Four years ago, I wrote on the eve of the election that we’d survive no matter who won. It wasn’t an endorsement of either candidate but was an exercise in optimism based on my faith in our institutions and our system of checks and balances. Trump, whom I’d previously described as a hot-air buffoon, surely wouldn’t keep his tyrannical campaign promises, I declaimed.
How wrong I was. Our democratic republic was always an experiment without guarantees or necessarily an expectation of its success. “A republic, if you can keep it,” Benjamin Franklin once quipped. Today, as anarchists infiltrate peaceful demonstrators and wreak havoc from sea to sea, the joists of our foundations are being tested.
George Floyd surely never wanted to be a martyr. But, perhaps, he can rest in peace if his unjustified and unmerciful death prompts Americans to reflect and march peacefully across the Edmund Pettus Bridge of our collective memory to cast our ballots. The monsters in this nightmare are real, sure enough. But we know their names.