It just gets weirder and scarier. Consider the words of J.D. Vance, a Trump clone and the Ohio Republican candidate for the United States Senate. While blaming President Biden for the fentanyl epidemic in his state, he said, “If you wanted to kill a bunch of MAGA voters in the middle of the heartland, how better than to target them and their kids with deadly fentanyl…It does look intentional. It’s like Joe Biden wants to punish people who didn’t vote for him. And opening up the floodgates to the border (for Mexican drug smugglers) is one way to do it.”
On his campaign website Vance wrote that the “Left has decided to wage a culture war against traditional values… They take hundreds of billions of American tax dollars and send it to universities that teach that America is an evil racist nation. It is time to fight back. Not a single additional dollar for universities that teach critical race theory or radical gender ideology. We need to force our schools to give an honest, patriotic account of American history.”
A MAGA Renewal
Vance is a reincarnation of MAGA grievance politics. He is a Trump loyalist who claims America is being “intentionally undercut” by a liberal “culture war against traditional values.” In his primary campaign, Vance declared himself “100% pro-Trump and 100% America First.”
I watched a few minutes of one of his speeches and read some of the campaign material. If you close your eyes and listen to his interactions with Tucker Carlson on FOX you might think you are listening to a less incoherent and more articulate Trump.
We on the left, whether liberal or moderate, must be acutely aware of what is happening around the country: In Texas Republican primaries, Trump endorsed 33 candidates and 32 of them won, with one in a runoff. In Tuesday’s Indiana and Ohio primaries, Trump had a clean sweep—22 for 22. The strategy is clear: build a significant majority in both national and local offices with committed Trump toadies, thus giving him an unfettered, authoritarian grasp of all levels of U.S. government.
The Future of Our Nation Is on the Ballot
Between now and November, contenders on the left, right and center will be campaigning to become America’s local, state and national leaders. But voters need to be aware that they will be casting ballots for much more than individual candidates. We will also be voting for America’s future. When you mark your ballot, understand that:
* Democracy is on the ballot;
* The quality and extent of America’s continuing world leadership is on the ballot;
* America’s commitment to combating the threat of climate change is on the ballot;
* The nation’s level of commitment to equal opportunity is on the ballot;
* Truthfulness in national dialogue is on the ballot;
* Commitment to honest education for our children is on the ballot;
* Support for our country’s rich gender, religious, racial and ethnic diversity is on the ballot;
* Combating the disease of racism in America is on the ballot;
* Healthcare accessibility is on the ballot;
* Freedom of the press is on the ballot;
* Combating the national epidemic of gun violence is on the ballot;
* Equal access to voting is on the ballot;
* Addressing the level of dark money in our elections is on the ballot.
Don’t get lost in the hyperbole-ridden, truth-distorting back and forth of candidates. Every vote you cast in this coming election is a vote for the kind of country you want your grandchildren to inherit.
Most of the noise in political campaigns comes from the far right and far left. It is easy to conclude that the voters’ only choice is to pick one of the two extremes. But those two flanks together make up only about a third of the electorate. A study by the Center on Policy Attitudes and the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland found that, “The remaining two thirds is considerably more ideologically flexible than members of other groups. While members of the ‘wing’ groups (on both the left and the right) tend to hold strong and consistent views across a range of political issues, those in the Exhausted Majority tend to deviate significantly in their views from issue to issue.”
So, people in the exhausted majority; so, people on the right and left flanks who are tired of angry rhetoric with no action, let’s come together and vote for leaders committed to building a strong, just, and equitable nation. This is our chance—maybe our last chance— to tune out the hateful, polarizing noise and replace it with consensus-seeking dialogue. The bottom line is not power for the leaders, but results for the people.
What is at stake in the coming election is America’s future. If the nation is taken over by Trump and his clones, the America we yearn for will be a lost dream.
Bill Jamieson’s career has included leadership positions in business, government, and education. He was also an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church and his ministry centered around advocacy for low-income families and children.