How did we get here in our national politics?

BRATTLEBORO — Hearing about the latest debacles in Washington, D.C., I am inspired to recount how we got here.

We are at a point where we have a Supreme Court that doesn't understand the need for separation of church and state, confirmed by a Senate that seems to have completely lost its moral compass, nominated by someone who lost the popular vote, who only made it that far because a bunch of religious leaders were willing to make a deal with the devil to get what they wanted.

Though the 2016 election was a watershed moment, a lot of what we are dealing with already had substantial momentum. Nixon's resignation was also a watershed moment - one that many celebrated, and one that for others was a wake-up call.

This was far from the only time that a short-term setback for some team, group, or political party set them on a course to major success. With Carter taking the White House in 1976, the Nixon years seemed way behind us.

(For the armchair historians and nitpickers out there, I understand that what happened under each of Carter's and Nixon's watches was somewhat of a mixed bag, and they each had to deal with circumstances that were not all of their own making, but this is not about them.)

By 1980, the effects of the Republican long-term planning was starting to pay off. Between getting sympathetic candidates to run for minor political office, gerrymandering (not the exclusive purview of Republicans), and Fox News coming on the scene in 1996, it has been a good run for conservative politics for a generation. Some diehard political conservatives who still believe in constitutional democracy are now a little concerned about what they have wrought.

Not passing the voting rights bill is another watershed moment, one that we might not recover from, unless there is overwhelming support for candidates that support free and fair elections in November.

What's next? With two companies owning controlling shares in 90 percent of the media (along with most everything else), the need for independent media and media literacy is more important than ever.

There are some bright spots in the form of young candidates who are ready to shake things up. It is going to be an uphill climb, but what are the alternatives?

Those who still believe in this grand experiment in democracy, regardless of political affiliation, need to step up, if we are to have half a chance of rescuing ourselves from a near-certain precipitous decline.

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