Are Democrats across this country capable of uniting behind one or two controversial issues and going after the vast millions of Trump-loving Republicans who want nothing more than to impose their version of an autocratic government on the entire United States population? Based on ample evidence that’s been provided in the months since last year’s presidential election, the answer to that question has to be a resounding “no!!”
The Democratic response has been almost nonexistent as Republicans have been busy orchestrating right-wing takeovers of state governments across the country, setting the stage for widespread voter suppression in coming elections. Right-wing Republicans have been rejoicing that their carefully orchestrated Supreme Court majority has begun overriding long-held decisions that have, until now, protected the rights of a wide range of American minorities. And now, thanks to a widely publicized leak, we know that five Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices are poised to end 50 years of constitutional protection for women who decide, for any number of reasons, to seek an abortion.
In recent weeks, it’s become apparent to the world that Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy (he who hopes to become speaker of the House and second in line for the presidency) is a confirmed liar who’s trying to protect the FORMER president from being criminally indicted for his efforts to orchestrate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
And where have the Democrats been while all of these opportunities to call attention to the right-wing efforts to dismantle our democracy have become so apparent? Oh, they’ve been busy fighting among themselves, moaning about the failure of the Biden administration to push a massive spending bill through a 50-50 Senate. And watching, mostly silently, as the days inch closer and closer to a Republican takeover of the U.S. House and Senate in the coming off-year November election.
It is abundantly clear that, unless Democrats and independent centrist voters across the country turn out in huge numbers in the upcoming November elections, what we have known as the greatest experiment ever in a truly democratic government will come to an end. In state after state, the national Republican organization is coalescing support for an autocratic government, headed by Donald Trump, that will tell Americans exactly what they can and cannot do in their personal lives in the years to come. To millions of deluded Americans who still call themselves Christians, Trump remains second only to Jesus Christ as their savior. That is despite the fact that he could not muster a majority of the popular vote in either of the last two presidential elections.
In Washington, the corridors of political power still are dominated by aging white males who have determined, for whatever reasons, that they have a God-given right to dictate the behavior of all Americans. To most of these white men, women are second-class citizens who have nothing to say about their own bodies and their reproductive rights. To most of these white men, neither men nor women should have a legal right to marry. To most of these white men, Black and other minority Americans ought to be required to overcome a host of obstacles in order to vote. To most of these white men, the public opinions of a majority of Americans are completely irrelevant. Their only objective is to retain — at all cost — their political power. And if that means being bowing and kissing the you-know-what of a would-be dictator who has managed to create a self-serving cult, that’s just fine.
Were I a younger man, I would seriously consider fleeing this country. When I see a Trump sign (or one for Paul LePage, a Trump acolyte who wants another term as Maine governor) on a neighbor’s lawn, it makes me sick. There is no excuse for ignorance or for turning a blind eye to discrimination and hatred. I served proudly in the U.S. Army for three years, and for most of my 80 years I was immensely proud to be an American. As I look at my country now, that is no longer the case.
Unless Democrats quickly wise up and join with enough thoughtful independent voters to stand up to the Republican-led fascism now rampant and on the increase across our nation, we are doomed.
Hugh Bowden of Ellsworth is a retired journalist and lifelong Mainer who served a term in the Maine Legislature as a Republican. He no longer recognizes the Republican Party to which he once belonged.