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Op-ed: Which future for America? The choice is ours.

Op-ed: Which future for America? The choice is ours.

A low angle view of a long line of people waitng to vote in the elections.

By Mary Wilke, Rob Claflin

June 27, 2024

Two years shy of its 250th birthday, our country teeters between alternate futures: either we continue the American Experiment, or we abandon it. 

With an attempted coup just a few years behind us and one of two major American political parties fully co-opted by a convicted criminal and former president who no longer hides his autocratic intentions, we are closer now to losing our constitutional democratic republic than we have been at any time since the Civil War. 

On November 5, we choose America’s future—and our own. What does this choice look like? 

President Biden and the Democrats offer a continuation of a centuries-long line of American governance that rests on an aspirational foundation of freedom and equality for all. It’s true that this country has never fully lived up to that statement in practice; historical examples of its failures abound. But over time, we have built the institutions of democracy to support our nation’s continual drive toward becoming “a more perfect union.” 

From our Founding Fathers’ determination that our new nation should have no king and even the rich and powerful should be equally subject to our nation’s laws to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s observation that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” our country’s commitment to democracy has endured. Through good times and bad, Americans have recognized that our constitutional guarantees of freedom, equality, and the rule of law are more important than any one individual or party’s quest for power. 

The Republican party has now abandoned these values in favor of service to an authoritarian leader. Convicted felon Donald Trump and his MAGA supporters are showing us every day who they are. They’ve already lied about and tried to overturn one presidential election, and they’re laying the foundation to lie about the next one. 

With help from their hand-picked, far right Supreme Court majority, they’ve already limited the rights of women to control their own bodies and suppressed voting rights. They’ve used coded racial messaging to stir up hatred, banned books about race and LGBTQ+ issues, threatened to use the government as an agent of retribution against journalists and political adversaries, endorsed using the military to crush domestic protests, and more.

Trump and his MAGA supporters continually vilify the immigrant character of our nation, employing Nazi terminology and promising to cram thousands of immigrants into deportation camps should he retake the presidency. They seize every opportunity to delegitimize America’s democratic institutions, including our courts, our system of laws, our free press, our public schools, and our military. 

This is no continuation of American aspirations and values; it is destruction of the very foundations that hold this country together.

In 2016, Donald Trump didn’t expect to win and had no real plan for governance. But now MAGA Republicans have a playbook. Project 2025 explains, in 887 chilling pages, their plan to turn our country into an authoritarian regime unrecognizable to most Americans. It would radically expand presidential power, minimizing the legislative and judicial branches and weakening oversight of the Executive Branch. It calls for injecting Christian orthodoxy into policy-making, although that is specifically prohibited by the United States Constitution. It would further politicize the government by replacing thousands of non-partisan, professional civil servants with Trump loyalists. And there’s so much more – readers can see for themselves by searching “Project 2025″ online. 

To put it starkly, if Trump and the MAGA Republicans win in November, the American Experiment will come to an end. There will be no easy correction for this —authoritarians, once they gain power, historically do not subject themselves to genuine democratic elections. And their repressive control often filters down to state and local administrations, making the most immediate difference in people’s lives via businesses, workplaces, schools, access to healthcare, etc.

President Biden may not be perfect; no one is. But his career of honorable public service and his decades-long respect for democratic institutions underlie his genuine dedication to saving “the soul of America.”

This is the choice we face in November.  

Many Americans believe that a transformation to autocracy could never happen here. After all, the thinking goes, it’s been almost 250 years. We survived a Civil War. We’ve suffered horrible violence, a Great Depression, bad governance—and always, democracy has endured.

But it can happen here; it can happen anywhere. The shift has already begun. 

We can’t let complacency be our undoing. Between now and Election Day, every American citizen of voting age must decide if they wish to continue living in the constitutional democratic republic our Founding Fathers created or succumb to the authoritarian threat looming so large over this country, its citizens, and the Constitution. 

No one is coming to save us. Come November, we must vote to save ourselves.

Authors

CATEGORIES: VOTING
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