A Fragile Republic

Tonight my mind is focused on my sons.  I can’t help but foresee the day, ten or fifteen years from now, when they come home with a homework assignment.  “Interview an adult who remembers the year 2020.”  What do I tell them?  How do I make it clear that we came so close to losing our country?  I need them to understand how fragile this experiment in Democracy truly is.

I will tell them…

In 2020, a deadly virus spread around the world.  Some countries figured out how to stop it in its tracks.  Others struggled to contain it.  Here in the United States, we did neither.  There was zero leadership.  There was no nationwide mask mandate.  There was no mandate that factories repurpose to create PPE.  There was no federal effort to increase testing.  But the absence of leadership was not the worst part.

Our president minimized the effect of the virus.  He not only failed to wear a mask–he actively mocked people who wore them.  He cared only about the strength of the stock market–not about the lives that were being lost.  I remember when the first person in the United States died.  I remember when we surpassed 10,000.  I remember when we surpassed 100,000.  I remember when we surpassed 200,000 dead.  And still he mocked it as a hoax.  But still that was not the worst part.

As the pandemic raged, the very foundation of our republic started to crumble.  The President and their party stacked the courts with ideologues.  They confirmed a supreme court justice a week before the election despite holding up the previous president’s nominee for eight months because “it was an election year.”  He vilified fact based reporting.  And facts.  I will tell my sons to research the term Gaslighting, then let them know that entire teams of reporters were dedicated to keeping track of the president’s lies–surpassing 20,000 in 2020.  He sent in the National Guard when peaceful protesters filled the streets in solidarity that Black Lives Matter. All this happened while the party did everything in its power to make sure not every vote would be counted–because if every voted counted, they would never win.  But that was still not the worst part.

The worst part was that ten of millions of people voted for this man–in 2020.  They knew he was a danger to democracy.  They knew he would let a million Americans die to keep the stock market afloat.  They knew he would tear the constitution to shreds to stay in power.  But still they voted for him.  And that is what makes republics so fragile.  It is one of the most revolutionary ideas in human history–to let the people decide who leads them.  But centuries of republics have taught us the same thing over and over again.  We will vote for our ideals–even if that means the republic could fall.

I need my sons to understand that.