2022 Midterms: Lest we forget …

See Disclaimer.

Nearly five years ago, I wrote an ‘Open letter to a Republican congressman’ [1]. I recently re-read what I wrote, and I invite you to read (or re-read) it too.

The letter was a then-rare incursion into politics by an academic (an oceanographer!) who was politically informed but not active beyond voting. I was uncharacteristically compelled to write because I was profoundly shocked with the state of our country—and the role of the once-respectable Republican party as a negatively disruptive force.

Much has changed in the intervening years. But Republicans continue to be a disruptive force, now even more negative and irresponsible. Our two-party system continues to be an obstacle to progress. A multi-party system is still sorely needed [2], and opportunities have been missed for its emergence [3]—even if a small number of ‘ranked choice’ states offer a ray of hope. For now, most ‘independent’ candidates continue relegated to the extremely dangerous role of spoilers (a prime example being Betsy Johnson, in the Oregon governor’s race).

I remain non-affiliated. I long for the day when I can vote for candidates and ideas—for themselves, regardless of party. But, now as five years ago, I realize that Democrats are our best (imperfect) chance for a responsible government, rooted on constitutional principles and good citizenry—and for economic, infrastructure and social issues to be meaningfully addressed, given time.

Social media is rampant in misinformation, whether intentional or just naïve. But the established press—even if it could be more informative and less opinionated [4]— remains a key asset in our democracy. In that press and elsewhere, there is still objective information that we can rely on. History, popular science books, and even peer-reviewed articles, are more broadly available than ever. Facts remain facts. Decency, ethics and principles still offer sound guidance for actions and decisions.

We are still capable of critical thinking, when we so choose. There are still many measures of social and economic progress to protect—or to reach for. Today’s children and the next generations, as well as the future of our planet, remain our (increasingly urgent) responsibility [5].

The case against Republicans and for Democrats can, in these mid-terms, be made on the basis of both ‘democracy is at stake’ [6] and ‘meat and potatoes’ [7] arguments. Most importantly, the choice is still ours [8], and it matters—perhaps as rarely it has mattered before (with 2020 an important recent parallel).

Please vote, and vote wisely.

— Antonio Baptista

Links to previous Outside the Box posts cited in the text:

[1] Open letter to a Republican congressman. January 2018. outoftheboxblog.org/2018/01/21/open-letter-to-a-republican-congressman

[2] It is time for a multi-party system. January 2021. outoftheboxblog.org/2021/01/03/it-is-time-for-a-multi-party-system/

[3] Why Democrats should champion a multi-party system. April 2020. outoftheboxblog.org/2020/04/13/why-democrats-should-champion-a-multi-party-system/

[4] A free press is a cornerstone of democracy. That comes with responsibilities. October 2022. outoftheboxblog.org/2022/10/27/the-press-we-need/

[5] Climate Change: Our problem, our choice. August 2019. outoftheboxblog.org/2019/08/24/climate-change-our-problem-our-choice/

[6] Elected authoritarianism? Not with my vote. October 2022. outoftheboxblog.org/2022/10/11/elected-authoritarianism-not-with-my-vote/

[7] The ‘meat and potatoes’ case to vote Democrat. October 2022. outoftheboxblog.org/2022/10/24/the-meat-and-potatoes-case-to-vote-democrat/

[8] For now, the choice is ours. November 2022. outoftheboxblog.org/2022/11/04/for-now-the-choice-is-ours/

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