It is not written in stone that the United States of America must always exist. It is not guaranteed that the country that goes by that name will always be a democracy. You cannot assume the greatness or strength or stature we have grown accustomed to will always endure.
Throughout our history we have been reminded of the fragility of the American idea and of the country it inspired. We got off to a fitful start with an ill-conceived system. We have seen civil war and foreign despots committed to wiping us off the map.
We have been compromised to the point of negating the good that has gone into our heritage by slavery, genocide, corruption, suppression of the basic rights of women, racism and greed that has literally divided the country into one in which the 99% largely work to enrich the 1%.
At each of those junctures, we have reached deep into the character of the nation and found the fortitude and judgment to correct our course or repulse our enemies. But that should not provide too much comfort. We only have to fail to do so once for the entire experiment to end.
We are at another such juncture where the risk to the idea of America so many of us grew up with is so great that we can see if vanishing before our eyes. I'm not talking about some impossible idea of some flawless nation.
Realistic Americans understand that there are always flaws that must be attended to, that our greatness is not rooted in perfection but in our ability to work, to struggle to perfect ourselves, to correct our errors, to get better. That's what great countries do.
Their greatness is both in their resilience and in their willingness to reassess and to struggle to get ever greater. But now, we find ourselves at a moment when there are those in high positions of power who would defeat our best impulses and serve ideas that will destroy us.
Donald Trump, as evidenced by his appalling behavior in the final weeks of this campaign, his lies, his fear-mongering, his racism, his narcissism, his defense of murderous foreign despots, his minimizing of acts of domestic terror, his doubling down on his own worst acts...
has presented himself with each passing day as not just a failing president or a profoundly damaged person, but as a threat to the very idea of the country he was elected by a minority to run. He was compromised from the start. Not just by his ties to foreign enemies...
...but by his record as a con-artist and a champion of bad ideas. But he was empowered and joined in his endeavor by a Republican Party that accepted his defects as their own, that would do literally anything to achieve a narrow agenda benefiting a few special interests.
There was not one square inch of the foundations of this country that they would not rent out or sell off or tear apart if it might serve the richest Americans or big companies or the NRA or a handful of evangelicals and their misogynistic agenda.
And so we come to one of those turning points as we did during the civil war or the World Wars or the McCarthy era or the era of Jim Crow or the Cold War when we are being tested. What is at stake is not just how we are perceived as a country, or who we are...
...but whether America as we know it can continue to exist. Don't take everything you have grown used to for granted. Don't take democracy in this country for granted. Don't take progress for granted. Don't assume our institutions will work to serve us.
All of that is open to question because of this depraved and dangerous president and the craven cabal around him. Who can save us? Only we can. How? Only at the voting booth. The time has come to make a stand against these bastards, this enemy army within.
Vote next Tuesday. Make sure your friends vote. Make sure your family votes. Help the elderly to vote. Canvas your neighbors. Drive people to the polls. This is the greatest test America has faced since the end of the Cold War.
Vote. Vote. Vote like the very idea of America depended upon it.
You can follow @djrothkopf.
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