Essay: An election at the intersection of power and democratic values

October 1, 2020

Originally published in The Fulcrum

Debilyn Molineaux

In this dark year of 2020, I carry the hope for our nation.

While many of my friends across the political spectrum and in varying corners of our current politics agitate, calculate, dominate and become irate, I claim kinship with them all. I see our broken hearts, our disappointment, our pain and suffering. I see our pride, our gumption and innovation. I share our collective feeling of anxiety mixed with dread for what may be next. And still, I carry hope.

We are a raucous American family. While we talk about divorce in terms of civil unrest and civil war, like a good marriage counselor I ask:
What are we fighting for?
And what are we protecting against?

I carry the hope for our nation by advocating FOR our democratic values that say we are bound to one another. No one is above the law. Our elected officials are public servants and we should be protected by a system of checks and balances that prevents the unmitigated pursuit of power for its own sake. Power in the United States government, must always be in service to the people. All the people, not a privileged few. Our bonds grow strong when we trust one another and share mutual association.

I carry the hope for our nation as I and many PROTECT AGAINST the forces of division; protecting against the intolerance of a few who wish to memorialize their power and advantage over others. I protect against rigidity of thought that obstructs. I protect against advancement so rapid we lose our tradition and sense of American identity. These are the failures of the world in preventing a second world war.

The Constitution was a reaction to the tyranny of and absolute power granted to a single man. The framers of the Constitution wanted power for themselves, separate from the King of England. This is fact, as is their dismissal of non-white people and women as subservient and enslaved to their expression of liberty. They were the underdogs in a power-hungry world. The David against the Goliath of English colonization.

Despots hold absolute power. It is a term reserved for those who exercise their power in a cruel or oppressive way. Today we face the possibility of a despotic ruler in the United States for the first time in our lives and perhaps the first time in US history.

For a nation that has promised “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” we have fallen short and that is the source of our agitation, cogitation and irritation. The source of our broken hearts, ruptured relationships and disappointment in our chance at a better life.

Freedom is the promise of our (amended) Constitution to every person. And freedom is now experienced by more people around the world than at any time in human history. As humans, we long for freedom but freedom comes with a price tag. We have to protect it, tolerate others and compromise to avoid despotic rule, which provides privilege to some while punishing others.

If we look to a leader in the United States to punish others, we have already lost freedom and as history proves, despots will grab the power, without any intention of its return to the people. If you have given your support to a leader who states that opponents are enemies and should be punished, you have given your power away by no longer supporting democratic values. You have chosen a leader who prioritizes power over democracy.

I carry the hope for our nation by remaining a free person, open-hearted and open-minded about our collective future. Will you join me?