Like so many others, I had my first chance to see Hamilton this past weekend. There’s one quote from the very beginning of the musical that stood out to me and has gotten me thinking about the road we’re currently on, and how we all need to look way past November to get our country on the right track.
If you haven’t watched Hamilton, don’t worry. This post isn’t about the musical. Let me just put the quote in context, though.
At the very beginning of the musical, Alexander Hamilton has just arrived in America at the age of 19, brimming over with the desire to get involved with American Independence. He meets Aaron Burr (with whom he ended up having a long and acrimonious relationship, and who ultimately kills Hamilton in a duel) and solicits his advice on getting ahead. Burr tells him to “talk less, smile more,” and “don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.” This advice befuddles Hamilton greatly, and before deciding to go in a very different direction, he says:
“If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?”
It struck me at that moment, that this is the exact problem that we have with the Republican party of today. They don’t stand for anything.
As I mulled this idea over, I re-read the 2016 Republican party platform. (I should note, that the GOP recently decided to re-adopt this exact same platform instead of writing a new one.) At that point in 2016, Trump had just become their nominee, but he had not yet won the election. There is so much in there that is laughable considering what Trump has done these past 3 1/2 years.
Impartial justice? Separation of powers? Rule of law? Supporting our troops? Reducing the federal debt? Creating jobs? Winning trade policy? Investing in small business? Stop executive orders? Foster solutions to race relations? Do away with crony capitalism? Renew ties with Europe? Push back against Russia?
What happened to all of those goals? Trump trampled all over them but the Republicans said nothing publicly. For nearly 4 years, they have been silent. This cycle, which we’ve seen on loop, reveals what’s wrong with the Republican party: They don’t stand for anything. By not standing for anything, they’re falling for anything. And anyone. Trump is unfit in every possible way, but because he has an “R” next to his name, they’ll allow it.
To me, this makes the path forward very clear.
First, we MUST win every election we can in November, from the presidency, to the U.S. Senate, to as many state races as we can. The Republicans of today don’t deserve a position of power at any level of government.
But once we get rid of Trump and the others (and we must, in order to get our country onto a better track forward), we will still have to fight against the various forces that got us into this jam in the first place. So…
Second, we must continue to fight for our goals and ideals long past November. We’ve all learned a lot about how to be more engaged citizens since 2016 and have a lot of tools and resources to keep us focused on achieving these goals. If we win, the attacks from the right are likely to be brutal. We will have to continue to take action to protect our chance to get important things done while we’re in power.
So, it’s starts with winning November, but my friends, we all have to be prepared to fight for the changes we want to see in our country long past Election Day. Be clear about what you’re for, and what you’re against. Hold that close to your heart and use it as a shield against the avalanche of vitriol we’ll be subjected to from Republicans. You’ll need it to keep you going for the long haul.
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