I will send my ordinary newsletter this weekend.
But for now, I send this plea from the heart.
WITH AMERICAN FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY IN PERIL...
I write you with a heavy heart and in genuine fear.
I fear the resignation of Justice Anthony Kennedy will plunge the United States of America into our greatest national crisis since the Civil War.
We have a President -- strongly rejected by a solid majority of American voters but our President nonetheless due to an anachronistic and undemocratic Electoral College -- who is not only a hopelessly corrupt thief and conman, but also a genuinely compassionless racist and simpleton narcissist. A compulsive liar with a long history of sexual assaulting women and ruthlessly demeaning the vulnerable, our President gleefully incites prejudice against those not rich, white, male, conservative, Christian, straight, and of European heritage.
Our President cares not a whit for the history and traditions of a great country uniquely built by the hard work of diverse immigrants and slaves and whose governing credo used to be that all of us are created equal. He cozies up to America's greatest enemies and betrays our national secrets to Vladimir Putin (with whom he colludes to undermine our democracy) while at the same time undercutting our centuries-old alliances and attacking Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan as threats to our national security. A wannabe dictator himself, Trump, like the authoritarian strongmen he emulates, viciously attacks our free press, unabashedly obstructs justice, and sows doubt in the institutions of our democracy.
Our President has apparently never even read the Constitution he has falsely sworn to uphold, not only because he is genuinely uninterested in the basic mechanisms of how our Republic is supposed to work but because he sincerely believes he is above the law. Trump's only real talent is his gruesome penchant for stirring up hatred as a form of entertainment and causing Americans to be at each others' throats.
We have a complacent, cowardly Republican Congress, unwilling to provide even the most basic check and balance on a crooked, lawless President and his laughably incompetent and corrupt Cabinet. The morally bankrupt majority that controls Congress is doing its own level best to undermine any independent investigation into the serious threats to our freedom and democracy inflicted on us by the President and his Mafioso Family.
Propelling us to our greatest debt in American history by robbing future hard-working generations to allow multinational corporations to snatch chunks of our paychecks, this Congress has no desire whatsoever to police this President, build up our basic infrastructure, or serve the common good. Desperate to serve its corporate masters by increasing the price of American health care and polluting our air and water, this Congress refuses even to have the basic decency to rise up to stop a President from literally snatching infants from nursing at their mothers' breasts and locking them up in Secret Baby Prisons. There, while innocent children sleep on concrete floors with tinfoil blankets desperately crying for their lost, captive mommies and daddies, Trumpists like Corey Lewandowski casually dismiss with a dismissive "womp, womp" 400 years of American history as a beacon for those seeking asylum from persecution. The few Republicans in Congress who dare to speak truth to power are either dying or resigning themselves.
And now the Courts are in peril. This week had brought some good news from the one branch of Government that remains independent of the impending tyranny. Last week, a Federal District court ordered the President to reunite the families he viciously rent asunder. And in Virginia, an appellate court ordered the Virginia House of Delegates to end the intentional racial gerrymandering imposed on the Commonwealth by its Republican majority. With this decision in 2019, Virginia voters will finally be able to choose the representatives of their choice without being forced into racial bantustans.
But while the lower courts provided some hope this week, the Supreme Court, that once-bulwark of liberty and equality for all, was at the same time overturning fundamental decisions that used to preserve these freedoms. Yes, the Supreme Court said, you can take away voting rights away from black and brown and poor people, you can practice religious and homophobic discrimination, you can defraud women into preventing them from having control over their own bodies, you can eviscerate unions and force working people into squalor. Yes, you can.
And that was even before the Resignation of Anthony Kennedy, a strongly conservative jurist but at least one who had some respect for the Constitution and the rule of law. Republicans in Congress, having violated 227 years of constitutional norms by refusing to advise and consent on a Presidential nomination for the Supreme Court for the first time in American history, insisted in 2016 that no nominee of President Obama ever be considered no matter how qualified, moderate or reasonable, even if it meant the Court would have only eight justices. And they are set now to leave our Constitutional bulwark in the hands of whatever uneducated, racist, tyrannical, misogynist, corrupt monster the President chooses to sully the robes of the great Thurgood Marshall with.
Steve Bannon, perhaps? How about Jerry Falwell, Junior? Stephen Miller? Or, even more likely, a previously unknown person who, like Neil Gorsuch, cannot wait to trample our freedoms and promote hated and discord among what's left of the American polity?
Will gay couples find their marriages forcibly dissolved? Will more asylum-seeking immigrants find their children kidnapped? Will racial violence by racist police become more commonplace and completely absolved? Will women lose control over their bodies and become baby-factories for rapists?
