On Independence Day, celebrate democracy. On Election Day, defend it

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On this red, white and blue holiday, the national mood is mostly blue.

Fox News and Republican politicians fan this negative feeling for political gain, but polls show eight in 10 Democrats also think the nation is heading in the wrong direction.

The conventional wisdom is that concern about the economy will fuel a Republican surge in the midterm elections in November helped by low turnout by Democrats. It’s anticipated that the GOP likely will take control of the U.S. House and perhaps reclaim supermajorities in the North Carolina House and Senate.

That conventional wisdom fits a conventional time, but this is an extraordinary one.

The economic pain is real, but the solution is not to elect more Republicans. For one, they are offering no solutions. But far more importantly, they have given up on democracy. Expanding their power in response to what is a passing economic stress could lead to a permanent loss of rights.

The recent rulings of a Supreme Court unfairly stacked with conservatives thanks to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s skulduggery showed how the views of a majority of Americans can be denied on abortion, gun control and environmental regulation.

The testimony aired during the Jan. 6 committee hearings has exposed how many Republicans, starting with former President Donald Trump, were willing to overturn a free and fair presidential election.

Now North Carolina Republican legislative leaders have persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether state legislatures should have absolute control over elections, including possibly throwing out the results.

In 2022, voters need to think hard about what happened in Philadelphia in July of 1776. The signing of the Declaration of Independence was an act of courage, sacrifice and common purpose. The nation needs such patriots now. They need not be heroes. Just solid citizens who weigh the needs and ideals of their nation alongside their own circumstances.

It’s true, President Joe Biden is not bound for Mount Rushmore, but his low approval rating is unfair. He has brought decency and honesty back to the White House, appointed talented and honorable people to run the government and delivered the nation from the daily stress of worrying what Trump would do next.

For sure, the nation has problems and challenges. But today’s conditions are in some ways positive. The nation is, for once, not at war. The pandemic is easing. States have surpluses. Wages are rising.

The AP, reporting that U.S. employers added 390,000 jobs in May, said, “Workers, in general, are enjoying nearly unprecedented bargaining power. The number of people who are quitting jobs, typically for better positions at higher pay, has been at or near a record high for six months. Layoffs are at their lowest level on record dating back 20 years.”

Yet polls say voters are so unhappy with the direction of the nation that a majority seems poised to give political control to the likes of McConnell, Rep. Kevin McCarthy and perhaps even Trump, if he evades conviction for his attempted coup.

The strongest proponents of the politics of grievance and selfishness declare themselves patriots, claim they embrace the spirit of the American Revolution and wrap themselves in the American flag. But these are phony patriots whose real loyalty is to their personal wealth and power.

This Fourth of July it is worth reading again these words of Thomas Paine, written during the darkest hours of the Revolutionary War. The words should resonate with voters in this extraordinary hour when our democracy is at risk and the biggest flag wavers are the first to desert it.

“The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

There’s plenty to be discouraged about, but there’s something greater to be defended. To keep democracy, vote for those who support it.