We Have to Do More Than Just Vote

Become Politically Active to Respond to This Attack on Democracy

Just when you think we can settle down and finally vote, Donald Trump and his Republican enablers come up with new slurs that cannot go unanswered. President Trump is trying to brand Democrats as an angry left-wing mob that can’t be trusted with your vote. His Republican echo chamber, of course, repeated the charge: Senator Chuck Grassley said, “Democrats have encouraged mob rule”; Senator Rubio called those protesting the Kavanaugh confirmation “an angry mob.” Republican operatives believe this kind of slander-rhetoric will motivate Republican voters; which it might. In the meantime, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was confronted by what can only be called an angry “mob” while attending a campaign event for Donna Shalala, the Democratic nominee in Florida’s 27th District, comprised of a local Republican chapter and the “Proud Boys.” The “Boys” are considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Pelosi was met with such cries as “Look at this piece of sh-t Pelosi” and “You don’t belong here you f–king communist f–k”.

While this column does not approve of confronting Republican officials while dining with their families, this is an entirely different kind of thing than a coalition of official Republicans teamed with a hate group shouting hate at the leader of the House Democrats as she enters a political function. Obviously, our country has fractured into “sides” which are unfortunately coming to hate one another. This is an impossible situation for the United States. We are one country with very different opinions that can and should be debated and then voted on to determine which ideology will control the Congress and the White House. Yet, we find ourselves sinking into the most vile form of name calling as a substitute for debating issues.

It is crystal clear that the president will never promote (or support) the traditional democratic approach to politics. For those of us who care about our democracy and oppose the president’s predictable style of scapegoating, lying, and always siding with despots, we find ourselves in what essentially has become a political war for decency and truth in politics. The migrants who were caravanning toward the U.S. are not an angry “mob” bent on bringing crime to our country; as characterized by Trump. They are refugees from the crime, disorder, and terror they face in their home countries, in part brought about by U.S. policies. If you believe the Saudi explanation that Jamal Khashoggi died in a fist fight, with 15 Saudi security operatives, Santa Barbra has a “bridge to nowhere” I’d like to sell you. Yet, our president says it is a plausible explanation despite no body and the Turkish evidence that he was brutally murdered and dismembered.

There is only one way to respond to this attack on democracy, become politically active! For those of us on the Central Coast this, in addition to our votes, means getting involved in campaigns across the state and the country. This can be done by volunteering to phone bank and/or by making donations to political campaigns. The alternative is to cede the political field to the “Bully Pulpit” which is now occupied by an extreme partisan bent on winning at any cost to our way of life. Donald Trump’s popularity is now up to 47 percent. The elections are days away from determining whether there will be a congressional check on his behavior and polices. If there is no check, make no mistake about it, a Republican-controlled Congress will again seek to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and protections for pre-existing conditions, and cut social security benefits, Medicare, and Medicaid as a way of paying for the increased deficit ($779 billion) they created with their tax cut for the wealthy.

As my first dean said to me as a young law professor, “Lawyers for social change have to work harder.” I believe the same is true for the political process. Those of us who would fight for democracy have to do more than just vote.

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