Everyone Else Has To Vote

Jennifer Rubin is one of the clearest-eyed columnists around, and as the MAGA movement has demonstrated both its staying power and its ability to mesmerize  and propagandize angry voters, her clarity is welcome.

In a recent column for the Washington Post, Rubin “told it like it is.”

Right-wing pundits and Republican apologists are quick to blame “elites” or “the left” for a failure to respect and recognize the legitimacy of a MAGA movement based in election denial, White Christian nationalism and hostility toward robust democratic elections. It’s a demand for acceptance that is eerily reminiscent of other periods in U.S. history (e.g., the 1850s, the 1920s, the 1950s), which can illuminate the depth of our national problem.

Rubin referenced the eerily similar situation from just before the Civil War. Quoting from Jon Meacham’s recent book on Lincoln, she reminded readers that the South “could hear nothing more — could absorb nothing more — once it was told that the rest of the nation had found its way of life morally wanting. It felt judged, and it hated it.”

Substitute “election denier” for “the South,” and you have a fair approximation of the current state of American politics. Now, one side believes its viewpoint is essential to maintaining its power and its conception of America. It insists its followers can be “seen” only if the rest of us agree with their delusions and conspiracies.

That, of course, is not the way democratic systems work. Of course, the MAGA folks, as we have seen, are more than willing to jettison democracy if that’s what it will take to protect their status as the only “real” Americans–a status that they perceive (correctly) is endangered.

If there is no possibility of principled compromise–after all, how do those of us who occupy a fact-based reality “compromise” with delusion?–what can the rest of America do? Rubin doesn’t pull punches:

Aggravated by declining economic prospects, overwhelmed by the opioid epidemic and utterly divorced from mainstream news sources, they unsurprisingly glob onto conspiracies, hold up former president Donald Trump as their champion and refuse to process any information that conflicts with the victimhood they embrace.

While there are certainly persuadable voters who drift between the parties, one cannot attribute Democrats’ losses in certain areas of the country to “poor messaging” or even a specific policy failure. None of that would make any difference. It’s fantasy to think there is a segment of White male working-class voters eager to vote Democratic if only Democrats had not passed the American Rescue Plan or avoided dealing with bias in policing.

Rubin quite properly scorns the notion that policy differences explain the MAGA movement. The die-hards of MAGA are neither motivated nor mollified by policy. That said, she  also recognizes that the appeal of conspiracies and various bigotries grows in situations of precarity and financial insecurity, which means that efforts to address those problems makes sense. As she notes,it pays political and economic dividends to “draw down the venom” in communities where people feel left behind.

She also recognizes that Democrats running in states with very different political cultures will necessarily run different sorts of campaigns.

The paragraph I found most insightful, however, was this one:

Everyone else has to vote. There is no substitute for high engagement, high turnout and an educated electorate. If 90 percent of the money spent on ads that viewers literally tune out were devoted to organizing on college campuses and other low-turnout environs, the results would be quite different for the pro-democracy, pro-pluralism forces.

Everyone else has to vote.

Before every election, we hear that “this election is the most important in our lifetimes.” This year, that warning rings true.

We can argue about causes of inflation, how to  understand and address crime, how best to combat climate change….and a million and one other truly important issues. But a few short days from now, the ballots we cast will decide questions that are massively more important and fundamental. Next week, Americans will vote to confirm or deny our most basic aspirations–adherence to democratic norms and the rule of law, and affirmation of the legal equality/autonomy of all citizens, irrespective of gender or sexual orientation.

Next week, our choice isn’t between Candidate A and Candidate B. Our choice is between the American Idea and White Christian Nationalism. We can hammer out our policy differences after we save democracy.

Rubin is right: Everyone who isn’t the product of MAGA madness–every American who occupies the messy, imperfect and maddening reality-based community–has to vote.


  1. There are enough people who register as “D’s” to overcome the gerrymandered districts in Indiana, if they would just show up and vote.

