Compromise towards essential consensus

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Life and politics are full of compromises. Some are made out of weakness or greed, while others are meant to create transformative win-win consensus.

A tragic example of fear-driven compromises was the foreign policy of appeasement of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (1937-1940). Hoping to avoid war against Nazi Germany, he signed in 1938 the Munich Agreement, conceding part of Czechoslovakia to Germany. Sensing weakness, Adolf Hitler proceeded to annex the rest of Czechoslovakia and invading Poland, thus precipitating World War II. Winston Churchill (who eventually replaced Chamberlain as Prime Minister) correctly foretold the outcome: “You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war.”

We too are experiencing the tragic consequences of (different but equally dangerous) compromises. An improbable alliance of fear, ignorance, intolerance, zealotry and greed led too many people and social forces to compromise basic moral and ethical principles, enabling an unfit individual to win first the Republican nomination and then the US presidency in 2016. Some in this president’s political base spouse abhorrent ideas of white supremacy. As concerning as that is, though, they are too few to explain his electoral victory.

Many other people, with deep religious beliefs or troubled by job or social insecurities, voted for this president—perhaps hoping for a sense of security or favored status. Others joined them by naively falling prey to disinformation campaigns. Many businesses, large and small, saw short term opportunities for profit—and lended critical support, without regard for the long-term implications of deregulation on sustainability and social justice. Most Republican politicians ultimately compromised their principles in exchange for the prospect of legislative power and influence on judicial appointments. And most Republican rank-and-file members and sympathizers followed suit.

But the 2016 debacle would—still—not have been possible without two other groups of voters: Those who did not not vote (thus forfeiting a fundamental right and responsibility of our citizenry), and those who protest-voted in a refusal to compromise on some belief or principle. Arguably, these two groups de facto elected this president. Many have, I believe, come to regret it deeply.

This president is morally and ethically unfit. Many of his policies defy basic human rights. They are a threat to our democracy, and compromise the sustainability of our planet, thus of the human race. This was already predictable in 2016, but is no longer debatable to any objective observer, after two and a half years of a mostly disastrous administration.

Nevertheless, this president has a real chance of being re-elected. For the moment, the economy is strong. He managed to make multiple conservative judicial appointments, with potential for more. His base is faithful. And he is a political street fighter—willing and shamelessly able to sacrifice truth and principles for his benefit.

Thus, my plea:

  • To the Americans who are considering voting for this president, please reconsider! You are endorsing someone who threatens daily what the Founding Fathers stood for—not out of principle, but rather from ego, intolerance and greed. How could you possibly justify your vote to your conscience, or to your grandkids?
  • To the Americans who oppose the president, please vote Democrat! Each vote counts, and yours might be the one making the difference. Idle conversations, intentions or preferences do not decide elections. Votes do!
  • To the Americans who traditionally don’t vote, make 2020 the exception! We don’t face a political choice. We face a choice at the core of our humanity. Please get informed—based on facts, not social or partisan media—and vote Democrat!
  • To the Americans who are considering a protest vote (because they are neither blue or red, or in case their preferred Democratic candidate is not nominated), please reconsider! You have a choice: Ideological purity, or democratic normalcy. This is where compromise is powerful. Make your vote count against this president, to give yourself, and your ideas, a fair chance in a political climate that is constructive, rather than corrosive. Vote Democrat!
  • To the Democratic candidates, please put country ahead of Party and narrow policy issues. Create a vision that most Americans, within and outside your party, can buy into. Unite us, do not further divide us. Do not give this president a path for re-election.

I am not a Democrat: I am a non-affiliated voter, who advocates for a multi-party system. But I recognize that the only viable alternative to the re-election of this president is the Democratic nominee. I have strong preferences among the many current Democratic candidates, and will temporarily switch my affiliation to vote in the Primary. But, coming the general election, I will set aside any reservations and will vote for the Democratic nominee—whoever that might be.

This is not the time to fight for what you or I truly prefer. In 2020, we must restore normalcy, and that starts with a Democratic President. Even recognizing that she or he, and the Democratic Party as a whole, are not perfect—and that deep political changes are ultimately needed.

This is a time for vision-inspired compromise, towards a simple but essential consensus: retaining the very hope of America as a beacon of freedom and democracy.

— Antonio Baptista


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