I can still remember when Bill Gates tried to commodify knowledge with this MSN Encarta. He lost to a free open source environment now containing the world’s knowledge.

    Yet, for some reason, students worldwide are forced to buy expensive books to attend class. More on that later. 😉

    The only way to kill off Trumpism, or the inequities in our global society, is via the TRUTH & LOVE.

    If the original Oligarchy that founded this country used class division to maintain its wealth, what makes you think the current global oligarchy will want to change that?

    People are inherently good and loving, but their fears and unconscious minds can be tapped very easily.

    The corporate media told liberals and people of color to fear Bernie Sanders and AOC’s agenda, so they did.

    What would happen if our media actually were the free press and supported an economic agenda for the people and those 150 million voters supported it?

    Could you imagine what this country would look like? Imagine if the people would have voted for Bernie Sanders in 2016?

    It’s time to wake up, folks. You’ve been conned for a VERY LONG time.

  2. Thank you, GOTV and inclusive, healthy strengthening of responsible citizenship. I encourage all that can to serve and a great way to start is as poll and election workers. Go to county party meetings. Learn about who is running and support the best candidates. Contact our representatives at all levels and make concerns known and respond acknowledging the good actions our politicians take.

  3. Prof K says:
    “The author says that it is this violent racial past–a past that I’m pretty confident is not taught in our nation’s history classes”
    That was sure true in my case. We (or at least I) did not learn about all of that in Wisconsin in the 1950’s & 1960’s.

  4. I just watched the documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” based on the last writings of James Baldwin about the life and times of Medgar Evers, Malcom X and Martin Luther King, Jr (Netflix). After everything he saw and experienced in the 60’s he said he had no choice but to be optimistic that America could one day live up to the promises in its Constitution. How can I, a white man with a comfortable upper middle-class life, feel any different?

  5. Is there an effort to end jerrymandering in Indiana under way? If so, how can we help? If not what needs to be done to help rid Indiana of jerrymandering?

  6. Common Cause Indiana and LWV have been working tired for years on redistricting reform in our super-majority Republican controlled General Assembly. Despite numerous bills filed, hours of testimony by businessman, government officials, the aforementioned group experts and private citizens, not one has even been allowed to come to a committee vote.

  7. Patrick; how can I, an 83 year old white woman with barely above poverty level income, feel anything but guilty that I am able to pay my bills and eat while others who are promised the same by the Constitution, cannot because of the color of their skin?

    Why have newly elected Georgia Democratic Senators not been sworn in by our starkly WHITE president or vice president? Is it because Rev. Warnock is black and Jon Ossoff is a Jew or is it to prevent the 50/50 balance in the Senate before Trump and Pence leave office? Is it to keep McConnell safely in his position of total power over the Senate to remain mute and inert till the last day?

  8. With regard to Jeff Neufer’s question, there are two ways to end gerrymandering. the first is to stop voting for Republicans, and the second is to require that an independent, bi-partisan board create the voting districts every ten years, when the census results are available. That way, we are more likely to end up with “one person, one vote” districts.

  9. In Georgia, the Democrats found two good candidates then they set about running an old fashioned retail politics campaign. They knocked on doors in parts of Georgia where nobody has knocked in 50 years. They reregistered those who had been dropped from the roles and registered everybody else they could find. And finally, they got them all to the polls on election day (whether early, day of, or by mail).

    I can tell you that you can’t get rid of Gerrymandering first. You have to emulate what they did in Georgia. You have to take power. Only then can you effectuate change.

