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Lady Justice is pissed


The first time I ever voted for president was in 1964, when I cast my ballot for Lyndon Johnson. I was a reliable Democrat in those days, but not very politically-oriented. It was the Sixties, and there were far more exciting things going on in my life, and in the country, than politics. I suppose I voted for Humphrey in 1968 (I don’t remember much from that time!), and I know I voted for McGovern in 1972. But it was the 1976 election that really plugged me back into presidential politics.

The Democratic primary field that year had been crowded. Jerry Brown, Scoop Jackson, Frank Church and Mo Udall were running (so was George Wallace, still nominally a Democrat), but one candidate in particular caught my eye. Jimmy Carter was the little-known governor of Georgia, a peanut farmer with an aw-shucksy southern folksiness, and I was attracted to him the first time I saw him on T.V. He went on to win the presidency (which made me proud that I’d “discovered” him before most other people). I voted for him again in 1980, when he lost to Reagan. In 1984, I voted for Mondale, but I’d been a strong backer of Jesse Jackson in the primaries, and went to hear him speak at San Francisco State University, where I was a student. He gave a great speech.

In 1988, I broke with the Democrats, for the first and last time in my life, when I voted for George H.W. Bush over Michael Dukakis. Looking back, I’m not sure why. I was beginning to feel what you can call a more “conservative” part of me. Dukakis seemed hapless, over his head—although my many friends in Massachusetts adored him. And the first Bush was not one of those far-right, evangelical ass-kissers who later disgraced the Republican Party. But by 1992, I was restored to my senses. I’d seen Bill Clinton on T.V. in 1989, interviewed on C-SPAN by Brian Lamb, and had been so impressed I wrote him a letter, addressing it only to “Gov. Bill Clinton, Little Rock, Arkansas.” He got it and replied; I still have his signed letter, now framed. He was young, seemed hip and cool, and represented the pragmatic streak in Democrats I liked. I was a fierce Clinton supporter for both his terms, and demonstrated against his impeachment in a mass rally held in downtown San Francisco. And I have since voted straight Democratic: Al Gore, John Kerry, Obama (twice, and so proudly), Hillary and, this time, Biden.

Now here we are at another Election Day. I feel cautiously optimistic, to use that overworked phrase. But like everybody else in America, my nerves are stretched taut to the breaking point. Someday historians, helped by psychologists, will try to explain just how Trump damaged our minds, wrecked the national psyche, raped the soul of America. It doesn’t seem likely the damage will be undone anytime soon, not even if Trump loses. The scars are too deep, too much blood has been let, the pain lingers.

I want to live long enough to see this current crop of Republicans made to pay a price for their treachery. I don’t just want the Grahams and Collinses and Tillises and Gardners and McSallys and Perdues to lose, I want them to suffer long-term economic and reputational consequences. I want them to hurt. I want each of them to fall to his knees and beg the American people for forgiveness. We are a forgiving people, but only if the pentitent truly repent. As for Trump and his family, to jail, to jail, to jail. We need national reconciliation, but before that can happen, we need to see Justice—and Justice, let us remember, carries a sword.

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