I couldn’t really watch any of the Republican Convention. The whole affair made me sick to my stomach. I read postings and articles about it in social media including newspapers and listened to some coverage as well. I have to admit, this election has me scared to death. The fact that fascistic, white supremacist, fear-mongering, nationalistic, racist, misogynist views have been given a frenzied voice and a godhead on a national stage has me paranoid and quite fearful for this fragile experiment called democracy.
There are those on the left who find the Democratic candidate flawed (and some find her abhorrent) and so will vote for a third party candidate which could effectively hand the election to the Republicans. I have a real fear that the Republican candidate could indeed win this election because of the lancing of the bigoted and white supremacist boil that has been growing and festering, just beneath the surface, for so long. Little did any of us know just how deep and pervasive it was. Having taken us all by surprise (Republicans too), we now find ourselves at perhaps the most important crossroads this democracy has ever experienced. Once thought to be much more resilient, this democracy, built on consensus and compromise, is clearly threatened. This next election is truly a referendum on democracy, on who will be allowed to participate in this government and who will not.
Those on the left who will be voting their “conscience” by voting for a third party candidate are clearly the privileged. Those who will make that choice are probably those who would be least effected by the election of the Republican candidate, while the poor and minorities, women and LGBTQ communities would suffer the most at the hands of his election to the presidency. Some have written about how sometimes voting your “conscience” can be morally wrong. The privileged perhaps can do this, but what a disservice, what harm and injustice it inflicts on those who reside on the outskirts of the mainstream of our society. By voting for a third party candidate, even the most liberal and progressive intentions could end up harming the most vulnerable. The irony is painful.
Certainly our democracy has never been perfect. It has more often than not supported the powerful and the rich. Bernie Sanders has articulated this clearly. However, I had always believed that the ideals of this democracy have helped us inch our way along the continuum toward equity and justice for all. But now I see a new authoritarianism emerging, constructed out of lies, charlatanism, and bigotry that could sweep this experiment away. I am scared.
I am scared, but not immobilized. I am despairing, but not hopeless. I will work to elect a Democratic President and liberal and progressive candidates on the rest of the ticket. I will work to expand our inclusive understanding of democracy, so “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” God help us all.