Filling the Great Void

Fear. Anger. Envy. Resentment. Division. Hate. Violence. Madness. Folly. Destruction. Decline.

These are what America’s Great Void naturally and inevitably will produce.

The current condition of the two major political parties has created a vacuum. Made-for-TV characters like Donald Trump gladly try to fill the empty space.

Republicans are increasingly spooked by the prospect of having Trump as their standard bearer. Prominent Democrats are pointing out that the Republicans did this to themselves. This is, of course, true. But it’s not the whole truth.

Democrats share blame for fueling Trump’s rise because Democrats bear great responsibility for the formation of the Great Void.

The Democratic Party is now widely seen as the party of entitlement and protected classes. It is seen as the party that taxes those who work and gives to those who don’t, the party that will give you the shirt off someone else’s back. Democratic policies catering to narrow constituencies since at least the 1960s have continually reinforced this image.

Over the years Democrats earned a reputation as water carriers for organized labor. This reputation served Democrats well when you could find a union member in nearly every family in the country. But the vast majority of working people in the U.S. don’t belong to unions anymore. Unions now represent only about one in 10 American workers. In the private sector it’s more like one in 15. The masses of nonunion blue-collar laborers see the Democrats fighting for those few, but not for them.

Today’s Republican Party has become the party of backlash. The GOP has dedicated itself to demolishing the welfare state, cutting down the social safety net, pitting one group of working people against another, and generally retracing every liberal step that’s been taken and reversing every liberal law that’s been made. Unfortunately for the Republicans, Donald Trump perfectly embodies the backlash. And he is a personality so large he can seemingly fill the Great Void all by himself.

The problem for Republicans is their identity at the moment is entirely wrapped up in what they want to tear down. The only thing they can think to build is walls. Making America a fortress has undeniable appeal to the darkest side of our nature, but closing ourselves off from others won’t make our country great again. Isolationism in any of its many forms has never made America great. Turns out that while Trump’s personality is luminous and gigantic, his vision is dark and puny. Even with an ego that large stepping into the vacuum, the Great Void remains.

Filling it requires us to stop fixating on what we are entitled to and focusing instead on how to best serve others. Thinking service instead of entitlement, thinking we first instead of me first, will lead to rethinking policies geared to helping a tenth of Americans and coming up with new ones aiming to help us all. What better way to start making it clear that we’re all in this together than to thoroughly overhaul a tax system that political privilege built and which breeds further economic inequality.

Filling the Great Void comes down to making three words the guiding light for every step we take and every law we make. One for all.

Mike McCabe