My favorite moment in Hamilton, the one that gives me chills, every time, is when Washington gives Hamilton a command and says, “Remember, from here on in, history has its eyes on you.”
My friends, that’s where we are. Right now. History has its eyes on us.
I’m not a grandiose guy. My default position is to assume that, however important something might feel in the moment, it has happened before and will happen again. But for the last five years, that default position has been inoperative. We are living through a hinge moment.
For the first time since Reconstruction, one of America’s two political parties is admittedly, openly anti-democratic. It seeks to win elections not through persuasion, but through the use of institutional and legal leverage.
This isn’t some dark secret. It’s been on display for everyone to see. Here’s what I wrote on October 8—October 8!
Go write this down: After November 3, the price of admission to GOP politics is going to be an insistence that, actually, Donald Trump did win the election and/or would have won if it hadn’t been stolen/rigged.
That’s going to be dogma for everyone in Republican political life.
And now, I want you to take this and write it down:
If Republicans control Congress on January 1, 2025 and also have a majority in the congressional delegations of 26 states, then no matter what the outcome of the popular vote and Electoral College count, they will object to the counting and certifying of the Electoral Votes and decide the presidency by congressional vote.
At which point, our democratic experiment will be over.
Right now everything looks normal-ish. The parties are bickering about debt and deficits. The president doesn’t tweet at 3:00 a.m. We’re getting our lives back from COVID. But this is a false calm. Because for the first time since the Civil War, we have turned back an attempted coup.
And authoritarian attempts don’t just happen once. They happen until either
Something fundamental changes, or
History has its eyes on us.
When I look across the media landscape, I am shocked and saddened by how many people seem to think that the moment of danger has passed. That it’s time to go back to the old battle lines and have the old arguments, all over again.
Someone smart—maybe it was Churchill—said that history presents us with its great challenges only once. And that those who decline to take them up, diminish.
When I came to Washington 22 years ago I never expected that I would see a “great challenge.” I thought that it would be an intellectual salon. That we would debate and argue about how to improve American life at the margins from the safety of a bedrock liberalism. I never imagined that I would see a day when the continuation of our democracy was conditional.
But that’s what has happened. History has presented us with a great challenge. And The Bulwark will not avert its eyes. We are going to do our bit.
I’m asking you to stand with us. To stand unflinchingly.
History has its eyes on us. And we can only be equal to the moment if we stand under its gaze together.