“How bad does it have to get?”
Here’s a conversation I’d like to have with my friends and family, and that I wish I had a few years ago:
I think that rule by Republicans will lead to a police state. I’m saying that Trump is a disaster for democracy. And I know it sounds like partisan hyperbole, but also I think it’s real.
Maybe you think I’m wholly wrong, and are voting R. Maybe you think it won’t be that bad, and you’re voting D, but not donating, volunteering, and generally throwing yourself into the struggle.
That’s okay. Just please do this exercise with me: where is your line? What’s the thing that, if it happens, is proof that things are really really bad?
Not just evidence. Proof. How bad does it have to be, so that’s we’re undoubtedly in the Bad Place? What sort of things, exactly, would happen that would spur you to action?
Make it as preposterous as you like.
Maybe Trump announces he’s shutting down elections. Death squads wandering around and killing leftists, then being pardoned.
Or maybe: secret police grabbing people off the street and throwing them into unmarked vans.
Or maybe: “undesirables” being arrested and thrown into concentration camps, where they start dying.
Let it be whatever outlandish thing you like, that you think might never come to pass. Just be honest with yourself. And then, write down what you would do if that day arrived.
Would you change your vote? Would you start volunteering with a political group? Would you give up your savings and plow it into donations? Would you spend 20-30 hours a week doing whatever it took to fight back?
Whatever it is, just please, write it down. Keep it safe. Check it once in a while: are we there yet?
I hope that time never comes to pass. Maybe it won’t this presidency, but during the next R presidency. But if it ever does — remember that you made this commitment. Remember, because the human mind has a marvelous ability to make the abnormal, normal.
(And, for some people, that breaking point might have been hit already, without you realizing).
I haven’t hit my breaking point yet. I still watch television at night, when I could be making phone calls. The other day, I spent way too much money for a hot water heater, when I could have put it to better use. But I can see it on the horizon. That time isn’t so preposterously far away, any more.
If that breaking point comes, I hope I push the button and go all-in. I hope that when your breaking point comes, you change your vote. Or, (to a different audience) you execute on your plan to fight back.
Wherever you are in the spectrum, whatever that action might be: I hope you take it. Because when we shrug at the previously indefensible, we lose a part of our soul.