It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world.
– Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1775
Friday, October 30: 7:42 am
It is early morning in the mountains. There is late-October snow falling in large billowy flakes outside my window. I can hear, upstairs, the distant echo of morning news. We are days away from the 2020 presidential election. I have said all I can say on the tyranny of Donald J. Trump. That mantle has been taken up by the voters now. No impeachment, reprimand, or check on powers is left us. This has been handed over to the Voice. And as these words fire in the brain and work their way down the spine into the arms and then the fingers and type furiously on this thing, I am not sure – no one is – what that Voice will ultimately say. This is before us. History. People. America.
The word on the streets is good. The people are responding, despite a deadly and once again exploding pandemic. They get in line, drop off ballots and seal them to be mailed. They stand in those lines for two, three, seven, some even eleven hours. In the pounding rain in Florida and the bitter chill of Wisconsin and the searing heat of Arizona. Wearing masks. Social distancing. Lawyers and local judges line up to stop them. The media tries to threaten them. The pundits try and fool them. The president of the United States lies about their vote, their rights, being rigged and fraudulent. But here they are, here they come. As if marching to war. Because it is a war, the most important one, the one that provides the Voice.
My favorite anecdote from these times comes from one of those long lines somewhere along the fruited plain. A reporter stood by in awe of it wrapping around the block, down the street, out into the horizon. A man approached unsure whether to endure it to cast his Voice. He shouted out to no one in particular; “How long have you been waiting to vote?” A woman’s voice called out from the undulating throng, “Four years!”
This is the time for that Voice. One like no other. This is the moment to stand against the tide of authoritarian madness. To recognize and repudiate the unhinged, un-American attack on all-things principled and correct in this country. And this is not the Voice of politics, it only uses it as a weapon, but it is the Voice of our rights and our sanity and our very existence. And I must say I feel pride now. Not a natural emotion around here. But it is there. Seeing these people motivated, hungry for change, lining up. And, of course, many of them, a good many, are lining up to vote for whatever lunacy is being cooked up by the current president – since, let’s face it, he does not tell us what to expect, although we know, don’t we? But I think more, many more, are lining up for c-h-a-n-g-e.
Most election years I would warn against too much of that. You know, Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss. When I was a grammar-school kid I wrote a short story of which the basic premise is aliens have come to control the earth and a group of marauders convince a frightened populace to follow them in vicious battle for their survival. They win, besting the aliens. Then the victors turn around and oppress the people as well. Like Cuba, basically. I guess surviving the Cuban Missile Crisis at one-month old must have had a preternatural hold on me. But this is different this time, even for a staunch cynic like me. Whatever may come from a Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. presidency, you can bet your house it will not be irrational, racist, fascist, game show host bullshit. I know this. You know this. The Voice knows this.
And so we vote; some 80-million have already done so as I write this. In some states, like Texas, nearly 98-percent of the entire 2016 numbers have been met four days before Election Day. By any measure, the numbers are staggering. Not since 1968 has over 60-percent of the eligible populace participated in the Voice. Can we beat that? Can nearly 160-million come out in force?
This tells us one thing: The resistance is legion. It is an immutable, singular yawp! Somewhere the spirit of Walt Whitman shutters. The will and purpose of Thomas Paine, whose pamphlet changed planet earth forevermore, trembles. This is what we do here, in America, when motivated, and four years of this utter degradation to America’s foundation has put a mighty charge in the body politic, like Shelley’s Frankenstein, awaking from the dead – because to allow this abomination we must have been dead in 2016. That is over now. The Voice emerges from its apathy, its selfishness, its nuances, and with a renewed sense of dread and urgency, it speaks. Loudly.
What 2020 has shown us, from a deadly virus to police shootings, protests and riots, from an overdue reckoning on race and inequality, from the failures of government to economic collapse, is a sense of duty to rise up.
It has been some year. And it is almost over. But not yet. There is one more thing to do, be the Voice. The Voice that says no to division, and spite, and self-aggrandizing reality-bubbles of inertia and bloviating miasma. This Voice says yes to inclusion and understanding, common ground and solidarity. The Voice comes in the elderly, the Latino, African-American and Asian, the young and the female, the disenfranchised and the forgotten. The lies must stop. The pseudo-celebrity tweeting nonsense must end. This is about the Voice, nothing else.
In the cold January of 2017, my wife Erin D. Moore decided to march on Washington with her fellow like-minded sisters against Donald J. Trump, who has stood for all that is wrong and hateful against women. She got up at an ungodly hour and drove somewhere to take a bus down to our nation’s capital, and for her daughter, her late mother, my mother, her biological sisters and their daughters, for the women who did it once and twice and countless other times before to fight for rights in that defiant resistant Voice, she marched. Standing in the shadow of our capital, she put a defiant fist in the air and breathed in the Voice.
And that was the moment, the Women’s March 2017, that ends up here in 2020. In 2018, women stormed that very building with overwhelming vote numbers to usher in the Year of the Woman in congress. Now it culminates in the defeat of this bleating monster in the White House, to send him, and every oozing pustule he stands for, packing.
I’m tired but hopeful. I have said all I am going to say. It is up to the Voice now.