by Josh Chernila
“The stormy seas as dark as coal,
Preventing the sailors from reaching their goal.
Battered and bruised, but still they fight…
Staring ahead into the dead of night.
Rocking and rolling as they try to stand…
Hoping against hope that they soon reach land.” – Amar Qamar 2008
Across the years of the Bush Administration, as the lies piled on and as the nation rallied around a war and a political movement based on lies, slowly the realization dawned; America’s dedication to justice and opportunity could be swayed by fear. Starlets said we should just follow the president. Angry, terrified people screamed for war. Dishonest politicians were happy to profit from the blood of 2,996 Americans.
As the nightmare of the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq War unfolded, as our society began to close with the passage of the Patriot Act, progressives rose up in opposition, even as our voices were ignored and drowned out. It was a terrible time, a fear time, a dread time. Because those of us who understand history know that there is always more to fear in times of hazard from those who would take our freedoms within our nation than those who would take our lives from without. The only thing that saved us, the opposition, from despair was our vision of America, our great responsibility to history and the world, and our great destiny.
Fast forward to 11/8/16 and the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States, and it becomes even more important for us to remain clear on that vision. The coming years of Republican dominance in Washington will almost certainly bring an existential threat to America’s soul: from the wholesale privatization of the public sector and deep entrenchment of corporate oligarchical power; to the dark fascism of potential internment, deportation, and persecution of “suspicious” groups; from the unraveling of American leadership in military and trade matters worldwide; to the accelerated effects of global climate change through increased fossil fuel use; progressives will face our greatest historical challenge.
To all the faithful, to everyone who believes in justice, opportunity and America’s special role in leading the world, there is only one thing to say and one thing to do: HOLD FAST!
The greatest act of courage in an age of popular hysteria and the loss of freedom is to hold fast to the idea that justice is the true sunshine of American liberty. The greatest act of resistance in an age of economic injustice enforced by conservative elites playing on the fears of American working families is to hold fast to the vision of an America that delivers opportunity to all. The greatest act of devotion to American leadership – as lies, greed, and fear set us on course to abandon our responsibilities in the world – is to hold fast to the promise of America’s great gifts to the world: the ideals of freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of speech, freedom of faith.
With the dark days coming, it falls to all of us to hold fast to our vision of this nation: a vision of a nation that not only promises, but delivers, the promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness;” a vision of a nation that creates the chance for every citizen to discover his or her own great destiny and the chance to fulfill it; a vision of a nation that inspires the world through that example and through the measured use of power to ensure that the future results in greater justice, freedom, and opportunity for every man, woman and child on the face of the Earth.
America is at an existential crossroads. We have already abandoned representational government for oligarchy. We have already allowed our economic middle class to collapse. We have already elected a narcissistic demagogue to abandon our leadership position in the world.
The Bush Administration ended. The march of progress never did. Hold your faith in the vision of America we all share. Stand up everywhere you can and with everything you have. The age of Trump will end. What power we will have on the other side of this age of violence, dread, and plunder will depend how we hold together, hold our vision, and prepare for the end of this coming age.
Hold fast. This too shall pass.