Don’t Cower

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July 30, 2020 1:31 p.m.

There’s a strong temptation, maybe a reflex, to be frightened and outraged by the President’s floating the idea of delaying the November election. But the only appropriate response is mockery and ridicule of the President’s weakness and corruption. As a factual and procedural matter, none of this is in the President’s control. In practice, no one can change the date of the election. In theory, Congress could do it. But good luck getting Nancy Pelosi to sign on to that. Even beyond this, it is a case where the ramshackle and decentralized process of American elections works in the favor of democracy. There is no national election. States hold elections. Nothing and no one can stop California, New York, Illinois and Virginia from holding their elections and rendering electors to the electoral college meeting in December.

But the bigger issue, the deeper issue here isn’t factual. It’s characterological.

I’ve seen plenty of comments today on the order of “That’s the law? Since when does Trump follow the law?” “You think now he’s going to start paying attention to the constitution?”

I understand everyone is afraid. But this is loser talk.

I’ve been saying for months – along with so many others – that this Fall will be an ordeal of democracy. Perhaps one of the greatest threats our Republic has ever faced from internal enemies. But the truth is that the values and reflexes that make liberals and Democrats support things that will make society more just and humane lead them to react to moments like these with outrage and trembling more than mockery and power.

I can only suggest people not fall back into themselves.

All of this comes from Trump’s weakness rather than strength. A sinking ship. The answer in any trial of strength or right is to maintain the initiative rather than cower. Every reporter working a beat today should be asking Republican elected officials … asking isn’t even the right word – giving Republican elected officials their one chance to denounce and disassociate themselves from the President’s words. They have one chance. Tomorrow won’t cut it. If they want to go down with the President’s sinking ship, get their answer and lock them in. Democrats should be prepping ads about how Joni Ernst refused to back holding the election in November. She was ready to sign on. I hope her opponent is prepping that ad right now.

This is a hard moment. Not because of this morning’s nonsense but because of all the threats we face through this election. We cannot control everything that happens to us, either individually or in our civic existence. But we can avoid losing battles in our own heads before they even start. Let’s not do that. Don’t cower.

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