Local leaders can help heal our nation’s ills

July 20, 2021

We’re an odd country. We have plenty of COVID vaccines, but not enough people willing to protect their own health. And the health of others.

The result: we may never reach “herd immunity.” Americans will be suffering and dying from the coronavirus much longer than necessary.

But Republican pollster Frank Luntz offers a ray of hope. Luntz is the man behind the reframing of inheritance taxes as “death taxes.” He knows something about changing people’s minds. Luntz said that even those most dead set against getting the vaccine will listen to leaders they know and trust.

Not national leaders and politicians. Local people. Their own doctors, nurses and community leaders. We have to hope.

Unfortunately, America is facing another illness, one that may ultimately prove more deadly than the coronavirus. This illness isn’t physical, but spiritual. Too many Americans have lost faith in our elections. They have lost faith in America.

No democracy can survive if one of its two major parties won’t accept the results of a free and fair election. Even now - eight months later - Trump continues to contest the results of the 2020 election. A recent Monmouth poll showed that 63 percent of those who identify as Republican or lean Republican believe that Biden won by fraud. 

The ultimate source for the “stolen election” narrative is, of course, Donald Trump. The same man who called on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger to “find 11,780 votes” - exactly one more than he needed to take Georgia. That phone call was recorded. There is no disputing what Trump said and what he wanted. If this wasn’t an attempt to break the law and steal an election, no such crime exists.

His own attorney general, William Barr, described Trump’s post-election disinformation campaign as “all bulls---t.” And yet Trump accuses others of stealing the election. If the stakes were low, it would be humorous.

But the stakes are enormous. Democracy itself is on trial. The result could be tragic - a once-great democracy brought down by a bunco artist. So far, despite the Jan. 6 insurrection, we have been largely spared the violence of the 1860s. But today’s relative calm carries its own dangers. It hides the currents raging just below the surface.

Political scientist David Faris said that when people think about democracy dying, they imagine something dramatic, like Trump riding down Pennsylvania Avenue in a tank. That won’t happen. Instead, Trump and his many enablers are slowly destroying democracy with every attack on the 2020 electoral outcome. One day, without our realizing it, democracy will have slipped away. And it will be because of those who falsely attacked our elections and those who knew better but remained silent.

Recently, with great fanfare and parades, we celebrated the birth of our democracy. It is good that we recall and revere our heritage. But it is even more important for local Republican leaders, officials and letter-writers to play their part in saving our democracy. Unlike the Civil War, they aren’t called upon to risk their lives on the battlefield. They need only affirm the validity of the 2020 election.

“All politics is local,” goes the old saying. In 2021, saving our democracy is a local issue.

Don Flood
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