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    • How Gunpowder Ended the Middle Ages
      Some time back I read a book called The Foundations of Early Modern Europe, 1460-1559. One thread I picked out as particularly clear was their explanation of the effects of gunpowder. The first bit is what as known as pike and shot. Early gunpowder weapons were slow and inaccurate. But late medieval pike units had already changed warfare: not only could they […]
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Some Thoughts Going Forward

All we have to do is watch a bit of news, or read a few things, and we can become dispirited and discouraged. We see that there is a force out there: they basically call themselves the Republican Party, but they are a loose amalgamation of insurrectionists, seditionists, destroyers, haters, racists, anti-semites, misogynists, crooks and cheaters, who keep battering at the gates. Their only goal is to take all the power. And as they batter, they also seek to wear out the energy and resolve of the good people who certainly do still exist. These evil forces never sleep, never compromise, they keep pounding away, as it is all that animates them.

Just reading a little about the attempted coup in the fall and winter of 2020-2021, would be enough to both convince and terrify. All the guardrails which we assumed we had built in this country turned out to be tenuously weak

These people that had spent parts of the last forty years looking for ways to take over the government, by finding weak spots, taking advantage of any ambiguities in the laws, and relentlessly pushing any possible electoral advantage of any kind, almost managed to get states to declare that the elections were fraudulent; and thus the Republican-dominated state legislatures must appoint different electors, and eventually throw the whole thing into statehouses, where the Republican candidate would end up with the most votes. They didn’t care how they got there, or how many rules or norms they trampled on the way; they just wanted to win, and take over forever.

And though they failed, it is said by many that it was a first effort, and now they will do it for certain, because they will win the Congress, and they have new laws in many states which would allow state officials to say that any result where the Republican did not win, was fraudulent, and that the Republican should be declared the winner.

This could happen, it would be foolish not to think so. There are a few anchors on cable news who repeat this nightmare vision every night, without really ever coming up with anything about how to stop it. I don’t think that it is very useful to do that more than once or twice. Otherwise, you demoralize everybody, and they either give up, or try not to think about it at all.

It is really up to us, after all. This is our country. There are more of us than there are of them, at least so far. It is true that a vicious and merciless minority could control a placid majority, but it is very difficult to maintain that. What we need to do, is to redouble any efforts we made in 2018 and 2020, and not somehow become complacent, or more likely, inert with frustration or despair.

What can we do? Well, it depends on each person, what she or he is capable of doing. But at least something. Be sure to vote in every single election, for every race where we can defeat Republican fascism. Anywhere they gain traction, they use it to corrupt other levels. Do not let them in.

Some can help others vote, or register them. Some can give some money; you can pick the most useful places to send it. We want every single person on our side to vote, no matter what kind of obstacles are put up by the totalitarians. There are organizations which are trying to register people, and make it possible for them to vote. If we ever take over more state legislatures, we can stop them from passing laws which limit the right to vote, and put in more safeguards to try to keep them from doing it the next time.

We have to figure out the proper framing of issues. Most of us do not get to have much input into that, but we can put it out there into the marketplace of discussion, at least. For my part, I would like to see us use the terms “fascism” and “totalitarianism’ more. You will note that as always, Republicans seek to preempt any of this, by accusing us of being the totalitarians, canceling them, forcing them to take vaccines, threatening Christmas.

We have got to stop being on the defensive, and we must be less afraid to insult or disparage the enemy. They are not our friends, we get no rewards for being nice to them. We must keep telling people what they represent and stand for, and maybe some of it will sink in. And we must warn and even legitimately scare people as to what they will do if they gain power. It is not even exaggerating for effect, it is true, so say it.

We must gerrymander as much as they do, even more. I am heartened to see that the state of New York is considering redistricting which would take away five or so seats from Republicans. Do it. This would balance the five that Republicans will steal from Democrats in Texas by siphoning the growing minority population into a few insidiously designed districts, there to be locked forever, if they have their way.

Attorney General Garland must do everything legally possible to uphold the right to vote, and to protect individual rights like abortion, under assault. He is a person of high moral standing, but seems very cautious and incremental, and there is no time for that, with the enemy at the gates.

I cannot guarantee how it will come out, but we can fight as hard as we are able., and in a variety of ways. I can get as depressed as anyone about all this, and I can perceive the arcs of history moving in the wrong direction. But just letting it happen is unthinkable. We have seen what happened in countries where the people thought, “Well, let’s just go along with this; resistance is ineffectual; we’ll just wait until it all blows over in a few years.” Or, “Let’s blame each other, and feel virtuous in our purity while we are getting routed.” That never worked, either; look at 1968 and 1972 for proof.

What we simply must not do is give up. We came this far, and the evil forces are not actually winning; not yet, at least. If we listen to too much media, they will suck us into their repetitive narrative that we are losing, and that any win is really the precursor to defeat. Whatever reason they do this for, is ultimately enervating to try to discover, so we must just ignore it as much as possible. Maybe they will get tired of repeating their phrases to an audience which ignores them. There are some good media people out there; follow them and disdain the rest of them.

I just rewatched the movie “The Aeronauts,” which I highly recommend. It is the kind of old-fashioned, well acted, literate, and thrilling entertainment which is largely missing from the screen, so it is always very gratifying when it appears. The last lines Felicity Jones’ gallant aeronaut speaks in voiceover, are, “You don’t change the world simply by looking at it. You change it by the way you choose to live in it. Look up. The sky lies open.”

4 Responses

  1. They are not our friends, we get no rewards for being nice to them.

    So true, but the number of ancient Democrats who hold the power in the party and still think that there are good people in the Republican party is staggering. The boiling frog effect is shown to it’s full extent here. There may have still been some good people in the Republican party when Newt put forth his contract on America, and then declared politics to be blood sport, but by the time of Trump they were all gone, or cowed into submission. By going slowly the GOP has these old ones fooled, and Citizens United fools the greedy ones. The only way we get out of this hole is to have Democratic politicians in power (just the media will not have any effect) point out the Fascism of the current members of the Republican party.

    • My thought going forward:

      Pass legislation that makes people’s lives demonstrably better.

      • No argument… but based on the fact that NO Republican will support anything that gives Democrats a ‘win’ makes this moot to me. Don’t get me wrong I hope these Biden bills get passed, I am just skeptical that they will, at least in a form that would make lives demonstrably better. There are far too many cowards in the Democratic party.

  2. Off topic: I can’t post links on William’s threads, but just feed “Beaker Street on Arkansas Rocks” into your favorite search engine to find out when and how to listen to Beaker Street.

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