By M. Francis Mirro
It is, of course, 2020, a new year and an abundantly important one. An election year, 2020 is not only the beginning of a new decade, but the beginning of the next chapter in American history. One way or another, this coming November is going to decide the future of this republic: whether or not the democratic experiment started in 1776 will continue, or whether it is to take the path of all other republics before it, the path our Founders feared more than anything, one leading towards despotism, dictatorship and ruin.
The election of President Donald Trump in 2016 cast a black shroud over the nation’s future. He is our fifth and most hideous minority president, a president elected without winning the popular vote. In the aftermath of his victory in the Electoral College, the Democracy Index lowered the status of the United States from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy” and over the last four years we have done seemingly everything in our power to continue the backsliding deemed almost unimaginable a decade ago.
2020 is, in short, a vote for or against democracy. Trump’s entire presidency has been marked by the expansion of presidential power beyond any checks and balances, beyond anything resembling accountability. The concept of impeachment, crafted and made into law by the Framers we so love to celebrate, has been proven an easily hijacked farce, subject to the desires of individuals seeking to maintain personal fiefdoms of power at the expense of the American people.
With purchased puppets in the Senate and a largely weak, sputtering and ineffective “opposition” party in the House of Representatives, the mandate to maintain the American democracy falls unto the people, the same people who have so long ignored, or been discouraged from exercising, their inherent powers as citizens. We have to show up, we have to vote and we have to get it right. If we fail, if we provide a reelection mandate to someone so antagonistic to the very idea of the people’s government, history will judge us. They will remember us as the generation who sat idly by and watched as the City on a Hill falls before the forces of tyranny. They will ask us why and we will have no answer.
It is not hyperbole, there is no exaggeration: the republic is in its most precarious position since the Great Depression and the Second World War, and before that the Civil War. But the United States was guided through those epochs with the superhuman leadership of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. We have no such leaders now. Instead, we the people must lead from the ground up, reassert our power as the central force within the government.
Democracy means government by the people. If it is to die, it will be the people who let it die; if it is to survive and prosper, it will be the people who made it so. If we truly care about the future, not only for our generation but for the unimagined masses to come, we need to start acting like it. One way or another, 2020 will be a year that marks the path of history.