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Opinion: Ten suggestions for helping Biden win

Elie Wiesel once wrote, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” There are various fictional stories and real-life examples of individuals who protest alone, not expecting an immediate change but perhaps making a symbolic statement or holding onto their convictions.

Quoting Wiesel again, ““We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere…Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

Trump makes no bones about how he characterizes his opponents, which means anyone not in what he calls the “MAGA camp” – more like the MAGA cult. At a rally, Trump used language that echoed Hitler when he compared his political rivals to vermin. “We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country,” he told a crowd in New Hampshire. There were other nods to authoritarianism in the speech. Trump praised Hungary’s strongman leader. “The head of Hungary – very tough, strong guy – Viktor Orban,” he told the crowd. Orban has declared that his government is “illiberal” in nature, using Russia, China, and Turkey as models.

Now is a time when we must individually and collectively resist the drift toward autocracy fueled by Trump and his MAGA worldview. Or in the words of Patrick Henry, “Now is the time for all good men [sic] to come to the aid of the country.”

Is it possible to change the minds of most Trump voters? For most of them, probably not. But the 2024 campaign is in full swing, and only if the country understands the danger, the choice, and our obligation to our descendants will we preserve our democracy.

In his essay, How to survive the next 280 days (and help America survive beyond them), Robert Reich writes, “Outrage can be a positive force if it fuels activism – if it gets people off their butts to do any number of things that individually don’t seem like much, but taken together can have a big impact.” He offers the following ten suggestions.

One, become even more politically active. Perhaps it’s getting out the vote in November, phone banking, making political contributions, writing letters to editors, and calling friends and relatives in swing states. Two, start organizing now. Even if you cannot take much time out of your life for direct politics, you will need to organize, mobilize, and energize your friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Three, counter lies with truth. When you hear someone repeating a Trump/Republican lie, correct it. Prepare yourself with facts, logic, analysis, and sources. Four, do not tolerate bigotry and hate. When you come across it, call it out and denounce it. Five, do not resort to name-calling, bullying, intimidation, violence, or any of the other tactics Trump followers may be using. We cannot save democracy through anti-democratic means.

Six, be compassionate toward hardcore followers of Trump, but remain firm in your opposition.  Don’t waste time and energy trying to convert them. Use your time and energy on those who are undecided. Seven, don’t waste time complaining. Don’t gripe, whine, or kvetch about how awful Trump and his Republican enablers are, or about how ineffective Joe Biden and the Democrats are in communicating how bad Trump and his Republican enablers are. None of this will get you anything except an upset stomach or worse. Eight, ask everyone you know to vote for Biden and not sit this election out or vote for a third-party candidate. Even if they don’t especially like Biden, even if they’re tired of voting for the “lesser of two evils,” they still must vote for Biden. He may not be perfect, but Trump is truly evil.

Nine, demonstrate, but do not confuse demonstrating with political action. You may find it gratifying to stand on a corner with a sign asking drivers to “honk if you hate fascism” and eliciting lots of honks, but this is as politically effectual as taking a warm shower. Organize people who don’t normally vote to vote for Biden. Get young people involved. Ten, do not be distracted by the latest outrageous Trump post or speech or story. Don’t let his hunger for immediate attention or the media’s complicity with that hunger divert your eyes from the prize: the survival of American democracy during one of the greatest stress tests it has had to endure, organized by one of the worst demagogues in American history.

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Mark Berg is a community activist in Adams County and a proud Liberal. His email address is MABerg175@Comcast.net.

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MARK BERG
MARK BERG
13 days ago

To those of you who think the Gettysburg Connection is becoming a left-leaning publication, I remind you there is a right-wing publication: The Gettysburg Times. Consider its editorial cartoons and so-called “conservative” columnists, in particular Greg Maresca.

Fran K. Ingram
Fran K. Ingram
20 days ago

Mr. Berg, I hope you do not mind that I addressed you as Mister, but I do not know what your preferred sex is. If you prefer Madame or whatever, I will change it. Although you prefer to quote Elie Wiesel, I prefer to refer to John Stuart Mill’s “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion.” I assume you have read it sometimes in your lifetime. So to refresh your memory, here it is: “First, the opinion which it is attempted to suppress by authority may possibly be true. Those who desire to suppress it, of course deny its truth;… Read more »

Andrea M Theisson
Andrea M Theisson
24 days ago

Well-said, as usual! Thank-you, Mark Berg, for being a voice of reason.

tom mckenney
tom mckenney
24 days ago

If you are going to turn Gettysburg Connection into a left-wing publication vis-a-vis Berg and Reed and others, would be a huge mistake. Don’t you think folks get enough politics thru TV? My concept of Gettysburg Connection is one where we hear good things about our community, especially about ordinary folks, including children accomplishing something they have worked hard for.

Ryan Kerney
Ryan Kerney
22 days ago
Reply to  tom mckenney

I respectfully disagree, Tom. I think this forum should include community voices, including our conservative ones, that consider national and international policy and politics. There is a minority of largely disorganized progressive voices in our community. They should be heard, and we can’t rely on Twitter/X or Facebook groups to be their platform.

It would be great to also hear some conservative perspectives. Maybe on small government and deregulation? How does that world-view think we should tackle the current issues facing humanity, many of which may require regulations and large government programs?

Charles Stangor
Admin
Charles Stangor
22 days ago
Reply to  tom mckenney

Gettysburg Connection is committed to sharing the voices of people in Adams County regardless of political orientation. We focus on local news but also provide state and national news and commentary. Looking forward to hearing from you.

D. E. Piper
D. E. Piper
24 days ago

Excellent Opinion piece, one we should all take to heart. We need to vote and encourage others to vote. Trump would love to destroy democracy. We need to show that it works.

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