Now Is the Time to Think Globally and Act Locally.
During a recent gathering of one of our clubs, the question came up whether the club should participate this year in a particular summer festival. The club had participated in the festival for the last several years. They decided not to participate this year. Multiple members expressed the perception that people in the community where the festival is held are becoming more aggressively hostile to Democrats, progressives, and anyone else who does not worship at the altar of trump. I think it is fair to say that an element of fear played major role in the decision.
I am not faulting the members of that club. We know from the Capitol on January 6, from Bethel last summer, and from Charlottesville, Virginia that there are people on the right looking for opportunities to engage in violence. We know that many of these people (and at least one Republican Congresswoman) buy the QAnon myth that we Democrats are part of a Satanic cabal that abuses and murders children. We know that their leader, donald trump (trump still does not deserve the respect implied by using initial capital letters in his name), has ordered them to “stand by.” There is a risk.
The circumstances driving the club’s decision should be troubling to anyone familiar with the history of Nazi Germany. Even before Hitler gained power, the brown-shirted SA thugs attacked people who openly opposed the Nazis. We know from statements of Hitler, Goebbels, and other Nazis that the goal of the SA was to intimidate their opposition into silence. Nazi publications and speakers routinely repeated the libel that Jews murdered children and drank their blood. This aimed to portray Jews as an evil to be eradicated by any means, much as the American Right now seeks to portray anyone who doesn’t support them.
At the same time, we see newly announced Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance publicly apologizing for the apostasy of his previous, justified, criticisms of trump. One is reminded of Stalin’s show trials in which formerly prominent Communists abjectly apologized for straying from the true path of fealty to Stalin. Republicans and their right-wing allies are borrowing heavily from totalitarian regimes of the past.
Why has the Republican Party adopted the tactics of some of the worst regimes in world history?
Republicans are committed to a mythical vision of America that was never true and is shared by ever fewer Americans as our nation becomes more diverse and the Republican base ages and dies off. To retain power, Republicans must exclude an ever-growing number of Americans from participation in government and politics. Concurrently, leadership of the national Republican Party has been assumed by a man who openly admires despots and who has brought overt racism and contempt for the rule of law into the open and made them appear more acceptable. Although unquestionably a personal coward, his rhetoric invokes images of violence.
What do we do? Republicans seek to exclude people from participating in politics and government. Therefore, we need to get more involved and involve more people. What does that mean in practical terms?
There is a slogan: “think globally, act locally.” That slogan applies to this issue. Of course, presidential elections are important, but President, U.S. Senator, and Congressperson are not the only offices that matter. Over 100 offices will be on the ballot across Clermont County this November. As of a month before the deadline to file as a candidate, only 33 people had filed. Almost all of them are Republicans.
The offices on the ballot this fall include city and village councils, township trustees, and local school boards. What these offices do impacts people’s daily lives from fixing potholes and putting up stop signs to determining the quality of education our children receive to providing police and emergency medical services. These are not trivial offices. To give just one example, the Goshen Township Trustees control an annual budget over $ 2 million.
We need Democrats and other progressives to run for these offices. The deadline to file candidate petitions is 4:00 p.m. on August 4, 2021. Petitions can be acquired from the Clermont County Board of Elections at 76 S. Riverside Drive in Batavia or downloaded from the Ohio Secretary of State website: ohiosos.gov/elections/elections-officials/forms-petitions/. The number of required signatures is typically small. For example, getting on the ballot to run for township trustee requires the signatures of only 25 township residents who are registered to vote. The territories within which candidates campaign for these offices are small. Turnout in odd-year elections is usually no more than 25%, meaning that it doesn’t take a huge number of votes to win. These offices are part-time jobs and almost all pay a salary.
While we need to stay safe, we cannot be intimidated. Republicans intend to exclude us so we must fight to be included. We must, a least, obtain a share of power. 2021 is the time to act locally. Step up and run. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy it and, I promise, you will learn a lot about your community and your neighbors.