Rational hope in a time of despair

July 8, 2022 6:00 am
dark clouds and rainbow

Dark Clouds And Rainbow by Darren Lewis | CC0 1.0 Universal CC0 1.0

OK, let’s face it head on: Many of us are in despair right now over the direction of our country.

Part of the problem is our reactionary Supreme Court.

The horrendous decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was the biggest kick in the teeth.

But the Court’s decision on guns, despite the weekly mass shootings we’re having, was another.

As was the Court’s decision to limit the authority of the EPA in the midst of the climate catastrophe.

Another part of the problem is the peculiar stickiness of support for Trump. According to, 40 percent of Americans still have a favorable opinion of him, which is roughly where he’s been for more than a year now.

Part of the problem is the rise of white nationalism, which Trump has engendered. We have not seen such organized and heavily armed racist groups in the streets since the heyday of the KKK.

Part of the problem is the concern that the Democrats might lose control of Congress this November, and then the White House in 2024, and then they’ll be no breaks on the runaway rightist train.

And part of the problem is gerrymandering and other manipulations that prevent We, the People, from getting what we want and need.

The powers that are arrayed against us are, indeed, formidable: Fox News and the rightwing media echo chamber, huge spending by rightwing billionaires in our elections, the susceptibility of millions of Americans to race-baiting and red-baiting, and the anti-democratic institutions such as the Senate and the Electoral College, among others.

So given this situation, what are the rational grounds for hope?

Well, here are five of them.

The revelations of the Jan. 6 committee

The Jan. 6 Committee has presented very damning evidence against Trump, which not only puts him in deep legal trouble but also clouds his political future.

The testimony of Cassidy Hutchison was especially explosive in both ways.

Most pundits have been focusing on his legal liability, after she testified that he was just fine with letting heavily armed supporters attend his rally and march down to the Capitol.

But her testimony about his abusiveness and his tantrums (ketchup on the dining room wall!) may linger even further in the minds of some Republican and Independent voters.

What’s more, Liz Cheney, with her relentless probing and her plain-spoken delivery, is aiming directly at those Americans whose minds may be still be open or open-able.

The looming Trump indictment

At this point, given the mountain of direct evidence that the Jan. 6 Committee has compiled against Trump, it will be all but impossible for Attorney General Merrick Garland not to indict him. If Trump is indicted, tried, and convicted, much of the Trump bubble might finally burst. For instance, after Nixon’s impeachment and the widespread knowledge of his misdeeds, his popularity fell to 25 percent. By indicting and convicting Trump, Merrick Garland would not only be meting out the justice that Trump so richly deserves. He’d also be depriving the far right of its most powerful and dangerous leader.

The rise of union organizing

The United States is seeing a boom in union organizing. Union petitions to the NLRB are up 57 percent from a year ago, according to CNBC. Workers won stirring union drives in more than 50 Starbucks stores, workers successfully organized the first Amazon warehouse in New York, and support for unions is at a five-decade high. Unions not only give their members and others in the workforce better wages and conditions; they also serve as an educational and mobilizing force for the crucial changes we need in our everyday lives.

The people are with us

On issue after issue, whether it’s abortion rights, guns, health care, the environment, a living wage, Social Security, legalizing marijuana, limiting money in politics, or ending gerrymandering, the vast majority of Americans embrace progressive views. We have a bedrock of support.

Overreach by the U.S. Supreme Court

The hubris of the Supreme Court to recklessly go against precedent and to defy the will of the American people on issues like abortion may be its own undoing. It certainly will give momentum to those who have been urging Congress either to impose term limits on Supreme Court justices or to expand the Court beyond its nine members. By delegitimating itself, the Court is also undermining the far-right ideology of its members and their supporters.

I also want to underscore the essential fact that history is never static.

Losses aren’t eternal.

The reign of rightists is usually brief.

There is always an ongoing contest, in every society, between those who want to hoard power for the few, and those who want power, justice, equality, sustainability, and freedom for everyone.

And all of us who work toward this expansive vision can take heart in this great quote from the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates: “You are called to struggle, not because it assures you victory but because it assures you an honorable and sane life.”

So as we lead our honorable and sane lives, let’s keep doing the things we know have worked throughout history.

Let’s engage in nonviolent activism, individually, but even more importantly, in organizations.

Let’s speak up, and let’s march.

Let’s try to persuade people who don’t already agree with us.

Let’s vote and get everyone we know to vote.

Let’s call out the racism and the other forms of bigotry and bullying that are tearing this country apart.

And let’s celebrate friendship, love, nature, art, and community as we go about our work, even in these tough times.


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Matt Rothschild
Matt Rothschild

Prior to joining the Democracy Campaign at the start of 2015, Matt worked at The Progressive magazine for 32 years. For most of those, he was the editor and publisher of The Progressive.