Everywhere I hear sighs of relief as we close the door on 2023. That is certainly true at our house. Starting in January 2023 when I broke my leg, followed by the loss of two dogs and a broken hip—this time my housemate’s. a rough year. Beyond our doors, the nation moved closer and closer to destroying the democracy that has sustained us for almost two hundred and fifty years. We share our hopes for an easier 2024, but know full well that we face an even more critical test.
I’ve heard warnings that the GOP is blind to the danger and warnings that Democrats are the same, and indeed, neither side shows much understanding of the system they’ve taken for granted. They have spent so many years debunking the “system,” “the establishment,” and those “crooks in Washington” that it’s a wonder anyone thinks government is worth saving. Both sides have effectively silenced all but their extremists who condemn dissent, the beating heart of democracy. Extremists have set the tone, which becomes uglier by the day and indeed both extremes seem blind to what they are doing.
Polarization has done this, but it has divided us for so long that our current generation of political activists have known nothing else. They have debunked mutual respect, compromise, and negotiation, resulting in the caricature our House of Representatives has become and demonstrating the impossibility of confrontation politics. And that’s all they know. Democrats have a great advantage because they were given President Biden, a member of the last generation that knows and is skilled at democracy. He has given the country an impressive four years of effective government despite extremist chaos—an achievement that goes unheralded in the din of battle.
Yes, he is old, but Democrats have no one else who understands how to make a democracy work. Democrats should be concerned, concerned that they have raised protesters for a dozen causes but no leaders, no one with the skills to govern. Mercifully, President Biden seems to thrive on the job, and if Democrats can broadcast what he’s done in four years—rather than decrying his age—we might get another four and escape the scourge of a Trump victory. That is my hope for the new year.
For the Republicans, I have no hope but to defeat them, because Trump has led them to a point of no return, and if he wins, he’ll destroy the democracy. MAGA sees power ahead and nothing will deter them. My hope is simply that those who have not drunk the poison Trump/Bannon has fed them, and there are many, will vote for President Biden or stay home.
As for our household, we discovered the silver lining. Here she is. A super-mutt named Ellie, age three, she’s reminded Jake, our 14 year-old basenji, that he loves to play and two old ladies that they love to laugh. No household should be without one.