Uncategorized · July 5, 2024 0

Stop Being Such an Idealist!

Stop being such an Idealist and just be practical!

This is the political advice I have been hearing since I began to think politically and asked why my world had so many problems. Why wasn’t our nation a better nation? Why did it not treat all people equally? Why was it not living up to what it said it was supposed to be?

Trying to answer these questions pushed me to demonstrate against the war in Vietnam. These questions put me on the side of those fighting for racial and economic equality. These questions saw me thrust into the campus protests of the 1960s.

The answers that I formed had me calling for radical changes in our national culture and in our laws. They were demands for equality and for systemic changes that upset the status quo. They were demands that left many with power and privilege uncomfortable.

I understood the response from those who disagreed with me about how bad our nation was and how much it needed to be reformed. If you believed that fighting in Viet Nam was the only way to keep the Communist hordes from taking over the world then our demand to stop destroying a people and its nation was wrong. If you believed that Black Americans were indeed lesser beings than white men and women, our demands for the end to segregation made no sense.  If you believed that your wealth was only the result of your own hard work, our demands for a strong safety net were just wrong.  With these people, this was a discussion about two very different views of the world.

But too often the challenges came from those who said they agreed with my assessment, but for them, our demands went too far and were too disruptive. They asked me to stop being so idealistic and be more practical.

Election after election I was told that supporting a candidate who agreed with me was not practical because they would alienate too many voters.

The upcoming election has me facing these challenges once again.

Before President Biden’s disastrous debate performance, I saw him as a flawed candidate. I was seeing that my younger and more idealistic political colleagues were turned off to him because of his moderate approach to solving the pressing problems of the day. I share this concern and thought without their energy his chances of winning were small. I thought he should be wise enough to know it was time to step back and let a younger, more progressive candidate step forward.

My more moderate friends thought I was again being an idealist. Biden, because he was a moderate, was the only candidate who would defeat Trump and they were all in to get Biden reelected.

Until last week’s debate, this was a nice after-dinner topic.  But the stakes for our nation in this November’s election are too high to not take this challenge seriously.

 We don’t have to wonder what Donald Trump will do if he is again in the White House. He is quite clear about how he sees things. Speaking to Sean Hannity, he described clearly how he would treat those he saw as his political opponents: “When this election is over, based on what they’ve done, I would have every right to go after them.”

And unlike in 2016, a second Trump presidency will have its own radical game plan ready to go on day one.  Here’s how his Project 2025 planners begin: “It is not enough for conservatives to win elections. If we are going to rescue the country from the grip of the radical Left, we need both a governing agenda and the right people in place, ready to carry this agenda out on Day One of the next conservative Administration.”

The MAGA team has an agenda, Project 2025, that encompasses a 922-page document spelling out the specifics steps it will take to turn into the Christian-nationalist, pseudo-democracy they desire it to be.  And they have a plan to staff the Executive Branch with a team committed to this project.  The plan comes with a threat to those who might be brave enough to oppose it:

Kevin Roberts, head of the Heritage Foundation, said in an appearance on “Real America’s Voice” that the coming “revolution” will “remain bloodless if the left allows it to be”—a thinly veiled threat against those who resist the far-right’s efforts to seize power.

Trump said in April that whether there is violence surrounding the 2024 presidential election “depends” on the “fairness” of the contest and the outcome.

The November election will take place in a nation that has already moved toward the Project 2025 vision, empowered by a Supreme Court which has been shaped Trump and by those who support him.  Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick and Stern’s summing up the recently concluded Supreme Court year showed us how drastic our nation has morphed already:

The GOP’s triumphant attitude is neither premature nor overconfident. Four months out from November, the party has abruptly prevailed in many of its most important political battles, albeit in the cold, technical prose—you might even call it “bloodless”—of judicial opinions. The Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority has, in recent weeks, restructured American democracy in the Republican Party’s preferred image, fundamentally altering the balance of power between the branches and the citizens themselves. As the GOP became the party of coup denialism and unreconstructed Trump cultists, so too, finally, have the sober movement conservatives at the high court.

In the course of its most recent term that conservative supermajority has created a monarchical presidency, awarding the chief executive near-insurmountable immunity from accountability for any and all crimes committed during a term in office. It has seized power from Congress, strictly limiting lawmakers’ ability to write broad laws that tackle the major crises of the moment. And it has hobbled federal agencies’ authority to apply existing statutes to problems on the ground, substituting the expert opinions of civil servants with the (often partisan) preferences of unelected judges. All the while, the court has placed itself at the apex of the state, agreeing to share power only with a strongman president who seeks to govern in line with the conservative justices’ vision.

We are now watching a wounded President Biden, a clearly impaired President Biden, tell us he is “all in” and is going to continue on.  Unless he steps back, he will remain at the top of the ticket. The discussions about how fit he is for the job and whether he is my preferred candidate have now become superfluous. The disaster that a Trump-led next four years is too great to risk.

And should he step back, a long and disruptive fight over who should replace him cannot happen. We have reached the point when “anyone other than Trump” is enough.

One of my Facebook friends posted this a few days ago. “Given the news of this last week, and (GD forbid) #45 wins again, (shudder, gag, heart racing)…voting Blue down ballot is all the more crucial. Get a Dem House and Congress and stymie him as much as possible. And get out the vote for Biden/Harris. I’d rather have one bad day with Joe and 364 days of a smart, compassionate, experienced man than even one day of a blatant self-serving, amoral, vindictive authoritarian-toddler.”

This will be the year I become a very practical voter.