As we approach this epic election – and it is epic, it will affect the future profoundly – the instinct drifts over me to look ahead, so as to solemnly look back. The reason my mind goes there, I think, is to encourage me – and I suppose you – to take time, energy, and effort to get anyone we know to vote – and not to miss the chance. Our Founders would expect as much.
The American poet John Greenleaf Whittier, scribbled: “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’” We face an election this week – which will deliver not four years, but impact for perhaps four decades – or more.
If there were ever an important election – one worth stopping for, using all remaining hours to think who may need help voting, making something good happen, it is probably this one.
Typically, 50 percent of eligible voters vote. In 2016, we set a record – with 60 percent, or 139 million. In 2020, we are on track to see another record – good for participatory democracy, but either good or profoundly bad for the future of this great nation, as a constitutional republic.
The stakes are incontrovertibly high. While different parts of the population read them differently, every indication is that we are in the teeth of a battle for the future. The battle is based on two starkly different visions of America – one governed top down, increasingly centralized, powerful, led by an increasingly unaccountable federal government, the other bottom up, led by The People – emphasis on rights scratched on parchment, which appeared in 1789.
These core rights – centered on individuals, not identity groups or government – lie at the heart of this 2020 election. If America is to remain a liberty-loving constitutional republic, centered on representative democracy and a Bill of Rights, we must stand up for the rights, or lose them.
And what – so we recall – are they? The Bill of Rights includes our First Amendment rights to free speech, free exercise of religion, and unrestricted assembly, Second’s right to keep and bear arms, Fourth’s promise we are secure in our persons, houses, papers and effects, free from unreasonable searches and seizures, Fifth’s due process before loss of life, liberty or property, plus protection of private property, Sixth’s assurance of public trial, impartial jury, right to face our accusers, Eighth’s bar to cruel and unusual punishments, protections against forfeiture, and Ninth’s and Tenth’s carve out of rights reserved to The People and the States.
The new Democrat Party, self-described as socialist, is centered on a vision hostile to many – if not all – of these rights. There is no question about the position of party leaders. The modern Democrat platform and positions put this crop so far outside mainstream America, our history, constitutional law, and devotion to individual liberty, that old standard bearers like Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Humbert Humphrey, let alone America’s founders would be in shock.
The contrast is stark – which is why this election is critical to the future, and the nation most Americans love. That is why we must encourage friends and relatives, neighbors and anyone who wishes to stand and counted, willing to preserve these liberties, to vote. This is the hour.
A short story makes my point, succinctly. Years ago, I worked for a congressman confident in victory – as he sought higher office. He was honest, chipper, cheerful as primary day came. He felt sure results would go his way, so he could turn big guns on the general. He was sure. Many who might have did not bother to vote. They knew he would win. And guess what? He lost.
I recall sitting in his office, after the loss. He waited for the phone to ring. For a while it did, people saying they “would have voted” if they had only known … how close it was. After a while, no phones rang. He shuffled papers. He had lost. He might not have, but he did.
Memory sends shivers, for a reason. Destiny – as a nation – is in our hands. We cannot take for granted that others will save us from the grips of socialist control. We cannot let the moment pass, without assuring we have done all possible – to preserve liberty, lovingly passed to us.
My glance ahead – so you know – is not because I think we will lose, but because we could. It is to prevent us from losing. Donald Trump should with a mandate. But to make that happen, we must act – together and with commitment – to assure those who can vote, do. The future is ours.
In that simple vote, is the power to change our future – for better or worse. We can – and we must – preserve the America we love. Socialists know they have a shot at upending our Republic. They are trying. They are using violence. If they win at the polls, they have power. We must understand, take stock of freedom – and then vote. That is how constitutional democracies survive. That is what our Founders expected us to behave – in epic elections.