election anxiety countdown

73 Days: Now

“Now more than ever” is the ultimate distillation of vacant urgency. It was first used as a campaign slogan by Richard Nixon in 1972. When I attempt to write about how important this election is compared to other elections, I feel the weight of this slogan, and of every other time urgency has been called for “more than ever.” This time it’s different. No, really: this time. Now. More than ever.

This is the escalation we’re used to in politics. Build urgency. Rest. Repeat. It is easy to be cynical about political calls to action after you’ve lived through this cycle a few times. The story of the boy who cried wolf comes to mind.

I think we spend too much energy on Presidential elections. Too much of our civic dialogue. Too often it is the only political question we ask neighbors, friends or family. All the unasked questions are the ones that add up to the national contest. Discussing those questions with a simple question of A or B on the full slate of every conceivable issue at once is not meaningful.

I think it is far more effective to focus energy locally. A relatively small group of neighbors can get to know each other’s concerns and swing local elections for city council, mayor, school board, state legislature based on those concerns. Neighbors getting to know neighbors — especially neighbors of different economic status, race, and background — builds consensus for a government that acts on real community issues. If we collectively focused as much attention on this instead of each party’s celebrity Presidential contest, the pressure from communities everywhere for more compassionate national policies would be immense.

With this in mind, it is out of character for me to focus 100 days on my anxieties about the Presidential race. But this year is different. Now more than ever. For real. Not being ironic. There is really a wolf threatening the village.

I haven’t been enumerating the reasons Trump needs to go in these blog posts. I’m hardly the source you need for that, and the list keeps growing. To pick from only the past week’s headlines: we have a President who cozies up with and admires Russia’s authoritarian leader, a man who thinks nothing of poisoning opposition leaders and imprisoning and killing journalists. Trump has not denounced this week’s poisoning, as leaders of democracies around the world have. Nor has he denounced Russia for paying bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of American soldiers in Afghanistan. What would Putin have to do to earn a reprimand from Trump?

Also this week, a bipartisan panel led by Republicans released volume five of its report documenting Trump’s ties to Russia that he used to gain office in 2016.

It reports that Manafort and Kilimnik talked almost daily during the campaign. They communicated through encrypted technologies set to automatically erase their correspondence; they spoke using code words and shared access to an email account. It’s worth pausing on these facts: The chairman of the Trump campaign was in daily contact with a Russian agent, constantly sharing confidential information with him. That alone makes for one of the worst scandals in American political history.

Franklin Foer, The Atlantic

Having faced no consequences for 2016’s interference, what techniques and aid from Putin’s regime is Trump already using this year? This is the year to pay attention. Now. More than ever.

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