Hope Springs Eternal For Democracy As Kristof Argues

By Donald A. Collins | 14 May 2024
Church and State

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

At about 12 when the world was amidst WW II, I was thinking about baseball even as most of its heroes were serving in the military.

My closest friend and I learned to recite Earnest Thayer’s 1888 classic poem “Casey at the bat” always fantasizing that he does not strike out, as indeed the US and its allies subsequently won WW II.

These famous verses of American culture were written by Ernest Thayer in 1888 and since adored by millions even as its closing verses are wished reversed by all Americans.

The sneer has fled from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go.
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville—great Casey has struck out.

You can refresh your memory with this rollicking saga here.

Redemption can at times such as now seem impossible. But NY Times opinion writer Nicholas Kristof’s May 12th column still bets democracy will not strike out. After citing all the multiple reasons, the US and the world could suffer, he predicts hopefulness for the survival of our democracy even at this time of worldwide crisis and our apparent inability to cope with Trump!

Kristof offers many examples of the stubborn ability of democracy to survive, which marks Kristof’s argument to me as prescient and timely!

Many genuine threats remain. We could end up in a nuclear war with Russia or China; we might destroy our planet with carbon emissions; the gap between the wealthy and the poor has widened greatly in the United States in recent decades (although global inequality has diminished); we may be sliding toward authoritarianism at home; and 1,000 other things could go wrong.

Yet whenever I hear that America has never been such a mess or so divided, I think not just of the Civil War but of my own childhood: the assassinations of the 1960s; the riots; the murders of civil rights workers; the curses directed at returning Vietnam veterans; the families torn apart at generational seams; the shooting of students at Kent State; the leftists in America and abroad who quoted Mao and turned to violence because they thought society could never evolve.

If we got through that, we can get through this.

My message of hope rubs some Americans the wrong way. They see war, can’t afford to buy a house, struggle to pay back student debt and what’s the point anyway, when we’re boiling the planet? Fair enough: My job is writing columns about all these worries.

Yet all this malaise is distorting our politics and our personal behaviors, adding to the tensions and divisions in society. Today’s distress can nurture cynicism rather than idealism, can be paralyzing, can shape politics by fostering a Trumpian nostalgia for some grand mythical time in the past.

The danger is that together all of us in society collectively reinforce a melancholy that leaves us worse off. Despair doesn’t solve problems; it creates them. It is numbing and counterproductive, making it more difficult to rouse ourselves to tackle the challenges around us.

The truth is that if you had to pick a time to be alive in the past few hundred thousand years of human history, it would probably be now.

When I step back, what I see over the arc of my career is a backdrop of progress in America and abroad that is rarely acknowledged — and that should give us perspective and inspire us to take on the many challenges that still confront us.

Read here the entire piece here.

I just read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s latest book “An Unfinished Love Story”. A great historian, she chronicles her and her late husband Richard’s close relationships with JFK, his brother Bobby and LBJ in the turbulent 1960s. After achieving spectacular social legislation, President Johnson was hugely popular and powerful. However, the Kennedy brothers and Dr King’ assassins and our immersion in the Vietnam War brought LBJ’s social gains in civil rights overwhelmed by youthful dissent making LBJ a strike out victim, as he declined to run for another term, relegated to sad retirement which Goodwin saw first-hand in Texas as she helped LBJ with his memoir.

Kristof’s case for democracy’s resilience reminds us of other long ideological marches to success as the 72 year battle women made to get the right to vote or the gains in civil rights for African Americans.

Women’s liberties still fell under the killing of Roe’s 50-year national right to safe abortions, but again we see that the effects of corruption of the majority in our Supreme Court and Judge Cannon in the Trump documents case in Florida fosters more the fight for democratic progress to restore Roe and unmask inevitable flawed human behavior that can only temporarily let democracy strike out until another election.

Thanks to Kristof for his long-term perspective, which would be greatly enhanced if Trump like Casey who offered a smile of Christian charity to his adoring fans struck out like old Casey and brought immense joy to all of us and helped erase the Midville state this moral loser has brought to all of us.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC, has spent over 50 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of “From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013”, “Trump Becoming Macbeth: Will our democracy survive?”, “We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?”, “What Can Be Done Now to Save Habitable Life on Planet Earth?”, “Vote”, “Can Homo Sapiens Survive?”, “Will Choice and Democracy Win?”, “Can Our U.S. Survive 8 Plus Billion of Us”, “Economic Growth: A Cancer on all Earthly Life”, “On the Precipice of Political Disaster in 2024” and “Democracy at Red State Risk”.

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