  10. id like to point to a article by Mike Lofgrin, a laymans guide to spotting sedition,treason and lunacy in general. the point is,when your in conversation with such people.
    heres a view of how i see it,but,ya gotta be there among the deep working class that supoorts trumps whine. being i reside in NoDak and frequent my travels down thru the middle red states in trucking,ive heard it not affraid of cheap talk,or its currators who spew the past 4 years into a fettig soup. being working class and my own socio educational being here, i relate to how Mr. lofgrin has approached this subject,and he didnt miss much. now relate to how Mrs Abrams must have felt when the rebound came from all sides,even in her staffs approach to canvasing. ya gotta say,she and her staff,were probably followed and harrased in many a jurisdiction. i get to drive away. of course the words i speak dont get such a review,and at time i had to nack off and leave. ive had my share of violence thrown at me just for being there.( well whatcha expect,i live in less than wealthy) i stand a ground,and can relate to how in georgia, the looking over ones shoulder made a permanate creek in ones neck. if half the country still votes for,and lacks condemnation for 1/6 in DC ,we have only allowed it to continue. i sure many here are above my age of 66,and have been trying to figure out how to change things,my own needs aside,i meet with the otherside in public,one on one, and discuss how the republicans own view is to hinder their own needs and support a class above what were offered. if the minimun wage is decades old,then its obvious,they want you as close to poverty and in debt as they can keep,you. the media everyday promotes this theory,if ya look beyond the sensation they provide. get out of social media,and do as humans have done for its entire existance. we are not electronic means to convey,we are human,and im sure there were many a door knockin in the peachtree that took chances and made some think. but,we didnt come this far to ignore now,just how bad the situation is. am i doing my part,everyday.hell i live in bloodred NoDak and its armed and under tones of dangerous.maybe some got the message on 1/6 . and many will still support sedition

  11. JoAnn – no conspiracy here – just facts. The rules are that the new GA senators election has to be certified by GA before they can be sworn in. The process is cumbersome, county by county, especially in these times.

    As of yesterday: “According to the most recent figures from the Secretary of State’s Office, 113 of Georgia’s 159 counties have now certified their results. That leaves a little less than 30 percent still to go before that process is complete, the state can certify the total results and then Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff can be sworn in as U.S. senators.”

  12. If proof were ever needed that rape is an act of hatred not sexual gratification, imagine white supremacists choosing to rape black women and girls.

  13. We can all learn from Stacey Abrams on how to create a grassroots effort to ensure that all voters are registered to vote and that they get to the polls. Perhaps we need to follow her lead here in Indiana if we wish to create a state government that is not dominated by the Republican party.

  14. This is not the beginning of the end for anything! Except maybe for humanity!

    To end this sort of behavior, one would have to dig a whole lot deeper than has been dug so far. Not only is ethnic superiority and the higher caste driven by bigotry, that bigotry is promoted and endorsed by religion!

    Every white supremacist group, every single one, has religious symbols in their coat of arms, the Nazis reveled in religion. They also reveled in the occult! White supremacist groups see themselves as the reincarnation of the 3rd Reich or the birth of the 4th Reich, but they were here even before the 2nd world war! When they, the BUND disbanded before the start of the 2nd world war, they didn’t leave the country, they just went underground and established the white nationalist movements. So, this has festered under the surface for getting close to a century! And I’m referring to the white supremacist Nazis here.

    Many gave their support to those already established organizations in the United States, because the Nazis had admired those movements from afar. Many of these movements and methodology was adopted by the White Nationalistic Protestant fascists in crafting their Nazi dogma. It was like the kids coming home to help the old folks!

    Why do you think that not only were Jim Crow laws in full effect, and the United States was turning around shiploads full of Jews fleeing Europe, sending them back to die!

    Why, after the war, did the United States import all of these Nazi scientists? Their intellect was tolerated because of their knowledge? There were plenty of sympathizers and corporate America and government! And, ex-soldiers and SS were allowed to work in the United States so they could collect a Social Security check and go back home and live like kings! All the while keeping the foot on the necks of black Americans!

    This is the country that everyone thinks is so great, this is the country that’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing! Until the subversive organization is ripped out by the roots kicking and screaming and executed publicly so to speak, there will be no change!

    Remember when I said a couple of years ago that there will be blood? Well, I guess sometimes being aware of history, can give some insight into the future! And, considering the cyclical nature of what’s gone on in the United States over the past 400 years or so, it’s not going to get any better, as a matter fact, the End you are looking at, is this country we all live in!

