I kept wanting to write something to you this week, but I couldn’t find what to say.
I tried explaining the coup to my nearly six-year-old, and he was surprised that grown-ups can be like that. Apparently, they can.
All I have for you is hope. Not optimism, but hope — that there is a new story to be written out of this pit. That we can think and dream and organize and vote it to life.
With The Ink this year, I’ve tried to anticipate and tease out so many of the dangerous trend lines we saw intersecting last week. So what I offer you as one of the more shameful weeks in American history ends is a second look, or maybe a first, at some of the words and ideas that continue to fuel me and give me faith in what looms.
In the weeks and months to come, The Ink is going to stay with this pursuit of hope amid the darkness: clear-eyed about where we are, but grasping for where we go. If you want to support that by subscribing, and can, it is appreciated. Thanks to that support, The Ink will stay free, open to all. We have a lot of thinking to do together.
Some links to hope
"There just has to be a reckoning. There just has to be. You can't reset unless you truth-tell and demand that people are held accountable for what they have done” — a conversation with Sherrilyn Ifill
“I try to always maintain the mindset of an organizer, because, for us, being right is not good enough. For me personally, being on the right side of history or just speaking the truth is not good enough. I want to see the changes, I want to see a better world, I want my nephews and my friends' kids to grow up in a better world, and I'm not going to die happy saying, "Well, at least I had the best argument against colonial white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.” It’s like, no, what did we do to actually change those things?” — a conversation with Vincent Emanuele
“Among the tragedies of strongman history is that people don't want to recognize what's in front of them. Trump's lying and cheating and violence, like his vindictive personality, did not originate with his entry into politics; they are part of who he is…A recurring myth is that elites who bring them into power, and their followers, believe they will ‘calm down’ once in office — I call this the ‘pivot delusion.’ They will pivot to being normal if we just give them what they want. Instead, this encourages their grandiosity and brutality” — a conversation with Ruth Ben-Ghiat
“If you have a country where an enormous number of people feel shit-scared about who they are and how they fit into the world, no matter how wrong they are, they are your problem. One of my favorite mantras is that the burden of citizenship is recognizing that what is not your fault may be your problem. The Trump voter is not our fault. It's certainly not my fault. But it is my problem” — an essay
“I think he will try to do whatever it takes to prevent himself from losing power. I don't know what exactly he will do. I'm not in his head. If we win by a whole lot, it will be a lot harder for him. And we’re preparing for it” — a conversation with Senator Chuck Schumer
“Telling the truth is the most important thing. No matter how horrifying the truth is, you have to tell it, and not worry about being labeled an alarmist. You will probably have to worry about threats to your life, but that's unfortunately what happens when your country is becoming a mafia state” — a conversation with Sarah Kendzior
“What gives me hope is distinct from the question of whether I'm optimistic. I can be incredibly pessimistic, but hope is a necessity of survival and a moral imperative. I hope because I have to, because a better future is possible. The foundational requirement for it is hope” — a conversation with Masha Gessen
“As the election neared, Don awaited a mail-in ballot. He asked Kathy about it. It wasn’t yet there. A great many people, for a great many reasons, are eager to vote right now, and eager for their ballots to arrive or polling sites to open. Every day, another drive-by shot of a long line. But Don had special urgency in asking after his form. For in addition to deciding to end his allegiance to Trump, Don had decided to end his own life” — “Why Don quit Donald”
“Who knows in what state he will leave the hospital? What matters more is that everything he represents is dying. This toxic pursuit of strength that has brought America damn near down on its knees. And what can be spied on the horizon, if you squint, is the prospect of other ways of being. They seem distant now, but they are rushing toward you. A whole kind of time feels like it’s ending. The real struggle now is to define what will replace it” — an essay
“In that huge crowd of people there is one man who is standing with his arms folded, refusing to give the Nazi salute, refusing to heil to Hitler…He was there standing alone among a sea of people despite the pressures on him, in spite of the life-and-death consequences of what he was doing. So he is a person who calls to us and reminds us today: What do we stand for? What will we stand up for? And where do we stand when we see injustice?” — a conversation with Isabel Wilkerson
That’s it for this week. I’m grateful to all of you for reading, thinking with me, and doing the work of citizenship in the many ways I know you do. Thank you. Stay free.
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty