Time To Vote –The Fight is Not Over

It’s October 24th, 2022. The full color of fall graced us here in NW Arkansas. This morning the rainy gray sky accentuated the gold and orange of the Maples, the red Oaks, and yellow Gum trees. Everywhere this bright blanket covers us, and it smells like leaves –tired of being green.

It was a fine day to vote early. No problems –no armed civilians with assault weapons, no proud boys. Not much drama at all. We aren’t a swing state, after all. Georgia right wing enforcers are thwarting voters by denying signature matches. In Arizona armed men with masks hover near drop boxes, taking pictures of voters –and their license plates– as they drop their ballets. It’s called intimidation.

GOP leaders shout their fear-based rhetoric at a screaming pitch, and the Fox-type disinformation media repeats it. According to them, crime is eating up our cities, the economy is failing, and Biden is a puppet of Marxists. They are pro-Putin. Let me list current GOP plans for America:

-Ban abortion coast to coast. Women are already dying in emergency rooms from untreated miscarriages and non-viable fetuses. Doctors fear prison in red states. The death toll will increase exponentially, as will unwanted children.

-Cut medicare and social security.

-Slow down funding to Ukraine.

-Turn federal elections over to state legislatures, where (Republican) partisans choose electors, not the votes of the people.

-Ban books having to do with LGBTQ sexuality, slavery, or anything GOP censors find uncomfortable.

-Make Don’t Say Gay law federal.

-Revise history books so white people won’t feel bad.

-Install Donald Trump, a pathological liar and criminal looking at state and federal indictments, as president in 2024.

-Reverse student loan forgiveness.

-Reverse Biden’s cap on insulin costs.

-Deny climate change.

-Impose Christian Nationalism, prayer in public school ad nauseam.

-Impeach Biden. Pay back for Trump.

-Bring Dr. Fauci, Anthony Blinken, and Merrick Garland before a house committee. More pay back.

Any one of these things is ghastly. Are you paying attention? You’ll know it if you’re losing sleep, aging faster, and finding yourself beset with nervous tics and palpitations.

Recently the New York Times came out with a poll that scared us even more. After Roe was overturned, Democrats looked good in the polls, favored to win the senate and even keep the house. The other day the Times announced a new poll showing a slight favor for the GOP. All the pundits piped up about the gas prices and inflation, and what democratic politicians were saying wrong. Talking heads wagged their tongues, sideswiped by the magic of GOP messaging.

Very few bothered to broadcast one important fact. The NYT interviewed about 800 people across the country for that poll. That’s it. How many young people answer a strange number during the day? Not many, apparently.

What we are seeing is a power grab from a minority party. White male power is coming to an end, and they want to take down the country if they can’t win. The GOP can’t gain power with the popular vote, so they have figured out how to manipulate uneducated Americans with Fox, employ fear and repression in their tactics, all with a fake Christian veneer that fools gullible people even more. Can you imagine a world where we no longer have democracy? Where right wing extremists run the country, fix the voting to favor themselves, where women have no reproductive rights, and where puppy-killing charlatans like Dr. Oz actually hold seats in the US senate? Imagine Kari Lake as vice president. How about Marjorie Taylor Greene on the judiciary committee? Enter hair twirling, nail biting, and high blood pressure. For many of us full blown mental and physical health issues loom large. Especially young women, forced to give birth without regard for their circumstances.

What I want to say is this: the country is in the throes of menace and delusion. What remains to be seen is whether Americans will stand up to this threat and vote in the next two weeks. About 25% of the population has been taken in by the extremists. They swear Trump won and the January 6th insurrection was no worse than Black Lives Matter protests. One infinitely stupid woman said, “I don’t care about abortion bans. Only 1% of women get raped.” Forget the callousness on display. Where did she get that number? One in five American women are sexually assaulted. That’s more than 1%. Oh wait. If Fox or Newsmax say it –well it must be true. The politicians and media personalities who have brainwashed vulnerable people have committed an evil act. They lie knowingly to gain influence and favor with the cult of Trumpism.

Indeed, when we save our country, we will have to grapple with two big problems. One is dealing with the millions of true believers. In a democracy you can’t just force re-education on people, nor would we want to. How do you deprogram QAnon cult members on a national level? Will we have to wait for the Trumpers to die off? Or do they fall back to the dark corners of the Republican Party to emerge in another incarnation thirty years from now? Liz Cheney, love her heart, suggests that if Trump runs in 2024 the GOP will shatter. One hopes. I vote for Liz to lead a true conservative party. The other problem is the false perception that entertainers are news anchors. Would it help to bring back the Fairness Doctrine? If you call yourself The News, you should have to fact check. Somehow we need to go back to agreeing on facts, even if we disagree on how to solve problems based on those facts. Truth is essential.

I prefer to believe that young people will come out in great numbers in the next two weeks. One in five Gen Z identify as LGBTQ. Women will not accept second class citizenship. They will vote. Soon the GOP bad actors will be revealed for the power hungry ghouls they are, and disbanded. Pushed back. Defeated. Then I can stop writing this series of articles, bearing witness to stupid and crazy.

It’s not just women or LGBTQ people who are in danger. Land masses, melting icebergs, polar bears, whales, wolves, coral reefs –the planet itself– stands to be harmed irreparably. The extremists in the GOP are climate deniers –unmoved by species extinction. This makes me sad as I watch the trees change. This beautiful earthly life is in danger.

Republicans will not fix inflation. Like creeping authoritarianism, climate change, Covid, and gas prices, inflation is a global problem. And crime? It’s higher in red states. Ignore the noise.

Vote. Volunteer. Speak out. Take care of yourself. Exercise. Meditate. Enjoy good food with friends and family. Find your community. Savor the fall color. Play music. Dance. Ask your neighbors how they’re doing. We are all scared. Democratic leaders act like deer in the headlights –that’s because many of them understand the peril. But for all their faults, Democrats still believe in democracy. Let’s save ourselves and the earth –she gives us this bounty of one brief life.

Laurel Owen, October 2022