"I want world sympathy in this battle of right against might."
--Mohandas K. Gandhi, (1869-1948)
Gandhi wrote those words on April 5, 1930. The battle he waged was successful. Our battle, sadly, is very much before us.
I write these words on a chilly Friday afternoon, sitting in my den while I wait for utility workers to repair a gas main leading into my house. The chill that I am feeling right now is only partly due to the fact that, at the moment, the gas is turned off. The far greater chill stems from reading a variety of online articles and social media posts this morning while I wait for the work to be done, and realizing how much, less than two weeks away from a national election, the democracy that so many have sacrificed so much to preserve and improve is in mortal peril.
Donald Trump's announced unwillingness to guarantee in advance of the election that he would accept its outcome might be easily dismissed as the lunatic ravings of someone who is either deranged or bluffing. And, with Trump, it's easily possible that it's some bizarre combination of both. It can't possibly be his lack of experience in politics. In the United States today, we may not have the best civics education available anymore, but everyone knows that the system of government we have will be stopped dead in its tracks if we do not accept its results.
Most of us do accept those results. In 2000, Al Gore and his supporters, myself included, accepted them. We did so reluctantly, distastefully, with an all-but-certain knowledge that they were based on outright fraud sanctioned by hypocritical rhetoric about "the rule of law" from people who were breaking it. But we accepted it. Al Gore did what he had to do to save the system, and the nation, he and his late father both served and loved. And no, the fact that he filed suit to challenge the Florida results does not mean that he didn't "accept it." Acceptance means working within the system if you believe that some part of it has failed to operate correctly. Gore did that, and abided by the results. And so did Democratic voters, notwithstanding the carnage that was unleashed by the Administration that followed.
Trump makes no such distinction. Like all demagogues before him (and, G-d help us, after him), in his mind he is the system that America needs. Anything standing in the way of that reality must be stopped or destroyed, at any and all costs. That has been his core message throughout the entire circus that has masqueraded as his campaign. And, if you've wondered what "at any and all costs" might include, you need look no further than the thuggery, egged on by Trump himself, toward anyone that even looks like a protester. For evidence of this, you need look no further than here and here. Perhaps the most shameful part of this is the participation of former elected officials who have every reason to know better, but are desperate for a second act in their political lives.
Perhaps even this wouldn't matter, if it weren't for the evidence that it is working. It's already affected the arts in Chicago. It almost certainly is feeding the biggest terrorism threat that this nation faces. (Hint: it has nothing to do with Islam.)
And, worst of all, it has already undermined the court system, which serves as the final arbiter of disputes. This is the only possible explanation of the outcome in the trial of the Bundy brothers for their illegal occupation of a national wildlife refuge. The facts of the case were undisputed; the violations of the law were not in doubt. But the Bundys still received a favorable verdict, in contradiction of the evidence, from a jury of their peers. White. Male. Peers.
Lest you think that statement is some bizarre form of reverse racism, compare the outcome of the Bundy trial with this. See if you still think there's only one system of justice. In fact, that's exactly what the Bundys of this world want. One system of justice. Theirs. And it's Donald Trump's as well.
Forget the phony-scandalmongering of the right, or the false equivalencies of the extreme left. Hillary Clinton and congressional Democrats are all that stand between right and might in America at this fork in the road of its history. As Doc Brown said in the last "Back to the Future" movie, your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one. Make it one which right defeats might, as it did in India and as it can today.
SHOW UP ON NOVEMBER 8 AND VOTE!