“I win!” I haven’t run for office yet, but before I do I declare: “I won.”
It is pretty clear from the evidence stockpiled by the January 6th Congressional Hearings, Bob Woodword’s recent release of twenty tape recordings, and other reported evidence in the mounting array of legal investigations that the “Big Lie” was a strategy planned at least six months ahead of the election. The claim that 2020 voting was corrupted and therefore Trump won, was no more an election night improvisation than the attack on the Capital Building. Both were organized campaigns with tentacles reaching across the country. Just hover on that reality.
The evidence could not be more sobering: millions of people in this nation want democracy only if they win. Democracy can take numerous forms, of course — it is simply a method of managing and distributing power. But there is really only one alternative to it, and that is authoritarian rule. Whether authoritarian power resides in a cabal or one person, its ownership of power is very narrow.
Democracy is supposed to diffuse power not concentrate it. In our country, even if there is a strong majority there is usually a large minority that consists of forty to forty-five percent of the whole. In a functioning democracy — whether national or on Geneva City Council — the majority protects the rights of the minority and together they figure out how to move forward by negotiation and compromise. A 51-49 split, for example, does not give the majority the right to dictate governance without negotiating with the minority. That is authoritarianism. Nor does it give the minority the right to block governance any way it can. That’s vengeful sabotage.
The opening sentence of a recent NYT article sums it up: “The white majority is fading, the economy is changing and there’s a pervasive sense of loss in districts where Republicans fought the outcome of the 2020 election…” It is referring here to the 139 House members who voted not to certify Biden’s election.
The article continues: “A shrinking white share of the population is a hallmark of the congressional districts held by the House Republicans who voted to challenge Mr. Trump’s defeat, a New York Times analysis found — a pattern political scientists say shows how white fear of losing status shaped the movement to keep him in power.” (“Their America is Vanishing, 10/23/22).
There is a strong connection between the “Big Lie” campaign and white fear of becoming a minority. It is about power, white power, which is something that white people have never had to think about before. They, we, just assumed it. Not accepting the election results is at least partially a white racial strategy to hold onto power even as a minority. We need to be open about the relationship between race and the “Big Lie.”
If a minority rules it’s not democracy. Fascists in pre-war Germany never earned a majority at the ballot box, rather, Hitler worked his way into dictatorship through stuffing the courts and procedural maneuvers. If a minority captures power it will inevitably wield it to repress competition.
Both John Katko and Tom Reed voted to certify the Biden election, and in so doing resisted the “Big Lie” campaign. Lee Zeldin voted against certification. The new 24th is majority Republican but will it too, vote from white fear?
Susan Bryan Hadley says
Bravo. Thanks for your brave words.
Cam Miller says
Not sure they are brave, but I hope they are true
Tim Long, Just Up the Hill from Lock 15 says
To the notion of cultivated “status anxiety” for a privileged census subgroup, fostered by slippery characters in the interest of concentrating their power: And for what? For a little bit of money? Paraphrasing Jesus, Tolkien and Margie Gunderson: You cannot serve g-d and Mammon. If you hold to one, you will despise the other. And Mammon does not share his power. You cannot bend him to your will. So, all this craftiness, manipulation and deceit for what? For a little bit of money? There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Fear? …love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
A disturbing lesson here, Fr. Cam, thanks for sharing. May I further diminish the hold on me of both these ills, and pray for those stricken with them, unbeknownst and without understanding.
Cam Miller says
Edwin Beck says
So, Representative Zeldin could not see his way clear to do the “right thing” – even a short time after his life was in peril? From potential killers? That can’t be the same Zeldin running for NYS Governor against our former neighbor, Hamburg’s Mrs. Hochel – could it? And from (all, but maybe not all) indications he’s doing well in the polls. In my fifty-plus years as a voter, I have never (well, maybe not never, exactly) wished that a house would fall on a candidate. Until now.
Cam Miller says