You see, I can write that it is vitally important for global stability and the protection of journalists everywhere that those who executed and ordered the murder of Khashoggi
be punished. But if Democrats do not control either the House or the Senate, I fear Trump will try to avoid any meaningful US censure of Riyadh or its top leaders, if they are proven culpable.
I can write that the president, by telling us that we must weigh a $110 billion Saudi arms purchase against taking a moral stand on Khashoggi’s murder, is literally telling us the price of our values — about $333.33 for every American. (Your check is in the mail.) But if you think, as I do, that countries that sell out their core values for financial gain suffer in the long run or if you think that such a country is not the America
you want us to be, and that the world needs us to be, then you need to vote for a Democrat for the House and the Senate.
I can write that a president who praises a US politician who body slammed a journalist for politely asking a valid question — and who is utterly indifferent to the plight of jailed democracy advocates and journalists from Egypt to Turkey to the Arabian Peninsula to the Philippines — is giving license to thugs all over the world. But that criticism will never have any impact if Democrats control neither the House nor the Senate.
I can write that it is unconscionable that the president of the United States simply dismissed as political spin the latest report by the U.N.’s team of climate scientists — warning that if we don’t undertake immediate carbon emission reductions to prevent global average temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, and not let the increase hit 2 degrees, we will be condemning the next generation to a world of environmental hurt by the end of the century.
I can even quote The Economist magazine’s summary of that hurt: “Arctic summers could be ice-free once a decade in a two-degree world, but once a century in a one-and-a-half-degree one. Virtually all the ocean’s coral might be irreversibly wiped out in a two-degree world, rather than 70-90 percent if temperatures rise by less. Sea levels may rise an extra 10 cm, washing away the livelihoods of millions more people. Permitting a rise of two degrees could also see an extra 420M people exposed to record heat.”
But not a finger will be lifted to prevent any of these devastating outcomes unless Democrats control at least the House or the Senate.
I can write that the growing tribalization of our politics, the notion that members of the other party are not just opponents but “enemies” who must be crushed, is being fueled by a president who has no desire to be president of all the people, but rather only his base, and who delights in dividing us and insulting people, thereby debasing his office. But it will be impossible to impose any accountability on Trump for his toxic behavior and reverse the tone of incivility that has overtaken U.S. politics
if the Democrats do not control either the House or the Senate.
I can write that it is impossible to have a healthy democracy when our president spews a steady stream of lies every day, has denounced the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, refused to take seriously Russian interference in our elections and still has not revealed his tax returns. But this president will continue soiling our institutions and his office unless Democrats control at least the House or the Senate and can impose penalties for such corrosive behavior.
I could write that one reason the Saudis probably thought they could cross a red line with their depraved murder of Khashoggi
was that Trump never appointed an ambassador to Riyadh — relying instead on his and his son-in-law’s personal contacts with the Saudi ruler — and because Trump regularly denounced journalists as purveyors of fake news. Why Trump never sent an ambassador to Saudi Arabia needs to be investigated, but it won’t if Democrats do not control the House or the Senate.
In sum, words today are not enough, investigative journalism is not enough, television special reports are not enough, documentaries are not enough, endless columns and editorials calling out Trump are not enough — even an audiotape of Khashoggi being killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul may not be enough — because the truth is just not enough today — not as long as we have a president who has no shame, who is backed by party that has no spine, that controls the House, the Senate, the White House, the Supreme Court and, indirectly, a major television network that has no integrity.
One day I hope the truth will be enough again. One day I hope great journalism will be enough again. But today only a lever of power — the House or the Senate — will make it so. Facts, science and truth — without power — are just leaves floating through the air in the age of Trump, scattering aimlessly without impact.
So, this year: No third party, no Green Party, no throwing up our hands and saying, “They’re all bad.” All of that’s for another day. For today, in these midterm elections, vote for a Democrat, canvass for a Democrat, raise money for a Democrat, drive someone else to a voting station to vote for a Democrat. It’s the only hope to make America America
Nothing else matters. Pass it on.