Do a majority of Americans still value pluralism, and facts, and empathy? Is that still who we are?
You wouldn’t know it from following the news, where it’s all Trump all the time. Sometimes Trump pushback. But still Trump.
I suspect that his brilliant showmanship is part of the reason why 42 percent of Americans (47 according to one particularly terrifying poll) say they approve of the job he’s doing.
He’s been the undeniable ringleader of the circus.
And there’s been no effective way for the people watching it all, in horror, to make themselves heard over the din.
So we’ll get a better idea of who we are as a country on November 6. And if a Blue Wave comes, it will be the start of a counter-narrative.
Voting for Congress in 2018 is actually a lousy way for the public to express its core values. Democratic candidates are running eclectic campaigns, often choosing what they think is pragmatism over framing the election as a choice between fundamentally different values. Money and gerrymandering distort democracy. The Democratic Party is weak, fickle, and corrupted by money. The best expressions of American values arguably lie outside the current Democratic-Republican axis.
But in the absence of any other effective form of collective action, it’s all we’ve got.
If Democrats win even one chamber of Congress, there will be another center of power in Washington, another locus of news. There will be another story to tell.
There will be a news peg to broadcast the views of the (I think) majority of Americans who feel disgust at Trump, what he stands for, what he is doing, and how he has cultivated and aroused strains of anger, violence, and racism in this country that had seemed to be in remission.
And, to the extent that those Democrats take action based on fundamental values, there will be something to organize around. I’ve been stunned by how few options ordinary people who are outraged have had to effectively express the importance and urgency of taking back the country from a president they feel has hijacked it.
There was the Women’s March, then pretty much nothing. Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court was such a concentrated expression of Trumpism that it prompted a ferocious grassroots response – so powerful that it did, in fact, establish a counter-narrative, for a while. But that, too, passed.
The next 11 days provide the best opportunity yet for people who are traumatized by Trumpism to show themselves – by voting, and by helping get out the vote.
After that, perhaps the American political narrative will shift. Trump’s latest odious lie will no longer lead the news. Instead, we’ll be watching smart, aggressive oversight of the executive branch. And we’ll be talking about legislation that serves as a blueprint for a post-Trump restoration.