  2. Sheila, this paragraph near the end of this morning’s sobering post says it all for me:

    >> Next week, our choice isn’t between Candidate A and Candidate B. Our choice is between the American Idea and White Christian Nationalism. We can hammer out our policy differences after we save democracy.<<

    Thank you. We are voting early at facilities provided by our church, St. Luke’s Methodist.

  3. I’m very glad I read this post today. It reminded me that the midterms were, in fact, next week. I’m scheduled to be traveling for work next week. Looks like I need to early vote this week!

  4. Yes, we’ve been through this cycle of political and social upheaval before. Whenever demagogues get ahold of the microphone, things turn to shit. There will ALWAYS be the 25% who follow the loudest voice in the room even though that voice spews garbage, lies and hate. Now, it’s the Republican party’s turn to be that loud voice. Will we, as a democratic republic survive this onslaught of stupidity?

    But this time is different. The maniacal 25% now fondle their guns as the instrument of power and control over the rest of us “sissies”. So, if these damned fools start shooting up the nation it won’t matter what the dialogue is. They seem to WANT civil war so their pathetic manhood urges can be slaked. No wonder FB ads mostly feature holsters and body armor. These assholes are literally preparing to go to war.

    Will sanity be restored without massive bloodshed? What will happen when the corrupt Republicans actually cut social security and medicare? What will happen when they finally get their way and destroy public education?

    I wonder if the Romans felt this anxious when the Visigoths loomed on the horizon. This time, we are breeding our own Visigoths from within. Well done, Christians. Well done, conservatives. Well done, abject ignoramuses.

  5. “Lord Jesus, save us from your followers!” The time is now. The place is here. Let’s all get together and show Benjamin Franklin that we can, indeed, keep our republic.

  6. In 2016 we were having discussions about saving the country from Trump. We were likely defeated in that effort by Putin. We kept up the pressure and by 2020 we won a major battle but not the war on misinformation. The war continued. Now another battle to save the Republican Party from Trump’s and his acolytes’ lies.

    All hands on deck and to your voting stations.

  7. All whine and wring your hands, but…

    – Blacks and Latinos are not excited. Their cultural conservatism is scorned by many DEMs and they have seen critical, simple stuff not happen: no path to citizenship for Dreamers (BTW, supported by a significant majority of GOPers), no voting rights (including a bill to add that to the Constitution – YES it is not in the Constitution)

    – Young people are not excited – they are too busy having fun. Why vote for a party where nearly all the visible leadership is 70+?

    – White women without college degrees are not excited. Most are past abortion age and under the thumb of their men.

    The tsunami is coming…

  8. the white god like creatures have evolved into a maggot cacoon. the untold money spent to turn this country is far beyond any justice. the rich has spent billions on this scam. using white evengelicos and ignorance as whores for their own needs. the white nationalists can say they are demanding the country turn into a authoritarian regime, sponsored by their own kind. if the monied class has its way, it will be corp law. going on about how a buisness person is best suited for the top job,as in, making corp America a ticker symbol. there isnt a prayer in hell that the christian right will ever rule America,nor will the nationalists.(they maybe deemed as a threat) as far as corp America goes,its their game,they have bought and paid for the party that will overturn at anycost,our democracy. one party in congress who is the arcitect of laws,and in the pocket of the money of wall street. further up the road is the money trade in london and chinas authoritarian gov. the wall street mob has been taught how to suppress and demand from its people,when the people get or have little. take away our freedoms,money and demand to abide or be,jailed. read a bit further into world news and whats happening elsewhere. the republicans all went to see orban for a pep rally. im sure republicans would kiss putins ass if he was anywhere a buisness person. its been 40 plus years reality says its been closing in,and they are one step away from the finally. but did any one ask them,what is the end game, after a state constitutional congress? elect a few more of those rightwing buisness people into govenourship,and we’ll be in that even if we win to break even again. money now is being focused to state level hacks. figure,if hersall walker is considered a senate canidate,its only because he will sign anything put in front of his smilin mug,for money. it shouldnt have take roe to vote for any one group to finally come to the line and demand our freedom and rights we ,well some, have given. tell the vets that,how many of their forevets,gave it all so you can be a nationalist. here in NoDak again its only college educated pro buisness asswipes running for the senate,even the dem. the NPR debate sounded like a school kids pajama party. one grandstanding,(hoven,)the other two sounded like the working class wasnt in their intrests except for votes. this state is the above average 4 walls built around it. nothing gets in and nothing changes except who can con the best.

