The six weeks since Election Day have seen much of the Republican Party, the party of Abraham Lincoln, turn fully against American democracy.
Trump’s allies and abettors, including more than 100 lawmakers and 18 Republican state attorneys general, tried to poison our political system in the service of a personality cult. Theirs is a veneration driven not by high ideals but by fear, resentment and a transparent desire to maintain power for its own sake.
Even now, many Republicans in Congress continue to try, by ludicrous and quixotic means, to overturn the will of more than 80 million voters. This week, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) privately warned Republicans not to disrupt the official opening of electoral votes on Jan. 6.
Their allies in the right-wing media ecosphere have increased the volume so much that a majority of Republicans now believe the election was stolen from Trump, despite Biden’s clear and overwhelming victory. Trump and his Republican allies continue to degrade the electoral process and talk of continued challenges, all to feed the ego of a malignant narcissist who refuses to concede his decisive defeat. Last weekend, the Proud Boys rampaged in downtown Washington, reminding us that violence is their next iteration.
We must combat these forces, everywhere and all the time. It will take the dedication of citizens of all political beliefs to recognize that what Trumpism represents is far outside the American mainstream. Progressives will need to join with conservatives. Independents will need to join the army of decency and democracy.
There is an aversion by some to take a binary view of this fight. But this is a basic choice: Trumpism or America.
Trump’s camp followers, such as Stephen K. Bannon, Alex Jones, Fox News, OAN, Newsmax and many others, will not stop actively injecting disinformation into the country’s air supply. They are highly skilled, and we must not underestimate their ability to pull us apart and keep us divided. Trump’s helpmates have called for honorable public officials to be beheaded, drawn and quartered and taken outside to be shot. They are living proof of what former president Ronald Reagan said: "Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction."
Today, it is not too much to say that we are only one election from the end of the American experiment. Until and unless we excise and remove Trumpism from American life, the foundations of our democracy — that make all the other arguments and actions possible — will collapse. We cannot allow this on our watch.
As we prosecute the fight against the Boogaloo Boys, the false evangelical prophets and the authoritarian media outlets, there are a few things each of us can do. Like the millions of people who have followed the Lincoln Project, communicate with your elected officials and let them know you’re watching. Next, be prepared to take action — through peaceful demonstrations, public awareness campaigns, volunteering and voting, to ensure your friends, neighbors and family know what’s at stake.
We must also understand why 74 million Americans thought Trump was a better option than Biden. Despite using the Oval Office for his own gain, making a mockery of the presidency and allowing covid-19 to rampage across the nation, voters of all stripes made this choice.
Why? Perhaps a third are the MAGA faithful. Another third bought into the blatant fearmongering around “socialism” and “defund the police.” The last 25 million or so voters? They most likely have always voted Republican and cannot imagine doing otherwise. Regardless of their reasoning, we must begin communicating with these voters who have fallen in line behind a megalomaniac with authoritarian goals.
Those of us who voted for Biden and Harris must remember that our coalition is our best offense and defense. Though we will not agree on everything, we must march forward together against the forces of authoritarianism. We must fight for the foundations of a democratic society: A new voting rights act. A new civil rights act. Increased election security and a commitment to keep foreign actors out of our elections.
Lastly, we must identify, call out, and repudiate any and all false information, lies and fiction with which the Republican Party and its allies infect the American political bloodstream. We must remind people that open sewer pipes such as Facebook and Parler are the propagators of authoritarian belief, racism and white-nationalist terror.
If we do all this, we will win this fight, and we will enjoy the quiet pride knowing that we stood up when our country and our fellow citizens needed it most.
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