Today, most of us are unaware of how close American democracy came to collapsing during the Great Depression. People were afraid and had lost confidence in their form of government. It seemed that the only real question remaining was the choice between Fascism or Communism, because Democracy and Capitalism had apparently failed. Then, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave Americans hope. For the first time, the Federal Government took direct action to help individual citizens. That didn’t end the Depression, but it eased the fear and panic and rekindled hope in the future — allowing Democracy to survive until WWII revived the economy and rekindled the general spirit of patriotism.
Back then, FDR countered a crisis with hope. Now, Donald J. Trump exacerbates an horrific crisis by exploiting and heightening divisions. His incompetence and lies have literally caused tens of thousands of American deaths, while he continues to tear down the political norms that have protected Democracy from the excesses of party politics. Those excesses that George Washington warned us against in his Farewell Address. Mitch McConnell protects him from Congressional accountability while William Barr has turned the DoJ into an enabler of Trump’s malfeasance in office and a weapon against his political opponents. The jury is still out on his Supreme Court appointees.
When my country called, I served as an Army officer in Vietnam. My father served in WWII and Korea as a Naval aviator. Both my paternal grandparents served in WWI — my grandfather as an Army engineer and my grandmother as a nurse. In those days past, we were proud Republicans. As I watch President Trump, member of a family that has never had even one serving member in our country’s armed forces, I am chilled to the bone by his self-serving efforts to tear down the very things that have sustained our democracy for so long.
As I watched Trump tell us that mail-in ballots are inherently fraudulent (something for which there is absolutely no evidence), I couldn’t help thinking that he’s setting the stage for staying in office if he narrowly loses the next election. With McConnell’s and Barr’s help, that is not beyond imagining. On this Memorial Day, I hope that it’s not too late to save what so many fought and died to protect — by making sure we all vote in November.