America is exhausted. We’ve gone through the worst presidency in our history, when the very concept of what it meant to be an American was challenged. A pandemic has killed over 600,000 of our fellow Americans, more than we lost in both world wars of the last century. There is a desperate longing for normalcy. At last we have a normal president with a competent administration. But this is not a normal time. American democracy is in crisis.
Many urge us to follow the path of bipartisanship to lead us out of this danger. As much as the Biden administration may be trying to restore a sense of normalcy to our nation after the past four years and as much as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and others seek the time honored goal of bipartisanship and common ground to solve our problems, those are elusive goals.
We have all lived in an America with two political parties for generations. It is the only way we understand to participate and speak about our politics. A two-party lens is the only way the news media knows how to cover Washington and, of course, elections. It’s why so many of us cannot give up on the idea that there must be a two-party solution to the danger of the moment. I wish it was possible. It’s not.
Guardians of Lincoln’s legacy
There are no longer two healthy parties in America. The catastrophic mistake for our nation is to continue to see the fight as Democrats vs. Republicans, left vs. right. We are at war with an authoritarian movement fueled by former President Donald Trump. It includes many of the 147 Republicans who signed on to treason with their Jan. 6 votes objecting to Joe Biden’s win, and it has grown since then.
The authoritarian movement now holds so much power within what was the Republican Party that officials of goodwill are either purged or held hostage – out of cowardly fear for their political careers or even out of fear for their safety. It’s what the rest of us do now that matters. It’s time to choose sides and take action: to fight this authoritarian movement and become one of President Abraham Lincoln’s guardians making sure that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
The truth matters. Many have been lied to, and many have come to believe those lies. They are not the enemy – for them we must offer the truth and to join us as Americans to find a way forward together.
Every American, every corporation, the news media and the social platforms need to understand that there are no longer two functioning political parties in our country. Straddling between them is failing to understand our circumstances and the threat of an authoritarian movement that seeks to take power by any means. It’s time for all Americans to join this fight. Not one party over another. But all Americans against an authoritarian movement and its poison until it dies and another generation of Americans ensures that our democracy lives.
I have spent the last four decades as a Democratic Party consultant fighting Republicans over issues such as taxes, health care and foreign policy. Those were important issues in the politics of yesterday, and hopefully they will be important again in the politics of the future. But today there is one issue in America: Will the American experiment survive?
During the Trump years, I watched with admiration as Republicans of conscience and decency stood up and spoke up for America. They were called anti-Trump, but I always saw them more as pro-democracy. They were Republicans. I am a Democrat. But those labels mean little today.
Confront Trump authoritarianism
As citizens, we must join each other in a pro-democracy coalition that confronts the authoritarian movement in our midst at every turn. President Biden and those trying to govern must find compromise and common ground wherever they can to get things done, and we all must give them the room to do so. But there is no compromising with those who continue to fuel the authoritarian movement with lies.
Mark your calendar:January 6, 2025 could be the date American democracy dies
This movement, led by Trump and abetted by far too many Republican senators and House members, is so dangerous to our democracy that the singular goal of the Lincoln Project is to defeat Republican attempts to retake House and Senate majorities in 2022. We will succeed if the American people come to understand the threat and the danger and join in the pro-democracy coalition to defeat it. Each of us, in our own way, can and must do our part.
This is not about policy or petty politics or our individual histories and past partisan fights. It’s about the future of our democracy and, as Lincoln’s guardians, making sure it survives. That is why, today, I am joining the Lincoln Project in this cause.
Joe Trippi, a national Democratic strategist whose clients have included former California Gov. Jerry Brown, former Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama and presidential candidates Walter Mondale, Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean, is the author of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and host of the podcast “That Trippi Show.” Follow him on Twitter: @JoeTrippi
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