It’s hard to believe it’s only been a week since one of the most demonstrative elections in the history of the U.S., such a full-throated rejection of Trumpism, its demagogic effects, its rejection of the rule of law and reason, of the role of a free press in a democracy, its invitation to hate based on racial, ethnic and religious differences, its preference for our national adversaries over our own professional intelligence services.
Suddenly, the darkest hours of our nation’s history seem a little more hopeful. It’s going to take much more of what was exhibited at the polls last week. It is going to take a level of citizen commitment like we’ve never had to exercise in many years in this land. This is the time, buoyed by the hopefulness of last week’s election, to pull the old copy of the Federalist Papers off the shelf and to read the arguments and the values that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay articulated in them that led to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
The most radical assertion made in all the many profound documents our Founding Fathers authored just a short 10 generations ago came from Virginia’s own Thomas Jefferson. It is in the Declaration of Independence, and it says simply, “All men are created equal.” Implied in those five words are not only women, but persons of all colors, backgrounds, dispositions and orientations.
Yes, it has taken awhile, even if not so long from the standpoint of a long view of history, to extend that statement to our entire citizenry. But here we are, and when one of the trickier risks of a democracy surfaces, the idea that a charismatic charlatan can arise to mesmerize the electorate and use democracy against itself to introduce tyranny, it is the responsibility of the entire electorate to rise up against that. That’s what our Founding Fathers understood, and in the last year, we’ve seen that the true patriotic spirit of the American people begin to exercise itself.
But do not rest on laurels. The republic will endure only if the people who are its beneficiaries act robustly and resolutely to make sure it happens.
We’re off to a good start. In one marginal election, from a national perspective, over 33 Republicans who allowed themselves to affiliated with the extremism of Trump were rousted out of office by a wide-ranging and wonderful phalanx of citizens with all the colorful attributes reflecting a true diversity. It comes just a couple years after the final class of American citizens to not be guaranteed the full benefits of equality under the law, the LGBT community, was finally also enfranchised.
Now it’s all of us, every one of us, who have a stake in insisting on the nation’s commitment to everything that “All men are created equal” truly means.
Let the coming election year be a blowout exhibition of such core values of our nation.