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An Editorial: If You Aren’t Scared, You Aren’t Paying Attention

by Donna Winchell, Publicity Chair

Democratic Party of Garland County"




Around 2017-18, my favorite t-shirt read, “If you aren’t angry, you aren’t paying attention.” I should

have noticed the subtle clues even then that that message wasn’t strong enough. I remember that at

first, I was just a little afraid to wear the shirt to the Walmart in Hot Springs Village (I got over it), just

like I worried a bit later what might happen to my car if I parked it anywhere in Arkansas brandishing

a Biden/Harris bumper sticker. I was fairly sure my Biden campaign sign (“Grab ‘em by the ballot”)

wouldn’t survive the thirty days one can legally display a campaign sign in the Village. (Surprisingly,

it did.) Those were the days when I would turn to the news on my iPhone as soon as I woke up, even

before I got out of bed, to see what our president had done to embarrass us while we slept.

When did Trump move from being embarrassing to being downright scary? Maybe it should have

been when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue AND NO ONE CARED. Maybe it should

have been at the very first press conference when we were advised to wear masks to protect us from

COVID and he immediately said, “I won’t be doing that.” Or when he told his supporters to beat up a

reporter.

Like most of you, I watched television on January 6th and feared the damage being done to our capitol

and feared for the safety of our elected officials. I didn’t yet, at that point, fear for our very

democracy. Now I know that I need a new t-shirt, one that says, “If you aren’t worried, you aren’t

paying attention.” Even better: “If you aren’t SCARED, you aren’t paying attention.”

There are those who think we are hyperbolic in saying our very democracy is in danger. We aren’t.

As we watched on January 6th

, we knew there had been hints that something was going to happen. It

was easy to believe that the attack on the capitol was a spontaneous response to Trump’s speech that

day, but we knew there were rumblings—and more than rumblings (“Be there! Will Be Wild!”). As

the New York Times reported, “Trump All but Circled the Date.” What most Americans didn’t realize

was how much planning by how many people went on behind the scenes to shape the violence that

day and also, in other ways, to disrupt the peaceful transition of power. The January 6 Committee built

a painstaking case to prove the plot behind the attack on the capitol. Every witness before the grand

jury in Georgia and since has added to our knowledge of the plot to steal the 2020 election.

There are those who think we are being silly to recall the early days of Hitler’s rise to power. One of

the scariest parts of Hitler’s power was the number of “ordinary” Germans it took to carry out the

atrocities he dreamed up. In the videos of January 6th there are the Proud Boys moving toward the

capitol in formation and the “innocent” bystanders being swept along through police barricades and

broken windows into the capitol. Every day, right now in America, antisemitism is on the rise, and

Trump supporters daily call or email or mail death threats to a Jewish judge and his Jewish clerk

because Engoron has had the audacity to call a fraud a fraud. Meanwhile, Trump calls US vermin.

Some political analysts have warned against a candidate LIKE Trump, but smarter. The suggestion

was that someone with Trump’s evil intent but even a modicum of subtlety could REALLY be a threat

to our democracy. In his narcissism, though, Trump is outright telling us what he will do if voted into

office for a second term. “I AM YOUR RETRIBUTION!” he yells at his rallies. He TELLS US that he will

jail those who have tried to bring him to justice for his crimes. He TELLS US that he will build massive

detention camps. Listen to Charlie Savage, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan writing in the New

York Times:

Mr. Trump wants to revive his first-term border policies, including banning entry by people

from certain Muslim-majority nations and reimposing a Covid 19-era policy of refusing

asylum claims — though this time he would base that refusal on assertions that migrants carry

other infectious diseases like tuberculosis.

He plans to scour the country for unauthorized immigrants and deport people by the millions

per year.

To help speed mass deportations, Mr. Trump is preparing an enormous expansion of a form of

removal that does not require due process hearings. To help Immigration and Customs

Enforcement carry out sweeping raids, he plans to reassign other federal agents and deputize

local police officers and National Guard soldiers voluntarily contributed by Republican-run

states.

To ease the strain on ICE detention facilities, Mr. Trump wants to build huge camps to detain

people while their cases are processed and they await deportation flights. And to get around

any refusal by Congress to appropriate the necessary funds, Mr. Trump would redirect

money in the military budget, as he did in his first term to spend more on a border wall than

Congress had authorized.

This is the man currently leading Biden in the polls.

There ARE glimmers of hope in the midst of the gloom:

--the fact that there is now an effort to get women’s reproductive health care on the ballot in

Arkansas (see p. 1)

--the enormously inspiring effort by CAPES to let Arkansans decide how their children should

be educated

--the fact that Arkansas Democrats will contest 64 State House districts, the most since 2012

when the Party last held the majority in the chamber.

--the fact that there was BIPARTISAN resistance to Governor Sanders’ effort to weaken FOIA

--the fact that Arkansas Young Democrats is the fastest growing Young Democrats group in

the country, and that the national leader is from Arkansas

Okay. They are more than glimmers. These are the things that make me able to sleep at night.

But I’m still looking for that new t-shirt.


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