“Call to Duty” by Will Weaver

Because we live in a democracy, the benefits of which accrue to us daily, at some point for each of us there comes a moment step up. Contribute to the greater good. Such moments come in endless varieties, small and large, and they all count.

In American history, the iconic moments of “do the right thing” are well known. In Revolutionary America the midnight ride of Paul Revere. In Civil War, the courage of Frederick Douglass who recruited Blacks into the Union Army. Abraham Lincoln who took a stand against slavery and united, as best he could, America after its terrible civil war. Susan B. Anthony in the 1920s and her advocacy for women’s right to vote. Rosa Parks in 1995, for refusing to take a back seat on the Montgomery bus.

And certainly on this list is Al Gore conceding the 2000 presidential election after controversial vote counting narrowed Bush’s Florida win to hardly more than 500 votes. Quoting Stephen Douglas and his concession speech to Lincoln in presidential election of 1860, Gore said, “Partisanship must give way to patriotism.” Gore’s own words were even more clear: “For the sake of our unity as a people, and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession and every assistance to President Bush.” History called. Al Gore answered, and, though painful for Democrats, did the right thing for the country.

Another such historical moment approaches, one that touches us all. Former President Trump, now under multiple indictments, is pressing ahead with his campaign to return to the White House. Pundits and political analysts disagree as to what might/could/should/will happen. All would agree, however, that “America is about to go through some things.”

But it need not. The former president is not yet his party’s nominee. If he were not, America would not have to go through the civil unrest and national trauma that seems inevitable, and potentially on a scale not seen since the 1960s. In short, the call at this pivotal moment in American history is for us to vote thoughtfully in the upcoming presidential primaries.

If you liked the former president’s vision and policies, there are several Republican candidates who sound much like him, but who come without the baggage. The divisiveness. The potential for political chaos and injury to our democracy. “I alone can fix things,” the former president likes to say. We know that’s not true. It’s we, together, with the power of our votes, who can fix America. Today, right here, consider yourself called.

(this Opinion piece was published in the Star Tribune on Sunday, August 20th, 2023)