Recently, an op-ed from Jennifer Rubin and a daily Letter from Robert Hubbell combined to send the same message: don’t lose hope! Loss of hope, after all, is what the Steve Bannons of the world want–to “flood the zone with shit” in amounts sufficient to wear us out.
Rubin took a lesson from last week’s election in Poland, which she very accurately described as a hopeful message for democracy. As she pointed out, authoritarian regimes count on increasing our depression, resignation, cynicism and despair; they know that continued outrages disable opposition and induce widespread compliance with even a despised regime. Her point: If free people are to resist authoritarian repression, they must cultivate the habit of optimism.
I read that column on the same day that I received Robert Hubbell’s almost identical exhortation. (For some reason–perhaps my position somewhere on the Pacific Ocean, I can’t find a link, so you’ll have to trust that my citations are accurate.)
This is a pep talk to my family (and myself). You can listen in.
We are living through an extraordinary time. The world is being rocked by multiple overlapping crises: The terrorist attack on Israel on October 7; Israel’s subsequent declaration of war on Hamas; protests throughout the Middle East sparked by a Hamas missile strike on a hospital in Gaza; the ongoing war against the Ukrainian people by Vladimir Putin; the inability of the majority party in the House to elect a Speaker; the possibility of a government shutdown before Thanksgiving; upcoming elections in Virginia and Ohio that will serve as bellwethers for 2024; the hottest year (2023) and hottest month (July) since scientists began keeping climate records; and a new term of the US Supreme Court that could fundamentally reshape American society and personal liberties (or not).
That’s a lot.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed, to withdraw, to look away.
Hubbell continued by pointing out that our emotional exhaustion and intentional disengagement are the goals of today’s Republicans, a cult intent upon retaining power by undermining democracy and ignoring the will of the American people. (When Rep. Tom Cole nominated Jim Jordan for Speaker of the House, Cole emphasized one of Jordan’s “leading qualifications”– his commitment to cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Does anyone who isn’t a lunatic believe that such cuts represent the will of the American people?)
If the election in Poland teaches us anything, it teaches us that Hubbell is correct when he insists that “Our generation has one job: To endure, to abide, to keep the faith until this moment of reactionary extremism subsides.”
Exhaustion is the point of MAGA extremism. Republicans say:
Impeach Trump? We’ll impeach Joe Biden, Merrick Garland, Jack Smith, Alejandro Mayorkas, and Christopher Wray.
Indict Trump? We’ll indict Hunter Biden, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden.
Recognize the equality of LGBTQ people? We’ll legalize discrimination against them.
Protect Americans from a deadly virus? We’ll undermine trust in science.
Fight human-caused climate change? We will make it illegal to discuss climate change in the classroom.
We must recognize those responses as a mind game designed to make us give up and go away.
We have one job: To endure, to abide, to keep the faith until this moment of reactionary extremism subsides. If we can do that, we will leave to our heirs a healthier, stronger democracy.
We can do that. We must do so. We have no other choice.
He’s right. We have no other choice.
Poland’s election should serve as a lesson that–with hard work and perseverance –We the People can defeat the agents of discord and hatred, and return our institutions to the often dull but utterly necessary work of democratic governance.
We need to hang tough….and we need to VOTE.