  9. Yes, we mute all of the campaign ads, mostly because I might throw something at the TV when DeSantis, especially,
    rants about Florida being such free state…yes, free to do exactly what he tells us to do. I fear he’s going to win, and we will
    ALL be in for a shit-storm as the ’24 election comes nigh.
    Rubin’s point about ad money going to low turn-out areas is simple and spot-on.
    We have voted.

  10. When I watch Morning Joe and some of the other pundit shows and how they are all acting shocked and dismayed over MAGA,etc… If you have been living in the Midwest, none of what I am seeing is a surprise. Its been a slow trickle that is now a gushing river.

    There is this righteous upset with those folks that just don’t seem to get it–what is wrong w/ them–I hear some version of this among the pundits but also among groups. I go back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs—there is a substantial percentage of the population who is focused on where they are going to get their next meal? will I have daycare to go to work? how am I going to get diapers, a job? I can’t fault those who are just trying to get by the day where all of their mental resources are focused on surviving to not have the energy to research or to address what is going on in the State houses and in DC. Maslow’s addresses the reason why’s– you can scream that everything decided at these houses impact their lives daily but too many are dealing with the bottom two drives of human behavior in the pyramid to focus on other things like democracy, policy, etc…and voting

    1) Physiological needs–food, water, warmth, shelter, sleep
    2) Safety and security– having stable and sufficient source of income, feeling protected from crime or abuse, living or working in a safe environment, being in good physical and mental health

  11. Jack Smith beat me to the point. I was going to write about next week’s election’s effects on the international scene, i.e., with America in disarray (and with Orban and even Putin more than friendly with the magas), where does that leave Ukraine, the Baltics, Finland, and other NATO and non-NATO states within Putin’s reach who depend upon us and our “strongest military in the world” to hold him at bay? And Taiwan? China and Russia are our two biggest geopolitical competitors, and if magas join them then we will likely have failed Franklin’s test – and to think > that our downfall all started with loans from Russian banks to Herr Trump and Putin’s help in getting him elected, followed by an alliance of this subversion with Christian Nationalism. At least we have a living example of why the Founders were in favor of separation of church and state.

    Rubin is right; this is not about who is elected but what is elected – and we had better elect democracy; so let’s take Grandma, our cousins and neighbors and our kids to the polls, and VOTE! Or else. . .

  12. Vern,

    Absolutely my brother, you nailed it again!

    Everyone is mesmerized by what the Romans called bread and circuses, we tend to be mesmerized by what we see on the multiple screens we possess. And then, we go eat! Our thirst for blood so to speak has been satisfied, it’s in our music, the movies we watch, our discussions, the news, the games we play! Heck, we don’t even have to leave our home, we can have our bread delivered to our door!

    We follow in Rome’s footsteps, because Britain followed in Rome’s footsteps, and of course the connection is very strong even concerning our system of government and the predominant religion!

    Look at the violence over several millennia, by Rome, by the British, and by America! The Lions share so to speak of the violence, was promoted through the religion practiced.

    The Church of Rome and the church of England absolutely had an undue influence on these forms of government. And, they do the same today.

    Remember Ormond, the church that they claim as Christian is not really Christian, and, the church really has nothing to do with Scripture I.e the Bible. The Christian religion in the past two and some change millennia, has all been based on philosophy and not the Bible or as you know it Scripture or as I call it Scripture anyway.

    The Roman Fasces sits prominently on both sides of the American flag in congress. This is actually where the term Fascist comes from! And there it sits in the halls of government.