I wish this were hyperbole. I admit I'm genuinely scared.
But there is a way out.
For now, we still have a free press, even if all the forces of Government are working hard to prevent the Fourth Estate from reporting on the truth. And even though Government-propaganda channels are trying to promote ridiculous conspiracy theories to addle ignorant minds and incite racist hatred, we still have a solid majority of the public that rejects the hatred, fear, and division that our dystopian Federal Government is trying to sow among us. We the People will have to work hard over the next few years to keep marching and speaking out and non-violently disrupting our cruel government until we can take it back by voting this cancer out in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
And we have the States.
Jefferson considered them a bulwark against Federal despotism. Justice Brandeis called them the "laboratories of democracy." At a time when the Federal Government increasingly tramples on individual liberty, a few Democratic-run states are standing up to the Trump Tyranny and doing their best to protect their citizens from abuse.
Virginia can do the same.
Yes, Virginia, there is a light in the middle of the darkness. We are on the cusp of making Virginia a progressive majority. This is Virginia's best opportunity in 150 years. We can lead the nation. We can make Virginia a safe haven for American values, while the American People work nationwide to give the boot to our Child-Tyrant and his toadies in Congress.
In 2017, Democrats in the House of Delegates received more than 1.3 million votes, while Republicans barely got 1.075 million. We beat them by more than 21%. Our landslide victory netted us an historic 15-seat flip, but court decisions by partisan Republican judges left us only 49 seats in the 100-member body, instead of the 51 seats chosen by Virginians in the Blue Wave. Had there not been racial and political gerrymandering, we no doubt would have had 55 seats in the body in which I sit, to match our 55-45% victory at the polls.
But assuming this court decision ending Virginia’s racial gerrymandering prevails and assuming you don’t stop your hard work and determination to save our country from the abyss, we really can permanently change Virginia and lead the way, as we did in 2017, to a full-scale American revolution that reinstates American values of freedom, tolerance, equality, democracy, and fair play. We need just two Delegate seats and one Senate seat in 2019 to redistrict Virginia fairly in 2021 and for a decade to come.
Will you help us? The Republicans already have millions of dollars in the bank. They have support from the Koch Brothers and other dark threats to American democracy. They were smug and didn’t see us coming in 2017. But now they are fully aware now that the elections of 2018, 2019, and 2020 will be a fight for America’s soul.
On July 7, as Alexandria celebrates its 269th birthday with Fireworks on the Potomac, we will be gathering at my home in North Old Town to drink, eat, and – most importantly – raise money for this upcoming battle of our lifetimes. Do not let the fun nature of the event mask its very serious purpose. We have to take back our country. I’m more than willing to do my part. I will step up and speak out. I will be a proud troublemaker in the thorn of the sides of the wannabe dictators.
Will you do your part? Will you help me fight for American freedom? I ask you, whether you come to my house on July 7 or not, to give what you can. We must elect a Democratic majority in Virginia. We must protect progressive values here in Virginia, even as most of the rest of our country falls apart around us. Your contributions funneled a great victory here last year, a Virginia victory that gave hope to the rest of the nation. Will you please help us finish the job?
I will send a regular newsletter over the weekend with more details about the party on Saturday, July 7. I have included some details below. But with a financial reporting cycle ending on Saturday, June 30, will you show me that you stand with me against the dark forces arrayed against us? We only have each other to fight these impending forces of evil, and I humbly ask for your help.
Mark's Fourth Annual
Fireworks on the Potomac
Saturday, July 7
7:30 to 10:30 pm
On a happier note, you are cordially invited over to my home next week for my annual riverfront fundraiser. Proceeds go to elect Democrats to the House of Delegates.
The raucous party that no one wants to miss is at my townhouse at 805 Rivergate Place in North Old Town on Saturday, July 7 from 7:30-10:30 pm. Come eat, drink, be merry, and watch Alexandria's birthday fireworks from my back porch and the hillside which borders Rivergate Park on the Potomac River.
Note the date: it's Saturday, July 7. Not Wednesday, July 4.
Fireworks begin at 9:30 pm. But experience has shown that if you don't make it to my house by 8 pm, traffic is heavy and parking is even more difficult. So come before 8 pm to get a good lawn seat. Or come later after the festivities next door at Oronoco Park.
On the link for tickets, you'll find cheap and easy ways to park close by for a low cost. Or you can always take Uber or Metro (Braddock Place), particularly if you're drinking!
It is always my honor and privilege to serve you.
Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in Virginia's 45th District