Bad news, guys: the sky is falling. The Democratic primary is between an overwrought, but likable, democratic-socialist ideologue and a generally unlikable (yet inevitable) heir apparent. And that’s the sane race. Republicans are stumbling down the path to nominating a narcissistic demagogue who advocates international war crimes. Even if they narrowly avoid having him as their nominee, the DNA of the GOP has been pushed into the light and we can’t ignore it anymore. Also, if none of that panics you: the US men’s national soccer team lost to Guatemala 2-0 last week (FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 18 YEARS) and is now in jeopardy of not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. Lord, grant us strength and deliver us through these dark times.
The last one’s kind of a joke, but hopefully it rings true in a laughing-about-your-existential-dread sort of way. The 2016 presidential election is moving away from even an echo of decency at a rate that’s equal parts genuinely impressive and really damn depressing. The current election, especially the Republican primary, has looked more like a piece of performance art deteriorating into a reality television competition. We’re in the cheap seats, watching on in horror, wondering where we went wrong.
Is the sky really falling, or are we blowing things out of proportion? Probably a bit of both. Even so, we don’t need to put a shine job on the fact that this is the most unpalatable slate of presidential candidates in modern history. Both dominant political parties are self-destructing (to varying degrees), reflecting divisive trends in society as a whole.
Then again, it could be that the sky has been falling super slowly over the last decade, and we’re just now getting around to talking about it. Trump didn’t come from nowhere – just listen to people of color. Compromise didn’t become a dirty word overnight. Democrats have been pointing-and-laughing at the self-destructing GOP for so long, they’ve forgotten to accomplish practically any lawmaking since 2010. It’s like we gave up and concluded it’d be easier to use courts to create new partisan policy.
Plenty of thinkpieces have been written about how we got here—some worth reading, but fewer than we need to enact change, apparently. The question we keep asking each other, though, is where do we go? How do we make it through this election season without being overwhelmed by the defeatist status quo? How do we wade through this political swamp and cast a vote in good conscience this fall? And you mean to tell us the godly command to love our neighbors still applies to people who lobby to keep the penny in circulation? How do we move towards November and find a way forward?
We don’t claim to know a perfect answer to these questions, but we think community will help us figure it out. This presidential cycle is revealing a fundamental blind spot for our culture—that a functioning civic society might demand something of us as human beings. A functioning, let alone thriving, democracy is dependent on an engaged citizenry. Our institutions and our laws are made in our own image—go figure.
Well, if isolation between people and ideas is a principle cause of our gloomy discourse, it stands to reason we can remedy it through community. You can cringe at quoting High School Musical, but it’s a good reminder: we are all in this together. Our fates are all bound up as one: the debt-riddled college student, the Syrian refugee, the Wall Street banker, the single mom living in West Baltimore, the working class Trump supporter, and the undocumented immigrant worker. We will not find a way forward unless it is together.
So this is a blog, and it’s us just trying to find a way forward. We’re not experts, but we’re earnest, and hopefully that can be enough to start. It’s our last shot at making it through the election season without losing all hope. We’re declaring ourselves the accountability partners of politics. We think that it can be done. We believe that it must be done. Because after looking into it, we discovered all reasonable alternatives require prescriptions.
Each week, there will be a piece from Lucas or Andrew; a guest piece (submissions happily accepted / desperately begged for); and we’ll be sharing some external stuff that’s helping us process this election, too. We hope to not just get through this election, but maybe, if we can be honest enough, learn in little steps along the way. If that’s your hope as well, we invite you to check back on Friday. Welcome to the (political) party.
Whitworth & Sweitzer