"Boots on the ground" time for democracy


By Tom Ehrich

In five months, “boots on the ground” time will arrive for American democracy.

We will have endured clown shows, side shows, ugly shows and some of the strangest nomination campaigning I have ever seen. Now the two parties will square off in earnest to elect a President, a Congress, and state and local officials.

Thanks to a misguided Supreme Court decision, the campaigns will be awash in money, much of it secretive, much of it given by the mega-wealthy trying to buy a government. We will see attack ads of surpassing viciousness, lies and more lies. Shady operatives will try to suppress voters. People will assault each other verbally and in writing on social media. I won’t be surprised if latter-day “brownshirts” show up at political rallies to intimidate voters with violence.

How it came to this is a matter we need to study. But for now, the time has come for work. Liberals, progressives, whatever we call ourselves – we need to get out in force. We know the right wing will be working for their candidates – which is their legal right and moral obligation. We on the liberal side need to work for our candidates, too.

We can’t just assume that reason and common sense will carry the day. We can’t leave it to someone else. We need to pitch in. Encourage discussion of issues. Name the lies when we see them. Push back on social media. Get people to the polls on Election Day.

My hope is that we will have a huge turnout on Election Day. Not the 55% of eligible voters who cast ballots in 2012, but 75% or 85%. They say we get the government we deserve. In a bitter division such as we see now, the results will only be accepted as legitimate if a large majority take the time to vote.

I am speaking to myself as much as to anyone. I have voted in every election, but I haven’t worked for my party or preferred candidates. I want to do better this year. Too much is at stake for me to sit back. I will write, I will blog, and, if I can figure out how to do it, I will work for party and candidate.

I expect it will be a tiresome experience, perhaps dangerous. Sliming is guaranteed. Violence seems possible. But this is the way it is. If we want to preserve American democracy, we need to join the fray.

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