Arthur Camins warns us against the prophets of doom and gloom, the pundits who say that we can’t hope for anything better, who try to persuade us not to fight for a better future.

He begins:

Beware the apostles of dystopia. They come to destroy your hope.  There are two sects. One preaches survival-of-the-fittest disdain for any social responsibility.  The other preaches defeatism and accommodation in the face of wealth and power. They are all hope, destroyers.

The necessity of hope struck me hard on Saturday, January 25. In the morning, I read two provocative op-eds in the NY Times.

Trump-disdaining conservative columnist, Bret Stevens, cautions, “Anyone but Trump? Not So Fast. Let’s not exchange one reckless president for another.” Essentially he argues that Trump, while personally reprehensible, hasn’t changed life for most Americans.  He goes on to plant fear of radical progressives: Too much hope for a more equitable future is dangerously destabilizing.

Historian David Motadel warns us about, “The Myth of Middle-Class Liberalism. The bourgeois are supposed to ensure open, democratic societies. In fact, they rarely have.” Historically, he argues, “the middle classes have frequently sided with illiberal forms of government when they feared for their privileges and social stability.”

In the evening, my wife and I watched the movie Just Mercy.  It dramatizes the relentless efforts of Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, to exonerate death row victims of racial injustice and fear.  Freed from jail after many years wrongful imprisonment, Walter McMillan tells Stevenson, “We’ve all been through a lot, Bryan, all of us. I know that some have been through more than others. But if we don’t expect more from each other, hope better for one another, and recover from the hurt we experience, we are surely doomed.”

Between now and the 2020 presidential primary and general election, apologists for and defenders of our inequitable, livable climate-destroying status quo will try to scare hope out of middle-class voters into selecting anyone but the dangerous progressives in the race, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Every fear-based, divisive scare tactic will be employed.  In fact, they are our best hope. Some will allude to, but not explicitly advocate, exclusionary authoritarianism as the only viable path for America.  Others will plead with voters to take the safe “moderate” path.

Progressives need to heed Motadel’s and McMillan’s warning.  Anyone who gets the dire threat of Trumpism needs to heed the warning.  Anyone with a mind to sit out the election or vote for third party candidate needs to heed the warning.  Things always can and often do get worse long before they get better. When it does, innocent people suffer and die. However, the solution is not to bend to the illusion of a safe moderate. It is to vote for hope.