    And as Vern talked about the Huns and the Visgoths, the Roman elite saw the handwriting on the wall as they say, and wanted to use the binding influence of the Christian religion. So, they called the Nicene council together the most notable one in 325 ad. They adopted philosophies and pagan rituals into the church, they also promoted the idea of Christians fighting in the military which they never had done before. This way they figured they’d save themselves and unite their de facto army the Huns and Visigoths, with the Roman military under the umbrella of christianity.

    Unfortunately for rome, their version of Christianity that has been passed down till today was useless in their effort to bring unity into the empire. Because the bigotry and racial Injustice which the original Christians preached and taught against, was useless and it’s new version authorized by emperor Constantine.

    You are seeing the beginnings of an uprising, how it will manifest itself, will be interesting to see. Will it be factions of the government? Will it be nationalists that are disillusioned? Will government become authoritarian and through some sort of martial law enact regulations to prevent religious contamination in government? Either way, it’s going to be really really messy.

    December 10th 1856, Chicago Illinois, Abraham Lincoln makes a statement in one of his speeches; “our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much.”

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt actually piggybacked on the words of Abraham Lincoln when he said; “democracy cannot succeed unless those who Express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

    Democracy cannot succeed without a culture of learning introspection and critical thinking. This is why the influential try to control education. The Constitution is not a sacred document, it’s fledgling Democratic Society is fragile and ripe for exploitation.(Big Think)

    When self-aggrandized reprobates take the place of intellect, when propaganda takes the place of written law, Society is done!

    The wound has been left to Fester for too long, more than likely, it has become septic.

    All of this is part of the puzzle, but most can’t get past their own blinders!

    I always like this one verse in Proverbs which states; The ignorant will be caught in the cords of his wrongdoing, such an individual will die for lack of discipline and run to ruin by his great ignorance.

  13. Elaine is right, and thus Marx was as well. This is why unfettered capitalism sows the seeds of its own destruction. Or put more simply, poverty breeds revolutions.

  14. “Poverty breeds revolutions” – really. American revolution led by elites. Current MAGAs are mostly not in poverty. Help me understand….

  15. Many MAGA-ites I know of are not worried about meals, shelter, or personal security. They worry more about their 401ks or home maintenance or their kids’ college prospects than about Mazlo’s basics. I keep coming back to what I believe is the central issue for GOPers/Trumpers– racism. There is a core fear that “they” will “outbreed”or “replace us.” A corollary is the need of many to have someone to look down on and blame for societal problems. The demographers’ prediction that white Americans will soon be in a minority made many well-off people uneasy, or worse. The age-old concept of “other” as bad has a deep hold on human beings, and in this case, on white ones. Everything else is window-dressing.

  16. “democracy cannot succeed unless those who Express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

    Democracy cannot succeed without a culture of learning, introspection and critical thinking.”

    Gee, that sounds so easy. Introspection from Twitter bots, Facebooks sharers, TikTok “content creators”, education from Pride months, immersion Español, hiphop math problems: how contemporary and cool!
    What’s the equivalent of psychologist/psychiatrist for sociologist/…?

  17. Sorg: Ormond is well acquainted with the Bible’s histories.
    Jesus was a mediocre and dated philosopher, even in his time.

  18. Ormond,

    Lol, what a grouch!

    Second rate philosopher compared to who?

    The world of the Sadducees and Pharisees of the Sanhedrin? They put forth philosophy that was never included in the Mosaic Law!

    What law do you believe in? Because so far, humanity’s laws have been an abject failure! It’s actually leading to the demise of the human race.

  19. There are some people who just can’t stand the thought that all of us have equal rights under the law, that the majority rules, and that political differences are decided by elections and the courts rather than by violence.

    I used to hate those bumper stickers that said “America, love it or leave it” but I am beginning to like it better and better. If white nationalists and religious bigots are not willing to live by democracy’s rules, they are quite welcome to go live with Putin who loves rich, white people (who pay him to smile on them), hates gays, and resorts to killing those who differ with him at home and abroad whenever the mood strikes him.

Comments are closed.