“A republic, if you can keep it.” Franklin

At times I have accused my Republican friends of…okay, so maybe I don’t have that many Republican friends…but regardless I have accused them of failing to pay attention to history—of ignoring the similarities between Donald Trump and the infamous demagogues of history: not just the obvious Hitler and Mussolini, but even the current-day Kim Jong-Un and Vladimir Putin.

But I’m afraid my Democratic friends may share the ignorance, and theirs may be worse. They may have a foggier version of the earlier twentieth century: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin—just names in a history book. So how about drifting back sixteen years, just sixteen, to Ralph Nader.

No, he isn’t a demagogue; in fact, Mr. Nader is responsible for many of the consumer protections we possess today. He was the maverick who took on the auto business, the FDA, nursing home abuses—the list is long. He also took on George Bush and Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election, and—arguably—sealed the election for George Bush. No, he isn’t a demagogue, but he is an egotist who placed his own desires above the obvious needs of his country, and as a result got us Iraq and Afghanistan and everything that evolved from the Bush presidency. Make no mistake, George W. Bush is a good man, one who cannot be compared to a sociopath like Trump. That Bush became president was not a travesty, just a shame. Our choices are clearer this year, yet bruised and sullen Bernie Sanders supporters continue to sulk about the convention hall, declaring they cannot vote for Hillary Clinton. One particularly idiotic delegate said that four years of nothingness under Trump would be preferable to four years with Clinton because America will learn from its mistakes and elect better in 2020. Clue for you, my friend, America doesn’t learn from its mistakes. To wit: Richard Nixon. Donald Trump.

But if you concur with that delegate, prepare to say goodbyes to health care and the environment, to personal freedoms and financial reform, to every social advancement the Obama presidency has forced through that recalcitrant Congress. The country in 2020, shellshocked and defeated by four years of megalomaniacal rule, will not be a place you want to live…or “elect better”…if in fact women and minorities still have the vote.

You like Bernie Sanders? Good. So do I.

Will he ever be President of the United States? No.

Did the DNC want Clinton? Yes.

Is the system rigged? Yes.

Now knowing all that, you have a choice. You can condemn America to four years of regression and claim your conscience allowed you no choice, or you can look beyond yourself—maybe just a few feet farther than that selfie you’re taking—and decide which candidate is better for the poor and disenfranchised, for the Mexican- and Muslim-Americans, for the impoverished, the fading middle class, gays, Latinos, women, hourly workers, college students, and on and on.

Hillary Clinton knows all that—she’s bitten the bullet and included much of the Sanders platform into her own. Bernie Sanders knows that too. He said so. He has overcome his personal disappointment to work for the betterment of the American people.

Two hundred fifty years ago Benjamin Franklin, when asked if he wanted a monarchy or a republic, chose the latter, but he knew we’d have to work to keep it. There’s more work to be done.

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Chuck Radda

I'm a former high school English teacher, currently a literacy volunteer and novelist. I invite your responses right here or to chuckradda@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Facebook and on Twitter—where I tweet annually at @chuckrad45.

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