Alas, citizen, the elections of 2010.
The people were enraged at the Democratic Party, which controlled the U.S. Government by a supermajority. In droves, the people took to the streets with signs painting the entire Democratic Party as "evil" and conspiring to "turn the United States into a dictatorship!" With emotions at an all-time high, citizens yelled, "Socialists! Socialists!!" and denounced Republicans who were not right-wing enough as being "enemies of the republic!"
Youths led protests and actively participated in helping to "take back the government" for "democracy."
Indignation and rage mixed with hope as millions took to the ballots, believing they were going to transform democracy entirely and get everybody who was not of their political views banished from public office.
Obama groaned in the Oval Office, realizing that he happened to be the unfortunate one in office during such a turbulent time in history. It was not Obama's fault, and it was not the Democratic Party's fault. They happened to be in office at a time when the vote did not just go "slightly Republican," as is expected when any party has a supermajority but instead came like a volcano.
The anger of many people bubbled under the surface for many years, and 2010 was the volcanic eruption.
There was no ideology to the 2010 protests – it was a general mood of anger and resistance.
The similarities between now and then are almost exactly parallel:
1) Unpopular incumbent party
2) Increasingly angry populace
3) More involvement in politics (this is good!!)
4) More radical fringes getting attention
5) Talk about rights
Many of these are good and healthy signs of a democracy, but for those of us remembering 2010's midterms, we are shaking our heads in fear that the mistakes of 2010 may be repeated.
People claimed the protests for all sorts of ideologies, but there was something else brewing beneath the surface – something able to unite teenage libertarians and progressives, older conservatives, and the occasional populists all in resistance.
My dear reader, does any of this look familiar to you? Anger at the status quo that intensifies and cries of further polarization. A desire to have a complete turnover of the government. Believing your enemies are the enemies of democracy.
Alas, an election where every seat in the House of Representatives is up for grabs, and "blue waves!" is sounded.
Please don't get me wrong: when Trump won the election, I sighed in indignation and great sorrow. I felt he and the Republican Party betrayed what I thought we were fighting for in 2010.
What were we fighting for in 2010? Many of the ideals the Democrats claim to be fighting for today. What happened? What changed? And like Simon Bolivar, I want to ask, "How do we get out of the labyrinth?"
Here is what I see as the downfall of 2010, and I hope everybody (Republican and Democrat) will avoid these points of the labyrinth.
1. We absolutized.
Do not get me wrong – Nazis are and will always be wrong.
I'm talking about cases where people got angry every time a Republican agreed with a Democrat and where people referred to their political opponents as "demonic." This also takes away and distracts from the actual hate groups, such as the Nazis, that do still exist today. Nancy Pelosi is not evil because you don't like her health care policy, and Sarah Palin isn't planning a theocracy.
2. My team is always right.
This mentality of "completely get rid of all the Democrats and everybody from the last administration" has left nothing but unrest. While it is great having new people come into politics, we cannot completely do away with everything every two years during the midterms and constantly hire and fire people just because we disagree with them.
3. America mixed church and state.
This is something that should never be done as it will inevitably corrupt both institutions! People started comparing politicians on their own side to saviors and depicting the other side as the personification of all evil. A politician on your side is basically "Jesus," meaning he is obviously fighting against "Satan."
I find this to be a very poor understanding of religion and politics. I realize people have done it since the dawn of time, but my stomach is always disgusted when I hear this because the best way to manipulate people is to talk about their conscience (religion.) Religion should be a force to do good and kindness to others, but we have used it for political promotion.
4. We (yes, everybody) loved power.
"No, citizen, do not do it!! Get that crown away from me! I refuse to wear it!!! It corrupts all who wear it – I am your liberator, not your monarch!" In every great victory, there is the temptation to seize more power. Power is like the ring from Lord of the Rings – it causes the bearer to take more and more.
When any party gets more concerned with how many seats they gain, it becomes about power when it should be about the people. I know everybody says that, but it's something we should all keep ourselves in check for. You do not have to be a hobbit or a liberator to be faced with the chance of having absolute power. If anything, Congress needs more power – they have become so concerned with winning elections that they relinquished power to the president and courts. Power and ambition are supposed to check each other.
5. Some people ignored the bad.
Protests draw from all walks of life. I'm a big proponent of the right to protest and free expression in a democracy.
Unfortunately, sometimes the other side will invite fringes – racist and sexist people who appear at protests and act like that is their message and say inflammatory things.
I know I have pleaded for unity, but for people with outright racist/sexist intentions, we want no unity with them. We need to stand together against such things in our society.
One of the mistakes of 2010 was ignoring these people as just the fringe as they gained more and more traction. It was the job of the core leaders of the 2010 midterms to denounce racism and sexism stronger than they did. By not resisting and strongly denouncing those forces as being opposed to liberty and equality, the mess we are in today came about.
Alas, I can make many points but must keep this article at a reasonable length. Oh, how I'd love to write about the teenagers of Generation Joshua who took to the streets to campaign for the Republican Party (specifically, conservatives) and the deep coffeehouse discussions I have had with both liberals and conservatives. The other day I was walking from the market and found myself in the middle of the protest lines for Stop Kavanaugh. The stories keep coming, and the protests of 2010 are haunting.
Every time I see rhetoric for the 2018 midterms, I'm reminded of 2010, and then my heart feels some sadness for all the hope we had – and what never came to be. Our movement was taken by those whom we had nothing in common with and turned into something I now oppose.
I shall keep speaking for my beliefs, and I hope that everybody from the left and right can join together for truth, liberty, and equality.
I made a promise one night during the campaigns of 2010: I stood upon the marble Capitol Hill steps and promised myself while watching the sunset that I will always be a voice for liberty and equality. I hope you, my friends reading this pamphlet, will do the same, that you will do as the old saying from the Bible goes: "To do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly." This is a motto people of all religions should take to heart in politics. Bring justice and mercy to all and have humility enough to know that excessive power is a bad thing.
I hope that going into the 2018 elections, we will learn from the failures of the elections of 2010. Let's not just say, "This can only happen to the Republican Party"; rather, let us say, "They served a purpose, but the failure was due to these five big causes."
I hope that 2010 is not repeated. May the hope and feisty spirit of political involvement in 2010 live in us all, but may we all proceed to learn from the defeats and emerge as a stronger world with new lessons that we have learned from our past mistakes.
Long live liberty!