January 7, 2021
by Randall Morton, founder, The Progressive Forum
I feel violated. When I was a college student in Washington, D.C., I brought friends to the gallery of the House of Representatives, where I revered the ceremonies of power and debates on the noblest of matters. Yesterday, Trump-incited terrorists desecrated this space.
Where Is the Hope?
In the election cycle before Trump hijacked the Republican Party, the RNC reported it was time to change course. After Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election, the RNC Election-Autopsy Report recommended a more moderate path, noting, “Minority communities … view the Party as unwelcoming. … If the Party doesn’t modernize … its appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituency.”
Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections. The electorate is diversifying among minorities, and voter activism is surging, leading to the election of the first Black Democratic senator in the South, Raphael Warnock. The upcoming U.S. Senate, now controlled by Democrats, is likely to pass voting rights legislation to expand minority voter access even more. For Republicans, it takes little common sense to realize that voter suppression and attempts at disenfranchisement have long outlived their usefulness. The rise of the widely supported anti-Trump Lincoln Project to “protect democracy” is a hopeful indicator among mainstream Republicans.
|Trump insurrectionists carried Confederate flags into the U.S. Capitol.|
Principled Republicans have a ripe opportunity to call out the failed path of doubling down on voter suppression that culminated in the national tragedy on January 6, fomented by a dangerous president who called the attacking mob “special people.” Moderate Senate Republicans, if they grouped together, could rebalance governmental power and isolate the extremists.
The nation is still in an emergency, with an insurrectionist president with 13 days left in office. It’s critical the authorities begin invoking the 25th Amendment immediately, even though some say it’s ultimately impractical. But by starting, it would establish official collaborative vigilance of a leader with an irrational personality disorder, and signal to enemies abroad that we’re organized. This process would also cast official shame on the associated coup plotters, such as Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley. They must be delegitimized along with their efforts to raise money off their lies that the election was fraudulent. Official denouncement could help move them and Trump to the dark sidelines of the shunned. As I write, we have the first Republican call to invoke the 25th Amendment from Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.). Speaker Nancy Pelosi has threatened impeachment if the vice president doesn’t move on the 25th Amendment.
America is not in permanent descent. It will take time, but the movement to solve inequality – a core cause of alienation – looks promising, a key priority of the Biden administration. America will reduce polarization as it reduces unfairness. Even one of the more pessimistic economists, Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, thinks a “Biden boom” is possible after the pandemic, as debt levels for most people are low by historic standards. He expects a quicker recovery compared to the 2008 crash, with “a lot of pent up demand.” He thinks the Democrats could continue their dominance through 2022 midterms “as the party that brought the nation and the economy back from the depths of the Covid despond.”
A National Tragedy is a Call to Conscience
Recent Progressive Forum guest Pulitzer Prize winner Jared Diamond spoke on his newest book, Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis. He cites examples where countries resolve national trauma by using the processes of resolving personal trauma. He writes, “A sense of crisis is widespread in the U.S. today. …” Like individuals, a nation can begin a “slow process of grieving, reappraising their values, and rebuilding their lives, and discovering that not everything in their world was ruined.” This process – this is our mission.