    Sure, it might seem a little bit better for a time, but just like a virus hibernating in the permafrost, as soon as something gets hot, they activate! And, I don’t think the willpower is here to do the hard work, seemingly making things better for everyone won’t make a bit of difference. Because those white Protestant evangelical nationalists will never feel they should share with anyone else except for those exactly like themselves!

    Religion is the root of the problem, and I don’t think there’s a stomach for that fight!

    It’s Religion that allowed slavery, religion promoted every war in history, religion started the KKK, religion fostered fascism, religion fostered Islamic terrorists, religion never was a solution! When Catholics were slaughtering Catholics during the wars, when Protestants were slaughtering Protestants, when Muslims were slaughtering Muslims, when Christian soldiers would stop the fighting during Christmas to sing Christmas carols together and then slaughter each other the next day, what does that tell you?

  15. Lester; and those Georgia counties slow in certification wouldn’t happen to be Trump strongholds, would they?

    Just seeking facts.

  16. Yes, getting everyone to register and vote is bedrock. But…research shows that the biggest reason people don’t is that they don’t believe politicians are going to work for the people; rather, per considerable evidence all around us, they work for their own power/money and/or special interests and/or “Party over country” and/or “ideology over country”.

    The parallel activity we must do is to get people to run who are dedicated to public service/servant leadership. Without this, the road upwards remains steep…

  17. Excellent open discussion. An exchange of ideas and opinions aligned with Constitutional intent and facts on the ground (i.e. Lester Levine’s clarification of Georgia counties’ certification). This is what our country is about. It is not for the taking by the tyranny of those who really want their island to pursue self imposed privileges (shouting: “we want our country back!”) without accountability to others.

  18. I agree with Sheila that racial bias is cultural and not economic, but I think that erasing the economic divide would set the stage for (however slowly evolving) cultural change in this “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” contrast in causation.

    Potpourri: I am pleased with the election results in Georgia. Our soon to be sworn in senators can thank Stacey (their own campaigning and weak and greedy opponents) ) for their elevated status in the political world, and I thought Biden would select her as the head of the DNC, but I understand now that she was not interested since she has plans of her own, which will probably be another run for governor. If so, I will contribute to her campaign, as my daughter and I have to our newly-elected solons from that state, among others.

    Georgia is now officially purple, and I think South Carolina is next with Harrison as our newly minted Chair of the DNC and Lindsey’s demotion to ranking member. Nixon’s southern success is unraveling as younger and more liberal voters both north and south are beginning to make their political presence known – resulting in bad news for the cretin currently in the Oval Office as his followers retreat to their caves and/or jail with their recent seditious caper and more to come before their delusions taper off and reality sets in, if ever.

    Yes, there is work to do, but then that has always been the case (See Reconstruction days following the Civil War, WW I and II, The Great Depression etc.). The “work” only differs in kind, and I am optimistic (though we must be eternally vigilant) that our democracy has withstood and will survive Trumpism, especially with Biden’s FDR and Keynesian-treatment of our two major problems these days, i.e., the virus and help for an underperforming economy. That train will leave the station next Wednesday, and I am all aboard.

  19. Regarding gerrymandering, Women4Change Indiana has worked on this issue for years in coordination with Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and others. Preparations are underway now for independent assessment of maps for federal and state legislative districts that are proposed in the Indiana General Assembly. Watch for much discussion in days ahead.

  20. While Joe and Kamela and the millions who support them make me more upbeat, I’m still shaking my head at this morning’s MSNBC report that some congressmen are concerned that they will be shot by their colleagues. Add to that the fact that nearly 60% of Republicans still don’t accept the results of the November election and that Trump may be able to sustain the allegiance of a high percentage of his 73 million followers, and I’m reluctant to start looking for a drum major to lead our victory parade.

    Our local Congressman, Tom Rice, shocked the country by bucking his party to support impeachment #2. But that was only because his personal safety was threatened. Not long before he had voted to support Trump’s unlawful claim of a rigged election, and, by implication, to oppose the democratic processes that govern our country. And it’s hard for me to get last week’s videos out of my mind and to convince myself that it was a one-off event. Messages continue to fly around the Internet imploring more of the same.

