It seems to me, the major question facing Democrats today is two fold: Is it possible to return to the way things were before Trump, and if it is, do we even want that? It’s a big question. Things didn’t seem all that bad before Trump, so a return to those times would be better than how things are now, right?
I suppose we can’t know the answer to that unless we try, so we really need to consider the second part of the question first. Do we even want to return to pre-Trump days? Sure, Obama was president, but simply because our president was black doesn’t mean our society was somehow less racist than we see it to be today. The racism and bigotry that are now on display have been there all along, but they were just concealed a bit better before. I should clarify that I believe they were only better concealed for white folks. I doubt the black and brown-skinned among us were under any illusions about the ongoing reality of systemic racism (and sexism) in America, even if many of us white folks couldn’t (or simply chose not to) see it.
Maybe we have no choice but to return to that kind of America. Maybe our problems with racism and sexism need more decades to find healing and a new way forward. But can we find that way forward by trying to return to business as usual? Can we step boldly into a just and equitable future by rewinding the clock? Maybe. America took great strides forward under Obama’s leadership, so perhaps a President Klobuchar or Buttigieg or Biden would help the country take more of those strides, but wouldn’t a President Sanders or Warren force the issue?
We have a chance in this election to press forward into bold new territory, to set a trajectory toward the kind of future we all want to live in (where every person is treated with the dignity, respect, and love they deserve; where the earth that is our only home is honored and protected rather than stripped and exploited; where our differences inspire curiosity and wonder rather than fear and hatred). I think it’s clear from our previous election that we feel a need for drastic measures. But trying to return to some sort of mythical golden age was never going to work, and it won’t work today (regardless of whether that imagined golden age was sixty years ago or four). There’s no going back. And if we hope to heal our country of the wounds that have been festering for more than 200 years, we need to chart a different course (not a new course, certainly, because Dr. King saw this path forward many years ago) from the one we’re on.
So, who is best equipped to help that healing along?
I wish I knew for sure. But I have my suspicion and have voted accordingly.