Letter: What’s left to say after Jan. 6?

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2022

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When it comes to the mid-term elections, the issue that overrides and determines every other issue is the issue of democracy — whether we are going to have one or not. And the choice is clear in that there is only one viable party that’s for it. The other party has been transformed into a subversive authoritarian neo-fascist party of white nationalism and MAGA Trumpists conspiring to promote the Big Lie about the “fraudulent” 2020 election — as if it only takes enough believers to make the lie true. After the assault on the Capitol and subsequent machinations by Republican state Legislatures, anyone who is undecided about which side to be on, at this point, is either a cynical opportunist or hasn’t been paying attention.

I saw a sign the other day that said, “Let’s meet in the middle,” and while that sounds like a reasonable notion in general, there are moments when compromise just doesn’t work — doesn’t solve the problem. A political compromise may be possible that suggests an intention to resolve an issue but, effectively, only posits the status quo while keeping up appearances.

What is the compromise with sedition? Consider, what would have been the compromise that would have prevented the American Civil War over the issue of slavery? The compromise that allowed for the establishment of both slave and free states did not and could not work. Slave or free became whether we would remain a nation or not — a developing democracy or not— in that this impasse would affect every other issue. Everyone was going to be on one side or the other — like it or not. Sometimes history demands we pick a side to be on, or history picks it for us. Sometimes the middle ground evaporates and there are but winners and losers.

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Today, democracy is being challenged by its own former proponents. Capital has a conflict of interest with democracy, especially now in this global economy. Authoritarian governments with planned economies can compete more effectively — quickly and efficiently — than a messy democracy. It makes a difference if capital asserts this authority through government in its self interest (where we see efforts to use the democratic process to subvert democratic aims — voter suppression, gerrymandering, obstruction, etc. — and inviting a culture of corruption); or the government asserts authority over capital in the public interest.

It’s this latter condition that will improve our democracy and that we need to strive to achieve to realize the point and aim of democracy, which is justice, equality and freedom. Only an inclusive, improved and effective people’s democracy can begin to address and resolve the critical issues of our time — and time may be short. Without it we can descend into decadence and conflict on a global scale.

So — the crucial message here is that it is imperative that we show up and vote this November to defend our democracy at this critical moment. Democracy can win because it must win. 

Michael Kelly

Albert Lea