This Last “Most Important Election of Our Lifetime”

Line of voters for the Milwaukee primary, April 7, 2020 (Photo by Mike DeSisti, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

We look to political polling for either reassurances or disappointments at our own peril. But what’s the score and who’s winning? The sportsification of the news business has made spectators of way too many of us. Penultimately, the score in any contest, be it football, futbol or roller derby, is fleeting and temporary.

The clock is running. We need to be players, not spectators. Speak up, knock on doors, make calls, contribute to campaigns, send voter outreach postcards and generally do the things to know where our voters are and get their butts to the polls — whether by mail or in person, in whatever manner makes them comfortable. If you vote by mail, mail your ballot as soon as you can. If you vote in person, early or on Election Day, bring along some friends. If you change your mind before mailing in a ballot, check your local election rules and bring your entire mail-in ballot (envelope and all) with you to the polling place.

I have come to actively avoid Trump news on TV. I still read the news as I have for as long as I can remember. But I can no longer even stand that man’s voice. And what would I really miss? There is plenty in the course of a day to remind me that we are ruled by a death cult and I do not need hourly reminders of it. We still keep a radio on in our house, tuned to a public station that mostly plays jazz during weekdays with AP Network News updates on the hour and a diverse set of blues, folk, Americana and other programming at night. And it is during those news breaks in which that voice kills any halfway decent mood.

“I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves,” Trump told the Republican National Convention crowd in Cleveland back in the summer of 2016. “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” By now we know how that all turned out.

Indeed! No one works the refs like conservatives. Republicans and right-wing propagandists are trying to establish a narrative in which Democrats somehow have the power to turn riots on and off, simply by ignoring the fact that they, the Republicans, own the lion’s share of the levers of power at all levels of government. They simply cannot run on their record. So, it would be nice if all Democrats, from Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and their surrogates down to the rest of us with tongues in our heads and minds of our own kept shouting about the Republicans’ obscene failure of leadership from the rooftops.

I am an elected Democratic precinct committeeperson, I want to go out and canvass and I have some trepidations about canvassing. But in Trump’s America there are so many options for fear. I can be afraid of going door to door and checking in on the voters who re-elected me last March as their precinct committeeperson during a viral pandemic. We can be afraid of exercising our first amendment rights to freedom of speech or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. We can be afraid of our neighbors and their respective right to keep and bear arms. But all of it is washed away by the fear that America will elect to “Keep America Great” in the fashion of Donald Trump and his fascist death cult.

Where were the federal agents when armed protesters bullied their way into legislative chambers in state capitol buildings like Lansing, Michigan, protesting pandemic response policies? The president himself showed an eager Twitter finger urging these cosplay Cossacks to “LIBERATE!” Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia.

The Powers That Be were quite lenient with armed white protesters against covid-19 pandemic response policies in the halls of the Michigan State Capitol building.

The Powers That Be were downright permissive when armed white folks drew down on federal agents from the Bureau of Land Management trying to break a wealthy rancher named Cliven Bundy of his habit for grazing his private stock on public lands.

Our punditocracy decries identity politics when certain parts of the population express injustice in terms of racial profiling and unequal rights. But much like the civil laws in our system, there appears to be a different set of rules for judging petitions to government for a redress of grievance.

The twin Republican Party policy priorities are privatizing public services while deregulating private industry for the benefit of moneyed interests and at the expense of a more perfect Union promoting the general welfare. They count on a burned out electorate to check itself out of the system designed with voters at the center of the process. They want us out of the game, in the proverbial stands or on the couch, dozing beside the remote, as the electoral map turns increasingly red in our fading consciousness. A strategy broken down by the freshly indicted Steve Bannon, former CEO of Breitbart News and chief strategist for Donald Trump. “The real opposition is the media,” Bannon reportedly said in 2018. “And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.” Who even needs Q-Anon conspiracy theories when our homegrown Bond villains speak right out loud and proud?

The predominantly rigid conservative precinct that I serve as Democratic Committeeperson is historically and consistently Republican, to the tune of 65–35 and, in all the time I’ve served as committeeperson here, I have not moved the needle very much. A good deal of my job is knowing where our voters are and getting their butts to the polls in whatever way is most comfortably effective for them to vote, because elections are about national, state and local races and they always come down to turnout.

Polling stories are essentially sports reporting — heavy on scores, stats, rumors and predictions. Politics is like team sports inasmuch as successful teams are made of players trained to stay in their positions in order to make the plays necessary to prevail. In a participatory democracy, this takes us out of the stands, puts all of us on the roster and the stakes are nothing less than sound public policies.

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