As this edition of The Beachcomber makes it to your door, the Biden/Harris administration will have begun. The promise of renewal also begins. Unprecedented public and policy challenges face the nation. It will take time and effort to put our democracy back on track to deliver on the promises the Constitution makes to “We The People”.
The problems are well known. Biden inherits an economy in shambles, a public health disaster and a public safety crisis. But the Big Lie, the claim that Donald Trump won the most secure and most litigated election in history, is the most divisive threat to our democracy.
Trump amplified the division which led to the carnage of Jan. 6 and continues to amplify the discord in the country. We’ve seen Trump’s America. It is not the America we want to be, but it is undeniably the America we are now. Wouldn’t it be best if we put the division fueled by the Big Lie behind us? It would be simple – if Trump would just admit it. Clearly, he will not and the Big Lie will continue to divide us. Trump’s words and actions incited an insurrection against our democracy in the US Capitol building. Will the national dialogue now focus on healing the underlying division? This is the end to which we must now direct our energy.
Some Members of Congress, knowing full well that Biden won the election, have expressed fear for their lives if they deny the Big Lie. We know that politicians follow the will of the people they represent. We also know that leaders must set the agenda. Even though Trump’s popularity is now dropping precipitously, there are still millions of Americans who support him and expect their Members of Congress to support the Big Lie.
What’s next? We must step up. Now is the time to shape the future. It will certainly shape us!
Start by acknowledging the ten House Republican Members of Congress who voted to impeach the president last week. Not to excuse their support of President Trump’s policies, for which their voters will hold them to account, but to encourage them to turn a new leaf by calling out the President’s election lies.
Let’s also address the misinformation so prevalent in our lives these past five years. We need to move more people to the truth. This is a daunting challenge. Some are willing to believe Trump won the election despite statements from his own administration that this was the most secure election in history. Despite multiple recounts. Despite dozens of lawsuits unsuccessfully challenging the election results, asserting fraud, of which all but one failed.
We must spread the truth, but with kindness. Those locked in conservative news bubbles are responding to a steady diet of propaganda. They don’t need our belittlement or contempt. They need understanding through conversations that expose the facts of the election results.
It’s also important to support local media’s ability to surmount disinformation. We are blessed with The Beachcomber, The Loop and Voice of Vashon. The Indivisible Washington Podcast is another source of factual information. Help us connect this honest content with local media across the state.
We must strengthen the growing number of communities that are suffering from the high rate of unemployment and the mismanagement of the pandemic. They are especially vulnerable to the attraction of false prophets who seek to lead the nation. Helping these communities understand the value of casting their votes, as exemplified by the runoff elections in Georgia, is an important step in the right direction. Vashon knows community resilience and sustainability! Let´s support the similar work of community organizers across the state.
Let me close with two thoughts. First, it is important to remember this historic time. Create a memento of this day. Keep it safe. Let it be a reminder that in America, when “We The People” exercise our collective voice, we can remove from power those who seek to destroy our democracy.
Second, let me share my experience on the day of Obama’s inauguration. On that day, when the sense of hope was electrifying, I pledged, in my naivety, to do whatever I was asked to do to repair the damage done by the previous administration. Of course, I was never called. Because it is up to us to stay engaged. To make sure our voices and values are heard. That’s democracy. Continual rebirth. Let’s create it now — the democracy we deserve!
Kevin Jones is a member of Indivisible Vashon. Join him at indivisiblevashon.org to take action for democracy.