One of the objectives of authoritarian regimes is to extinguish hope so everyone will give up. So let’s talk about… HOPE.
I now know with certainty which of my acquaintances support systemic racism, but I also see so many more who do not, and each of them gives me hope.
I now know which of my acquaintances would prefer to see America as a corrupt oligarchy rather than a secular democracy, but I also see so many more who do not, and each of them gives me hope.
I now know which of my acquaintances would have been silent or would have applauded, while conveying thoughts and prayers, when my relatives of generations past were dragged from their homes into concentration camps 80 years ago, but I also see so many more who I now know would not have, and each of them gives me hope.
I now know which of my acquaintances support lawlessness and corruption in America on a scale never before witnessed, and I know that I can never trust them to transact business with them again, but I also see so many more who I now know do not, and each of them gives me hope.
I now know the difference between patriotism and white nationalism, and which of my acquaintances are patriots and which of them hide behind the American flag, pretending to be patriots, but are actually white nationalists. And each of the patriots I come into contact with gives me hope.
I now know which of my acquaintances approve of abusive, psychopathic and sociopathic behaviors, as well as misogynistic conduct and sexual assault, and have a heads up that there is a likelihood that they plausibly engage in some of these behaviors in their personal lives. Yet I also know who will use their voice to speak against the wrongfulness of these things, and each of these people gives me hope.
I now know which of my acquaintances place the interests of Russia ahead of the interests of America. And I now know who sees America’s subjugation to foreign interests as a treasonous betrayal of American values, and each such person gives me hope.
I now know which of my acquaintances go to church while proclaiming to support Christian values, but in reality have a very different moral value system altogether. And I also know who practices what they preach, and each person who does so gives me hope.
I now know which of my acquaintances believe in science, and which don’t. I now know which of my acquaintances believe in empirical reality, and which ones eagerly embrace “alternative facts” and conspiracy theories with no factual basis. I now better understand the difference between stupidity and ignorance, and what makes people gullible to gaslighting and susceptible to cult behavior. Such a dramatic failure of the American educational and cultural systems is disheartening, but it also gives me hope that in exposing their vast deficiencies, a way can be found to repair them.
I now know which of my acquaintances care about the future of America as a secular, representative democracy and are willing to invest time and effort in making it a better country. Because of the current administration, so many have awoken to care about America and invest in its future in a positive way, and that is truly a wonderful thing that gives me great hope.
I now know which of my acquaintances believe in an America that enforces “law and order,” meaning the right for those in power to establish and maintain order by applying rules and laws, when they choose to, so they can control and suppress the voices and actions of those who oppose them or who are not part of the ruling class. I also know which of my acquaintances believe America should be a place governed by “rule of law,” which is the principle of applying the law equally regardless of whether one is black, white or brown; rich or poor; Christian or Muslim or Jewish or atheist; a friend of those in power or someone who protests those who are in power. And each person who believes in the rule of law gives me hope that America can someday become a land of equality and justice.
I now know all of my acquaintances and elected officials who have (h/t Steve Schmidt) capitulated, collaborated, and submitted fully to the indecency, incompetence, corruption and rank dishonesty that they once decried. As William Smith recently commented: “I told my wife before he won that if he did it would be like turning on a light in a roomful of roaches. They are in the light now.” And I now know which of my acquaintances have shown the courage to speak out for justice and equality even in the face of potential negative repercussions. And each of them gives me hope.
None of this has anything to do with who is liberal and who is conservative. That I already knew, long ago. What I’ve learned, what we have all learned, over the past four years is something very different.
Finally, remember that resistance is not futile. I now know who among us are the heroes, and who are the villains. And I’m thankful and filled with hope and humility because my life is touched by so many heroes each and every day.
Yesterday Heather Cox Richardson asked her substack subscribers: “What gives you hope about our political situation?” and an acquaintance on Facebook asked: “What has the current administration accomplished that you’ve benefited from?” This response addresses both questions.
What else would you add?
This column was originally published on Facebook on August 31, 2020 using this sharable post:
and on Twitter using this retweetable thread:
THREAD: One of the objectives of authoritarian regimes is to extinguish hope so everyone will give up. So let's talk about… HOPE. /1
— Cliff Kurtzman (@DominoPrinciple) August 31, 2020