With the end of democracy fast approaching the realization of what will take its place is beginning to settle in. A fascist America steeped in White Nationalism predicted with increasing frequency by pundits, politicians and scholars. While not yet conceding defeat, many are beginning to speculate whether or not this is the last truly democratic election our country will have.
The shock and dismay shown by many would be laughable were the stakes not so high. Because after all, the writing has been on the wall for years. From an insurrection in our nation’s capital, to the rampant increase in hate crimes, violence, and murders of innocent people of color and faith, to a Supreme Court that will dismantle a functioning democracy (i.e., Moore v. Harper) as easily as it took away a woman’s right to choose, there is a chilling and widespread indifference now being embraced by tens of millions across the country.
What has been revealed over the past several years and that may manifest itself on a broader scale in the weeks following election day, is that those responsible for the demise of democracy and the rise of fascism extend far beyond the Trumps, Kari Lakes and Stephen Millers of the world. Each of them and their ilk are merely convenient figureheads providing cover for those Americans complicit with the fascism eagerly waiting to hammer its way into our skulls.
Figureheads easily identified by the lies they spread about CRT in schools, demonizing the LGBT community and accusing their fellow Americans of being cannibals, pedophiles or mules stealing an election. They are the visible and openly complicit Americans who are voting for this dark turn in our country.
But there are nearly as many Americans contributing to the death of democracy whose actions are much more subtle, yet equally as damaging. These are the complacent ones whose silence and lack of protest convey acceptance and tacit endorsement. Be they Republican, Democrat, progressive, or independent, these are the Americans whose complicity is revealed in their continued dismissal of how bad things could get, and by their continued alliance with those who bask in and have voted for fascism.
Their lack of action masked by the intermittent displays of self-righteous indignation as they point out how they may have argued with their “friend who voted for Trump,” yet fail to realize how they have exposed themselves by the company they keep. As was the case in Germany, Rwanda, Italy, and any country that slid into fascism, their silence adds fuel to a fire that will rage for years, but will ultimately die, along with many of those targeted by their hate and ignorance.
The silence of so many has emboldened an entire political party, and conveyed to their followers that there would be little resistance to those longing for echoes of White nationalism to be heard in the halls of our nation’s capitol. As a result, our centuries old system of governance could be upended not by a mastermind strategist, but rather a dullard, narcissistic figurehead with a history replete with misogyny and racism, and an absence of conscience or dignity. He turned out to be the perfect foil for democracy. A gold plated idol for an increasingly insecure mass of the American public seeking to reset the narrative so that it reads that all men are not created equal
So many of us naively assumed that our democracy was sacred, and that our institutions would hold. We trusted that our free press would provide hard hitting investigative journalism that would topple a corrupt president as it did with Watergate. And we foolishly assumed that the majority of Americans would take a stand and fight to preserve the nearly three centuries old journey toward a more perfect union.
But were our democracy as sacred and cherished as many believed “Grab ‘em by the pussy,” would have been a first round TKO of a racist celebrity’s political aspirations. The brutal murder of a White woman pummeled by a car driven by a white nationalist would have been a galvanizing call for peace and understanding. Instead, the leader of our once revered democracy found good in the man who killed Heather Heyer, and forged kinship with those shouting “Jews will not replace us!”
At first many were appalled, but over time, millions of Americans became numb, believing those were just the acts of outliers, buffoons, and clownish racists donning red hats as they waved confederate flags. Laugh at them at our nation’s expense, because now the joke is on all of us. Those behind the wheel, wielding clubs, and confederate flags were serious all along. So dedicated are they in their hate that they mourn the death of an insurrectionist, while disregarding the life of an innocent women killed by one of their own on a hot summer day in Charlottesville.
Were America’s exalted free press truly the cornerstone of our democracy morning news shows would report on the massacre of Latino’s in a Walmart with facts and solemn dignity, rather than sandwich it between the latest celebrity gossip, and laughter over the latest meme.
Acclaimed journalists would have broadcast proof of the seditious, criminal and sadistic acts of a president and his administration immediately after it was recorded, rather than years later, and just weeks before their book tour and press junket. Banter, profit and personal gain disguised as journalism. The perfect trifecta of aid, comfort, and complicity to an enemy of democracy hell bent on inflicting pain to millions in the years that lie ahead in a fascist America.
And were so many in America truly concerned and appalled by an 82 year old man being bashed in the head with a hammer, or a 12 year old girl being forced to carry a pregnancy to term after being raped by her uncle, or 11 Jewish worshippers murdered as they prayed in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, or ten Black Americans killed in a grocery store in Buffalo, then their concern would extend far beyond the ballot box. It would result in a reassessment of who they vote for and what kind of people they allow in their lives. If they were truly concerned they would dispense with relationships with anyone who supports those promoting replacement theories, forced birth, or the deadly back and forth that now passes for political discourse.
If Americans truly loved democracy the statement, “I have a friend who voted for Trump”, would be replaced with, “I used to be friends with someone who voted for Trump.” Were Americans committed to paths forward, rather than a retrenchment to the dark days of segregation, lynchings and church bombings they would tell those in their lives who support a White Nationalist belief system that it was time to part ways.
To let go of family who embrace this, and distance themselves from those once known as friends, who now elect to dismiss the humanity in their fellow Americans based solely on race, creed, color, faith or identity.
Now is the time for each American to examine where they fall on the spectrum of their complicity in the rise of fascism, hate and violence in our country. Are they complicit due to the company they keep? Having friends that may not have marched on the Capitol or killed police officers, but clearly and passionately embrace the big lie that caused it all to happen.
Each night thousands of Americans raise a glass or high five with the very same people who holds antisemitic beliefs. Ones who would just as easily raise their right arm and shout “Seig heil!” as they would giving a high five after the Packers score a touchdown. What does it say about them? What would it say about you?
And this Thanksgiving, millions of Americans will gather around the table with friends and family, some of whom are unable to show compassion to the 12-year-old girls in America forced to carry a rapist’s baby to term. Candied yams, turkey and a helping of indifference and complicity passed around for all to share. This holiday season Americans must ask themselves, “Is this what I’m thankful for? Is this what Jesus would do?”
The answer to that question can only be determined by the choices you make in the years ahead and by looking within to ensure your actions are not driven by hate, but rather compassion for others and a belief in what our country can still become.
The answer should be achieved not by an embrace of trending acts of violence toward those not like you, but by realizing the long and arduous arc of our nation’s history. A history that reveals the path forward is only achieved through greater understanding, unity and acceptance. And that our path toward mob violence, lynchings, concentration camps, and ethnic cleansing, all hallmarks of fascist regimes, will always end at the same destination.
With a country striving to reclaim its humanity, atone for its sins and working to find a way to raise its voice in contrition, healing and eventual understanding.
Now is the time to vote with your heart and with humanity in mind. For those in your life consumed by hate, show them love by giving them space to reach the conclusion many across the globe who survive fascism ultimately realize. That no friend or family member can convince them to see the humanity in others. This is a journey they alone must take.
Whether by choice or by witnessing the tragedy that may soon befall our nation, for many that day will come. An epiphany of compassion realized not through force or intimidation, but by the soul searing question that will scar a nation and tens of millions of its citizens.
It is a question that many may ask themselves for years to come as we stand amidst the ruins of a once great democracy.
“What have I done?”