Labor Day traditionally marks the start of the homestretch of political campaigning. While we could watch with amusement some candidates’ claims of divine endorsements – or at least that of the lower angels of the gun lobby, this year’s election could prove one of the most critical in our country’s history.

          It is no laughing matter when nearly every Republican on the state ballot claims to be pro-Trump, which is to say pro-coup, pro-dictatorship. It is amazing to say, but, let’s set aside Trump’s  bigotry, misogyny, grift and ignorance. Those sins pale in comparison to the FACT that Donald Trump tried to overthrow the government of the United States. He sicced a violent mob on the U.S. Capitol and rooted for its success for three hours before calling off his shock troops.

          One of the discussed options for maintaining power was to have these thugs murder Vice President Mike Pence so that Trump could declare martial law and continue his tenure despite the vote of the American people.

          Anyone still pro-Trump is anti-republic by definition – a traitor-in-waiting.

          The former president, demonstrably more loyal to Vladimir Putin than our Constitution, was a traitor not waiting. He absconded in defeat with boxes of classified material that he stashed around his Mar-A-Lago compound. He refused a subpoena issued for their return, had his lawyers claim that the material had been returned and now he and his minions are vilifying the FBI for retrieving and protecting top secret information.

          Yeah, I, too, remember when the Republicans fiercely, proudly, loudly claimed to be the law-and-order party. Now they have replaced the rule of law with the rule of Trump.

          People keep assuring me that most Republicans are good and decent people who love their country. That Trump only received about 30 percent of the state primary vote in 2016 seems to confirm that.

          But, that other 70 percent have let themselves be cowed by a rabid minority into silent complicity to an attack on democracy. They won’t risk the wrath of the bullies to stand up for decency.

          There is a remedy: the secret ballot – which saw red and Republican Kansas support overwhelmingly a  woman’s integrity to make her own medical choices . No one monitors you at the voting booth. Your moderation could be reinforced by electing moderate public officials. Right now that means Democrats.

          You don’t like my leftwing of the Democratic Party? Heck, I stay irritated with their unproductive carping.

          But, the important difference between the parties at present is that while the Democrats’ far left is powerless, shunted aside, generally ignored by party leaders (who raise money for those who oppose progressives), the Republicans’ far right has enough clout to “primary” or scare moderates into silence. Hardcore Trumpistas have always stayed at about 30 percent nationwide, but their vitriol empowers them.

          I’m no fan of the corporate Democrats who control our party. But, they do represent that middle ground of moderation that should be the key election issue this year.

          Less than a year ago, Joy Hofmeister was a card-carrying Republican. Yet, moderate that she is, she defeated liberal Connie Johnson and is now our party’s candidate for governor. Old guard Democrats – who have an unfortunate history of endorsing or voting for Republicans – were quick to endorse Hofmeister’s candidacy.

          There are beaucoup reasons to vote against Kevin Stitt: his ski trip during our blizzard; his slavish, Trumpian inaction that costs Oklahoman lives during the pandemic; the ongoing revelations of corruption in his administration, his breach of the state and tribal cooperation and his ongoing war on public education which prompted State School Superintendent Hofmeister to challenge him.

          There are moderates in both parties. Moderate Democrats control our party – on the state and national level. On one day last summer, Common Dreams documented liberal Democrats’ failure to influence their party:

          • ‘Is It Better Than Nothing? I Suppose’: Sanders Disappointed by Dems’ Drug Pricing Plan;

          •  Warren, Padilla Demand Buttigieg Crack Down on Airline Industry’s ‘Rampant Unfair Practices’;

          • ‘Really Inexcusable’: Progressives Lament Democrats’ Failure to Reverse Trump Tax Cuts

          • Sanders Shreds Big Tech’s $76 Billion ‘Corporate Welfare’ Payday in CHIPS Act

          • Congressional Staffers Arrested for Climate Sit-In at Schumer’s Office

          These are my people, pushing worthy, people-protecting and planet-saving goals. They’re on the outside. Even after Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema stopped monkey-wrenching major legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act was far below liberal desires.

          Moderate Republicans, on the other hand, quake in fear of Trumpian reprisals. Honest election officials have had themselves and their families threatened. Challenging the tyrant results in banishment.

          Remaining pro-Trump today equals being anti-republic – all the way down the ballot.

          Want another opinion? Citing his former party’s continued election conspiracy nonsense, Colorado Republican State. Sen. Kevin Priola announced last month that he would be caucusing with Democrats. He says, “there is too much at stake right now for Republicans to be in charge.”

          So, my Republican neighbors, come on over this election and vote to save our republic.

          Good Democrats believe in equal justice for all – as I’m told most of you do. They will put the well-being of people ahead of corporate profiteering – and very few Oklahomans are rich  enough to benefit from GOP crony capitalism.

          I’m not asking you to switch parties though all but bigots are welcome. I mean, the kooks and crazies are throwing you out of their tent. Come on over; ours is bigger.

          But, if you prefer having more choices in the Republican primary, I get that. That is a practical choice.

          And the most practical thing to do this November is to vote to protect this country from those who hate its concept of liberty and justice for all – and not for just a select few (which has never included you).

          As Sen. Priola explained in his announcement, “Coloradans cannot afford for their leaders to give credence to election conspiracies and climate denialism. Simply put, we need Democrats in charge because our planet and our democracy depend on it.”

          Not just Coloradans: Oklahomans, too;  Americans, for certain. My moderate Republican neighbors, we can tussle over the details later. First things first: save this republic.

          (Duncan resident Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)

Come on over; save the republic

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