    If would-be office holders discover that their districts hold a sufficient number of absolutists that denouncing democracy could lead to electoral success (that worked for a presidential candidate), they will put that knowledge to work. How would cities and counties deal with that set of problems? In reply to a letter to the editor I wrote several years ago advocating that South Carolinians adopt critical thinking approaches to solve political issues, a gentlemen wrote to me to say that, “You don’t know what you are talking about. We’re lucky we have smart people to do our thinking for us.” I’m concerned that he was the spokesperson for the kind of thinking that caused the horrific events of January 6. I’d like to be wrong on that score, but intelligent planning for how to handle nascent fascism requires that we consider the possibility I’m not.

    Like mirrors of Trump’s narcissism, the insurrectionists are crying “me, me, me” to argue that they should get their way regardless of their loss in the election. They appear to have no love for democracy, unless their candidate is the winner. Since lobotomies are not legal, people whose prodigious ignorance tells them they will be better off under a dictatorship must be opposed with all the energy and resources we can muster.

  21. It seems to me that the real cost of cultural hate and economic fear is that we loose resources to solve the structural carryovers from past times that cause them. We need all hands on deck now working the problem. No brain left behind.

    While working the problem of how, we also need to accept that how cannot be universal. Jack S makes a strong point about his way which for a long list of reasons can’t be my way. That’s the real meaning of diversity:

    – Every perspective joining the effort –

  22. I went to the website that Jack recommended (the article he cited is outstanding) and found a second article, “Republican State Officials Are Already Using Trump’s Big Lie as Cover To Pursue New Laws To Make It Harder To Vote,” that seemed to support some of the points I was making. If you don’t keep a careful eye on these guys, they’ll shoot you in the back and then pass laws that make it o.k.

  23. Lester and JoAnn,
    There is most likely not a good reason that all GA counties have not already certified their election results. I serve on the my county election board. In Indiana it is up to the County Clerk to prepare the official election certification document and then request the election board members to come to the Clerk’s office to sign it. The document is then sent to the state election administration office.
    It isn’t a cumbersome process, as Lester mentioned. I believe JoAnn is correct with her guess that Republicans in charge (the county clerks and the state election board) may be dragging their feet about officially certifying last week’s election.

  24. Sheila,

    Your post today has me wondering about the representation of different races of the students in your classes. Would you be able to provide an estimated percentage of each race? I hope your students represent a good variety of skin color.

    Thank you in advance if you are able to find the time to answer this question.

  25. Nancy – WADR – news reports from GA suggest that, given the closeness of the election (barely escaping a formal state-wide recount), some counties are doing hand count checking – that takes time.

  26. JoAnn: What Lester Levine said at 9:20 am. Had wondered about that myself. Georgia is currently represented by only 1 seated Senator, Kelly Loeffler — Perdue’s term ended at the end of the previous term of the Senate.

    As Lester stated, Warnock and Ossoff can’t be officially sworn in until Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certifies the election results from all of Georgia’s 159 counties (Whoa, that’s a lot of counties!). According to what I looked at yesterday, the 159 counties have until today, 1/15/21, to certify their votes to Secretary of State Raffensperger. Then Raffensperger has until 1/22/21 to certify the State’s results. Although Raffensperger has the option of certifying them prior to 1/22, and there are reports that the results will be certified on Tuesday, 1/19 (McConnell to the sidelines!).

  27. I’m personally not sure that whites in the Southern States are becoming less racist (or whites anywhere for that matter; particularly white males). I think what the elections in Georgia show is that if a concerted enough effort is made to get voters of color registered to vote — in spite of the substantial obstacles the Republicans have put in place to make that hard as possible. And that same substantial effort is made to then get them to actually vote (as well as getting all those likely to vote Democratic), there is a possibility of Democrats being elected in a State like Georgia where the rural areas are majority Red. IMO, that’s particularly true in a State, such as Georgia, where there is a huge African-American population in Atlanta and the surrounding counties. Also helps, if the Repubs choose to run execrable candidates such as Perdue and Loeffler. Looking forward to Stacy Abrams running and hopefully being elected to some office in the future. At the end of the day, her efforts (of course she didn’t do it alone) in a large part not only secured the election of Biden-Harris, but also control of the Senate!

