Tuesday is Judgment Day for America. We will stand before history and declare who we are. We will not be able to lie or dress up the truth about our flaws. The light being shined on us will be so bright that only our true character as a nation will show.
If the GOP maintains its majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives our testimony will be crystal clear. Incumbents tend to be battered in mid-term elections. Especially unpopular ones. And this president has been historically unpopular.
So if he does not suffer a major setback, if he does not lose control of the House of Representatives, then it will be seen by all--especially him and those around him--as not just vindication but a rousing endorsement, a plea for more of the same.
The fact is, he was faltering a few weeks ago. And then he decided to appeal to our very worst selves. He pushed through the Kavanaugh nomination in a way that recommitted himself and his party to the misogyny on which his first campaign was largely based.
At the same moment, civility was cast aside. He encouraged Kavanaugh to treat the Senate with disdain, to lie, to insult the dignity of the institution he was sitting before and the one to which he sought approval in one dark moment of repulsive political theater.
When the president's hateful language of division and hostility toward his foes led one of his followers to launch an unprecedented effort to send bombs to more than a dozen current and former top senior US officials and others, he resisted condemning it, derided it as fake.
When more violence followed that including a shooting outside a predominantly black church and the most deadly act of anti-Semitic violence in American history, he sought to exploit it in ways that were an insult to the victims. He then compounded that...
...by making the centerpiece of his campaign a fear-mongering campaign about the invasion of brown people from the South. He lied about the threat. He used anti-Semitic smears to explain its origins. He deployed the US army to stop the non-existent threat.
The cost would be hundreds of millions and distracting the military from their true duties protecting America. But this did not stop this president. He made a direct appeal to the racist hearts of his followers the primary thrust of his campaign.
Should he win, as a result, it will be a victory for racism in America...which means it will be a devastating defeat for America. We will be in the midst of a moment of once unimaginable dystopian despair.
A man who is the worst among us, who stands in opposition to every value and ideal to which this country has aspired throughout its history, will be empowered yet again by appealing to the worst within us. Imagine where he will go from there.
Imagine where we will all go from there if his racism, lies, corruption& contempt for the rule of law and the Constitution are seen as the formula for his mid-term victory. Imagine Trump and his GOP unleashed as never before. Imagine the pain and the loss and the national shame.
That outcome is very possible. But it is not pre-ordained. We can choose. We can vote. We can vote for compassion and decency and inclusion and opportunity and candidates who will stand up to Trump and for a Congress that will fulfill its oversight duties.
We can restore checks and balances. We can defeat the myth of the president's political genius. We can refute the idea that the only path to power in America is the low road. We can elevate a new generation of leaders who were motivated to run by contempt for Trump & Trumpism.
We can return to the work of fixing what is broken in America and of uniting the country once again with common purpose. We can send a message to the world and to history that we are better than this last, dark chapter. We can show that American democracy works.
We can show that women, people of color, the young...and the educated and the wise and the people who really do care...are aligned in an American majority that believes a better future depends on harnessing what is best about all of us as people.
That can be the message Wednesday morning. All it takes is for you and everyone you know to vote and to help and encourage others to vote. This can not only be a turning point in our history but a moment of celebration and, indeed, relief.
We have learned democracies require care and attention,they wither in the face of apathy. Now we can apply that lesson &, while much work remains to be done and there can never again be a place for complacency, we can once again feel proud of who we are, proud of what America is.
That moment of joy and rightful pride is as near as your local polling station. It is just hours away. But as we have learned, it will not come automatically. We can't take success for granted. We are not entitled to be a great nation. We must earn such a distinction.
Vote. Vote. Vote as though the very idea of America depended on it.
You can follow @djrothkopf.
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