• Stephanie Vigil

All I Want for Christmas is Democracy

The recent anti-democratic attacks against the American electorate have been downright depressing. What more can I say about it that hasn’t been said? We've been building up to this for decades, a shameless and cynical power grab by a losing party that’s given up on the American experiment. They’re done with elections. They’re done trying to obtain public support for their platform, or lack thereof. The Republican National Committee, of course, did not even bother to produce one this year. Hopefully more people are starting to understand why: they never planned to accept the results of the election unless they won anyway, so what’s the point in appealing to as many voters as possible? Why go for a good score when you’re just going to insist that you won after you’ve lost?

Why bother having elections at all?

What they are demanding from the country at large, is that we surrender our right to self-government, our right to elected officials who serve at the people's pleasure, and that we submit to single-party rule. They’ve given us a chance to put them in charge voluntarily -- since they know they’re right about everything and the literal creator of the universe is solely on their side -- but we did what all free societies do at some point, and voted for a change in leadership. And that can’t be tolerated by this incumbent power, so the election must be overturned. By any means necessary.

This is not patriotism. This is sedition.

Two Colorado Republicans, including CO-5 Representative Doug Lamborn, signed an amicus brief for the Texas case asking the United States Supreme Court to throw away millions of Americans’ votes in four swing states in order to deliver the presidency to their party’s losing incumbent. And it seems like we’ve mostly already stopped talking about it. Over a hundred Republican members of Congress, sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, backed a move to overthrow a free and fair election and install their party’s leader for at least one more term.

Doug Lamborn should resign. He is not fit to hold public office.

It’s not much better at a state or local level. Representative from El Paso County Dave Williams led the charge in our state legislature to waste time and money on a “forensic audit” of Colorado’s election. The whole circus was almost as embarrassing as the time Trump went searching for the voter fraud that he still claims cost him the 2016 popular vote and quietly disbanded the commission when it came up with nothing. What’s worse about Rep. Williams and friends’ stunt is that this “voter fraud” narrative, while baseless throughout the country, is beyond laughable in Colorado. There is no election system in the nation that is more accurate or secure than ours. It’s the best there is.

I don’t know what it would take for the Republican Party to redeem themselves, but we really need them to. A commitment to the basic principles of representative governance would be a good start. As I’ve said, I genuinely believe in democracy. I don’t want single-party rule by Democrats either. What we need are robustly contested, free, and fair elections, so that the government we get is the one we ask for. But they don't want that. So what now? Are we to fall into a pattern where every time Democrats win, Republicans reject the results and file countless lawsuits, and every time Republicans win, we mustn’t even question it? Because that’s the other side of this coin: Republicans have carried on about “widespread voter fraud” for decades, and since it’s so often projection with them, the odds are pretty good that they would rig elections if they could. And perhaps already have.

There’s no “one weird trick” to save democracy. The rest of us have to want it more. We have to want self-government more than we want comfort. Get organized. Work together. Pick our battles carefully. The GOP has played a long game, starting back arguably as early as the late ‘70s, to break up public institutions that disrupt and redistribute power that the investor class and their corporations will always hoard for themselves if they can. They’ve gamed the electoral system so that they can win most of what they need to hold the Federal government through Republican devotion in rural areas and sparsely populated states. And anywhere that is “too urban” for them, they’ve gerrymandered and/or employed suppression tactics to diminish those voters’ ability to exercise the franchise. They knew it was not the work of a moment, and frankly our order is taller, because it’s constructive and it is always harder to build up than to destroy.

On the Holidays...

One thing I am very grateful for, as we near the end of this wild year, is that I'm deconverted and freed up from the religion I was raised in, and am able to live quite comfortably and confidently as an atheist. It's one of my most prized rights as an American, this freedom from religion, despite how desperately many right wing figures seek to rob me of it. And yes, I still do Christmas!

If you do even a small amount of research into the roots of Christmas, you’ll find that the December 25th holiday on Western calendars was appropriated by the church as a concession to pagans attached to their ancient rituals (Yule in Germanic regions, and Saturnalia wherever the Roman pantheon was worshiped). Unsurprisingly, much of the decor concepts and traditions we associate with Christmas, branded as a Christian holiday, are in fact pagan. So thoroughly pagan that Puritans in Europe and the American colonies in the 17th Century banned Christmas celebrations.

That's right, an actual war on Christmas, not be confused with the imagined persecution conservative Christians have crafted for themselves. This made-up scandal really picked up steam around the time I was going through deconversion, and my takeaway was that if anything is destroying the spirit of the holiday season, it's Black Friday and holiday credit card debt, and the sense of pressure we all feel to do everything that we're supposed to do from the fourth Thursday in November through the New Year.

This guy gets it.

Personally I keep the “Christ” in this holiday season about as much as I keep the “Thor” in Thursday. Since my non-belief applies to all gods equally, I can have fun with the whole holiday season, and pick and choose what's worth the effort and what isn't. We're doing New Year's cards to buy ourselves a little extra time, and ordering Chinese take-out for Christmas dinner, but we are going to formally celebrate the Winter Solstice this evening, which I hope will be the start of a new tradition. I’m making a nice meal, we’re setting up a yule altar, and making a whole night of it. There's also a Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter that you'll want to step out and see if you're able to!

Not being able to gather with siblings and in-laws is sad, but please, if you haven't already called it, stick to your household only for holiday celebrations. I know it's hard, but sometimes it's just a rough year and we need to get through it. The way I see it, there isn't an entire genre of Christmas songs about the sadness of holiday separation for nothing! Please, be safe. Stay home, find healthy (or healthy-ish) coping mechanisms for the disappointment, and do your part to limit the spread. Remember: the virus needs a whole ecosystem of hosts to thrive. It's a communicable disease that depends on whole populations and taking it seriously is not a personal health choice, but a public one.

We were always all in this together. Let's embrace that, and welcome back the longer days after this dark night with a renewed commitment to care for and honor each other.

Happy Holidays and Merry Everything!

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