  28. Nancy,

    Over the years, I would estimate the percentage of my students who were Black or Latino at around 15%. A bit more for undergraduates. Among the Latino students several were DACA, and it was heartbreaking to see their fear–most had been in the U.S. since they were babies, and had no memory of being anywhere else. IUPUI also had a number of International students, although fewer than Bloomington, so most of my classes had at least of couple of Asian students. I had the impression–although I don’t have data–that my classes and others at IUPUI were considerably more diverse than classes on the Bloomington campus. That made for really rich discussion.

    I should also note that most of my graduate classes were majority female.

  29. We missed by 150 years the most progressive, abolitionist Republican Congressman in IN history. We’ve driven by his statue 100 times on N. Penn. St. in Indy — SE corner of park.

    Rep. Schuyler Colfax (R) IN 9th, represented Indy, Bloomington, south to near Louisville. As House Speaker he led passage of 13th and 14th Amendments. He was portrayed in Spielberg’s film Lincoln. He was US Grant’s first-term VP.

    A former newspaper reporter on the Indianapolis legislature beat (Indiana Journal, St. Joseph Valley Register and NY Tribune) he should be one of the most celebrated Hoosiers, especially by Republicans.

    Colfax switched from Whig party to new Republican Party. He was Re-elected seven times, but his last campaign, 1862, was a close win in anti (Civil) war Indiana. That may have been an early sign of Hoosiers’ preference for a master-slave economy.

  30. Indiana Congressional District 05 – the beginning of an end” started a while back? The DEMs have improved in every Presidential election since 2008 and their % of the general election for the House seat trends similarly – 30.8% 2014, 34.3 % 2016, 43.2 % 2018 and (bucking the national trend) 45.9 % 2020. Demographic changes? Better DEM candidates? Both…whatever, looking hopeful…

  31. John, I keep going back to Hitchens’ claim that “Religion spoils everything.”
    I just, earlier today, began to read “Yes to Life, In Spite of everything,” by Viktor Frankl, and am in the introduction, by psychologist Daniel Goleman. If Frankl could find a place for optimism after his experiences in 4, count them, 4 concentration camps, so can we.
    I copied a bit of Goleman’s writing, that is so relevant to our hopes to move forward in today’s political climate, and sent it to a Biden transition site that asks for feedback from the populace. It was about a topic familiar to this blog…how to teach differentiation of truth and propaganda, Trump and Hitler’s massive use of “The Big Lie.”
    Goldman comments that the civics classes, touching on ethics, as well, that he had as a youngster (Born in 1946), are no longer taught. I expect that this was/is the result of years of Republican propaganda about the irrelevance of such “liberal” teachings in the country.
    Anyway, with the new admin. and new Sec’y of Education, I am OPTIMISTIC that much of deVos’
    damage, and more, will be undone in the coming years.
    BTW, the Biden site is at

  32. Hi Sheila,

    Thanks for the info. Maybe the lies and chaos that 45 created before, during and after the November election will ignite more interest in your classes from black, latino and asian students.

    The fact that the majority of your graduate students are female gives me hope that more women will take leadership roles in all levels of government.

  33. And then we have Marjorie Taylor Green, from the 14th Congressional District of GA — “signed on as Original Cosponsor to Pro-Gun Bills EXPANDING the Rights of Gun Owners; Announces Plans to Impeach President-elect Joe Biden; cosponsor the Life at Conception Act which grants rights to babies at the moment they are conceived, and the Born Alive Protection Act, that will protect innocent lives who miraculously escape death; These Democrats are the enemies to the American people who are leading the impeachment witch hunt against President Trump. AGAIN!” (these are all statements from her official website). And she has created a picture of herself carrying an AR-15 with pictures of “The Squad” (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of NY, Ilhan Omar of MN, Ayanna Pressley of MA, and Rashida Tlaib of MI) and the caption “How to deal with The Squad”. How is it that this woman is allowed to be/remain a member of Congress?????

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