It’s an ironic twist of history that only a writer of fiction could dream up. But it’s real. We are living the Great Black Rescue.
No, I don’t mean a rescue of Black people, although that eventually might be part of it. I mean a rescue of our Republic, and therefor of all of us, by a small number of Black Democrats.
These Black Democrats are leading the fight to save our democracy, our rule of law, and order and decency in our land. They are doing so with intelligence and finesse. As they work, they distinguish themselves from the rank-and-file of both parties, who seem incapable of doing more than complain about what the opposition does.
How so? Let me count the ways. First, consider the House Committee investigating the January 6 Insurrection. Who leads it? Bennie Thompson, Congressman from Mississippi for 29 years. Yes, he famously has help from Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, but he’s the Chair and sets the agenda. The story of his and his Committee’s work is still being told. Perhaps it will produce an October surprise.
Who are the only government attorneys yet to lead serious investigations into the other transgressions of our unrepentant and still-defiant Demagogue? There’s Fani Willis, District Attorney of Fulton County, Georgia, which contains Atlanta. She’s investigating the Demagogue’s 2020 order to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” to overturn Georgia’s election of President Biden. That call was taped.
Then there’s Alvin Leonard Bragg, Jr., the District Attorney of New York County. While (so far) refusing to open a criminal investigation, he’s investigating the Demagogue and his cronies for civil offenses, including massive fraud.
Some bemoan Bragg’s refusal (so far) to bring criminal charges, but here’s the deal. Criminal convictions require proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Civil charges require proving only that the offense was “more likely than not.” That’s why OJ Simpson won acquittal for his wife’s murder but lost a civil suit, big time. Wouldn’t it be poetic justice to apply that same principle to bring the Demagogue down?
More than that, in New York State juries need not be unanimous in civil cases. Only ⅚ of the jurors need concur. So whereas a single, secret admirer of the Demagogue on a criminal jury could force a retrial of a criminal charge, it would take three to do so in a civil case.
So maybe there’s method in Bragg’s seeming timidity. If all criminal charges founder on the rocks of reasonable doubt and non-unanimous juries, Bragg might still succeed in bankrupting the Demagogue and destroying his phony reputation as a business genius. And don’t forget that civil juries can award punitive damages, without meeting the criminal standard of proof.
Giving the Demagogue his just desserts is only the tip of the iceberg. Our nation’s most important task is reforming our government, especially the Senate, to make it more, not less, democratic (with a small d). We can’t do that without keeping the Senate in Democratic (big D) hands and killing the filibuster. And we can’t kill the filibuster without electing two more Democratic senators and so making Senators Manchin and Sinema irrelevant.
Here’s where the Great Black Rescue shines like the rising sun. Four superbly qualified Black Democrats are running solid, close races for Senate seats, two in the Deep South. The Reverend Raphael Warnock is running in Georgia as the incumbent, having won a special election in 2020. Cheri Beasley is running for an open seat in North Carolina, and Mandela Barnes is running in Wisconsin against Ron Johnson, who beat progressive Russ Feingold in 2010. As once the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, Beasley is well placed to restore and uphold the rule of law and to make positive change that will survive legal challenge. Barnes is now Lieutenant Governor and a Wisconsin progressive affiliated with the Working Families Party. And Val Demings is running to defeat Marco Rubio in Florida.
If only three of the four win, and if no other incumbent Democratic senator loses, Manchin and Sinema will no longer be able to save the filibuster. This horrible anti-democratic anachronism, which appears nowhere in our Constitution, and which Republicans have used at 142 times the historic rate, will fall into the wastebasket of history where it belongs.
And if the Dems keep control of the House, wholesale reform of our Democracy can ensue. The Dems can: (1) make voting easier for all and reduce gerrymandering nationwide; (2) fix our broken immigration system and bring DACA recipients some stability; (3) write women’s bodily autonomy and same-sex marriage into federal law; (4) impose fair taxes on corporations and the rich; (5) raise more of our children out of poverty; (6) double down on fighting climate change and bringing our national research establishment and industrial base into the twenty-first century; and (7) make our public-health system readier not just to subdue Covid-19, but to fight the next pandemic.
In other words, if the Dems extend their Senate majority by two votes and keep the House, we can have a whole new nation. Chronic minority rule will fade into history, and our majority can get on with the business of making America stronger, more democratic, more equal, and more free.
Last but by no means least, there’s Stacy Abrams. She works quietly and without fuss. Unlike so many Republicans, she doesn’t grandstand or mouth off. She’s developed an entire person-to-person “ground-game” in Georgia and neighboring states. Her work threatens to make social media in all its craziness obsolete: it bypasses cheap rage and resentment and gets people to educate themselves and solve real problems in small-group or individual settings. It can create a political system that raises everyone up, rather than keeping some on top and some down.
Abrams is a brilliant political strategist working in relative obscurity and counting on the element of surprise. She hails from Georgia, the heart of the Old South, and the focus of regional resentment since Sherman’s March to the Sea. If she becomes governor of Georgia—the first Black woman ever to lead that state—her victory alone will make a sea change in America.
From slavery, through Jim Crow, segregation, and economic marginalization to the present half-enlightened day, the South has always been the key to America’s success. When its legacy of racism and bossism prevailed, all Americans suffered. As that legacy wanes, we can all shine.
So Abrams’ victory in Georgia could presage a new era in American politics. That era won’t be wildly progressive because Abrams and other Democrats have to be moderate to win. But it will be fair, honest, open, forward-looking and (most of all) democratic with a small d. It can get things done.
That’s what’s at stake in this election. With Joe Biden as president, Republicans have to sweep the board to win. Even if they take both the House and Senate, their “victory” will be pyrrhic: they won’t be able to do much nationally against a presidential veto. They can only press on with their lies and propaganda. But the Dems have many ways to win, and brilliant candidates to lead them.
Just compare Reverend Warnock to his opponent, Herschel Walker, or Cheri Beasley to Ted Budd, to see how much the “brain gap” and “competence gap” favor the Dems. All their states must do is put aside their recidivism and football fervor for one election, and we can all enjoy a New South.
The vital question is how many of us are ready, even eager, to accept the Great Black Rescue and be part of it. How many of us want to see this nation transformed into what Jefferson’s words promised, but have never yet achieved? How many of us want to see our nation become a real democracy, rather than one in name only?
I do, and I hope you do, too. If you do, please contribute, help, and register and vote as if your future and your nation’s greatness depended on your doing so. They do.