(NewsNation) — President Joe Biden gave a speech about the “future of our democracy” Wednesday night, and I was skeptical about how effective the president could be pushing people to respect the election process.
My doubts aren’t simply because of his ability to sell it, but because I suspect no one he needs to reach would be open to his message. Will what he said resonate with voters? He may have been better off talking about the economy.
I suspect resistance to elections is more about group think than it is grounded in fact. The game is opposition to anything but your own advantage. As Biden rightly said, you are not a patriot if you only love your country when you win. However, that is the current state of play, especially given previous leadership.
He began his speech by saying “to my fellow Americans,” a relatively customary opening. The phrase gives me pause, though. Is there any place for that concept right now? Certainly not on social media. In reality, though, the majority still rejects the fringe fury and still aspires to exist as a nation.
But we do need to be honest about the real motivation behind the division. Biden emphasized that there is no place for violence in America, yet it is in every place. It is absolutely a a part of our fabric, because that’s how too many want it.
We celebrate violence and desire it in all its forms. “Real” men are big, muscular and mean. We like MMA more than boxing because there is more blood. We love collisions in football.
Too many give violence a place close to the head of the table. We see it as empowering, as social media currency. It’s seen as cool. When anger is the go-to, there is no listening, no devotion to any ideal above zero sum. Only opposition is allowed, and we take animus to the animalistic. Men and women say they want to punch leaders on the other side.
The Idles have a great line in one of their songs: fear leads to panic, panic leads to pain, pain leads to anger, and anger leads to hate.
That’s the cycle that must be broken. By what? A better message that wins out. The more realistic repair is not about what, but who. When Biden was talking about “we the people,” he was talking to you, the men and women whom I refer to as free agents, those not blinded by party or tribe or animus.
I don’t think the diehard can be part of a solution when they are so invested in playing to advantage. Biden was right when he said the 2020 election was very vetted. And yet, it has the most misgivings, which suggests it’s not about verification, but vilification.
People attacked members of their own party who dared to count or qualify any result that did not benefit their team. It’s not just the election deniers running on the ballot. For many, I suspect that is an article of convenience. I think they feel like they have to say that.
For me, the concern is not those deniers on the ballot, but the ones watching at the polls who are menacing and intimidating. If it were groups of Black men watching white people vote, you would hear about it. That would certainly be called a threat to democracy, which is more proof of the obvious and the ugly animus at play.
If we don’t have elections that are fair and fairly respected, we are not a democracy and will no longer be a nation. It is more important that these midterms be accepted (absent obvious provable problems) than it is who wins.
So where are we headed in a week? Will it be better or worse than 2020?