Today we may be engaged in the most consequential election in recent history: at least since 1932, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to reverse the devastation of the Great Depression; and maybe since 1860, when we chose Abraham Lincoln to free the slaves and to save the Union.
After visiting Hungary, David Leonhardt of the New York Times, observed that he’s hard pressed to distinguish Orban’s quiet dictatorship from the current Trump and Republican regime. By taking control of the press, Parliament, and the judiciary, Orban has eliminated systematic opposition. Isn’t Trump trying to do the same.
If the Republicans consolidate their majorities in both Houses of Congress, this is the likely outcome: building a judiciary ever more sympathetic to the interests of rich men and antagonistic to the rights of women and people of color; increasing tax breaks for the rich, leading to the financial decline of the poor and middle class; normalizing gun violence; dismantling or, at least, weakening of social security, affordable health care, educational opportunity, and further institutionalizing racism by such means as mass incarceration and the disenfranchisement of young people of color. Victory will embolden Republicans to extend their control into future by making it harder for people of color to vote.
Like Orban, Republicans won’t require active military interference—though it might be there in the background, as it is on the Texas border—or violent revolution, as in the emergence of European, Soviet, and Chinese autocratic regimes. The Republicans will have been voted in.
If the Democrats win the House, they will be able to check movement towards an authoritarian state. The ability of the House to subpoena Trump and his allies and to support an even more robust Mueller investigation may bring him down. Turning the tide of local elections—State and Federal—may allow Democrats to dismantle gerrymandering and other methods of limiting and slanting the vote towards the Republican minority. Victory may mark a turning point away from Tea Party populism and nationalism, and accelerate the fight against “dark money” and the ability of American Oligarchs to exercise their power from behind their velvet curtains.
A Democratic triumph may prove the turning point for people of color, finally taking their full place in American leadership. And victory may catapult women into power so that fifty years from now we look back on 2018 and say: Why didn’t we figure out how to more fully empower women, with their more collaborative and non-violent ways, until that fateful year.