Last night, I could not sleep, thinking about what it might mean to take our rights taken away. As an American citizen, I have the right to say what I want, and the responsibility to abide by the law. It is a simple concept, but adheres to my consitutional rights as a voter, a tax-payer, as a participant in the larger community. But what if I could not say share my political opinions when running into a neighbor on the way to post a letter, duly masked and socially distanced? What if I could not even write the letter without fear of censorship? I have a bumper sticker that says, Is it Fascism Yet? which is not actually on my car, the place where I share my allegiances and opinions in traffic. A bumper sticker is more effective than, say a sign on your lawn, because you are broadcasting your opinion wherever you travel, among people who may or may not share your views. If I get tail-gated, sometimes I wonder if it is because a bumper sticker that says Madame President, indicating my preference for a female leader? Or perhaps someone who might not want to Shop Local Farmers Markets? But I never used my Is it Fascism Yet? on my car because to me, it was too strong, too close to a truth that I did not want to acknowledge yet.
But now fascism has been nipping even closer at our heels. When a people can no longer trust that an election is a fair determination of a government because members of one party decide to brazenly lie and disregard the people’s choice, as these officious Republican sentatores and Congress members did even after they dove for their lives in a seige by Neo-nazis and White Supremists in the Capitol, then perhaps we are losing our democracy. We live with certain truths in our culture: if you are a person of color, you are more likely to be suspected of criminal intent. How many times have I been watched closely or followed in shops because as a person of color, obviously I might be a shoplifter? How often have I encountered micro-aggressions and patronization in daily encounters at work or as a neighbor because of my color? Too many times to count. Yet I never believed that my vote might be counted and then subject to an outright lie.
I was relieved to read Timothy Snyder’s essay in the New York Times last night, and I hope you read it too. It is a clear analysis of just where we are, and how we got here. I don’t know what will happen on the road to the 20th of a January, or even in the first 100 days. I tend more to optimism generally, because my other choice, dread, is not very useful. I do hope that sense overcomes sensibility, that reason throws a light to follow. There is so much more at stake now with a pandemic and inequality.