Exactly twelve years ago today, I posted a blog on this site about Halloween and the coming election, called “The Demons in our Midst: Political Fear Mongering and the Coming Election.” Take a moment to read it. Even I was surprised to be reminded of how long some rumors have been with us. We have been dealing with elements of toxic politics since the founding of our republic, but for the last twelve years there has been a growing acceptance that it is ok to exploit America’s fears and vulnerabilities as a way to make money and hoodwink the population. Ugly, unfounded rumor promotion has now gone mainstream—and may even deliver an election.
Fear has always lived within the hearts of the world’s most powerful of nations. There is a nagging worry that all we have could be taken from us by those who envy or seek to supplant us. That’s why it is the role of this nation’s leaders to reassure us that we as a people have within ourselves the capacities to deal with our problems in a way befitting our global importance as a functioning democracy. Vote next week—if you haven’t already—and let’s expect and demand more from our leaders, including empathy for our fellow citizens and optimism tethered to the challenges that confront us. Together we can do this, not by denying the existence of critical issues, but by addressing them.
Sadly, political shenanigans also threaten our systemic balance. The denial of hearings for Merrick Garland is a blatant act of hypocrisy with Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. This will hasten the corrosion of the Supreme Court’s credibility. My most recent piece with Ed Grosvenor, which appeared in American Heritage, tells the story of Eisenhower’s commitment to politically balance the Federal bench, including the Supreme Court. He appointed five Supreme Court justices in his eight years.
Sending you my best wishes and please vote.