denmark vessey

Denmark Vessey led a slave rebellion in 1822

Methinks those feigning surprise and outrage about the right resorting to violence this past January 6th must have been asleep the last 400 years. At the root of conservatism is racial violence. It’s as American as apple pie; it is our collective scourge for allowing it to continue as long as we have.

Indeed, the reason the Democrats just barely won is because enough sensible people happened to show up at the polls. The forces of good were thrown a mulligan we cannot count on in future. We were lucky that Trump just happened to be quite literally insane. We have conveniently swept our deep seated problems under the rug for now. Who knows, maybe this time it will be different. Maybe the insurrection finally woke us up. But many of the 70+ million people, almost half the electorate, think Trump should have overthrown democracy because he was sent by God. These people are not going away. I expect, a good number of his cult followers may be doing some backpedaling at this point. I pray this past January 6th, another “day which will live in infamy,” will indeed finally have awakened us all to the dark underbelly of hate that is so ubiquitous to America.
Clearly, the vast majority of us want our country to come together. But there needs to be a reckoning. Certainly the fact that voters chose to put Democrats in charge of Congress as well as the presidency, says something. But justice demands more. We must get to the bottom of Trump’s crimes, as well as those in Congress who appeased him. It all has to come to light or it will happen again. This needs to be done even as we work to reconcile our differences. There is a place for compassion and understanding, even forgiveness. But mostly what this moment demands is education. I’m talking about education that informs us how, for instance, ordinary Germans were convinced that killing 6 million Jews was a good thing, so we don’t let it happen again.
We must stop listening to people who want only to destroy us. Is it possible we are too polite, too conciliatory? The answer should be obvious by now. As Mitt Romney said so simply the night of the insurrection, the best thing we can do for Trump’s blind followers, is “tell them the truth.” We must stop listening to people who perpetuate lies for political expedience. They don’t deserve to be heard or understood. They don’t deserve a place at the table of ideas. Some in Congress need to be expelled, because they gave up their right to be part of any worthwhile solution.
Sounds harsh? Maybe. But this idea that everybody’s voice deserves to be heard, no matter how absurd their position, is partly what got us into this mess. It reminds me of when I was a kid. I was brought to the principal’s office because a bully tried to beat me up. I didn’t do anything to provoke it. I didn’t in any way escalate or harm him in return. But we both received a detention for fighting. That is not justice. Nonetheless, this is what happens everyday, from our playgrounds to Congress. And it is not okay.


With respect to our safety and refuge, our affable president Joe Biden, not yet inaugurated, is it too early to begin the opposition? I’m not talking about opposition of the far right, who’s true intentions have finally been exposed, but from those leaning further left of center? I believe it is. Democrats have got to finally drop this “safe middle idea,” which now more than ever, is the least safe place for a Democrat to be. After all, we barely beat an insane despot!

We must learn from history and look ahead to what is next for Democrats. Becoming our opposition has failed. Fortunately for Democrats, the Republican party is finally imploding. I say it again for emphasis: we only won the presidency because of Trump’s ineptitude. We cannot count on such a mulligan in future. Our only real choice is moving boldly and decisively, further to the left.
Sorry if that scares some of you. But politics is no place for the faint of heart.Ten years ago, we had both houses and the presidency, just like we do now. We lost it because we failed to deliver. Obama was so determined to include the right that he squandered his opportunity to make any meaningful progress, except a watered down healthcare bill, losing the Senate in the process. They were not interested in bipartisanship. I expect they never will be.
So let us instead begin the process of redefining what it means to be a Democrat. Let us trust Democratic solutions. It worked for Roosevelt, who enjoyed years of Democratic houses, because he got the job done.  I encourage you to read this article from which digs deeply into this failed idea of the happy middle. Let us re-imagine a more sane, inclusive and progressive future. Not the boogeyman version, the one the right thinks looks too much like socialism. We need to get out in front and define what Democratic-Socialism means, not let others define it for us. I’m talking about committing ourselves to the common sense solutions, already widely supported by the electorate. Let us finally tackle Covid, healthcare, immigration, climate change and infrastructure. If we do what we know is best for the country, the right will have less of a target going forward. And the election of 2022 is right around the corner. So let’s get this party started!
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