Did you cheer Joe Biden’s victory over Bernie Sanders as a sign that moderation had prevailed within the Democratic Party? If so, this letter is for you.
I’m reaching across the aisle with what I hope you’ll see as a friendly request. We can debate politics and policy some other time. My request today is simple: Please stand up for yourself.
You hold the balance of power in this country. You are uniquely positioned to prevent America from completely tearing itself apart. It won’t take much.
In fact, I can summarize it in three bullet points:
One: Pay attention to what’s going on around you.
Two: Hold onto your beliefs.
Three: Make your voice heard.
I’m writing to you because I’ve got lots of friends in your camp, so I know a lot about you. I know that you cast your votes in both the primaries and the general election seeking ”a return to normalcy.”
I know that you see your party’s leaders as reliable old-school pols who can hold the radical left in check so that you go on with your lives. I know that you’d prefer not to have to pay attention to politics all the time.
Unfortunately, circumstances refuse to let you off the hook. Pay attention, and you’ll notice that your party’s leaders aren’t really leading. The drive, the push, the energy are all coming from the radicals.
That’s why you’re suddenly ”learning” that cherished childhood memories like Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head are tools of oppression. That men breaking women’s sports records are brave pioneers.
That the free exercise of faith is a thinly veiled excuse for bigotry. That demonstrations involving vandalism, arson, looting and shooting are mostly peaceful. That censored books, suppressed speech and destroyed public art are steps toward a just society.
You know better than to believe it. You just prefer to lie low and stay out of trouble. But while you’re doing that, the leaders you’re counting on to restrain the radicals peddling such nonsense are losing control. They need you to stand up for what you know to be true and decent.
The very structure of American government and society are now at stake. The unique combination of strong minority rights and trusted mechanisms for non-violent dispute resolution that allowed America to develop as a free and stable society are at risk.
Throughout our history, every faction that has lost an election has known that it would remain free to build alliances, persuade, and compete fairly in the next election. In the meantime, it could trust the courts to protect its rights as a minority.
That formula is fraying. Your allies ”fortified” the 2020 election with unauthorized last-minute rule changes and control over the collection and tabulation of ballots. Judges ran scared to avoid reviewing their work. Congress wants to turn their ”fortifications” into national standards. Censorship, suppression and cancellation of disapproved views have soared. The Senate’s legislative filibuster is threatened.
Set aside your opinion about the merits of these moves for just a minute and ask yourself: Would you trust a system whose rules keep changing to shut you down at every turn?
The radicals you think you’ve restrained are working overtime to erode trust in elections, courts, legislation, communication and the media. With those venues foreclosed, the only choices remaining are compliance and violence.
Human nature and historical precedent can tell you what will happen next. Those who are more fearful than angry will comply. Those more angry than fearful will become violent.
Radicals convinced they’ll win, bring down a corrupt system, and replace it with a just society may be fine following that path.
But even if you think you’ll enjoy the society they build, are you willing to live through the disruption? That’s a high cost and a steep risk.
If you’re willing to bear it, you’re not really a moderate. Moderation argues for incremental change within a stable system.
If you want to avoid that disruption, you must act now.
Your radical allies no longer need your support. Your silence is more than enough for them to strongarm the leadership you think can restrain them. Unless you step up, the system will come down.
If you want to preserve the American system of minority rights and the peaceful contest of ideas, you’re going to have to empower the forces of moderation and decency within your own party.
Your party ”leaders” need your help to steel their resolve.
That’s why I’m writing today. You hold the power. I can’t tell you how to act.
All I can do is remind you of the stakes, and hope that you’ll keep them in mind as you plan your political strategy for the next few years.
Thanks for listening.