Issue 52

 How Much Abuse Can a Democracy Withstand?


Over the course of my 46 years as a voting member of the American electorate, I’ve experienced the tension and suspense of presidential election night eleven times. hanging-chadWell, to be accurate, some were not really all that suspenseful (Nixon’s trouncing of McGovern by 23% or Reagan defeating Mondale by 18%) but who could forget the hanging chad nail biter of 2000 in which Bush was proclaimed President by the Supreme Court after having lost the popular vote by 0.5%?  But this year is different – I’ve never been consumed with as much dread of what lies ahead.

FBI Director Comey

Just three weeks ago, after Low-Life’s hot mic revelations and Hillary’s third consecutive clock-cleaning debate performance, it seemed she had a comfortable lead and the nation was finally coming back to its senses. But with FBI Director Comey’s last minute underhanded smear, the race tightened closer than anyone imagined.  His 11th hour announcement exonerating Clinton from further suspicion is an attempt to close the barn door after the Republican smear campaign easily bolted across the nation.

I’m nervous that the large turnout of voters needed to keep the Donald in his tower and out of the White House will say, “Screw it” and stay home  (or just as bad, cast a throw-away “protest” vote for Jill Stein).  Or will be intimidated by the Donald’s vigilante security squads he’s implored to patrol our polling places.  Or will be kept from voting by having their names mysteriously removed from voting rolls.  Or will be prevented from participating by 8 hour lines at overcrowded polling locations after many were eliminated.  And he’s crying foul about the election being rigged?


Militia of Trump supporters

Bill Maher recently called Trump’s rise to power “the slow march to fascism.” In addition to the Donald’s active support for interfering in the democratic voting process,  he’s encouraged Putin to continue to hack our computer privacy.  He’s suggested his supporters with guns might take things into their own hands if Clinton is elected.  After countless racist and xenophobic statements, he has drawn the devoted support of the white supremacists of the alt right and has refused to distance himself.  And in his twisted funhouse mirror, reality show view of the world, he and he alone has the ability to “make America great again.”

But even if Hillary wins (and my rational sense says she still will), I’m nervous the Donald and his supporters will continue their flimsy unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that the election was rigged and for the first time in our nation’s history, refuse to accept the results. They have already laid the groundwork to throw a monkey wrench (or Molotov cocktail as the case may be) into the democratic peaceful transition of power.

burned-churchIn a literal sense, another African-American church was fire bombed this week and left with the message, “Vote Trump” while Trump-supporting militias have stepped up training exercises in anticipation of the day they will violently “defend” their way of life.

Figuratively, even his less enthusiastic supporters within the traditional Republican ranks are pledging to block any Supreme Court nominee that Clinton puts forward.  The Republican Congressional caucus has already threatened to continue its policy of blatant and complete obfuscation for the sole purpose of preventing successful governance under a Democratic president.

They might as well say, “Vote for us or we’ll break America’s knees.”  Just how much abuse can a democracy withstand?




Published on November 6, 2016 at 10:38 pm  Comments (2)  

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  1. Hi All- I have just come back today from 12 days in North Carolina working for the Dems, Hillary and the down ticket races particularly Senate and Governor’s races. I and 4 friends all from Boston were sent to Rocky Mount NC and hour east of Raleigh We did just about all of our canvasing in very poor African American neighborhoods and had an overwhelming positive response. Most of the people are not used to having White people come to their doors, but when they found out that we were for Hillary and the Dems were given very warm welcomes, and when I said that I was there because we could not allow that crazy racist to become President there was a combination of shock that a white person would say that, and provoking immediate smiles, and thanks. We visited the towns of Princeville and Tarboro which were two of the towns which had serious flooding, in Princeville in particular every house I saw was condemned, and all belongs were in garbage files in front of the house. Despite the catastrophe, the few people we met had either already voted, or were committing to voting. In another town Roanoke Rapids near the Virginia border, I met a young black man who said is was going to vote, when I asked to confirm that he was voting for Hillary, he pointed to his skin and said I was born this way, who else do you think I am going to vote for, we shook hands and if I had been a different ” thats what I am talking about”, or peace out. One of the people I was working with knocked on a door at about 12 noon on Sunday, was invited in to a gathering of an informal church in this woman’s home, and invited to give a in essence a political sermon in support of Hillary. We met people who did not know when or where to vote in incredibly poor neighborhoods and rural areas, very old trailers in horrible shape, with strong mold smells, no insulation, and rotting wood stairs, it was very humbling. This whole experience made me connect back with living in Bed Stuy as a child, and has increased my emotional resolve, as compared to a purely political- intellectual solidarity with African Americans that I have not felt in a long time. It has reconfirmed my commitment to work on issues of racism. It feels a bit like returning home, and connecting with an important part of the heritage that my parents left me. Right now in my town of Brookline Ma. we in Workmen’s Circle are helping to facilitate a broad coalition to work on racial equity issues that have come to the fore here, and I am excited to get on with the work.

    This whole experience again reminded me in a visceral way what poverty is, and how the Dem’s do not seem to be committed to helping the poor. I am reading Thomas Frank’s new book Listen, Liberal which is a condemnation of the Democratic Party’s policies from Bill Clinton to the present, it is worth reading, my critique is that he does not address Racism, nor does he seem to really take into account the level of Republican obstructionism that Obama faced. We need to work to push the Dems to the left, to inhabit the space that Bernie carved out, and that Trump is manipulating ( obviously without the racism). To quote – I believe the MC5- lets kick out the jams.

    Steve Vogel in MA.

    Editor’s response: Hi Steve, Thanks for your hard work getting out the vote for Hillary and down ballot Dems and for your detailed reflections. Sounds like it was an exciting and eye-opening experience and of course, critically important to help get as many thinking Americans to the polls.


  2. Great article. I have been working the phones for Hillary and the down tickets in the states we have been calling into. It’s crazy out there. But I am thinking positive for the right outcome!!

    Editor’s response: Hi Laura, Thanks for your comment and hard work fighting the good fight. Hopefully, Hillary and the down ballot Dems will pull it out so we have a shot at pressing for progressive issues down the road.


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