Letter to the Editor: The Next 1455 Days

One thousand four hundred and fifty-five days. That’s how long we have until the next presidential election. Maybe you’re glad about that fact, that you get to tune out of this election cycle until the next one. But I’m terrified. Because it’s not much time at all.

Writing and reading about what just happened makes my stomach churn. But like a coroner after a car wreck, you have to look at the grisly details in the immediate aftermath. Progressives, liberals and fair-minded people are still in an emotional neck brace recovering from the whiplash of Election Day. Once they recover, this could go a couple of ways.

The first is a left wing circular firing squad. One side will blame establishment Democrats for their embrace of Clinton, alleging that the DNC pushed a flawed candidate to nomination. The other side will blame non-establishment progressives for voting third party or not voting at all. Both of these sides have points. Both of these sides oversimplify a complex event. And both sides will bicker until they’re blue in the face while a far-right government does irreparable damage to our republic.

This happened in 2000. For all of the wringing and moaning about Nader and Gore, the end result was the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush that Obama spent his term cleaning up. 

The other way is a lot harder, but it’s the only thing we can do to save ourselves. We need to provide a powerful, unified front against the sickness that won Donald Trump the presidency. Infighting is no longer an option. I repeat for emphasis: infighting is no longer an option. The ship is sinking, and complaining about what material would best plug holes is besides the point.

It can be tempting to blame one group of people for this mess. I’ve done it. I’ll probably keep doing it. But the blame is on all of us, and we have to accept responsibility to move forward. No crucifying third-party voters, no neo-liberal witch hunts. A divided house cannot stand, and there’s a real motherfucker of a tornado coming.

The 2016 primary makes this divide painfully clear. But when I see someone reveling in Trump’s victory because “the DNC had it coming” or because they “stole it from Bernie,” I want to slap them. If you actually give a shit about progressive values, you should be despondent. There is no room for told-you-so right now.

There are some things that the center-left and the far-left will not agree on. That’s expected. But both sides must swallow our pride, accept responsibility for our situation and work our asses off to fight back. Our common ground might seem unsure at the moment, but there is so much more of it with each other than we think. We need to focus on this common ground and make it the base for a stronger, more unified progressive movement.

Here’s some common ground: the last two Republican presidents were elected without the popular vote. That’s something that should enrage everyone, especially progressives. The electoral college, designed to safeguard our nation against potentially disastrous presidents, has failed us twice in less than 20 years. Clinton will win the popular vote, and it won’t matter.

Here’s some more: 2016 is the first election in half a century without full protection of the Voting Rights Act. Laws were engineered to suppress the voting rights of the less fortunate, and they worked like a charm. The right wing only thrives when people are kept from voting, and that’s exactly what happened here. That is despicable, full stop.

These are far from the only two issues that the both ends of the left wing agrees on. But these two things won Trump the presidency. Trump will never be my president. Trump will never be our president. But condemnation won’t do anything unless we organize, consolidate and fight back. 

I want to be in a place where we can argue about 12 dollar minimum wage verses 15 dollar minimum wage. I want to be in a place where we can argue about the best way to ensure every human being has access to affordable healthcare. I want to be in a place where we can argue about the merits of a carbon tax to fight global warming. But we’re not in that place anymore. We’re battling people who don’t believe in a minimum wage, who deny the existence of climate change and who believe that healthcare is a privilege. These people run the government now. Nuance has gone on an indefinite hiatus.

Don’t argue, organize. Don’t mourn, organize. Don’t focus on the past, organize.

We have 1455 days to get our shit together. Make every single one of them count.